susys running away to sea

"The rigors (sic) of an expeditionary lifestyle"

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Thursday 27 July

"Soozee!" shouts J from the cockpit, in an offhand way. "There's a bat here - can you get rid of it please." He's fiddling with the Beast's controls in a busy way. I'm at the bow, winching up the anchor, and don't mind a break.

The bat is huddled down in a tiny space aft of the mizzen mast. "How am I going to pick up a bat, J?" I ask, peering at the little body. Then I notice "It's a bird, it's got feathers!" And little webbed feet - definitely a bird. I don't mind picking up birds. I scoop it from its hiding place and launch it to the sea. Bit of squawking, and it's not one, but TWO tiny black birds; one in is the water, and one still on deck. I lift it into the water, less than a handful.

They've got webbed feet, right? Seabirds, right? I am suddenly smitten by the sight of them having trouble, flapping long slender winds and struggling to take off. They manage eventually and disappear.

We continue rasing the anchor. "Jack," I say, "you didn't want to pick up a 'bat', did you? That's why you called me?" He looks at me in an unconcerned, macho what rubbish are you talking about woman sort of way. I'm not fooled.

"And these are the hands I picked them up with!" I say, wiping them over his shirt.

"Aaargh!" he recoils in horror.

(You're writing nasty words about me again" J comments. "Never, Jack" I assure him. "Only poking fun (prodding a finger at him). Occasionally." "Occasionally! Constantly!!")

Through thick fog, we make our way to the entrance of Cape Rouge Harbour. As we near it, I see one of the tiny birds in the water again, and as I watch, it vanishes below the surface. It doesn't reappear. Later in my bird book, I see they are Wilson's Petrels, who hover over the water, fishing, and never land on the surface. I feel saddened that my ignorance has caused its death.

Along with the fog, we have a calm sea and no wind - motoring again, NE up the coastline. Groups of dolphins appear from time to time and escort us for a while, their backs pale turquoise under water, grays above. The small ones throw themselves about, flicking their tails for glee.

The memory of the little birds stays with me, as I watch gannets and puffins dive - so much better adapted to the water.


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