>Goats and Owls on Boats

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We’ve arrived from what was a 25-day snail crawl to LA from Hawaii on this recent yacht delivery, but I’ll still dance with fickle autumn weather in the North Pacific versus the vagaries of shore-side riff-raff anytime!

And we arrive to find that American kite-boarder Rob Douglas has broken the Hydroptre’s record for the absolute world speed record on the water by sailing a 55.65-knot run over the 100-meter course in the speed trench in Luderitz, Namibia…!…Also French/Italian kiteboarder Charlotte Consorti has became the 1st woman to break the mythical 50-knot barrier on the water. Funny I used to think my 30-knot runs windsurfing in New Caledonia were fast.

On this delivery I had to dive under the boat 6-times in the infamous north Pacific High to cut nets loose from the prop (once at 2:30 am)…sad when you go by so many fishing nets adrift and it makes you realize that like passing bulk-carriers, for every one you see, there are ten-fold more over the visible horizon…Try to do the math.

A bonus was a massive school of over a hundred dolphins as we approached Point Conception and a VHF radio report by NOAA that Blue Whales had been sighted between the Channel Islands and for shipping to take avoidance action as they were a protected species. We didn’t visibly see them for ourselves but nice to think they were out there with us.

Now something truly creepy but SAD. Something more like a Stephen King novel than reality. On most of my yacht delivery trips friends have a good luck item or ‘extra-crew’ – usually in the form of random toy animal and usually not related to sailing or the ocean such as a Meerkat or dog. My friend Liz Wardley had a stuffed Tasmanian devil on our Sydney Hobart Race (as you would)…

Anyway, my Kiwi friend Craig Cuff had given me a plastic mountain goat awhile back we named Bunter and would often joke about his exploits on our many crossings together including New Zealand to LA last year on ‘Ragtime’.

…As we left on this trip, I’d forgotten Bunter as we were getting ready to cast-off and ran back to get him (as he was our good luck) and off we went with Bunter lashed and bunting away on the bow pulpit for the duration of the 25-day puddle-jump. We often joked about Bunter – goats indeed ARE awesome…

Then two-hundred miles before Point Conception we’d heaved too and stopped for a day to let a big coastal gale blowing along the coast die off before making our making our final approach to LA. And my friend wakes up in the morning to have a look around and promptly taps me in my bunk to say – “Brian, you are NEVER going to believe this, there is an OWL on the deck…!” Sure enough, a big owl is staring at me with enormous yellow eyes and stays with us for a day as we worry whether he’d survive and if he’d gotten blown away from land by the gale. Very odd.

Then on a sat-phone call for some weather, we get some bad news for the same crew-member. A mountain goat had killed a very good friend of his up in the Pacific Northwest where he lives in a freak accident trying to defend his family from the mental animal (goat fatalities are VERY unusual). Another friend says it made national news…I’m now unsure what to do with my plastic pet goat Bunter at this point in time…advice anyone?

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