Bert at the Helm

Jun 26 2011

As of fifteen minutes ago, Bert has been at the helm for almost fourteen hours. In the time, he hasn’t once left to use the head, shower, or eat a meal, despite our best efforts to feed him. While we each took our turn at the wheel, Bert has been there, supervising our course corrections, silently glaring at the compass when we began to deviate beyond his approved heading, and occasionally tucking his head under his arm to take a nap.
Wait…what?
Bert is a bird that joined us during dinner last evening, flying behind the boat for a short period of time before deciding that we were headed his way. Noticeably worse for the wear, his left wing was missing at least half a dozen pinion feathers, which made his flight patterns somewhat erratic.
He came in for a landing on the clothesline that ran behind the helm, and then eventually tumbled his way around the deck before climbing the helm with his beak and settling just to port of the compass. We all figured he’d be off pretty quickly, but as the sun dropped down below the horizon he seemed more and more content perched right where he was. With every watch turnover we began to place bets on whether he’d be with us to Christmas Island, our next destination.
At 9:30 this morning, I tumbled out of my bunk (we’ve been on a pretty healthy beam reach this entire time so the boat spends most of its time ten degrees to port) to find Jesper at the wheel with an awake and alert Bert alongside. As I enjoyed my bowl of Tahitian Rice Crispies, which have a noticeably louder ‘Snap, Crackle’, but a rather mediocre ‘Pop’, Bert apparently decided that he wasn’t in the mood for grains, and would prefer something more in tune with his sea bird diet. In the classic Bert fashion that we have all come to know and love, he then proceeded to bash his way around the cockpit for a minute before flailing himself into the open sky. Bon voyage Bert.