By Cheryl Costello
It’s one of those stories a boater will retell for years: the time a raccoon, hidden on board, stayed on the boat for an entire day’s cruise—30 miles from the open Bay to a dock bar and back to the marina in Annapolis.
Lest you think this story is exaggerated, there’s video proof. Watch the video above to witness the remarkable adventure of “Rocky” the raccoon.
The captain and crew recounted to Bay Bulletin how this hairy ride unfolded. Joe Hunter and his friend, Mark Hutto, went out Saturday on Hutto’s Sea Ray bowrider, leaving from a dock in a woodsy area on Back Creek in Eastport.
Hutto got the first clue something was amiss when he got on board the boat in the morning. “Looks like the boat had a little visitor last night,” he said, narrating a cell phone video that showed pawprints, various chewed-up snacks strewn across the cockpit. “He partied here all night long. He had crackers and cheese and mustard,” Hutto said with good humor.
But that wasn’t the last evidence he’d see of the visitor. After cleaning up the boat and tying up at Ego Alley for brunch, Hutto, Hunter and other friends were headed for Galesville to watch a live band play. Suddenly, Hutto got a surprise. The boat’s cupholder went flying, Hunter says. “The raccoon had pushed that cupholder out of the console across the boat to kinda let the captain know that he was in there.”
“I freaked out a bit and yelled to everyone, ‘He’s on the boat, the raccoon is on the boat!’” Hutto tells Bay Bulletin.
They stopped a few times to try to get the raccoon off the boat, but it was daytime, and since raccoons are nocturnal, the animal wasn’t budging from its hidey hole under the console and gauges. “So we decided the raccoon was not going to ruin our day of boating so we all re-boarded and hoped the raccoon would stay hidden,” Hutto says.
Once they arrived at the dock bar, word got around quickly about their stowaway, so the band performed Rocky Raccoon by the Beatles. The raccoon now had a nickname. Leaving the bar just before sunset, Hutto and Hunter dropped off their friends, and just as they approached the dock in Back Creek, “Rocky Raccoon” emerged from the side window under the helm, Hutto recalls.
Cell phone video shows the raccoon calmly waiting on the deck as the boat approaches the dock. On video, you hear Hunter speculate, “He knows he’s home. All day long and he finally came out because he knows, navigationally, he’s almost home.”
Staying as calm as they can, Hunter and Hutto say softly, “Get it boy. There it is. Get it buddy, go, go, go home.” The video shows Rocky nimbly scamper off the boat onto the dock and back to its own woods—after a 30-mile cruise on the Bay.
According to the University of Maryland Extension, the boaters did the right thing by not touching the raccoon, keeping a distance, and letting it go back to its home. It’s illegal in Maryland to relocate a trapped raccoon.