Fishing Pontoon Boat
It’s no secret around the Armitage household that I don’t like cats, so after the family tabby jumped ship on the feline’s shakedown cruise aboard our pontoon boat, it was really funny that she found my lap to be the warmest spot on deck to dry off and warm up. As a Dad and, more important, as a husband, I realized it was in my best interested to play along.
Eventually, the cat was comfortable enough to hop off my lap and allow us to get to fishing. We had netted several crappies from the flooded trees we drifted through when, about an hour later, my wife inquired about the kitty. I said I hadn’t seen it in a while, and when our son confirmed the non-presence of the family pet, for the second time that day panic set in atop the Armitage pontoon.
After scouring the sparsely appointed deck for cat sign, my wife was convinced that the feline had again slipped undetected over the side and was cat-paddling for the densely wooded shoreline. Or worse, was up one of the dozens of flooded trees that made the bay so popular among crappie anglers.
Several of whom had quietly taken up residence around us and settled in to fishing.
After explaining to my clan that we had recently witnessed the fact that cats are excellent swimmers and are able to fend for themselves in the wild and that the farmer who gave us Jiggles no doubt had siblings from a subsequent litters, I realized I was the one in way over my head. After cruising the flooded shoreline looking for our cat, I spent the next hour approaching each of the dozen boats fishing the bay. I did so very quietly, and apologetically for the interruption, meekly asking their occupants if they had happened to see a cat swimming by. After getting some odd looks and one stern “you shoulda’ known better” reply, I handed each angler my business card, and asked that they contact us in the event they saw anything cat-like or something came to mind later that might help us locate our kitty. The fact that two of the anglers knew me, and that my cards identified me as an outdoor writer and radio show host who should know better than to take a cat on a boat — let alone lose it – made the task particularly humiliating.
Pulled along by the bow-mounted electric motor, so as to keep our interruptions as unobtrusive as possible, we were approaching the second to the last boat in the bay when, between my wife’s subdued sobbing, I heard a muffled ‘meow.’
The sound seemed to come from behind the wheel. After removing a panel in the center console, we located Jiggles, who had found an even comfier spot in which to take a catnap – among the nest of wires inside the helm console, accessible via a hole that barely accommodated the steering cables. As I extracted the damp cat from the maze of wires, the only thing that kept me from putting the boat system’s battery selector switch on “All” was that my own fingers were in the line of fire.