01 September, 2008

Fowl Play

Location: Annapolis, MD
Position: 38 58.233 N 076 29.869 W

After spending a couple of weeks cruising Maryland’s eastern shore, we head back across the bay to Annapolis, one of our favorite spots. We were last here three years ago for the boat show, when we met our friends John & Carter on Liberty with whom we sailed to the Azores. We like to anchor up Spa Creek, it’s close to town, well protected, and a lot quieter than the anchorages off the Naval Academy or in Broad Creek.

Several sets of our cruising buddies from the Bahamas are here and we’ve spent a few days catching up with them all, including attending the well known weekly “cruisers breakfast” at Chick & Ruth’s, a local diner-style eatery.

Okay, you say. So what does this have to do with “fowl play”? Well, we’ll tell ya.

We’re anchored out, and the dinghy spends the night tied to Rachel’s stern. It’s a lovely evening, birds are singing, baby ducks are swimming around with their mamas, a nice breeze is blowing, and all’s right with the world. A lovely dinner, a glass of wine, and we’re off to bed.

We get up the first morning, stretch, say “Looks like another lovely day”, look astern and discover two ducks sitting on the dinghy. We shoo them off, then notice a couple of gooey black piles of …. “Eeeuuuwwww - duck poo!!!”. Yuck.

Ducks may be cute, but they are actually evil and must be punished. Mark digs around in the “basement” and finds our “Super Stream Machine”, a 3’ long super-soaker type squirt gun on steroids that can shoot a 3/8” stream of water about 40 feet. “I’ll show them” he mutters.

Fast forward to evening. Our intrepid hunter sits in the cockpit duck blind, bucket of water and weapon at the ready. Ducks approach. Wait! They look like they’re preparing to board! “Sploosh!” “Quack quack quack quack..”. They high tail it out of there, paddling as fast as they can, pausing occasionally to shake the water from their feathers. “Hah! Guess I showed them.” Julie thinks he looks quite cute sitting there with his squirt gun. Mark insists he is ‘bad’, not cute.

In the middle of the night, he goes hunting again, finding two ducks on the dinghy and again, drives off his quarry. The flock gathers about 100 feet off the boat and, after a lot of quacking back and forth, swim off. We figure the ones that got squirted were telling their friends that our dinghy was a bad place to be and they should all leave it alone and find easier prey. If only we’d known how wrong we were…

In the morning, the dinghy is pristine. “It worked! Boo wah! No more poo!” he shouts, strutting about the deck, waving his weapon in victory. Other boaters anchored near us shake their heads in .

Fast forward again to the next night. At about 4am Mark again sneaks out of bed to check on the dinghy. Holy molies!! The dinghy is covered with ducks – there must be a dozen or more! He grabs the squirt gun and fires. “Spawn of the devil! Take this!” DOH! He forgot to load it before retiring and only manages to blow a little poof of air in their general direction. This gives the ducks a chance to all get away cleanly, without a single shot being fired. Determined to chalk up another victory, he bides his time in the duck blind, hoping for another chance.

Julie awakens, chilly without her “personal heater” next to her. She calls “Come back to bed”. He says “I’m doing duck guard duty.” She says “Oh for crying out loud. Come back to bed and I’ll clean up any mess in the morning. I’m cold!”

Mark doesn’t have to think long about this offer, and, thanking his lucky stars, quickly retires below.

The next morning he is awakened by wails of anguish. “Oh … my ... God!!! It’s completely covered!” And, alas, it’s true. There is hardly a single square inch of the dinghy upon which the ducks have not taken their revenge. And there they sit, the entire flock, leisurely paddling, just out of reach of the water gun, laughing at us. Mocking us. Foul, foul fowl.

Mark helpfully suggests “You probably should clean that off before the sun dries it hard.”

Julie sighs, mutters under her breath “Next time I’ll just get a blanket” and, true to her word, spends the next hour scrubbing and rinsing.

The moral of the story: just because something is cute, does not mean it is your friend.