Here’s a little story from Ted Jones, former editor and co-owner of the late, great and much lamented “Coastal Cruising” magazine. This tale signifies to me why we all cruise. Who else could have such an experience but cruisers, and Ted has written it so very well!
As dusk settled over the ocean on April 29th a land bird suddenly flew into the companionway and landed on Malla’s head as she was working in the galley. Reflexively, she brushed it away, and it flew out over the ocean again only to return, determined to find a suitable perch before nightfall. Malla identified it as a swallow. It had most likely been blown out to sea by the strong westerly winds of the previous several days. Swallows, she said require a perch before dark where they can safely spend the night. Ted was not surprised, having been visited by land birds on several occasions. They rarely survive the experience, and there seems to be no way one can help. We have tried, but the end always seems to be the same despite good intentions. Our little swallow eventually found a roosting place on the extension cord used to connect Ted’s computer equipment when we are dockside.
Both of us were mindful of our passenger throughout the tumultuous events of the wee hours of Friday morning and were concerned for its safety. Amazingly, it put up with the contents of the ice box counter crashing to the cabin sole at one point and the noise and vibrations of the engine sometime later. It clung to it’s tenuous perch despite the constant motion.
An hour or so after sunrise, with a “thank you” chirp, our little bird suddenly took flight, out of the companionway, and with a quick orientation circle disappeared toward land, several miles away. We hope it made it to shore. We will never know, although we told it to say hello to Dorcas when it gets to Vermont.
Ted’s story about the bird that took refuge reminded me of a similar incident around 1982. While wrapping up a dive trip on the wreck of the City of Richmond some 30 miles or so off the Georgetown entrance a sandpiper landed on the instrument panel…and refused to budge. We knew right away the poor critter must have lost it’s bearings and flew out to sea. About the time we approached the Pee Dee entrance it got reoriented and flew away to the beach. Sigh.
(Nobody You Know) Hatteras 40DCMY