Ska

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Born 19.9.2001 Johannesburg, South Africa

Died 9.2.2017 Le Marin, Martinique

Middle of January this year, my beloved cat Ska lost his appetite and he was getting weaker so I took him to a vet in Le Marin.  She was a kind lady, could luckily speak a little English and told me to be hopeful but I should take every day with him as a gift. She gave him an injection and 2 days later he was his usual self again, playful as ever despite his 15 years of age. My last visitor and friend, Timo, gave Ska some scented cushions to play with and he behaved like a teenager that’s just been naughty. Then my friend Astrid arrived in Martinique and for the first week, Ska was healthy and happy and then suddendly lost appetite and grew quickly weak, so i went back to the vet and now she cautioned me even more as the kidneys were both very swollen, but i could try and inject him saline solution twice daily and feed him via a bigger syringe.  It worked a little and i was hopeful but then he just grew weaker and weaker. When Astrid was gone, I sailed back to Grande Anse and on Thursday morning, the 9th of February, Ska was hardly responding anymore and seemed to be in pain although not meowing or other sounds. I dreaded this trip to the vet but had to do it as i didn’t want him to suffer. This is not a quick trip and i luckily found this french couple which offer a private taxi service that fetched me again all the way from Le Marin, took me to the same vet there, stayed there while the vet saw us. She confirmed my biggest fears to let him go and gave me time to say goodbye to Ska and he was put to sleep. She wrapped him in a towel and put him back in the box as I asked if he could come with me.  I was very distraught and back in Grande Anse, Les, a friend on a near boat, fetched me and later waited for me on land while i was walking hours with Ska to find a suitable burying place – none seemed right and I was getting desperate.  Back on the beach, Les suggested a sea burial and we went back to my boat to place him in a pillow case with some offerings to the sea and a big rock. We dinghied out into the bay as the big tall ship ‘Royal Clipper’ came in and I tried to drop Ska overboard – the pillowcase was so tight it floated!  I let more air out and finally he sank down and Les gave me time to say good-bye.  A little later, the ‘Royal Clipper’ gave a stunning display of lights after sunset, a fitting farewell to Ska, my best friend and companion for over 15 years, a real sailor with over 15,000 Miles on my ‘Ocean Maiden’ under his belly.

I miss him terribly, the boat still feels empty without him.  When I come back home, there is no one to greet me, complain about me disappearing, frowning and then showing his affection again. I still hear and see him everywhere as little shadows look like him. I miss him waking me up, lately by jumping through the little inside hatch straight onto me with a big plumps and a fat grin, staring me down, demanding food or just a hug, snuggling up to me and purring loudly into my ear. He would now try to disrupt my typing by trying to lie on the keyboard. I miss his cat hair everywhere, even the bits of cat litter which he so liked to spread all over the boat, the bits of the coco mat that my dad gave him so he could scratch his paws. He was the reason I bought this boat as we left on another one and I couldn’t fly back to South Africa with him out of the countries we visited until then. I wouldn’t have left him and hence bought this boat – little did I know we would continue sailing for so many miles.  When people think i was single-handing, that is not true – he was great company, a wonderful character and supported me through all the different experiences and moods.

It’s been a month today that he is no longer with me – every sunset and more I think of him, just out here in the bay – RIP Ska.

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