An Interesting Saturday

At the weekends, to earn some 'spending money', I work at the marina where we moor Bandit. I thoroughly enjoy my job working around the things I love best: boats. I love talking to boat owners that we know and generally meeting new people.

Today has been a specially interesting day as me and some colleagues went on a wild goose chase (quite literally) to try and capture a father swan who sadly had managed to get a nasty fishing hook caught on his tongue. It was clearly bothering him as he also had a large float hanging from his beak meaning he was unable to clean himself or even eat. Clearly, we needed to do something for this poor swan. On Friday night, as I was walking around the marina, my boss called me over to help him with something. Little did I know he was trying to capture this swan in an attempt to remove the float from his beak (not realising there was a hook in his tongue at the time). We tried for a good hour and then admitted failure. After calling several local vets and the RSPCA, we were finally told that they were unable to do anything that evening but they would send someone out in the morning to see to this issue.

So, today at work, a lady from the RSPCA turns up and myself and my boss get straight to business; locating the swan and attempting to capture him with a special swan hook that is designed to capture them by their neck. It sounds quite mean but we were told it doesn't hurt the swan and after all, we're really doing the poor swan a favour. Three hours pass and we've just experienced the longest and most exhausting 'goose chase' in history... The swan simply would find a way to escape us every time we got the slightest bit close to him. Us three were bombing around the marina trying to capture this crafty swan on the marina's own boat. A number of years ago, the yard removed the old diesel engine from their ex-tug boat and replaced it with a large electric motor from a milk van. Advanced to this is that we were able to put a big prop on the boat as an electric motor as incredible torque compared to the previous diesel engine. Perfect for tugging boats around the marina (which is what we primarily use this tug boat for). Disadvantages are that the motor does not propel the tug very quickly and it is very slow to react to a sudden change of throttle. This did not help matters with our crafty swan as he was able to change direction far quicker than we were in our tug boat. As you can imagine, it became quite frustrating to think we were being outsmarted by a swan time and time again. But we would not give up as this poor swan needed our help whether he liked it or not.

More hours pass and with the help of 10+ local boat owners from the marina, we managed to corner the swan and hook him, pulling him onto the bank where we could all grab hold of his strong wings and retain him from flapping around. Swans have incredibly strong wings and can really put up a fight if they feel threatened. Unfortunately, our RSPCA woman got a few slaps from the swans wings but we all managed to get there before he could really hurt someone. We held down his neck and put a cool towel over his head to keep him as calm as possible while we attempted to remove the hook and cut the float from his beak. We were able to do as much as remove the float and excess fishing line but we would not have been able to remove the hook as it was too far in his poor tongue and we didn't want to cause him any more pain.

We then loaded our swan into the back of the RSPCA van, thanked everyone for their hard, long work and then watched the swan take off in the RSPCA van, heading for Kings Lynn. We gave every detail to the RSPCA lady and she ensured us that the same swan WILL be returned to our marina shortly where he will be reunited with his partner and their four cygnets.

All in all, an interesting day and by without a doubt, a good deed is done for the poor father swan.


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