Cashmere has seen much more of our boat that I ever will. She knows cavities under the galley that lead through draw cavities into cabins, she knows how to crawl through dorade vents and pop up on deck There is a whole cat world beneath the one we live in.

She doesn't mind sailing but she has never really accepted the noise of the main engines running. When they are on she disappears into one of her cavities and hides.

My wife and I had just finished a crossing from the Bahamas to St. Helena Sound just east of Beaufort, SC. The crossing was not particularly rough but we've had smoother ones. It was about December 21 and we were back home for Christmas anchored in the sound while arranging for a dock. Cashmere appeared out of her hole a couple of hours after the engines were off, looking a little green and giving us black looks - pretty clever for a white cat. We went ashore in the dinghy to visit friends but when we returned to the boat, late that night, she was nowhere to be seen. This was very unusual, she always greets us when we return. Well we searched and searched. A 71 ft boat has nooks and crannies inside the nooks and crannies. We checked closets - many times she had been locked in one while asleep. Checked the drawers - another place she likes to sleep and gets shut in. Called her name, rattled her food dish, all to no avail. Needless to say we finally went to bed feeling rather miserable and neither mentioning the unmentionable.

Next morning, the same routine, searching the boat fruitlessly, checked her food dish - no activity. When the other was not watching, we would take it in turns to sneak up on deck with the binoculars to scan the water and shoreline, neither admitting to facing the possibility, nor admitting that with an 8 foot tide of about 4 knots, there was no way she would have made it ashore before being washed miles up or downstream. That night we went ashore again to a friend's Christmas party. What a miserable couple we must have been. We got back rather early and repeated the routine but this time with tears in our eyes and facing the worst. My excuse that she had disappeared in the past for as long as 12 hours and then re-appeared was no longer very comforting, but a ray of hope to keep you going.

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Next day would still find us still scanning the shoreline, checking the food and water dish, but resigned to the obvious conclusion. I said to Lea, "If she show up after all this, I'm just going to throw her overboard. I've grieved her departure too long now and couldn't ever go through this again." Cashmere had always been a boat smart cat, never restrained since arriving on board as a very small kitten. She was very agile - could leap six feet to a dock pylon and land on the vertical part with her claws, then climb up to the deck.

Lea set up our boat Christmas tree - a stuffed fabric one that she made. There was little enthusiasm for decorating so we laid out our gifts and hung onto each other in bed.

Christmas morning, I heard a strange noise in the salon. Got up to check and there was Cashmere sitting cool as a cucumber beside the tree. I called Lea and two naked sailors with a cat had the greatest reunion.

Cashmere had stayed awake for the whole crossing and was a little seasick so she slept it off for 3 days but I know better. Cats can be very vindictive when they need and the whole scenario was well planned as revenge for running those nasty engines. (I didn't throw her overboard.)

Andina Foster,