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Key West Race Week Weirdity…

January 17, 2006

“Weirdity.” There’s an excellent TWC made-up word. Stephen Colbert would be proud. But that’s the sort of lexicography you need if you are going to post this surreal Key West Race Week story from the always amusing Sailing Anarchy. The plot? Melges 24 encounters, umm, turkey vulture. You buy sails, assemble your crew and go out to train. But some things you just can’t control or predict. Here’s the story:

“Down here in Key West we had to cut practice short today (Sunday) because a turkey vulture landed on our boat and would not leave. It was a mangy, sick, tired looking thing that wouldn’t leave us alone. The wind was blowing pretty well from the North and had been since early the morning before. We think it was blown off the island and wasted all of its energy trying to get back home, saw us and decided to hitch a ride.

Well, he started out on our tender, then when they scared him away he flew up to our windward spreader. He sat there happily for a while as we did some straight line speed testing with the Quantum boat, a GBR boat and a JPN boat. We dropped out of the speed testing when the bird (with a wing span of probably 5 feet) dropped down and took up residency on our cabin top. After trying to kick, literally kick, him off he vomited on our boat. We thought he was sea sick, little did we know that their only natural defense (other than pecking the hell out of you) is to vomit and that they can projectile it up to 6ft. Well, this guy just sort of coughed this green and brown lump on to our deck and then stood by it.

Some chop and waves knocked him from his perch but he relocated and did a short stint as our bow man. With him up there we thought tacking would give him the shake, but it did not. In fact, this time he sort of stumbled along the leeward side before he re-landed, this time in our cockpit. Well that was pretty sweet. The joke and the fun was over. This thing looked like hell and we were afraid it was sick and could scratch or worse vomit again on one of us. We were well on our way in when we decided that he was going nowhere unless there was land downwind of him. So we rolled up the sails and towed in. Finally he relocated to the tender and they used a boat hook to send him on his way once we were in the harbor. All in all, it was very strange. These pictures show the proximity we were to him, but it doesn’t convey how awful it looked. He looked like he’d closed down the Rum tent and then went to Duval street until 7AM.”

This is the sort of story that makes me check to make sure it’s not the first of April. But they have pics, so…

“Dude, if you’re gonna hang with us you’re gonna have to hike…”

“Do you think he’s giving the bow any lift…?”

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