Another time, I came upon a man in an inflatable dinghy some 30 miles off the coast of North Carolina. We thought he was adrift and needed rescuing so sailed towards him. He would let us get close and then start a big outboard motor and roar off a high speed. After an hour trying, we made a note in the log and left him to it.
My strangest encounter happened in the Mediterranean. My wife and I were five miles offshore—hard on the wind and slogging east—when we spotted a swimmer frantically waving their arm in the air half-a-mile downwind of our course. Our yacht was small and slow, and only had an outboard motor, but we set off to the rescue. The swimmer was moving downwind at almost the same speed we were pursuing him and it took a long time to close the gap. Over an hour later, and now miles downwind of our destination, we were close enough to see that it wasn’t a person we were chasing but a strange bird. We had spent so long on the chase and now had no chance of making port before nightfall, that we decided to keep going. Thirty minutes later and we had the strange bird along side.