Ozzie and two others in the skein, Victor and Veronica, realized the seriousness of the situation. They had chosen an easterly route that took them over long stretches of open water, nonetheless it was a flight path well-traveled, known by generations of migrating ospreys before them. Ozzie had used it in 2011. It is basically a three stage journey that takes 22 days, not counting a stay over in Cuba.
What could be easier?
The first stage is the hardest. Ospreys are usually well feed and rested before they start their migration north. They will lose 20% of their body weight, mostly fat, by the time they arrive at their destinations. The eastern route requires a sustained three day flight over the South Caribbean Sea until reaching Puerto Rico or The Dominican Republic.
Stage 2 is easier. Osprey try to stay over land as much as possible. They follow the islands north west until they get to Cuba; then fly the length of Cuba to Havana, where they rest a day or two before crossing to Florida. The dangers on this leg of the journey are high voltage electric utility wires and drunken Cubans with shotguns.
Stage 3. From South Florida they head north towards whatever home to which they are returning.
The arrival in Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic/Haiti is the most crucial point of the entire migration. If land is not encountered on the third day of flight, you have got a problem. Your situation is bad; very bad; worse than having an albatross around your neck; your wings are clipped, you might as well get your ducks in a row, you are dead as a dodo, a dead duck, your goose is cooked. Literally, you have gone too far east and will fly out into the Atlantic ocean until ………………it gives me goose bumps to think about it…………………………….. (Censored by the Happy Fairy).
Ozzie, Victor and Veronica had to think clearly. Mike and his dim witted entourage were off course five and ten degrees, leading them off shore into the Atlantic Ocean. Still Ozzie and his two friends needed the V-formation to make it over the South Caribbean Sea. The plan was to leave the skein at sunrise on day # 3, and the three of them would recalibrate their way to Puerto Rico, and try to make land as a threesome. This would require a lead change every 2- 3 hours, and receiving only a single wing’s updraft from the leader. The prospect was daunting, but they had no choice. Leave the skein or fly out to sea.
“$&#! That stupid Mike”, thought Ozzie. But cursing would be of no benefit. The threesome knew what they had to do.
“$&#!, !@#$, $%&!, *&#@! Anyway”, said Ozzie.
And Victor added, “! #$%#, & %*$!@#!!”
As dawn approached on the third day, Ozzie confirmed that they were horribly off course. They would miss land fall by 100 miles. So at 5:30 Tuesday morning (daylight savings time almost threw them off), Ozzie, Victor and Veronica broke from the ill-fated skein and headed west-north-west towards Puerto Rico.
May The Force be with you Ozzie.
But Ozzie has something better than The Force; he has Luck!
Say a prayer for Mike, Alberta and their seven doomed, hapless, star crossed, cognitively impaired friends.
Heaven help them.