Saturday, August 31st, 2019
If you happened to be on social media on 29 or 30 August, you no doubt will have read Fiji’s latest tale.
For those of you who don’t know (though considering her fame I imagine there are few who do not) Fiji is our ship’s cat. She first joined the ship at the magical island of at Fiji on our Westward Bound Voyage back in 2014.
She then sailed more than halfway around the world to Lunenburg, and since then has sailed one complete World Voyage, crossed the Atlantic five times, and taken part in dozens of tall ship festivals. Everywhere we go she seems to be the star. News reporters love to take her photo and write up stories about her – the cat with a barque.
Her latest dance in the limelight was one that had us all worried. This summer Picton Castle took part in nine tall ship festivals as part of Tall Ships America TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE ® Great Lakes 2019. When it was time to sail from our very last event of the summer – in Erie Pennsylvania – Fiji was nowhere to be found. We searched, we called, we shook bags of kibble; all to no avail. The time came for us to cast off and head for Clayton, New York; the pilot was on board and Fiji was not, and we couldn’t wait. Captain Lorenzen had no choice but to call the command to get under way.
Picton Castle left the Port of Erie without Fiji. Our very good friends aboard the US Brig Niagara and in the Erie Maritime Museum, said they would keep their eyes open and get her back home if they possibly could. The crew on the ship worried. We here in the office fretted. All sorts of pictures popped into our imaginations of where she might be and in what state. We got the word out to all the rescue centres, veterinarians and animal hospitals we could find in Erie. The call went out in Erie via a local news report and social media, and locals came out in their droves trying to find our lost ship cat. We are so grateful to every single person who tried to help.
We were all relieved to get the official word today that some friendly people of Erie saw Fiji and thought perhaps she was lost so took her in. When they discovered we were frantically looking for her, they helped get her back to the Flagship Niagara who, in turn, called us to let us know that she had indeed been found and was safely with them. Picton Castle is in Clayton, New York, and the Niagara crew will deliver her to us tomorrow.
We will probably never know all of the adventures Fiji took part in on her 2-day shore leave, but I’m quite sure this won’t be the last of her adventures both on the ship and ashore. (I sure wish I could read cat minds.)