Crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, heading into the Atlantic we passed through a swarm of house flies. They filled the boat! Flies were everywhere, hundreds of them. They were in our food, in our clothes and bedding; we were overrun. Someone produced a fly swatter and went to work swatting at them with no effect. As night came and the temperature dropped, they ceased their constant flight and crawling and we were able to sleep when not on watch.
The next day came up bright and beautiful with a strong sailing wind shifting to the west. The flies became active again. We couldn’t keep up with them; the air was filled with files and the deck was littered with those we had swatted. We were resigned to a day of fly carnage.
About mid morning during my watch, I noticed a small yellow-and-black-specked bird had landed on board. We couldn’t imagine how it got to our boat and could only theorize that he (assuming male birds have brighter plumage) had been blown 30 miles off shore by the strong westerly wind.
It was obviously tired and surprisingly comfortable being around us. After sitting still for about 20 minutes, he started exploring our vessel inside and out. Flicking around from bunk to galley to head below, then from bow to stern on deck, as if checking our seaworthiness.
And then to our amazement he started eating the flies. Darting around the cockpit he was catching flies as they flew and landed. He feasted while we cheered him on! This bird ate at least his weight in flies and within an hour our fly problem was under control.
He then perched by the Lifesling Man Overboard rescue device. We rescued him and he saved us from the flies.
Once we got close enough to land at Cape May, we starting hearing birdsong. So did he and to our delight, he flew off to join his peeps. A synchronous experience for us all.