Sailing to Isla Floreana in the Galápagos Archipelago

Cruising Lifestyle

After I started my morning watch the wind came up a little and we set all sails. Unfortunately, the wind wasn't from a good direction, so we'll have to tack back and forth across our course line. Due to the slow wind speed and the steady adverse current, neither tack was particularly suitable. To get from Isla Isabela to Isla Floreana we have to go southeast, but during the night we had drifted well south of our intended course line. The tack that could take us a little north also took us west, and in time would take us directly back to Puerto Villamil. The other tack would take us a little east, but also much too far south.

As it turned out, it didn't matter, because the wind slowly but surely died. As the wind had less and less effect, our track became more and more southerly due to the current. Finally, we were drifting at right angles to our desired course line, so we would surely never get there. By mid-morning, we all decided to use some fuel to motor directly to Floreana, with the hopes that we'll get there before dark. If we keep drifting, it will take at least an extra day.

As we were motoring, the fishing reel suddenly sang out—a hit! Unfortunately (and very regrettably) it was a booby that had attacked the lure and become snagged on two hooks. One hook barb was in its mouth, the other hook barb deep in its chest flesh. David reeled-in the booby and Marcie got a towel to make it easier to handle the large but delicate bird.

David lifted the booby up to the rail using the fishing line then Marcie wrapped the bird in the towel and held it gently. I used my Leatherman pliers to try to remove the hooks. The hook in its mouth came out without too much trouble, but the booby started to bleed profusely and warm bright-red blood spattered on the deck and on Marcie's feet. I tried to get the barb out of the bird's chest flesh, but even though I tugged hard I couldn't get it out. Finally we decided to cut the barb off, and Marcie released the booby. It floated around on the water and seemed a little unsure of itself, but it was still very much alive. I used the canvas bucket to retrieve bucketfuls of seawater and we washed the booby blood off the deck; Marcie washed the blood off her feet.

We all regretted hooking and injuring the booby, and I have to say, when I was pulling out the hooks, I think Marcie really felt the bird's pain from the way she grimaced and sounded upset. Unfortunately, this is an example of the many problems and conflicts that arise when people using tools and technology come into contact with creatures unchanged since Eden. Sea birds just haven't been able to learn to avoid fish hooks, despite their singularly unappetizing appearance.

It was quite unpleasant and a little shocking to see such red, red, blood come out of a booby. You rarely see fresh blood in ordinary cosmopolitan life. Other people take care of the bloody tasks, and you can go about completely insulated from one of the more brutal aspects of life: stick a sharp object into a living creature and it bleeds. You maybe see a little of your own blood now and then, and a mother probably gets to see a fair amount of blood raising children, but I have rarely seen animals bleed. Rather unpleasant, to tell the truth.

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