By Alan Littlefield
Recently a cormorant has taken to sitting on my starboard spreader at daybreak and watching the sunrise. I am partial to do this myself, (watch the sunrise, not sit on the spreader) and I am glad of the company. However he isn't very house trained and his early morning ablutions cover my deck.
Initially, while not happy, I was prepared to clean it up after him. (I assume it's a him, surely a woman would be a little more house proud), however the quantity of his deposits and the smell that emanates from his largely fish diet meant that eventually something had to be done.
I didn't particularly want him to leave, just be a better houseguest. I had read somewhere that you can speak with animals and although it is extremely unlikely that they will understand (and even less likely they will answer back unless you have been imbibing in a cask of Chateau Lunatic Soup) they may get the gist of the conversation.
Well it was worth a try so the next time we were sharing the view over the marina wall I thought I would mention it to him. I stood up in the cockpit and climbed onto the cabin roof.”Oi!” I said to get his attention. The cormorant appeared a little startled and craned his neck downward and back from his lofty perch to peer at me while keeping his body still facing forward.
“I don't have a problem with your visiting, indeed ask nicely and we can share breakfast, it's just that you leave an awful mess.” I thought that I had hit the right tone, firm but fair and hoped that my not unreasonable request might do the trick.
My neighbours in the marina, Steve and Amanda, are used to strange goings on aboard Dreamagic. However, even they were surprised to see me partially clad, standing on the roof speaking with my mast. Not ones to judge, however, they waited unseen by me patiently for the cormorant's reply.
The cormorant tuned to face the sun again, appeared trying to phrase a suitable response before lifting his tail and letting fly on my deck. He then craned his neck around to peer at me once more.
“Right! No more Mr Niceguy. You have bloody asked for it now!” I looked around for something that I could use to dislodge him from his battlement. I didn't want to hurt the bird, and I certainly didn't want to throw parts of the boat into the rigging to be lost forever over the side, but I did want him gone.
Finally I spotted the hose on the marina berth. I climbed the rail, grabbed the hose, turned it on full and sprayed the bird. Thinking victory was mine I had forgotten that cormorants are water birds. Mine just turned around to face me, and opened his wings the way that cormorants do so that I could get to all those annoying little places he normally can't reach while showering.
My cormorant still visits every day, and I think he has taken to bringing his own soap and towel now. Steve and Amanda still sit in their cabin convinced they made the right decision in buying a motor launch and that people who go to sea without massive diesel propulsion are not right in the head, and I still share my boat with each morning with one of the worst houseguests you could imagine.
Click on the blog link at the top of this page for Alan's profile and more Dreamagic adventures.