It’s probably evident already by the sudden influx of blog posts with numerous photos that we have arrived back to the estuary after a four-week trip to the Yucatan for Sage and Elise’s wedding. We left the boat on its own anchor and had a local guy looking after it but we didn’t exactly know what to expect when we returned; insane mildew takeover, one or more hulls gored by one of the rogue tree trunks that roam about the estuary, a bat infestation in the mainsail, a gaping hole lacking any boat whatsoever where we thought we had left it, etc. However, we returned to no more than a couple of cups of water in the bilge curtsey of a small but sprightly leak in our babystay. And a bat infestation in the mainsail. Well, one small bat. One small bat who, in violation of all rational physics, produced about three metric tons of batshit.
Babystay leak promptly sealed, we went about our business for two or three days noticing all this batshit but not actually able to wrap our minds around the reality because there was Just. So. Much. Of. It. There was a minor storm the day after we returned that kicked up some major wind and waves and let loose a torrent of wee pellets from our sail cover, which are startlingly similar in appearance to mouse, or godforbid rat, poops. “Huh,” we said.
We decided, after our previous boat-abandonment success (no mold, missing boat, etc.), to button up Time Machine once more and head off to Nicaragua to be land-based tourists for a couple more weeks. With the advent of electrical storm season, we were concerned that not only does the boat sport one giant aluminum middle finger sticking right up into the clouds, in the event of a strike, the charge would surely ignite the tons of guano and send our boat sky high in a fiery ball. Something had to be done; the inevitable eviction would be an event, to be sure, as I was certain we had at least a caveful of the things nestled amongst the folds of the sail.
Utterly preoccupied with bats and how an attack might be launched, we barely noticed the pair of ‘golondrinas’ (a type of swallow?) that had clearly used our absence to set up house in the one bat-free fold of our main. The sneaky little bastards would wait until we weren’t looking, then ferry in a feather or two to line the pad, lay an egg or four, etc. All the time I was thinking, “Hmm, those birds must really like us or something…”
‘Operation Eliminate Temporary Ecosystem, um, Eagle’ commenced yesterday afternoon during a not-terribly-windy spell. We released the catch on the bottom of the mainsail and prepared to remove the sail entirely for safekeeping in more bat-proof quarters. And this is the first thing we saw:
Whoa. Not a bat lair but a nest of great cuteness populated by four wee little eggies. So thaaaats what they’ve been up to; the parent birds were by this point flying all around the boat, basically freaking out I suppose. Not that the behavior of a freaking-out golondrina is any different than its non-freaking-out state, since they are particularly hyperactive little guys normally. We decided to remove the nest intact without touching it if possible so we used the bailer from the dinghy and just scooped up the nest. It fit rather perfectly and the container was similar in shape to the fold of the sail. We put the bailer in the cockpit cubby, which can be seen from the original nest position in hopes that the birds could wrap their little minds around the concept of Relocated Nest.
We commenced the careful extraction of the sail while diverting the rivers of batshit over the side of the cockpit. Finally we saw the bat. There was only one and he was very small. And cute.
Gah! The discovery! Rudely awakened, he tried to retreat back into the tighter folds of the sail. (Note cache of batshit.)
As we continued to remove the sail from the track, he abandoned his nook and made a bold attempt to scale the mast in hopes that there might be a quiet dark spot up higher. (There’s not.)
Alas! No place to hide up above; mast-scaling attempt aborted. The bat made again for the sail while, as a last-ditch effort, trying to scare us away with some scary bat antics. After this failed to remove us from the scene and/or produce a quiet dark spot to nest in, he jumped down into the cockpit and climbed up the curtain, dangerously close to the cabin entrance. Not interested in any new crew members at this time, Joshua shooed him around until he escaped into the cubby at the side of the cockpit (where the nest had been temporarily relocated). Satisfied that there was nowhere to go from here unless he burrowed through the speakers, we let him stay. Hopefully he’ll just fly away once it gets dark and find a less-rambunctious place to sleep. No other bats were discovered as the remainder of the mainsail was removed. We cleaned it up and folded it away.
Meanwhile, the golondrinas were still flying all around and chittering at us or each other. Joshua had grave concerns about the birds’ powers of reason and was not optimistic that they would able to relocate to a nesting spot not four feet from the original one. I figured that they might happen to look down if they went to the former location and recognize their nest and eggs; plus, we had been careful to not touch the nest and get our smelly people germs all over it. (Not that the boat contains any of these smelly people germs, or the mainsail, for that matter.) Joshua thought maybe we could affix the bailer to the maststep (which was approximately where the nest used to be located) and that would solve the problem. He wedged the bailer into the maststep and when he went to get a rope to secure it, it somehow popped out and nest and eggs went splattering all over the top of our deck.
It was very sad and traumatic and I practically started crying. The eggs were perhaps halfway matured so that you could see red developing-bird bits inside while the cracked eggshells bled white amniotic goo. The parent birds continued their erratic flight patterns about the boat and we felt very, very guilty; I don’t know if they grasped what exactly had happened. Joshua felt particularly terrible and gathered up what remained of the nest back into the bailer and put it back into the cockpit cubby, where it’s still sitting because we don’t know what to do with it. We gave the broken egg babies a sea burial.
Curiously, the parent golondrinas did not flee the boat after the terrible destruction of their nest and potential offspring; in fact, it appears they are preparing to build a new one. We’re fairly certain that they can’t build it anywhere that will be in the way or require removal anytime soon, and so we look forward to seeing a new little nest with four new eggies when we get back from Nicaragua.