They say that a dog is a man’s best friend and that cats will leave a paw print on your heart. An integral part of our families at home, it’s nearly impossible for some of us to think about embarking on the trip of a lifetime without bringing our favorite furry friends along. While this is often easier done on road trips or quick weekend getaways out in nature, sailing trips are not the most usual adventure you may take with your pet.
Sailing with pets may seem like a challenge or a feat too tough to bear, but it isn’t all that scary, after all. That is, so long as you follow our lead. Don’t let the high seas come between you and your furry family member. Instead, make your trip that much more memorable by sailing with pets!
Sailing with pets 101
The paramount rule to sailing with pets is, of course, ensuring their safety. And fortunately, in 2022, there are many ways to make sure your four-legged friend is secure on board. Arguably the most nerve-wracking part about bringing your pet on board is the fear of them slipping into the sea - and we don’t blame you, as that’s something humans have to worry about, too. But, just as your sailing group will be informed about all safety precautions while at sea, your pet will need the same crash course, and it’s not as daunting as you may think.
First things first, before booking your next sailing charter, you’ll need to think about the best boat for you and your furry friend. Remember that a sailing yacht can be more challenging to maneuver due to often steep staircases on board. If you are bringing a larger pet that can’t be easily lifted, choosing a catamaran is likely a better choice for you and your pet.
Once you are sure you’re going to bring your pet along, you’ll want to reserve a railing net for your trip. What is a railing net, you may wonder? Well, if this isn’t your first time sailing, it’s likely something you’ve already witnessed at sea! Namely, a railing net wraps around the sailboat as a lifeline for your pets (and small children, in many cases) to protect against any unwanted overboard accidents. Acting as an additional layer of safety, railing nets won’t hinder your time on board, but will undoubtedly calm your nerves knowing that your pet can’t break through this border. Keep in mind that some parts of the boat may be tough to secure with the net due to the layout of the boat, but keeping just one area closed off is a win!
Even with a railing net, it is always a good idea to pack a harness with you to keep your pet secured while moving around. This way, you can maintain control of your pet’s movement and know they can’t get too far. Better yet, bring a life vest for your pet to guarantee its safety, as these are not available to rent in Croatia!
Other things to keep in mind that can help calm your nervous pet? Talk to your skipper about shorter day sails so you can provide your pet with quality time on land during your trip. It’s also wise to opt for quieter marinas and less-crowded beaches to avoid your pet getting over-excited.
Just like you won’t forget to pack your daily vitamins, SPF, and any prescriptions you may need while away, you’ll want to make sure you do the same when sailing with pets. Keep in mind that finding a vet during your sailing trip could prove difficult, especially on the Adriatic islands. Most pet owners living on an island often have to travel to Split or other larger cities to get the care they need. Therefore, it’s imperative to pack a first-aid kit for your animal just in case, especially knowing that vets cannot be called like doctors in Croatia.
And did you know that pets can get seasick, too? Motion sickness is prevalent in dogs and even more common in younger dogs than adults! So common that the FDA even approved a drug called Cerenia, which settles stomachs in dogs and cats. Since ‘doggy Dramamine’ does exist, you should consult with your vet before sailing with pets to arrange any medications your animal may need.
Just as you would keep your pet comfortable at home, you’ll need to pay even more attention when sailing with pets, as this change in environment can be alarming. When sailing in the summer, it’s essential to keep your pet in the shade with always enough water handy. Pets can overheat and get dehydrated rather quickly, especially when you take into account that temperatures on the Adriatic Coast can jump over 35 degrees Celsius in the peak summer months. If your pet needs to cool down, soaking them in the sea is not the best solution. Instead, focus on cooling its legs and groin area, which will ultimately spread to cool the rest of the body.
And because sailing can be exhausting for pets, it’s smart to keep them enclosed in areas of the boat they already trust. Keep in mind that many unfamiliar situations can happen at sea, from wind gusts to choppy seas. Ensuring your pet’s comfort is key.
But what about when your pet has to do its business? Cats have it easier when going to the bathroom on board, with a litter tray and sand needed to make sure they can release when required. Dogs, however, may not be able to hold it in until the boat is docked. To avoid any accidents, it’s wise to bring along a square of astroturf that you can keep on the bow of the boat. You can even train your dog to do their business there before you set sail!
We know you’ll pack your own passport for a trip, but that doesn’t mean that your pet can travel freely! Just like you need to cross the border from one country to the next, so does your pet. When sailing with pets, a valid passport is required for your pet to travel, and some countries like Croatia require your pet to be microchipped as tattoos are not recognized in many countries. Not only does your pet need a European passport, but they’ll need an up-to-date rabies vaccination confirmed in the passport, with the duration of the vaccination stated and a stamp proving that the animal is healthy enough to travel.
Let us know
When booking your next sailing vacation, it’s crucial to let your charter company know that you’ll be bringing a pet on board. Many charter companies will tag on an additional charge when sailing with pets, and we don’t want you to be surprised if you come unprepared. In some cases, be expected to pay a double final cleaning fee if you’re bringing your pet along, in addition to a pet fee. Furthermore, charter companies will do their best to secure anything your pet may need while at sea, from food to water bowls or any safety equipment mentioned above. It’s important to have an open dialogue with your charter agent before setting sail. They want your furry friend to have the best time on board, too.