Wingssail Home Wingssail Images LogBookPages Map of our travels Index Email Fred & Judy

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

July 18, 2017-Bird Wars

wingssail images-fredrick roswold

B&G wind Instruments

I don’t know when I last wrote about the “Bird Problem”.

Maybe it was in Mauritius when our windex (that little arrow at the top of our mast which points into the direction of the wind) fell broken to the deck after a crow tried to sit on it. That crow was cheeky and smart, as crows are known to be. After breaking off the windex he flew down to a nearby railing to watch me and see what I’d do about his handiwork. Smart or not I didn’t like what he did to our windex which I had to spend a day fixing (since no replacement windexes were available in Mauritius).

I know it wasn’t when a Bald Eagle tried to grab onto our masthead long ago, in British Columbia, and his strong talons nearly crushed our delicate B&G wind instruments, which are right alongside the windex. I was pissed off about that but I never wrote about it.

I think probably it was back when we were anchored in Mexico with Carl and JoAnne on Far Niente. I wrote,
The first voice I heard on the radio this morning was Carl, from Far Niente, calling “Wings, Wings".

When I answered he just said, "Look up!"

I stuck my head out the hatch and craned my neck upward, and there on the spreaders staring back at me were two large Boobies. When Boobies are up on your sailboat mast, look out below! We just spent hours the previous day cleaning up after the last Boobie. Up on deck I went, and I grabbed the end of a wire Spinnaker halyard and swung it wildly against the mast, which caused the Boobies to gracefully drop off their perches and to glide off across the water towards...

Yes, you guessed it, Carl's boat, where they landed and decided that so much excitement called for a little relief; on Carl's boat.

I happily called Carl on the radio to notify him, you see we help each other out.

Later the Boobies flew over to John's boat. Both Carl and I called John.

That was Zihuatenejo in 1998. Now I am writing again about the bird wars because that’s what they are: wars! Not only do they make a mess, they can break things, expensive things.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Frigate Bird on a neighbor's instruments

Here in La Cruz there are very few Boobies but plenty of Pelicans and Frigate birds. The Pelicans will land on your railings and poo all over the place, but they don’t bother the boats in the marina, only in the anchorage. So we’re safe from Pelican poo. Frigate Birds, however, are a problem. They love to perch on the top of sailboat masts in the marina. Not only do they drop their stuff all over the boat (which is devilish hard to scrub off) but they can break sailboat instruments. Our sailboat instruments are very good, but old; irreplaceable in fact. So when the Frigate Birds started landing on our mast, and squishing our wind direction unit, it meant war.

Now there are a couple of ways to fight against these birds aside from banging on the mast with your hand whenever you notice one or someone tells you about one which scares the Frigate bird off. This is not a good way to prevent damage because the bird can sit there for hours before anyone notices it. One way to prevent damage is to take down all your mast head instruments. That definitively prevents damage to expensive parts but it doesn’t stop the birds from landing up there anyhow and littering your deck and sail covers. It is also inconvenient to go up the mast and replace the instruments every time you want to go sailing, then take them back down again afterwards.

Another approach is to put a garden rake up the mast, supposedly to prevent the birds from getting close to the wind instruments. I say supposedly because while several people have put rakes up their masts it hasn’t stopped the Frigate birds. The Frigate birds just land on the rake and poo like crazy. At least they can’t get down alongside the rake to reach the instruments. One poor boat owner, while putting up a rake to protect his instruments, broke the instruments with the rake, and the birds still land there to do their duty.

No, I decided to think outside the box.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold

One thing I know is that these birds do not like landing on sharp objects. Modern windex units have a needle like rod sticking straight up. Frigate birds won’t land on that needle. I guess it hurts their butts. We have one of these needles on our windex. It works. The B&G wind instrument, which has its own vane for pointing into the wind and a set of spinning cups to measure wind speed, is not so equipped and those are the parts which are at risk on Wings.

I decided to add a needle to my B&G. Just something simple but sharp, which would stick right up the Frigate bird’s rear end should one try to land there. My solution, simple but hopefully effective, was to attach a piece of sharpened stainless steel rigging wire to the wind direction vane with wire ties. I figured it would add some windage but probably would not stop the device from operating, and should discourage the Frigate Birds.

That is what I did.

So far, so good.

No Frigate Birds have been sighted on our mast since I did this. Happy Happy.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Two Birds in the bush

Click here for more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huancaxtle

Labels: , ,


Blogger lil sis said...

Oh the sagas continue!
Hope your problems are never bigger then Boobies ....a..a...a.. smile big bro!
Hugs, lil sis

30 July, 2017 13:20  

Post a Comment

<< Home

NEXT Page (More) , or... GO BACK to Previous Page