Monday, September 11th, 2006
While all of you were on summer vacation, Chibley was hard at work being the ship’s cat on the Picton Castle. She traveled to some places she has been before (like Chicago) and also to some new cities and towns as the Picton Castle took part in a series of tall ships festivals in different cities on the Great Lakes. Chibley certainly had lots to keep her busy—checking out all the new trainees, promoting the hats and note cards with her picture on them, doing media interviews and greeting visitors. She is looking forward to getting home to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, so she can meet up with old friends, hang out in the warehouse, see her buddy Rocky the famous Dory Dog and relax for a while.
By the time this summer voyage is over, the Picton Castle will have been home to 136 trainees and 25 staff crew. That means a lot of work for Chibley because she needs to meet each person when they arrive. She usually approaches quietly within the first few minutes that they’re on board to introduce herself. Once they have their bunks made up and their gear unpacked and put away, she will do a thorough bunk inspection to make sure everything is neat and tidy, and to see if anyone has brought cat treats (not many people do). She tends to spend more time with the people she knows well and has been particularly excited to have Erin back on board for a few weeks. Chibley shows her excitement by sleeping in Erin’s bunk most nights, curling up on top of Erin’s feet to help keep them warm.
Chibley likes to meet visitors who come to the ship to take tours, but usually is shy with large crowds. All summer long people have been amazed that a cat has sailed around the world four times. It is a pretty amazing accomplishment and Chibley occasionally shows up on deck to greet people who have just been talking about her. Lots of guests this summer have told the crew that they have cats at home, but none as brave as Chibley. One of the highlights of Chibley’s summer was meeting the governor of the State of Michigan, Jennifer Granholm. All of the ship’s officers lined up next to the Captain to welcome the governor, and Chibley joined the line in Pania’s arms. The governor was suitably impressed by Chibley’s accomplishments and Chibley only squirmed a little in Pania’s grasp.
The Picton Castle was selling t-shirts, hats, sarongs, and a bunch of other things this summer and Chibley helped promote her own line of apparel and merchandise. There are baseball hats with her profile on the front and note cards with her picture and the words “Chibley, the only cat with a barque.” People are surprised to find out that there really is a Chibley and get quite excited when she walks through the tent where we sell stuff. Chibley decided she should be more involved with the sale of her merchandise while we were in Port Huron, Michigan, and she jumped up on the table and lay down next to her note cards. She attracted quite a crowd but refused to sign autographs.
Appearing on the evening news in Chicago was another highlight of Chibley’s summer. The reporter and camera operator arrived at the ship in the morning to interview both the captain and Chibley. The captain’s interview went smoothly, but when it was Chibley’s turn she decided to play hard to get. She jumped off the ship and ran down the dock, faster than the news crew could follow her. They waited about an hour until they saw Chibley again, and then followed her through the gardens on the dock with the camera held at human knee height. They probably got about 20 minutes of film which they edited into a news story that aired that evening. Later that night and all the next day, people stopped by to ask about the amazing sailor cat. Chibley was famous!
This summer hasn’t been all work for Chibley; she has had a chance to do some of her favourite playtime things as well. There aren’t any flying fish to catch in the Great Lakes but there have been lots of birds to chase. Chibley has also played tag with some squirrels and rabbits. With all the crew around there has been no shortage of people to rub her belly and dangle strings in front of her. Of course she has also taken plenty of naps in the sun. And she has enjoyed walks in the green grass. Chibley the sailor cat has a very good life!