It may be true that most cats don’t like water. But Yeoman, a 12-year-old cat in Beaufort, North Carolina, loves nothing more than sailing with his owners, Lisa Camp and Campbell Tellman.

Camp adopted Yeoman in 2003 after a colleague told her she’d found her the perfect pet.

At first Camp resisted because of her busy work schedule and visits with her then-fiancé, Tillman, whom she’d meet each weekend in Beaufort, where he kept his 33- foot sailboat. “She told me Yeoman would be a good fit for my lifestyle because he liked to ride in the car,” recalls Camp.

Camp couldn’t resist the sweet young cat and adopted him, and her friend was right: Yeoman did turn out to be the perfect pet, but not for the reason she had imagined.

yeoman the sailing cat sitting on the dockOne day, Tellman and Camp brought Yeoman to the dock to Tellman’s boat. The curious cat jumped on board and the couple decided to see how he liked being out on the water.  Immediately it was clear Yeoman loved feeling the wind on his face and watching the waves go by.  After that, Camp and Tellman never went sailing without their seafaring kitty.

Yeoman, with life vest securely fastened, likes to sit on the deck in the middle of the action, often underfoot, Camp says. So, when they cast off for a trip or come back to dock, Camp puts Yeoman in the stateroom to keep him safe. Once they’re sailing, however, she lets him out to enjoy the trip. 

Not surprisingly, the friendly, quirky cat quickly became a favorite at the dock.  “Everyone stops to see him,” says Camp. “He just sits there and greets the people and touches noses with the dogs.”  

And, says Camp, despite many hours logged on the boat, Yeoman has only ventured into the water twice. When he encountered a rambunctious but well-meaning, puppy on the dock, Yeoman jumped into the water to escape. “He dove right into the marina to get away and swam over to the bulkhead and climbed out,” Camp says.

Yeoman the sailing cat at the helm of the sailboatThe second time was on a particularly hot day when they were docked at a beach. While the humans enjoyed tidal pools, Yeoman sat in the shade. Suddenly, Camp says, Yeoman walked over to the pool, jumped in and swam around for a couple of minutes. Then, he got out and walked back over to the shade where he’d been sitting before. “If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I would never have believed it,” says Lisa.

After they married, the couple moved permanently to Beaufort. They took a few years off the water to refurbish the boat, but now, they’re back to their beloved past time. Even after a few years, however, Yeoman didn’t lose his sea legs. “It was as if we’d never taken a break,” Camp says.

While they’re docked, Camp says Yeoman likes to explore, often bringing gifts aboard the boat. "Once he brought us a live rat,” says Camp with a laugh.

The couple is planning to soon spend a few months sailing north. Will Yeoman be along for the adventure? “Of course!” says Camp. “We’d never go without him.”

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