Maryvonne and Shane La Peyre had been living on their sailing yacht Gem for over five years and were in the middle of a ten-day passage from the Caribbean to New York when they came to a realisation; they needed another crew member. Who ended up fitting the bill? A champagne Burmese cat named Miss Rigby the Boat Kitty. This unique family has been exploring the high seas ever since, with the feisty feline’s adventures proving a hit on social media.
After setting their hearts on getting a pet to accompany them, the couple set about finding a Burmese cat, eventually heading to Connecticut to adopt from an organisation. According to Maryvonne, they were nervous that their alternative lifestyle would be deemed unsuitable for a new furry friend. “We wrote a long email describing ourselves and lastly, admitting we live on a boat. To our delight and relief, the lovely Stacie couldn’t be more pleased to give us one of her precious babies,” she said.
Maryvonne and Shane chose Rigby based on her confidence, as she was the only cat in the litter strutting around the living room and not hiding beneath the couch, they thought she would definitely have what it takes for life on the water.
Since joining the boat in Long Island at 11 weeks old, Rigby has travelled up and down the East Coast of America numerous times, both in the sailboat and in powerboats. She has been across to the Bahamas and gone down into the Caribbean this year, stopping at most islands along the way to Grenada. The crew are currently in Puerto Rico making their way back to Florida.
The idea to document Rigby’s adventures came naturally as they watched her enjoy every day on the boat. “We had so many funny videos and photos, it seemed a shame not to share them. Rigby makes us smile and laugh daily and we thought why not share that happiness with everyone? Once we started posting on Instagram, we were surprised with everyone’s reaction to her and her silly adventures. To us, it was just normal life with our cat, but to everyone else, it seemed amazing. It’s just lovely to hear how she makes people so happy. We receive so many beautiful messages thanking us for posting her antics,” Maryvonne told Lonely Planet.
When it comes to sharing advice for others thinking of bringing a pet along for the ride, Maryvonne encourages people to just dive into the experience. “Traveling with pets is simply the best. I can’t believe we waited six years to get a boat kitty, we should have done it straight away. Sure, it can make life a bit tricky, but it is totally worth it. Rigby gives us so much joy and makes a bad day on the water better. Living on-board with a cat is a lot easier than a dog. Cats sleep 18 hours a day and can go to the bathroom in a litter box. Dogs need far more exercise and trips to shore numerous times a day. The only advice I would give other travellers with pets is to make sure you always have a current health certificate and their vaccinations up to date,” she told Lonely Planet.
You can follow Rigby’s antics on her official Instagram Page.