When I sail offshore, I often pick up hitchhikers
hundreds of miles from the nearest land. They have no nationality and carry no passports, but
they are always welcome.
These stowaways are
tired land birds who aren't built for trans-oceanic flights. To them
the ocean is a hostile environment. My yacht is a welcome rest from
endless hours of wing flapping.
These small solitary
landlubber birds mysteriously appear out of the haze, and usually they are
hungry, thirsty, and exhausted on arrival. Since they arenít seabirds, they
arenít equipped for survival at sea. These tiny hitchhikers canít land in
the water to rest, and they donít know how to fish for food.
My yacht is more than
a convenient perch for land birds that have lost their way. Itís a survival
platform. Thereís a good chance they will live to see another day when
I give them food, water, and a safe place to rest.
My avian guests seem
to sense that my yacht is a safe haven Ė a sanctuary in which the lamb can
lay down beside the lion. These normally skittish birds perch on
my shoulder, arm, or finger, and they will eat and drink out of my hand.
They remain on board for a few hours or days
before they disappear over the
horizon never to be seen by me again.
learned to be kind to hitchhikers because I too am a hitchhiker. I hitched
my ride on planet earth more than fifty years ago and because of the
kindness shown by thousands of people in dozens of different cultures, I too
have found safe sanctuary. When I was hungry, they fed me. When I was
tired, they gave me a place to rest.
The first rule of the
Hitchhikerís Guide to Planet Earth says: ďWhat goes around comes around.Ē
Thatís why I will
always offer sanctuary to my fellow hitchhikers.
This little bird landed on our yacht in the Java Sea of Indonesia.
I don't speak Indonesian bird language but I can imagine what he would say
if he spoke English:
"Thank you for letting me perch on your finger. And by the way, do you
have any bread and water for a fellow traveler who is a bit lost? I
won't be a bother and in a few hours I will be on my way."