I had nightmare visions of what he could do to my bunk and the settees; I had plenty of work without having to cope with that. I soon discovered that his personal habits were shocking; he was nearer to discovering the secret of a perpetual motion than any scientist ever will be – I had to follow him round the deck with a mop and bucket. Later, his loose behaviour was to be actually the cause of slowing up the ship. I prepared a box for him in the cockpit, and presented him with a wooden mallet and a small coil of rope to stand on. (I thought that maybe I should be able to sell the guano deposit on that mallet at great profit in America!) It was not long before I decided that Pidgy had a most stupid streak in his character; he kept on pecking frantically at a saucer, long after he had finished everything in it, and refused to look at another one with a new supply of food which I put in the box, although I showed it to him several times.
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Just before midnight on 3 June, a fine night with winking stars, I could see the Fastnet Light flashing to the north of me at the south-west tip of Ireland. In the morning the weather forecast was for a south-east wind, increasing perhaps to Gale Force 8. Gipsy Moth was running well, but it was a rolling twisting ride in the Atlantic. It made me feel queasy, and I was not the only one; Pidgy looked terrible, all fluffed up with his head tucked under his wing, and bleary-eyed when he looked up at me. I feared that he was going to die. I had heard that birds are unable to be seasick, and are therefore worse off than humans. Next morning, however, he was still alive. He looked miserable and twice his size, a huge puffed out ball, with his head nearly sunk in his shoulders.
From below in the cabin I heard a loud bang and rushed on deck to find that the rope holding the big genoa to the spinnaker pole had parted in a gale puff. It took me seventy-five minutes to clear up the mess. After that I found that the breakband locking Miranda to the tiller was slipping. I fixed that, and had started taking a sextant shot at the sun when a steamer, the Bristol Gift, circled Gipsy Moth. By the time I had finished my observation and turned on the radio-telephone, I was just in time to hear GCN 2, the GPO station, signing off, having given up hope of contacting me. However, I got through to them all right at 10.30 that night.
I was woken during the night by the sails roaring, with Gipsy Moth rough-riding across the seas in a gale of wind. In the morning I had more trouble with the steering because Miranda was slipping badly. I fixed her as well as I could in a wind, gusting to a full gale.
Pidgy was squatting on the corner of the cockpit seat and took no notice when I stepped right alongside him. He must have been feeling awful. I too felt sick, and had some hot water and sugar, my latest seasickness cure.
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