Operation Cygnet Rescue

Now that we can do recreational sailing (following club procedures to maintain social distancing etc), I went to the club to make use of the fantastic weather; sunshine, a nice breeze, warm, but not too hot.  A great day for sailing.

As I rig my boat, a passer-by calls over the fence: if I was going on the water? I respond in the affirmative. There was a cygnet stuck in a buoy up in the creek. The parents are there, but it just flaps and gets more and more stuck. The RSPCA had been called, but it would take some time for them to arrive. I say I will have a look and quickly finish rigging and launch my Laser.

The wind is good, and I can quickly get to the creek, where at the far end I can see a couple of swans. Of course, in the creek itself there isn’t such great wind, which is why we usually stay out of it. A narrow stretch of water surrounded on three sides by trees is not very conducive to wind flow. I approach the cygnet slowly. It seems to be concerned about the huge white thing coming closer, and tries to swim away. But it is trapped.

I come to a halt and grab the buoy. I notice that its rope is wound around the cygnet’s neck. The poor animal seems to realise I have no bad intentions, and simply flops its long neck on my foredeck, keeping still, while I try to disentangle the poor beast. What happened was that the counterweight, which served to keep the mark in place when the water level rises or falls, was wrapped around it, and the weight itself had got stuck. I can only imagine the cygnet was grazing on the vegetation that grows on the rope as this happened.

Finally the bird is freed. It flaps away — happily, I assume — and then life is back to normal. The observers on the bank of the reservoir cheer, but the cygnet shows me the cold shoulder as I sail past it later on.