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  • janenewaudby

Call of the water

This picture was taken mid Atlantic Ocean in 2004. We were racing a boat from the UK to Argentina and at this stage we were several hundred miles off the coast of North Africa. It was around the same time that the surface of the water was covered in dead locusts. We supposed that a storm over Africa had blown the swallow and the locusts out to sea. Its not unusual to find little birds lost out at sea and a boat can offer shelter until they find the strength to get back to land.

When the little birds first spot your floating island, they usually make several frantic passes. This is partly out of their fear of you and partly the turbulence of the air around the boat. Eventually their desperate need outweighs their fear and they land to everyone's great relief. You never dare to go near them in case you frighten them away too soon. But after they have got over the trauma of being lost and the landing, something magical happens. The bird visibly becomes more settled. It seems to understand that this is a safe place and you are not a threat. Quite often the bird moves closer and closer until it is sitting right beside you. We should always be wary of anthropomorphizing (I can never pronounce it), but there is no other reason for the bird to sit so close except that it wants to be near. The fact that it feels safer close to you feels very special. So far on different trips, we have given shelter to a few swallows, a ringed dove (which crash landed right into my lap in thick fog) and a magnificent Brown Noddy (not lost, but we supposed fancied a careful preen in good company).

I am not sure of why I have been remembering this. It might be because we will go sailing again soon so we will have new encounters with seabirds. Maybe its because the swallows will soon be back (that day always makes me cry). Maybe its just because Spring is coming and the change in the seasons means less time in the shed. The sailor part of me needs time on the water. The pay back is the sense of freedom, the soft breezes and rush of the water, incredible sunsets, peace in the soul, sundowners, and generally just hanging out with nature (and the husband). Its hard to leave the shed behind until I get close to the water, and then its easy. The two sides are as important and the water is calling.

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