Fighting Gannets S09 23 48 E101 06 67

Gryphon II
Chris and Lorraine Marchant
Sun 11 May 2014 20:53

If you have ever had the bad luck of smelling gannet shat then you will understand the nature of our problem.

Last year we had a crew of 5 gannets circling and swooping around the boat for several nights and had the gross misfortune of them dropping great slicks of shat over our mainsail. This is black, glutinous, oily and rancid with such a potent stink that the whole olfactory system is distressed. The sail was taken down, scraped and scrubbed but the ghost is still there and if it is stored in a sail bag for any length of time the gannet odour is milder but still obvious.

Imagine then our distress when last night a crew of 3 arrived to circle and swoop in fabulous flying manoeuvres. We hooted and hollered to scare them off, they didn’t care, this seemed to be great gannet fun. Things got worse, we realised as we put the navigation lights on that the 3 were squabbling over perching on top of the mast. There is quite a lot of equipment up there: the mast head navigation light, the VHF radio aerial, the wind direction indicator, the wind speed kit and the television aerial not to mention our mainsail nicely set out below. Aahh!

We turned on the loud hailer, shouted through it and sounded the alarm, they didn’t care.

We flashed the searchlight on them, flashed the nav lights on and off rapidly, they didn’t care.

We blew a whistle and Chris gave his ear-splitting wolf whistle, they just did not care.                 

Eventually one landed on the mast head light gripping on with its red webbed feet and claws, facing beak to wind and highlighted with its head in the red sector and its tail in the green. The boat swayed and dipped in the swell and ploughed through a squall but gannet hung on there with the occasional flapping and shuffling to keep head to wind. More unfortunately his co-crew kept trying to unseat him so there was a bit of tussle at the mast head and one kept trying to land on the VHF aerial, thankfully without success but it will now need a trip the top of the mast for an inspection.

Nothing we could do about all this, they flew away near dawn and the sail seems to be okay but, of course, we can only see one side of it at the moment. HOWEVER…………..

Tonight on Chris’s 20:00 to 00:00 watch a crew of 5 swooped in.

We did the usual hand over briefing then he told me that the deck brush was on the seats at the back of the cockpit. Oh joy, cockpit cleaning on the dark watch. But no, this was for swishing gannets off our precious solar panels where they were insistent upon landing. The panels are mounted high on a steel arch at the back of the boat, great hangout for a gannet.



We think this was mum and dad, progeny was on the pulpit at the bow

m_Tahina 020

We really did not want gannet shat all over our solar panels so extreme determination was required to get them off and keep them off. They didn’t like being ousted at all and finally one swooped down threateningly onto the cockpit rail which gave a me a mid battle fright - the beaks look scary close up. Eventually they got the message although progeny hung on until daylight whilst the disgruntled parents continued to circle.

m_Tahina 027

Quite a handsome brute.

They all flew off just after daylight and Chris was then able to inspect the solar panels which were indeed daubed in the unspeakable. All cleaned off now and we hope that is the end of nocturnal visits from our attractive but smelly invaders.

These birds had bright red feet as you can see. All the gannets we know of have grey feet. Any information gratefully received.