Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Noon Position 36 34' S, 88 55' W, SOG 4.5, COG 040, Day's run 85 nm.
Well, after a few light air days, it looks like I'm back into the
breeze. Unfortunately, the wind is from the East, pretty much the
direction I want to go, but at least I'm moving faster than 2 kts
today. On Christmas Night (Christmas Day Eve? The night of the 25th?
3 nights ago?) I finished opening the last Christmas cards that I
hadn't managed during the day, then settled down to read a bit. I was
working my way through an anthology of Keith Laumer's short stories
about aliens invading Earth when all of a sudden I head something
flapping and flopping about in the cockpit. Was it a flying fish? It
didn't sound quite fishy enough to my discerning ear. Was it perhaps
one of the alien Gool, emerged from the e-ink screen of my kindle to
harvest my brain? I peered out into the stifling darkness, partially
blind from my reading light. The night was overcast, with out even a
hint of moon or stars, so I could just see the vaguest impression of
movement. I sat for a moment, hoping that whatever was raising such a
ruckus would flop itself back overboard and let me get back to reading
in peace. No such luck. I stumbled over my lee cloth and up on deck,
and in the glow of my headlamp was greeted by a rather small albatross
sitting at the helm, trying to climb back up over the seat back. Since
the back of the seat is fairly high, and the bird was on the small side,
it was not succeeding, try as it might to turn its wings and webbed feet
into something more approximating the footwear found on a gecko.
Stories of how sailors used to catch Albatross and keep them as pets on
board ships flashed through my head. They apparently needed more room
than was available on the deck of a ship to get airborne enough to clear
the bulwarks, so once on board were stuck there until pitched back over
the side. Clearly this little fellow, while certainly not the great
wandering albatross of the high latitudes, was suffering from the same
difficulty on a smaller scale. I have no idea what made it think my
cockpit to be a suitable albatross roost, although clearly it had
decided upon arriving that it had been mistaken. After a brief but
invigorating game of "Catch the albatross" I managed to deposit the
squirming bird onto one of my solar panels, where took took a few
seconds to gain its bearings. Then, with a whisper of wind, it was gone
into the blackness. The next morning I discovered that it was not
simply orienting itself upon my solar panel - A small token of its
appreciation was streaked across the outboard edge of the panel.


  1. Perhaps the albatross had decided to bring you birthday greetings and good luck. Happy Birthday, Eric!

  2. Your storytelling is quite entertaining. You sure know how to bait your audience for what happens next. Those mystery novels you like to read are really paying off for your blog readers!

  3. I went to high school in Valparaiso [so my personal cruising ground]
    and have a few very good friends who still live there - but they are not cruisers - one of them has a yacht [ coastal cruiser ] and may be able to help once he get's closer -
    the Chilean Navy is usually very helpful -

    A good option other than the main port is the
    Yacht Club de Chile in Valparaiso / Vina del Mar may have berths avail for cruisers... LAT. 33º 81’ 33” S LONG. 71º 34’ 54” E
    Tel +56 32 266 1268

    feel free to contact me once you get there and I'll introduce you to to some friendly locals ..

    Dietmar Petutschnig
    SV Carinthia
    Currently in Gulf Harbor, New Zealand