First, I’ll preface. I’m not an expert at anything in this blog, so please don’t think I comment from a position of any real knowledge, as all views on this blog are my own and not backed by much of anything except my opinion and occasional thoughts that escape when I have bad gas. I knew I wanted to write something on this subject so I’ve done a bit of research online on some of the other articles I could find, most were not written by someone who knew something about all three subjects or had good experiences with any of them.
I lived on a cruising sailboat in the last 70’s that had both a dog and guns on board,,,and kids. We cruised throughout Central America for 5 years straight with no problems at all and the gun never came out of hiding, rusting into scrap, I think. As for the dog, she was a large Great Dane who loved living on a cruising sailboat and lived until she was 13, finally passing away when I was just about 14 or 15, but still visible to corroborate my story in many of my photographs of those years. We were called the boat with the “small dog and quiet kids”.
Fast forward to me in adulthood and I’ve spent most of my adult life around high powered firearms, developing a unique comfort level with them that only can be found from someone who uses weapons on a regular basis,,,,the man or women who will tell you they feel a bit naked when they are without their favorite firearm or knives. This isn’t a glorification of firearms, just a factual statement from this author who rarely brags about much of anything and never intend this blog to sound like bragging! We as a family are also attempting to raise our 3rd Great Dane puppy (she’s one and a terror) and we also adopted a large pitbull/mastiff last year, but he’s 8 and simply wants to sleep in peace anywhere the puppy’s not!
As for guns on boats when cruising outside of the United States,,,that’s up to you. But, I would be very, very skeptical of the person who brings a gun onboard a boat with just a few weekends or afternoons of target practice at the local range to get familiar with that weapon. A gun is a tool, but employment of that weapon AFTER getting it loaded, cocked and ready for action is very, very difficult if you have never done it,in the dark, after waking up to some creaky noise on your boat, perhaps in a rolling sea? As I read in another blog, you also may have to contend with foreign laws after you shoot someone, as they are much different than ours. You also need to think of what you’ll do after you pull the trigger. It’s not like in the movies,,,as guns leave holes that bleed all over and you might not kill the person you shot at, then you’ll have to render medical aid or explain to the authorities why you’re calling a MAYDAY for a drunk fisherman who you shot? Or, what happens if you do kill that person on your boat? What are you prepared to do then,,,,roll the body into the ocean and go your merry way or report this act of heroic self-defense and take your chances with local authorities,,,,admitting in the process that you have brought a gun into their country illegally, then used it on one of their citizens with deadly results? Again, all of this is up to you?
Another solution is a dog on board. Most any dog will do, since most dogs bark. Except one of mine. See, I think it’s a Mastiff thing, but he likes to charge at full speed across our large yard, basically attacking whatever offending bird, coyote or rabbit is across the fence line, completely silently, until he comes to where he can’t run anymore and then he barks, a bit, very loudly. But unlike the puppy Great Dane, the Mastiff doesn’t bark just to bark,,,,he patrols the yard silently and sleeps in the hallway facing our outside doors, dreaming of the day when he can meet that stranger who dares to enter his domain at night. I think he’s probably able to do some damage,,,he’s 130 pounds. But I digress. Dogs on boats bark, letting you know something is amiss, perhaps an offending pelican, perhaps a drunk fisherman or someone who’s attempting to borrow your dinghy engine because it’s better than the one he has and he wants to sell yours. I think a larger dog on a boat is perfect,,,,like a Great Dane on a boat makes for a very, very secure boat, I think. In this situation, I might not feel I need a gun on the boat if I were to have a dog who lived on deck, feel the boat was home and was somehow trained not to bark it’s head off all the time. My dog will never meet all these criteria, but I can write about the perfect dog in this blog,,,,always hoping mine will come around.
I’ve also read these articles about cruisers who build metal cages for their entry ways/gangplanks to basically lock themselves into their boats at night or lock up the boats when their gone. Captain Pat Rains comments on this in her book, something I found really humorous. Please spend a few nights swinging on a hook (anchor) somewhere in the middle of nowhere or a busy harbor and tell me how safe you might think it is to be locked inside your boat. Hmmm, ever drag an anchor and need to get up on deck quickly during a freak little windstorm to take care of thing,,,,except your steel cage to keep intruders out has locked you in?? I’m giggling just sitting here writing about it. I think a dog negates the need for this kind of overprotection, if your a dog person and you can handle training Rover to do his thing wherever you’re comfortable.
Next blog,,,,might be about ATTACK PARROTS!