Got Your Goat -May 30, 2002
Alan, Pamela and Botzi on "Northern Goose"
You meet a lot of nice people cruising, but every once in a while you meet a real goat. And we mean a REAL goat. When we were in the Jumento islands a couple of weeks ago, our friends Pamela and Alan invited us over to their sailboat "Northern Goose" to meet Botzi. Botzi (German for "little rascal") is a four month old male goat. Now it might seem a little odd for a boat to have a goat on board, but in the Jumentos just about anything is possible. In the two weeks we visited there we saw as many goats as we did humans. Many of the islands are dotted with the old stone ruins of failed farms. The erstwhile settlers left their livestock and dreams behind when they abandoned their stony plots (see our April 11th log entry).
Pamela and Alan had found Botzi on Long Cay, near Crooked Island in the Bahamas, when he was only a few days old. His mother had been shot by hunters and he was a pretty sad little fellow when Pamela and Alan discovered him cowering in the bushes. The stump of his umbilical chord was still attached. His rescuers nursed him back to health, seeking advice from various experts on the radio. They fashioned a nipple by pricking a hole in the finger of a latex glove and fed him milk.
When we met Botzi, he had moved past the milk and pablum stage and was eating, well, just about everything. In other words, he was acting like a goat. We recall reading Joshua Slocum's account of having a goat on board "Spray" when he made the first solo circumnavigation over a century ago. It ate all his charts. As we chatted in their cockpit, Pamela pointed out the trimming that Botzi had given the herbs she was carefully cultivating in buckets of soil. Her bathing suits were also suffering. Botzi couldn't resist them when they were put on the lifelines to dry. David said, "I like bikinis too, but I don't eat them."
Botzi was also starting to adopt other goat-like behaviours, like butting. His horns were only inch long nubs, but they nevertheless made an impression when he lunged into us at full speed. He particularly seemed to enjoy colliding with David. Maybe it's a boy thing.
From day one, Pamela and Alan realized a goat wasn't likely to work out as permanent crew. Their intention was to take care of Botzi until he could fend for himself. This was precisely why they happened to be in the Jumentos when we were there. Lots of other goats, not too many people. Weighing in at fifteen pounds and full of bouncing energy, it was time to return Botzi to the wilds where he'd have friends and hopefully no enemies.
The day after we met Botzi, Pamela and Alan took him in their dinghy to a small island they had checked out previously. Circled by menacing reefs, the island was rarely visited by humans. It had a family of resident goats that appeared to be of the same short-haired variety as Botzi. While Botzi was busy digging into a bowl of his favourite breakfast cereal in the shade of a bush, Pamela quietly snuck away and left him in his new home. That afternoon, she came over to "Little Gidding" and admitted she was feeling pretty sad about losing her little friend. She also worried about whether he would be "accepted" by the other goats.
Pamela called us on the radio in the morning to say they had dinghied by Botzi's island and saw him gambolling about with his new playmates. Relieved, Pamela and Alan weighed anchor and headed northwest, bound for the States. David mused, "You know, Botzi was a friendly little guy." Eileen replied, "Don't even think of it."
Cheers, David & Eileen