Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Baby Sitting

There was a bright side to our evening rock and roll session. Now we can be confident we still have our sea legs, which had been a concern and one of our reasons for making a coastal sail. With only the two of us on a passage that crosses the legendary Bay of Biscay, we want to be sure we have sea legs.

Day two of our journey south along the eastern Irish coast was again encased in cold gray drizzle on top of messy seas. While not the nicest day, it was an easy enough sail. The wind was directly on our stern, causing the main to flog, so we only sailed with the 135% jib which did a fine job. The morning was a blur due to little sleep but we both managed to pick up steam as the day progressed, probably due to our visitors.

Early afternoon brought the largest pod of dolphins I have ever witnessed. They gave synchronized performances (with as many as 6 dolphins) simultaneously on each side of the bow, while countless others performed gymnastics a distance in front of the bow. It was amazing! (Sorry no dolphin photos because I’m tired of trying and only getting shots of splashes.)

Our second and even more memorable visitor – yes, even more memorable! - was a bird. We’re 3 miles offshore in poor visibility when a little bird would periodically fly around us and land on the boat. The bird did this for a couple of hours, little by little landing closer to us and staying longer. At first glance it looked grown-up with its distinguishing colorful markings (wish I knew my birds) but later upon closer inspection we determined it was only a youngster. Sometimes you could see unruly tuffs of baby fuzz under its adult feathers and while an excellent flyer, it wobbled a bit when it walked. Eventually it started chatting to us and landing on us. Isn’t he adorable I would say, especially when it started to nuzzle. After a while the little guy wouldn’t stop chirping unless we held it! (It reminded me of a time I went chicken hunting in the BVI’s but that’s another bird story…) By now we’re affectionately referring to the little guy as “the baby” and convinced he was blown offshore and now he’s cold and exhausted. Later the captain was down below saying “maybe you should bring him down here where it’s warm”. I was afraid he might get spooked and fly into something but before there was much debate the baby flew down the hatch and onto my captain’s shoulder. It was settled, down below it would be. We created a nest-like area with the kitchen towel where the baby slept for over two hours. Upon frequent inspection, only occasionally did we see him look up to be sure all was fine before tucking his cute little head back into his side feathers, his way of saying lights out.

By late afternoon we entered Cork Harbour, rounded Roche’s Point (top photo) and entered the Owenboy River to arrive in Crosshaven, County Cork. After docking at Salve Marina we found the baby relocated down below, awake and chirpy. He was still happiest in the palm of a hand but seemed energetic. Thinking the baby must be famished, I attempted to feed it bread which he ignored and then sesame seeds which he clearly hated because each time I held one to his beak, he would turn away and bury his head under his wing in disgust. The baby was in no hurry to vacate but as we left for the pub we left him in the warmth of a towel inside the hatch cover. Upon our return to the boat, the baby was gone, surely grateful to be rested and back on land.

1 comment:

Yuri said...

Twice I've had teensy birds come aboard, both times in open ocean, at least 300 miles from land! Same deal; they fly around the boat a bit, hang out, rest up, and disappear.