On Friendship with Birds

June 22, 2018

Day 176/4

Noon Position: 29 59N 158 29W
Course/Speed: N5
Wind: ENE6
Bar: 1024, steady
Sea: NE and W to 1; NW to3
Sky: Overcast with high squalls
Cabin Temperature: 82
Water Temperature: 75
Sail: #1 and Main, close reaching

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good: 117
Miles this leg: 516
Avg. Miles this leg: 129

The blackfooted albatross of yesterday has remained close today. Every hour or two, I’ll see him swing by and then land in the water just ahead. He’ll watch Mo as she passes from a comfortable perch on a flat sea and with a turn of the head that suggest intense curiosity.
Sometimes he’ll remain seated there until nearly out of sight. Sometimes he’ll take off as Mo comes abreast, paddling strongly with webbed feet while also flapping wings so long and narrow they look to fragile for that task. He’ll circle and then be gone on the hunt for a while. Just when I think that is the last of him, I’ll look up and there he’ll be, sitting on the water looking at me. I’ll wave or yell out, “H e l l o !” Typically he does not respond.

All day the pattern has been the same.

He must be young–no mature bird of the south would evince such attachment–or maybe he’s more gregarious than is typical of his type. Maybe this is his first foray into the wide ocean and he is wanting for company.

Whatever the reason, I’ve enjoyed the companionship. And too, I have by now enough association with the race of birds to know that at some point he will circle for the last time. It’s nothing personal; his world is large.

Other friends today included a trio of tropic birds. Their timing was perfect as today Mo chose to flush for them, and in rapid succession, a school of flying fish and a school of squid. The tropic birds dove and dove, crackling their voices excitedly in between. Then, when they were almost too heavy to achieve the air again, they did their looping dance above the mast and were gone.

In the morning we found a skein of orange rope undulating on the surface–thick mooring line used in commercial shipping. A flurry of emails with my sponsors in Honolulu. Tag it or leave it? What is big enough drift to warrant an expensive satellite tracker? This one did not quite qualify.

One Comment on “On Friendship with Birds

  1. In the photo, the albatross looks like it has the brown curly feathers of a juvenile

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