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Cat Tales

She’s circled the globe three times and continues to be one of the most recognized members of our crew. She’s Ms Chibley Bits, the Picton Castle‘s cat, and she’s just written her first book.

Of course, Chibs needed a little help—keyboards being rather cumbersome for her six-toed paws—so Mineville, Nova Scotia resident Ruth Wells kindly came to her assistance.

A sailor herself, Ruth first met Chibley in 2004, though she’d been introduced to her ship and reputation a full four years earlier.

It was during the giant Tall Ships 2000 celebration at Halifax and Ruth had just returned home from touring the visiting ships, including the Picton Castle. “I was telling my daughter, a 911 dispatcher, about being aboard the Picton Castle and she said ‘that’s the one that had the cat go missing.’”

In fact, several of Halifax’s finest had been dispatched to look for Chibley, who had gone AWOL following the Parade of Sail. Crew members, previously anxious to get underway for the ship’s home port of Lunenburg, refused to sail until she was found.

Of course, Chibley eventually turned up—she simply wasn’t finished with matters ashore. The media had a heyday.

As for Ruth, she was “fascinated to learn of a shipboard cat. Everyone we knew lost them overboard.” That’s why the Wells’ had a rabbit aboard their sailboat. She decided this feline had a story to tell.

Ruth spent a couple of years writing this first book, Chibley: the Cat Who Went to Sea. A second tale is already in the works.

Ruth and the book’s illustrator, Doug McCabe, will both be on hand at the Picton Castle Sea Chest, 132 Montague Street, Lunenburg, this Saturday, May 12, from 2-4 p.m.

While unable to attend personally, Chibley—currently bound for Charleston aboard the Picton Castle—will be offering special paw-o-graphs for $2 with all proceeds going toward the purchase of educational materials to be distributed to needy schools during future voyages.

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