Pets on Board - How to Travel and Sail the World with Dogs

When Cap’n Jack and Scout first stepped aboard our 43-foot steel ketch, Seefalke, they walked around the small vessel and sniffed every corner. Then, tails wagging, they looked up at us, and it was as if they shrugged their shoulders and said, “I guess we live here now.” Then they curled up on the settee in the main saloon and settled in.

After traveling more than 7,000 nautical miles so far—crossing the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, the English Channel, and the Bay of Biscay, sailing along the Atlantic coasts of Spain and Portugal into Africa, to the Canary Islands and Cape Verde, and then across the Atlantic Ocean to Cabedelo, Brazil and up the coast of South America to French Guiana and now into Suriname with them—we are convinced now, more than ever, that dogs just want to be with their humans. It doesn’t really matter where.

Our beagles were not yet two years old when we began our worldwide sailing journey in August 2018, but they’ve been sailing with us since they were four months old. Before we moved aboard Seefalke, Cap’n Jack and Scout joined us for many day sails along the Intracoastal Waterway (ICWW), Mobile Bay, and Bon Secour Bay on our 15-foot, open-hull catboat, Protagonist. However, they had never sailed overnight or in heavy offshore conditions. And with only day sails, they had never had to learn how to potty onboard.

We learned many lessons along the way about how to keep them comfortable, how to establish routines for them, how to make it through the customs requirements for dozens of countries, how to potty train them onboard, and, most important, how to keep them SAFE. We share all of our insights in our eBook, How to Sail with Dogs — 100 Tips for a Pet-Friendly Voyage.

Our initial goal was to sail Seefalke from her home port in Stralsund, Germany, to our home in Gulf Shores, Alabama, USA. We considered boarding the pups while we sailed for a couple weeks at a time and then returning to Alabama for short periods while at various ports. But the additional expense and effort of flying back and forth would be financially and logistically impossible. Plus, we would miss our sweet pups. We didn’t want to leave them at a boarding facility that often, and we wanted them with us. Now that we have decided to continue sailing full time (we also still work full time, but that’s a topic for another book), we know that we have made the right decision to bring them with us and make Seefalke their new home.

We spent countless hours talking with other sailors who have a canine crew and did exhaustive research on what it takes to ensure a safe passage for our four-legged family members. We knew that it wouldn’t be easy and that cruising with our beagles could limit our ability to travel to certain countries and to enjoy certain tourist attractions along the way. For us, this was an easy sacrifice to make.

We were not afraid of the additional work or paperwork involved. Once we made the decision to take them with us, their safety was our main focus.

We received a lot of criticism from followers on social media about bringing Cap’n Jack and Scout with us. We were accused of putting them in harm’s way unnecessarily. At first this bothered us, but then we chose to ignore the naysayers and focus on the task at hand—keeping them safe, comfortable, and happy living on board with us and sailing in heavy offshore waters with us. 

Every day, we are asked countless questions about sailing with dogs, and it is our pleasure to share our experiences. Please remember that every dog is different, every boat is different, and every human is different. Our goal is to share our personal experiences and to curate all our research in one place. Hopefully, some of it will help you.

In our book, you will find detailed information about traveling with dogs by air and by sea. You can read about The Great Potty Experiment—what worked for us and what didn’t. We include valuable information about the supplies you may need, including medicine and first-aid supplies that are specifically geared toward potential health issues your dog might experience. You will find entry requirements for dogs for many countries and a run-down of our experiences in the countries we have visited with our dogs.

We discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly side of sailing with dogs. It’s mostly good, in our opinion, but we honestly reveal the downside, too.

eBook chapters include:

- Pet-Friendly Boats

- Traveling with Dogs by Air

- Traveling with Dogs by Sea

- First Aid for Dogs at Sea

- Safety at Sea

- Potty Training on Board

- Establishing Routines

- When the Destination is not Dog Friendly

- Surviving Extreme Temperatures (Staying Warm/Keeping Cool)

- The Downside and the Upside of Sailing with Pets

- Bonus: How to Sail with Dogs Survival Kit

- General Guidelines and Requirements by Country

Our experiences involve sailing with dogs, but a lot of the information we present here could apply to sailing with other pets, as well.  Our experiences involve sailboats, but many of our tips also will be helpful for taking your pets with you on other kinds of boats!

We can honestly tell you that sailing with Cap’n Jack and Scout is something we will never regret. We enjoy having them with us every single day, and we firmly believe they enjoy being with us. The rewards greatly outweigh the challenges.

The eBook is available for just $6.99 USD in three interactive digital versions:

Amazon Kindle (works with Kindle readers and Kindle app)

Interactive pdf (great for reading on any laptop, desktop or tablet — it can be read on a smartphone, but you would have to zoom WAY in. Not a good user experience on a smartphone, in my opinion)

ePub version (perfect for reading in the iBooks app or with other ePub readers)

We are proud to share some of early reviews of How to Sail with Dogs!

“After reading this EBook and sailing with a dog ourselves, we wish this would have been available when we started our trip! There has been a lot of lessons we have learnt, items we forgot and procedures that we hadn’t thought of and had to learn along the way, that these guys cover. They take the stress and need to extensively research and learn it all yourselves out of the equation. On top of that, the minefield that is different countries’ laws and custum regulations for bringing pets in, has been researched and covered in great detail in this book. This book is based around US dogs, but the general rules and regulations apply to all imported pets. For new sailors sailing with pets, we would say this book is essential. For people who have been travelling for a while with their pets, this book is a great read, informative and highlights things you probably wont have even thought about! Well worth the money in our opinion.”

— Faye Reynolds, Sailing Chelsea (@sailing_chelsea)

“My husband and I sailed from France to Caribbean and up to Florida with a small Jack Russel terrier for 6 months. I would have loved to read a book like this before our travels to minimize all work around the preparations for our dog. I think this book is a very well summarized book with an attempt to cover all things that needs to take place before and during the sailing. Even if the people, the boat and the pets are different it covers most and gives you a guide to where to look for more info if needed. I love the tips after each chapter. You can easily go back and get some reminders and even have it as a back up checklist to your own check list.”

— Maria Rovik, Sailing Limitless (@roviksadventures)

“Preparation is everything, and while we remember that checklist for ourselves when sailing, we may think we’ve done enough with a life jacket. There’s so much more, and this ebook leaves nothing unanswered. From potty training to passports to ports that are NOT dog friendly there is more you might not have thought of but should. What do you do if your dog gets sick? Feeding your dog....there’s too much to mention. I also like that there are interactive videos spread throughout the book for an in-depth look at a subject. This couple, sailing with Jack and Scout, provide the total package for cruising with your pup. More than worth the cost!”

— Mary L. - Solardogz