Tales of Onyx the Cruising Kitty
Tales of Onyx the Cruising Kitty
by Onyx Blackwell
I was born some time in August, no one knows exactly when. My mother’s Pe-ple came back from vacation to find five kittens, all girls, frolicking under the porch. They got to work calling all their friends and soon found loving homes for all of them...all but one that is. That one was moi...Onyx. You see no one wanted me because I was all black. All the Peo-ple who came to see me thought I was a magic cat, and they were afraid. But lucky for me, I was exactly the one the Blackwell’s were looking for. In fact, they had a dream about me before I was even born. And so it was meant to be that I came to live with them. I, Onyx Blackwell, was going to be a cruising kitty, and I was going to see the world in a boat…this is my story. I wrote it for the Non-People and Little People. I hope you all like it. Go ahead and read it while I take a nap. (Pssssssst, I am a magic cat. But that's another story.)
Episode I. Onyx the Cruising Kitty Finds Her Sealegs
While She-ple told everyone that I, Onyx, was to become a cruising kitty, the veterinarian checked me and weighed me, and checked me again. Then she pronounced that I was very healthy and thought that sailing was a great idea. She said to take me out on the boat as soon as possible. So that weekend, the first weekend that I was home, we were going sailing.
She-ple showed me pictures and told me all about sailing. She told me I'd be seeing lots of new things, like sails, and ropes, and birds, and fish. Lots of nice people, lots of pretty boats, lots of water (uggh)!!!! But not to worry, I'd be just fine as soon as I found my “sealegs.” She-ple didn’t explain and left me wondering what a sealeg is. I thought about how one went about finding her sealegs? I didn’t know what they looked like, so how would I know when I found them? I’d seen crab legs, and crabs come from the sea, so I wondered if that’s what I was supposed to look for. Oh well, I’d just have to believe that I’d know when I found whatever it was I was looking for.
So here they were. It took a while to get there. First a trip in the car. Then they climbed up on the boat. “Some people go day sailing. They go out and come back so they can sleep at home at night. Other people go racing. They go out and sail around a course as fast as they can and then they, too, go home. But cruising is very special, you see”, She-ple said. “Cruising means you go exploring from one place to another, and you sleep onboard. It’s wonderful,” she said, “just like rocking in a cradle.” She said that was what cruising was all about. So off we went on our first cruise.
Espresso, our sailboat, looked very shiny and slinky, just like her name suggested. She-ple showed her around while He-ple brought all their things onboard. She showed me the V-berth (called a bedroom at home) and the head (just like a bathroom …it didn’t look like anybody’s head to me), and then the salon (isn’t that where she-ples get their hair done?) and the galley (looked like a kitchen to me). This was complicated. Why did everything have to be called something different here? I’d never get used to that.
I eyed the bunk beds next (She-ple called them quarter berths) up high where one could get really comfy and have a good lookout, too. There was something called a navigation station where there were lots of blinking lights I wanted to chase and a funny-sounding man in a box talking about the weather. Then there was the spare bedroom called an aft cabin. That one was cool because there were all kinds of things in there to explore. It would take me days to get through it all!
That was just downstairs. Upstairs was a whole different world surrounded by water. All around as far as I could see, there was water. She-ple held onto me tightly as we went up the companionway stairs into the cockpit because she was afraid I hadn’t found my sealegs yet. So I turned her head as far as it would go, first one way then the other. I looked around everywhere, at the birds swooping low over the fish and the fish swimming out of the way of the other boats going by. And I thought about the warm sun and how different the air smelled here. The water fascinated me. There was so much of it, and it shimmered in the sunlight, and rippled with the wind. I wanted to touch it, but I knew it would feel wet. I’d touched it when She-ple was washing her face, but here there was so much water, and so many fish. I could see them glinting in the sun just under the surface. I’d have to figure out how to catch them without getting too wet myself.
They went back below, and She-ple set up the litter box and broke out the food and water in spill proof bowls. Oh boy, I had been wondering where the goodies were. "Let me check it out," I thought as I squirmed and squirmed so she-ple would let me go. I jumped right for the food, then checked out the litter box, stretched and yawned. This cruising thing was going to be a "piece of shrimp"! AND I was surrounded by plenty of opportunities to catch my favorite foods - shrimp and fish!
He-ple made fun toys for me out of sail ties and a scratching post just for me. I tried to play with him, but I was feeling really heavy; even my eyelids were feeling heavy. “The wind is blowing just right”, He-ple said. “Are you ready to become our Cruising Kitty, Onyx?” I yawned the biggest yawn and said “Sure I am,” but I was really really tired. My job was to explore every nook and cranny. Of course I had to find all the best warm spots to curl up in for a nap. Exploring was hard work, and it had been a busy morning. “Prepare to cast off,” He-ple said, “just as I found my spot.”
I, Onyx Blackwell, the black sea cat, the cruising kitty, was going to see the world! But first, I had to take a nap.
When I woke up, I wasn’t really sure where I was and what was happening. They were moving pretty fast but not like in a car. You see everything was leaning to one side. I had to use the litter box and as long as I crouched down low and stayed on the rug, I was fine. But the minute I stepped on the wood floor, whoosh, I slid way across the floor. It took three attempts but I finally made it. “Whew! Piece of shrimp. Let’s play,” I said.
“It’s called heeling,” She-ple said, “and getting used to it is how you find your sealegs.” So I practiced by walking back and forth until I got the hang of walking around when the boat was heeling, first one way then the other, until He-ple said it was time to drop anchor. I watched from inside the cabin as She-ple picked a nice spot and He-ple dropped the anchor without a splash.
As soon as the boat stopped and got tied down, they all sat down in the cockpit to watch the sun set. I had never seen anything so beautiful before in my life. The sea and the air came to life, as the sun painted everything a pretty red color. “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight,” He-ple said. “We should have a good day with fair winds tomorrow.”
But who could think about tomorrow when there were sea gulls calling “Mine, Mine!” and swooping all around them. It had been a long exciting day and my eyelids were starting to droop again. My last thought before She-ple carried me below and I fell into a deep sleep in my favorite new spot was, “Wow, I think I’m going to like sailing. And this is definitely my favorite time of day, just before the sun sets.”
I awoke to swaying and rocking. It felt kind of nice at first. It made me want to stay in bed. But I just had to go out and look. I jumped as high as I could, and made it up the stairs on deck in one fast leap. Wow, there was so much going on here. There were birds hooting and fish swimming. But the water looked scary at night. Better leave exploring to another time when my sealegs are really steady. So I went back to my nice warm bed and fell promptly asleep again.
In the morning, they weighed the anchor. I wondered why they had to weigh it. I could see from the V-berth that it was pretty heavy as He-ple lifted it out of the water and tied it down in its place. I could see She-ple at the helm through the companionway hatch and soon they were underway. As the wind blew harder, the boat rocked more, and I started to get scared again. But He-ple was there to hold me and tell me it was OK. “It’s heeling and all sailboats do that in the wind,” He-ple said. “It’s going to be a fast ride today, so hold on but don’t be afraid. Sailboats are meant to heel, and I'll protect you if you get scared.”
As the boat heeled more and more and still some more, and it felt like it was going to fall over on its side, I got less and less steady on my feet. I let everybody know I wasn’t too happy by crying as loud as I could, and they came by to cuddle me. That’s when I decided that a good thing to do would be to take a nap. I found a spot in the quarter berth, curled up on the nice fleece blanket, and went to sleep.
I could feel that She-ple and He-ple checked on me every once in a while, and I slept soundly for hours. Then suddenly, I woke up, jumped out of bed and started for the litter box. My tummy felt awful. I kept licking and swallowing but it didn’t help. I knew something wasn’t right, and then I couldn’t stand it any more. I let out a loud cry, “Meeeeooooow.”
“Poor baby,” He-ple said, “Onyx is seasick.” He held me and caressed me until I started to feel a little better. “Don’t worry pretty little girl, everyone gets seasick once in a while. It’ll pass.” Sure enough, the waves of seasickness passed after a few minutes, but I was so worn out I went back to sleep in He-ple’s lap. He-ple’s lap was nice and warm and being rubbed behind the ears made me feel so much better. I slept and purred and dreamed of trying to get across the slippery floor with my soft little feet sliding this way and that.
But as soon as they dropped the sails and returned to the mooring, I woke up. With a wide kitty grin I bounced off to see what was going on. “Thank goodness, we’re back,” they all agreed, as I went happily off climbing around Espresso like a pro. No matter how Espresso swayed and no matter which way the wind blew, my feet kept me steady, and my tummy felt good, too. I had more exploring to do. So I bounced here and there and everywhere to make sure I got a good look at everything as it was being stowed. I helped coil all the ropes, and tie down the sail. I ran and ran until I got so tired that I started to yawn again.
“Well Onyx,” He-ple said, “looks like you found your sea legs after all, and so you’re ready to take your rightful place as the Cruising Kitty of Espresso. We’re going to go cruising around the world, and there will be lots of things to see and lots of friends to meet. Oh, I think you’ll be a great cruising kitty,” he said, “and this was a good first test. Yes, my pretty little one, you’ll be just fine,” said he as he tickled her furry chin and rubbed her moist little nose. “I’m the luckiest kitty in the world”, she thought, as her head began to droop.”
I, Onyx Blackwell, the black sea cat, The Cruising Kitty, was going to see the world! But first, I had to take a nap.
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