July 21, 2013

A little cockpit mystery

DO YOU KNOW A SEAGULL who is addicted to nicotine? Or maybe a crane who smokes cigarettes?

I ask because of a little mystery concerning my 20-foot daysailer, which is snugly berthed in a fairly quiet spot in the city marina.

When I arrived at the boat yesterday I found two surprising pieces of evidence in the cockpit. The first was a tiny, shriveled fish head, the kind of fish a seagull or a crane would eat for breakfast. The second was the butt end of a filter cigarette.

I know for certain that a fish-eating bird of some kind often uses my boat as his dining table when he thinks nobody’s looking.  I have found the evidence in white blobs and scaly bits of fish and crab all over the deck. The rotter has also left his calling card on my nice Banks mainsail, which, for reasons we needn’t go into, stayed furled on the boom without a cover for a couple of weeks.

But now, it seems, he’s also enjoying an after-meal smoke on board, to settle the stomach, I suppose.  I haven’t smoked for decades, so I know the cigarette butt wasn’t mine.

I dissuaded him from perching on the mainsail by stretching a thin line along the boom a couple of inches above the sail, but I’m at a loss for a way to stop him smoking in the cockpit.  I’m afraid  that he might graduate to cigars, and block the cockpit drain or even carelessly forget to stub the cigar out and set the whole boat on fire. I don’t know if my insurance would cover arson committed by a feathered fish-eating cigar smoker.

I have also been wondering about where he gets a light for his smokes. There are no matches available in the cockpit so presumably he lights up somewhere else and flies back to my boat with the cigarette already glowing.  Does he perhaps have some glow-worm pals?  And do their little backsides glow hot enough to light a cigarette?

I have often said that sailing is a sport full of mysteries. Some of them are never solved. I guess you can add this one to the list.

 Today’s Thought
Let not the conceit of intellect hinder thee from worshipping mystery.
— M. F. Tupper, Proverbial Philosophy: Reading

“What happened to that guy who tried to cash one of your checks?”
“They took him away in a strait jacket.”

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)

1 comment:

Ken said...

Try stringing a line or two above your cockpit. A simple stick about the width of your cockpit attached to the back-stay a foot or two above the coaming with fishing string attached from each end running to the forward shrouds. Of course that is if the rig stays up. The most important thing to know is that seagulls, will not roost/relax for lunch "under" a line in close proximity.