Taking your pets over on the Spirit of Tasmania can be a daunting experience.  The thought of your loved fur baby in a kennel on a 10 hour + sail can be enough for many families to choose not to take them over.  Who better to ask about sailing with their pooches than our good friends, Pete & Deb from Step N Store.  They have crossed over more times than anyone we know and share with us their Top Tips for taking your pets on the Spirit of Tasmania. We visited them on the South Arm in Tassie when we were recently there and met Scot & Tish – the most gorgeous pair of Scottish Terriers – YES – with the cutest names! This is their story:

Hi! My name is Pete and my wife Debbie and I are about to take our 103rd crossing of Bass Straight on the Spirit Of Tasmania. We moved to Tassie 11 years ago and most of the sailings included taking our beloved pets, brother and sister Scottish Terriers called Scot & Tish.
Their first crossing was more traumatic for us than them. The thought of placing them in a closed in kennel for the night unable to check on them through the trip was unsettling but upon arriving at the pet kennel area in the morning we were delighted to find them well and very excited to see us.
Our first view of the kennels, to be honest, was not appealing. The 2 or 3 stacked “cage’s” were very different from the almost “luxurious” sleeping arrangements the pooches were used to. However, the kennels were clean, roomy, well ventilated, not smelly, had large water bowls and we knew that they would be checked through the night. Our anxiety was replaced with relief after that first crossing and over time now have the planning of the dogs trip pretty organised.
Details are available to be viewed online under SPIRIT OF TASMANIA – PETS & KENNELS regarding rules and regulations, however, we have  few hints on making the trip with your pets.
1.     Be prepared – book the kennel. Their is a small cost involved which at the moment is $22.00 each way. It’s worth this amount to know your pet is in a clean, roomy space and checked through the night
. We leave our details on a piece of paper in the kennel just in case there is a problem, but have never had to be contacted yet.
2.     Before you travel the dogs must be treated for ‘Hydatid Tape Worm. You will be required to show proof of this and the treatment must have been given within 14 days of sailing. We purchase the tablets from either a supermarket or vets keeping the packet and receipt in the car to be viewed prior to boarding at the Port Melbourne quarantine checkpoint. It is not required when returning to Melbourne.
3.     We walk our pets on the day of travel as close to the sailing as possible to make them less energetic for the crossing and allowing them to ‘relieve themselves. If you have a chance we even walk them around the stationary waiting cars while queued up to board, especially the Devonport side.
4.     The first two trips we were concerned about the dogs being anxious and consulted our vet who prescribed a mild medication to settle them. On reflection it was more us than them feeling the anxiety and have not had the need to give them anything since.
5.     We do not feed the dogs normally on the day of sailing. We find that being hungry makes them eager to go into the kennel as we place a small amount of food and a small treat to distract them as we leave.
6.     Prepare the kennel while the pet remains in the car. Place their bed, your details if you want to, and any food or treat if you choose then retrieve your pet. If you try to juggle items, position them in the kennel and perhaps have to deal with other pets arriving as well while your pet is waiting can lead to nervousness and confrontation. If you can simply walk your pet to the kennel and lift them in its much more controllable.
7.     Try not to stay too long saying goodnight. A quick exit is better for the pet and you.
8.     Go and enjoy the sailing. Your pet is safe, secured and being monitored!!
9.     In the morning get to your vehicle as quickly as possible. It can be busy around the kennels as everyone gets their pets, as well as other passengers making their way to their vehicles. We reverse the process by retrieving the pet and putting them in the vehicle first then returning to get bedding etc.
For those who choose to leave their pet in their vehicle there are a couple of things to remember. Firstly you will have to complete and return an ‘Indemnity Form” (see attached photos). This releases the Spirit Of Tasmania from your pets care throughout the trip.
Also be aware your vehicle may be placed on a deck with poor ventilation.  The kennel areas are on Decks 3 and 5 and are very well ventilated. Other decks may not be as “airy” and can be quite warm.
We know quite a few people who choose to leave their pets in their vehicle. Perhaps the size of the pet or the type of vehicle eg. ute are considered reasons. We have on occasion for various reasons, placed one pet in a kennel and left one in our vehicle. This means there is fresh air on that ventilated deck for the pet.
Travelling with our pets can be a challenge, in so many ways. Being prepared and informed helps make the special time we share with them on our travels easier. The usually overnight, sometimes day sailing ends with you either beginning your  amazing holiday in spectacular Tasmania, or returning home with wonderful memories. Happy and safe travels to everyone, and their beautiful pets.
THANK YOU so much Pete & Deb – if you want to get your hands on a Step N Store – you can check out our REVIEW here and we have an awesome DISCOUNT just for you – simply use the code CWK at checkout!!
Have you checked out the Caravanning with Kids SHOP??