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It's Closer to Home Than You Think

Everyone knows about plastic in the oceans and the damage it does to the animals that live in the sea, but the other week we were reminded that the problem is much closer than that and even extended to our inland water.

We were sailing out to the afternoon race when we spotted a seagull trying, but failing, to take off from the water. As we got closer, we realised that it was attached to a plastic bag and every time it moved forwards to take off, the bag filled with water and brought it down again.

My crew suggested that we executed a man-overboard manoeuvre and so I sailed beyond it, gybed round and approached slowly into the wind. I was positioning the boat so the seagull would be on our windward side, but then a gust filled the bag and took him to leeward.

This didn’t stop Richard who bravely lent over the side, grabbed the bird and, to my surprise, brought it into the boat. Fortunately, he was wearing thick gloves because the seagull didn’t take kindly to his capture and started thrashing his wings and biting everything he could. But Richard, with great courage, tried to untangle the plastic bag which was wrapped tightly around its neck (and obviously very close to the pecking beak).

Eventually he succeeded and the seagull was released in time for us to start the race. If Richard hadn’t have come along, he wouldn’t have been so lucky.