This true story is too amazing to believe! John Snyder and his mate, Jenny Howe and I were cruising on the Upper Chesapeake Bay after the Annapolis Sailboat Show. We spent a quiet night anchored about 150 yards north of Dobbins Island in Sillery Bay off the Magothy River. In the morning with only a whisper of wind, we motored around Gibson Island to eyeball the pretty yachts moored off the Gibson Island Yacht Club. On the way back around Gibson Island the wind started to pick up and as we got to the mouth of the Magothy River, we got ready to sail.
I went forward while John was driving. Suddenly John hollered “there’s a squirrel!!” I said “what”? “There’s a squirrel on board!” Still not understanding but knowing that something was wrong, I hurried back to the cockpit just in time to see a red squirrel scamper down the companionway into the cabin of my Morris 48, Consulting Time II.
I looked at John and said “Now what do we do”? He said “I don’t know but don’t let him bite you. They can be mean as well as destructive”! So, I ran below and grabbed a bath towel, figuring I would simply throw it over him, wrap him up and dump him overboard. Well, that little squirrel was quite an acrobat. He jumped from one side of the cabin to the other and had the ability to hold onto the trim around the cabin windows and top of the bulkheads. He was three times faster than me and it soon became obvious that the towel technique was not going to work.
It was time for a different plan. So, I decided to chase him back into the cockpit, which took several swipes with my towel. When he scampered outside, I took a few moments to catch my breath and to install the companionway doors and close the hatch, not wanting him to go back down below.
John had been keeping track of our furry friend and pointed 2/3’s up the furled genoa where he was peering around the canvas as though it were an oak tree. “Ah hah,” I said out loud. “He’s dead meat”!
I told John to fall off to a beam reach I then loosened the lazy jib sheet, opened the furling line clutch and gave the working jib sheet a big pull. The jib whipped open and our furry friend went flying off the jib into the brackish water of the Chesapeake Bay. And this squirrel could swim! As we watched, he headed for the sugar scoop stern of our boat, clearly hoping to climb back on board. I told John, still at the wheel, to hit the throttle. And, as we sped away that little guy headed for shore, figuring he had enough boating for one day.
How he got on board, I don’t know. His fur was dry when we spotted him that morning. He must have swam over from Dobbins Island during the night or early morning and climbed up our anchor chain or possibly managed to climb aboard our swim platform? Maybe in the future we’ll take turns standing alien squirrel watch when anchored in the Chesapeake?