Saturday, September 1, 2012

Attacked on the way to Cape May

That'll get your attention! No, we weren't attacked by pirates, but we were taunted, attacked, assaulted and bloodied by...flies. We had a similar gory, "revenge of the flies" experience in Chesapeake Bay on our last trip. At that time I soldiered on swatting, double swatting, squishing, sweeping dead fly remains and giving them a burial at sea package deal. This time I nearly had a breakdown. After five continuous hours of relentless murder and staring at the blood stained cockpit my face became as red as the remains of the flies. Joe ordered me to go below, close the screen doors behind me and calm down before stroking out. Although I felt a bit of guilt leaving him in such a mess with no relief in sight I got over it pretty quickly and followed orders.

Joe attempted to continue his single handed killing spree while I prayed to God that our flimsy fly swatter would hold out for him. We actually got that fly swatter as a parting gift from Coinjock Marina in North Carolina on our return trip from the Bahamas eight years ago. At the time I thought it was a weird way to advertise a marina. After this trip not so much.
I wanted to know just what this perpetrator was and what attracted its attention to us. Why us? In my desperation I emailed a professor in the department of plant sciences and entomology at the University of Rhode Island. He kindly wrote back with several suggestions of what type of fly this could be. He was as tenacious as the flies in his investigation. He continued to research the issue until he felt he had found the resolution. The verdict was stomoxys calcitrans or commonly known as "stable flies" don't want to know what I was calling them. Apparently, they fester in rotting onshore grasses and are occasionally blown out to sea! He asked if I would be able to send a specimen to verify. A specimen I thought, how about a cockpit full or perhaps a huge box of flies? Yes I would gladly send a specimen. First though we need to get to Cape May. Then my specimens will be placed in the hands of the US Postal Service.
While writing this I noticed that the wind had picked up and that the familiar sounds of swatting coming from the cockpit had ceased. I cautiously peeked through the screen doors. Joe was sitting at the helm steering! He announced that he and the flies had reached a truce. He wouldn't kill them if they didn't bother him. In other words, he'd given up. It appeared the score was us-zero, flies-won.
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