We’ve heard from other salty sailor friends of ours about delightful experiences of birds catching a ride on their boats while moving along out in the open ocean. The birds would either come into the cockpit or go down below, eat, drink, perch on a finger, take a seemingly domesticated role, and then as quickly as they arrived, they were off again – rested and revived and ready for the rest of their flight to… wherever. We’ve not seen birds landing on the RK while moving. They usually come and perch while we’re at anchor or in a slip. Pelicans loved our bow, when we chartered in the BVI’s, as a diving perch for their fishing endeavors, and crows loved our spreaders for plopping berry seeds on our decks. Then there were the night herons and seagulls that ravaged their prey on the decks in Florida and City Island. Once we had a monarch butterfly or two catch a ride, assumingly, as we travel through their migration path.
We have also seen a number of different creatures either moving along with us or that we passed along the way. That list includes: dolphin, which I can never write enough about because they’re so magically cool and they love playfully surfing the bow waves. Once we saw a huge leather back turtle, off the coast of Rhode Island or MA area, its head larger than the size of a human’s. And then there were also huge schools of jellyfish, fish covered in bioluminescence, flying fish (many on deck), large fish jumping out of the water (we think they were marlin), a momma and baby Right Whale, and what was probably a sunfish that we bumped into because they sometimes come to the surface. There’s a viral YouTube video of a couple guys in Rhode Island who saw one on the surface and though it was a “baby wheeeeeel”. Once we heard a “sécurité” or warning over our VHF telling of a floating dead whale in the water somewhere around St. Vincent and the Grenadines, but we never saw it
So in sum, nothing unwanted, except for a dead squid we found on the dashboard by following the ink trail and George the gecko who was living in the mizzen mast. And ,he was small enough to not worry much about… unless there was the possibility of self-reproduction which is a thing in some lizards, from what I grasped in 7th grade science. I’m still on my way to distinguishing such things, like geckos, lizards, versus iguanas, and salamanders. It’s a huge learning curve since squirrel, raccoon, butterflies, bees, and deer were the only outdoor creatures I’d see on a regular basis growing up as a landlubber.
This most recent passage, was the first passage on the RK where we had so many stowaways: different birds hitching a ride for hours at a time. We, had at least 3 this passage, from NYC to VA. These little stowaways provided entertainment and distraction from the usual. Paul had one eating the crumbs left over from a sandwich by his feet in the cockpit. I was sleeping and unfortunately missed that. We were sad to see them go, but we had multiple visits. It must be a migration pattern because other sailing friends had similar experiences. One couple, our friends on s/v Lost Cat had a bird stow away on their boat but not for long. They have a feline on board their catamaran (when their pet feline moved onto the boat for the first time it went missing for a few days, so Lost Cast had a lost cat on board for a bit) who was very pleased this bird decided to stop by. The laws of nature went to work not long after.
Since we left NYC, we’ve stopped at Sandy Hook, NJ and Cape May, NJ. The town we dinghy to in Sandy Hook is called Atlantic Highlands. We enjoy stopping there. It’s where we stage for a larger passage going further south and if it were pre-COVID, I would have done at least one yoga session and we would have used their beautiful public library (a fun part of this lifestyle is exploring various town libraries… some real gems out there.) Then, we made it to Cape May where I can walk or bike those splendid, quaint streets for hours. We adore that town and it was super empty. I did go for a massage there. The masseuse took all kinds of precautions and I appreciated the much-needed body work. We missed the gathering of friends in Cape May, this summer. Next year hopefully things will have returned to the old normal. Possible or am I in denial?
Now we’re in Hayes, VA. Haven’t heard of it? No surprise there. It’s a small part of the Chesapeake Bay, which is enormous, off Mobjack Bay. You can get lost in the Chesapeake . You could probably sail your whole lifetime here and not see it all. Hayes and the surrounding towns, are very rural. There are large fields of grass and crops, ranches, farms, marsh, numerous rivers, and not much else, except little enclaves and quaint towns. Our rental car is a necessity as anywhere you need to go is miles away. We’ve enjoyed a few bike rides but even this morning it was difficult to ride through the the sand-paved roads in this quiet, little outlying beach area of homes and cottages we are currently staying. There’s more water than land in this area, but it’s mostly marshy and many of the rivers are narrow and shallow. But we fit well coming into Hayes and the RK is out of the water getting all fixed up. It’s our biannual check-up, if you will. In sailor’s speak it’ s “being on the hard.” So we’re on the hard for our biannual maintenance tasks. We pulled in here, a place we’ve never been before, based on a recommendation by another Amelian (person who also has our boat) and we’ve been pleasantly surprised by how so very attentive the staff is at The Severn Yachting Center.
A highlight, other than the staff carefully taking the boat out of the water and painting/cleaning the bottom for us, was to be invited to Thanksgiving dinner by one of the staff. The COVID cases in this area are still under 200 since it all started so we felt safe enough to join and so glad we did. They were really beautiful people and great chefs!
Jeanice, her dog Latte on her lap and the painting she is currently working on. It’s called a “rainbow bird.” It was impressive! David did some fiberglass work on the RK for us – small chips that Algebra (our dinghy’s name-and ode to Little Rascals) made one passage on the stern. David is also a master color technician and was able to do a great job matching the paint. It all looked white to me, but he got that much closer with each mixing. And it was David that invited us to his lovely family’s home on a sprawling 50 acre farm. It was a day filled with beauty, love and laughs.
Hurricane Isaias ripped one of our solar panels off and we need to get more solar panels and fix the attachment point of the old. Well, need is a strong word. Paul and I would like to get more solar panels. They are so powerful and make creature comforts more accessible – AND IT’S CLEAN energy. Yeah! So we’ll ask if someone in this area could do the canvas work. If not, it’s back to Brunswick, GA. The ideal place to get projects done with it’s comfortable floating docks and sweet neighborhood.
While in VA, we’ve bounced from air b-n-b to air b-n-b and now find ourselves a short walk to the beach along a brush path that’s home to deer, pheasant and wild turkey. We catch them grazing or flying short distances and the deer are everywhere at dusk. As we move south we watch the butter closely for signs of melting. Nothing yet. It’s pretty here, no freezing temps, yet. The area is filled with large ranch properties and colonial period houses and constructions. Where we are staying, is a very cozy cottage and has an extra room that sleeps 3… any takers? We go to the boat nearly every day to get a project done. Any takers (LOL)? The biggest one was Paul re-stuffing the rudder post gland. As this was his first crack at such a project, it took much longer than anticipated but he eventually got it done.