Ocean magic

Splash, splash, splash…..splash, splash, splash… I couldn’t work out what the new sound was when I opened the hatch onto the deck this morning. Part splash, part glug – I wondered if there was a (big) fish in the bilges or something hitting up at the boat from the water.

Meet Duracell

Meet Duracell

I knew I had petrels as I had heard them scratching about. They fly into the antennas at night, attracted by the light. A new moon or foggy night is the worst and I wince as I hear the twang of an antenna, followed by the soft thud(s) as the bird bounces down onto the deck or into the footwell. It can’t be much fun and I always pop outside to relaunch them if I am awake, their tiny bodies soft in my hand.

A bit soggy and flustered round the edges

A bit soggy and flustered round the edges

Given the numbers, I like to think that they each pass on stories about their time on board and how the Big Friendly Giant picked them up and put them out to sea again. Happy Socks is a chick magnet, of sorts.

This morning, on looking down into the foot well I saw three little petrels, one tucked into a corner and the other two doing the same in another corner, only one sitting on top of the other. Whether it was for warmth or dominance or love or the beginnings of a bird ladder – I don’t know. As I launched them all into the morning sunshine one at a time I could still hear splashing. I looked down into the liferaft cubby hole as bird #3 took flight and saw a bedraggled, struggling petrel stuck down between the liferaft and edge of its hole. Scooping the little fella up I could see his feathers weren’t taking him anywhere soon, so popped him on a towel and dabbled gently to help him dry, blowing onto his feathers like a human hair dryer of sorts. He was eager to get going so I launched him fifteen minutes later, only to watch him flap madly and fall straight into the water. There he stayed for half an hour, flapping up all his energy in vain, while I heaved in the sea anchor then rowed
back for him. It took a few loops before I got close enough to scoop him onboard in my fishing net and then put him on the towel again. I called him Duracell for his relentless effort and was very glad that after half an hour of drying in the sun, often with wings stretched out, and preening feathers back into proper alignment that Flight #2 worked. I wouldn’t normally interfere with wild animals and the course of nature, but in this instance I felt Happy Socks and I were responsible.

The happiest orange there ever was

The happiest orange there ever was

It is a wonderful opportunity for an up close biology lesson, watching how they move about on ‘land’, using wings and chin to grip and pull, and a chance to study their teeny webbed feet, tubed nose (for excreting salt) and feather structure. Less exciting is the morning routine of cleaning petrel poo and regurgitated fish bits from the deck.

Welcome to my world

Welcome to my world

In other animal poo news…. A pod of seven dolphins swam by today, doing a few laps of Happy Socks before losing interest. The water was so calm and bright that I thought it would be fun to get in with them to film. At that moment I noticed a trail of dolphin poo. I didn’t swim.

Another magical visit from these lovely dolphins, apart from their poo!

Another magical visit from these lovely dolphins, apart from their poo!

Back to the oars. It is slow going at the moment with easterly components in the wind.

Until next time,
Sarah and Happy Socks

P.S The dolphins asked me to ask you to text SARAH5 to 70500 to donate five squid to the L2L charities on their behalf. Thank you.

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15 Responses to Ocean magic

  1. Jane Sullivan says:

    Hello Sarah, We were on St Mary’s in the Isles of Scilly last week and noticed a map of the Atlantic pinned to the Gig Racing noticeboard. There’s a little yellow drawing pin marking your position. Low tech but tells the story. Often think of you out there while I get on with my job as a rowing coach. Wonder if any of the kids I coach will be bold enough to give The Atlantic a go one day. Love reading your posts. You may be on your own but you’re not alone. Look forward to seeing you make landfall! Jane

  2. Gay Murdoch says:

    Hello Sarah,
    Greetings from Chatham MA! We miss you at the Health Club.
    We love reading your phonecasts and wonderful descriptions of life from Happy Socks.
    We think of you everyday and Captain Dave tells his boat passengers all about you.
    🙂 Gay

  3. Tony F says:

    At least you won’t run out of petrel…. I’ll get my coat?

    I used to wonder if the fish got out of the pond….. yuk…

  4. Candi says:

    saw you on CBS morning news on Sunday. They didn’t include your latest petrel rescue efforts.

  5. Jane Patel says:

    I enjoy reading your posts- stay safe and carry on looking after those birds so well! And tell the Dolphins ive done it!…..

  6. Donna Arbuthnott says:

    Loved reading this post this morning … Made me feel like going out and doing a good deed too Stay safe love reading all your posts


    PETrel pet
    RELish a dish
    of homemade stew
    not dolphin poo
    and tell next boat
    to bring a goat
    so I can milk and if not wierd
    to make fresh cream and trim its beard.

  8. April says:

    Love hearing about your encounters. Such a strong brave person enjoy every well earned row back home to your family and friends. Chatham is so proud of you ! Stay safe.

  9. Sonia Basson says:

    Hello Sarah! I follow your progress in awe. I enjoy reading your posts..mostly because despite all your wonderous achievements…you sound like a very normal person! Best wishes. Sonia

  10. Heather says:

    Hi Sarah.
    Good to read your updates as usual. Glad you were able to rescue battered petrel on this occasion.
    Also fortunate you noticed the dolphin poo in time, could have been the shortest swim otherwise!!!
    Love and hugs xxxx

  11. Karel says:

    Great rescue story,thanks

  12. Ethel Leonard says:

    Sarah, a What a fantastic story. You are something else a remarkable woman and pray you arrive home soon.
    Love, Ethel

  13. Yoko & Eddy says:

    Hi there Sara- greetings from Nagoya. It’s a long time since I last saw you at Choshi many moons ago, and you are still plugging away. That huge heart of yours is going to take you all the way round the world. Just a few thousand beats more and you’ll be there! We keep up with your progress, and read your blog posts regularly. Godspeed!
    Yoko & Eddy

  14. John Scott says:

    Cute stories about the petrels. Happy Socks, a “Chick” Magnet? Maybe you’re the chick magnet. I think we should keep this from Lucy. 🙂

  15. Nik Seymour says:

    Hey Sarah, I’ve been following you around the world and you are an inspiration. Your fellow country women Anna McNuff arrived in my neck of the woods … Cambridge , New Zealand and I was lucky enough to go on a run with her. We had a yarn about your amazing travels too. I think Anna is writing a book about her running the length of NZ. I hope you write a second book too ! I will certainly be reading it. You are wonderful , entertaining and a very courageous person. All the best for the rest of your journey back home.

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