I keep a very tidy boat; she's washed down after every sail, I scrub down routinely, keep my lines coiled nicely, and have a fairly new yellow mainsail cover that is taut and well-fitted. I sail at least every couple of weeks so the boat stays clean. I like it that way.
A few months ago, I noticed a problem. I was going out for a sail and the cockpit was covered in hay. Now, I don't live in Kansas, this is a very odd thing. A bit of research and I noticed that the marina was growing some groundcover and had scattered hay to promote growth. No reason why only my cockpit was covered in hay, but Berkeley has some strange wind patterns.
Didn't think anything of it, the next couple of times out, no problems, just a bit of hay, nothing to concern myself with.
Three weeks ago, I'm taking my daughter out; I'm rolling up the sailcover and a frickin' nest falls on her head! Some birds were nesting in my sailcover. Now, that was cute. A great chance to educate my 4 year old about birds and nests. I placed it neatly on the dock in hope that the birds wouldn't lose their hard earned nest.
Three or four days later, I'm down at the boat doing some work and the cockpit is again covered in hay. What the &$#!? The birds were trying it again! This time, I angrily pulled the offending barley out of my sailcover and threw it in the water, glaring at the skies in hopes that the birds would know that I was pissed. That didn't work: while I was on the boat, these two chirpy little finches kept flying around the boat heckling me. Like I was on their boat.
Here's what I needed to do, get one of those plastic owls. No, that's expensive. Put mylar strips up like the vintners do. No, that's ugly. Continue glaring at them. No, I had to go home some time. So, I just tried tightening the sailcover.
Didn't work. More hay. More nest. Even worse, my dockmate (that's like a neighbor on land), told me that she was getting a good laugh from the cute little birds. I was now going down to the boat daily to de-nest the boat. There are approximately four hundred million abandoned boats in the Berkeley Marina and these little beasts continued to choose my boat as their home.
Nothing I have tried worked. So, I go down to the boat yesterday for some more futile extermination. As I walk along the dock, I see that my sailcover is unsnapped at the end where the birds live. DAMN, they have figured out the snaps; next they'll pick my lock and move into the vee-berth. I walk up to the boat and there's only one piece of hay. They're gone. Through no fault of my own.
The bad news....I keep a tidy boat and couldn't resist snapping up the birds home nice and neat as I left.