But more importantly, she was a friend when I needed one like no other time in my life. Darkness and isolation are a formula for human disaster, and I shudder at the thought of the outcome had I been truly alone.
She was a hellion onboard and could find more ways to create mischief than I could ever train out of her. To wake me from a dangerously long slumber one day, or night, or whatever you call them when the sun does not shine, she tore up one of my charts. I was not yet quite so crazy as to think she could understand the words of a little poem I wrote for her, but I did hope she would catch the tone and straighten up.
Halifax my cat was furry and fat
Oh a finer companion could not be
We were trapped in the Arctic
My life was so stark it
Had no other warm company
And so side by side
The dark months we did bide
Huddled as bleak blizzards blew
But when the food ran out
At seven pounds or thereabout
She made a fine and filling meat stew.
I promised her that if we made it through that adventure I would take care of her for the rest of her natural life. I did not promise her it would be an easy life. In the years that followed she amassed more sea miles than the average admiral. She sailed the chill winds of the Arctic to the balmy breezes of the South Pacific. She had her narrow escapes. There was that 12-foot crocodile in Panama, and the time she fell overboard at night.
Sailing boats are small. The incessant proximity can test even the strongest of relationships. When Diana and I retreated to opposite corners of the boat in pouting silence after a perceived slight, Halifax would visit both camps, acting as a referee and bringing us both some comfort.