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Mister May 2020 - Trace
Athlete, ambassador & rigging apprentice

A
t first glance, you might think the mid-sized dog with long hair and a lolling tongue is thirsty. You wouldn’t be the the only one. When out on a trail or rock climbing, Ray Hocking is often stopped by well-intentioned people, offering water to Trace, his long tongued companion. Trace, Mister May 2020
Trace’s human, Ray Hocking, says Trace has only two teeth and a part of his gum also appears to have been compromised. It’s why his tongue constantly rests outside the confines of his jaws.

Trace and his human Ray arrived in Oriental in 2019; Ray was hired on as the new rigger for Sailcraft Service. Trace, as with all of Ray’s endeavors, was up for the adventure. When Sailcraft’s Jennifer Pawlikowski hired Ray, she didn’t know it was going to be a two-package deal. While Ray inspects the rigging, Trace makes rounds in the yard and office, earning his title as Sailcraft’s ambassador.

Trace, Mister May 2020Trace, Mister May 2020Trace, Mister May 2020
Trace shows off his paddle-boarding skills.

His friendly nature and quiet disposition have made Trace a favorite in the boatyard, earning Trace the title of Mister May, Pet of the Month.

“I found Trace on a road trip when I was moving from Michigan to Florida,” says Ray. “I took the scenic by-way called the Natchez-Trace Parkway through northern Mississippi. It was about 6:00am on Friday, the 13th of November in 2008. He looked like he had been living outdoors for some time, but otherwise looked exactly as he looks now.”

Trace, Mister May 2020
Trace posing on one of many cross-country trips. Trace and Ray both enjoy being outside and have traveled the US – sailing, hiking, and rock climbing. (Ray Hocking photo)

He didn’t know it at the time, but Ray was traveling a stretch of road where pets were often abandoned. “There was even a sign there, warning people not to feed stray animals,” he said.

“I gave him food and water and invited him to join me. It was 3 hours to a vet so I picked ticks off of him and threw them out the window on the way. He kept laying his head on my arm, but I was trying not to get attached as I thought he might be very ill and wasn’t sure what the vet would say.”

The vet gave him a clean bill of health, aside from an infection in his gums from eating whatever he was eating, and what probably lead to the fact that he had only two teeth.” Those two teeth haven’t diminished his preference for dry dog food; Ray says Trace has a hard time getting soft food out of a dish.

Trace’s time living rough seemed to have little impact on him. However, it’s assumed gum deterioration from infection, and a lack of teeth, are the cause for his dangling tongue. But it hasn’t stopped either of them.

“Trace has logged tens of thousands of miles traveling around the country with me,” says Ray, “and always seems ready for the next trip.”

Trace, Mister May 2020
Trace takes his place in the Sailcraft Services’ office. He never barks, and is always friendly, earning him the title of Sailcraft Ambassador.

Those trips have taken the pair from one coast to the other, and out on the water. Trace and Ray have made their home in some unconventional places, but Trace always adapts.

Trace, Mister May 2020
Trace had no issues learning to live aboard. (Ray Hocking photo)

“We lived in a large oak tree in Florida for a while. We had a tree house, but I had to carry him up and down, every morning and evening, holding him with one arm and climbing with the other.”

They’ve made their home on sailboats and in canyons, too.

“I was a bit of a nomadic rock climber for a couple of years. We would either sleep in the back of my car with the seat folded down or in a tent depending on the location.”

Trace, Mister May 2020Trace, Mister May 2020Trace, Mister May 2020
Ray and Trace roller blade down Midyette St.

Trace learned to paddle-board while in California. “We would go paddle around the kelp fields in Monterey Bay where he loved to watch the otters,” says Ray. “He also has good balance and we were able to ride waves when the conditions were right. If things get out of balance on the paddle board, it’s me that gets wet.”

Whether sailing or rock climbing, roller-blading or out on a paddle board, Trace keeps up. So when Ray decided it was time to leave the San Francisco Bay Area, Trace was ready.

Trace, Mister May 2020
George Midyette stops his work scraping a boat bottom to say hello to Trace.

Ray was then working for Easom Racing and Rigging on San Francisco Bay. “The city life never really suited either one of us. Being a rigger, my job requires boats, and sailboats specifically.” The two planned to set out for the east coast. Ray sent his resume out ahead of them, listing his work on everything from classic cruising yachts to small Olympic class skiffs to Roy P. Disney’s Andrews 70 racing yacht Pyewacket.

Sailcraft co-owner Jennifer Pawlikowski liked Ray’s resume, inviting him to check out Sailcraft Services. He headed straight for Oriental. A boatyard on the ICW had something different on offer for the rigging specialist. “Here I see so many different kinds of boats and from so many different parts of the world.”

Trace, Mister May 2020
Trace spends part of his day in the Sailcraft offices with Jennifer Pawlikowski.

Now Trace and Ray both have jobs at Sailcraft. Ray is the rigging specialist and Trace is chief morale officer, making rounds to visit yard employees and visitors alike.

“I liked the town,” Ray said. “SailCraft and Oriental are a good fit for us.”

Trace, Mister May 2020
Back at Ray’s place, Trace takes a break.

Trace. He sails. He climbs mountains. He’s a boatyard ambassador. Trace is Mister May 2020.

Celebrity most resembles: Gene Simmons, KISS lead singer
Likes: Kibbles & Bits, outdoor adventures, the traveling life
Wants: Doggy dentures
Secret Talent: Staying on the paddle board when Ray falls off
Dislikes: Soft food
Claim to Fame: An unforgettable profile
Rule to Live By: Be ready for anything


photos and story by Ben Casey

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