The Birds

At Sea — October 2003
By Capt. Bill Pike

The Birds
Are you ready for a real-life version of Hitchcock’s famous thriller?

Joseph Daniel Fiedler

 More of this Feature

• Part 1: The Birds
• Part 2: The Birds continued

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• At Sea Index

Like most horror shows, this one starts out innocuously enough. A couple of barn swallows moved into the boathouse in front of my North Florida stilt house, Mullet Mansion. I enjoyed the little devils at first, fighter-pilot-type fliers that they are, fondly observing their penchant for swooping, looping, and, every now and again, pooping with panache. Then came the inevitable proliferation of progeny, populating the place with the juggernaut drive of an arithmetic progression. From a cute little couple in a mud nest under the eaves, a veritable nation of birds evolved, living in so many nests, both inside and outside the boathouse, that the place started looking more like the digs of the cliff dwellers at Mesa Verde than the home of my cherished fishboat, the Scrumpy Vixen.

This was totally uncool, of course. I mean trying to live a peaceful, wholesome life, with 40,000 barn swallows rockin’ and rollin’ right next door, soiling my cherished fishboat poses all sorts of gloomy problems. Aesthetics, for example. As the birds began to solidify control, cleaning up the Scrump turned into a daily chore, then a twice-daily chore, then finally a thrice-daily chore. At length, the scene got so mind-blowingly ugly I was constrained to just stop and stare off into space occasionally, so overcome was I with repugnance and distaste.

Then there was the discoloration issue. I’m here to report that the only thing that whitens gelcoat besmirched by barn swallows is Clorox, a substance that’s about as good for fiberglass laminates as battery acid. Nevertheless, since the spring, I’ve put in enough time dealing with poop-blasted fiberglass to come up with my very own Clorox-based doo-doo-defragmenting procedure. You start by spraying offensive spots with a solution of one part Clorox and four parts fresh water. Then you let the solution stand for approximately a half-hour. Finally, you rinse with more fresh water, remembering, of course, to sell the boat as soon as the gelcoat starts scaling off in sheets.

Seemliness was the final aspect of my dilemma. Plenty of people around this neck of the woods know I make my living doing something related to big, pricey boats, and plenty of people know I’m also the head honcho of the local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla, otherwise known as “The Wild Bunch,” an appellation that deserves its own story some day. What must these folks think, I began to wonder, as they cruised past the boathouse and observed the Scrump in such a dang degraded condition, looking like a cross between a guano barge and a Jackson Pollock painting?

Wicked thoughts began to hound me about a month ago, especially in the mornings while I stood in the shadows of the boathouse facing yet another long day of doo-doo defragmentation, holding the hose like a pistol, its nozzle dialed murderously to “straight stream.” Descending upon me like packs of wolves, reeking of ferocious, bone-crunching Darwinism, the thoughts were dark, antediluvian, and confusing.

Next page > Part 2: I stood on the brink, precariously poised over the abyss. > Page 1, 2

This article originally appeared in the September 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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