Another snippet of time to upload a few more diary entries from my 1988 adventure in the Falklands. It really is quite a moving experience for me to read through and reproduce this journal, especially digging out my photographs and digitising my slides. Much of what happened in this special year has been in my head, but I am surprised by how much I had forgotten.
This time I get to sea at last, but it is not the easiest of transitions…
Tuesday 15 March 1988. Koei Maru 30
At last I am on board my first jigger, the Koei Maru 30 (a Japanese ship that I will have to become familiar with, since it will be my home for the next few months). I arrived on the boat yesterday with John Barton (who then returned to Port Stanley) and have settled in fairly well.
I slept very badly, but at least I slept. I hope to spend most of my day sleeping so that I can adapt to working nights. We were due to leave Berkeley Sound last night, but instead won’t leave until tonight…transhipping is taking much longer than expected.
I know I shall be lonely here – there are only a couple of people on board who speak English, and they seem reluctant to talk to me. I am already bored – I will have to get into some good books. I also know that once we get out to sea I shall start getting seasick – it is my destiny.
Isn’t it bloody typical, I have to keep a record, just like everyone else, except my log is going to be published as part of my role on a jigger/long-liner. I hate that kind of responsibility…I only hope I am up to it.
Wednesday 16 March 1988. Koei Maru 30
My whole life is being turned upside down. Night is to become my day and day is to become my night. All this to get accustomed to inside a box (my cabin), which behaves like a lift passing rapidly between the ground and first floor of a hotel or department store. Although I haven’t yet been physically sick, and there is still time for that, I have been tired and queasy.
Squid jigging began very early this morning (at 1am) and I took a sample at 2am which I finished at 4am. I slept until 3pm or so this afternoon, but am still tired.
The task in hand is most unpleasant and the better and faster I get at it, the happier I will be. I cannot truthfully say I am enjoying any of this, or not yet at least. When I listen to my tapes, I just get homesick and depressed.
The food has been ok but is all very samey and I am getting sick of it. Oh for a bottle of cool milk.
Nobody told me that squid make squeaks. It makes the job much harder – I don’t like it – it isn’t fair catching so many like this, just the same way purse-seining is ruthless. The poor bastards don’t have a chance. All to end up as someone’s lunch. Let’s go veggie!
(I ought to point out at this juncture that the previous paragraph was something quite out of character for me. I was a confirmed carnivore, and spurned vegetables at every opportunity and was an incredibly fussy eater. Being exposed to a Japanese cuisine was something of a challenge for me)
The crew are beginning to acknowledge me but their English is so limited, like my Japanese.
Thursday 17 March. Koei Maru 30
No change of address yet, sorry. This morning is now tonight and I am just about to shower and go to bed, it is 7.30am. Many people will be able to identify with this problem, nurses, doctors, night-shift workers of any kind. It is an unkind way of living – artificial daylight – it makes me feel so seedy, or like I am spending my life in a Safeway supermarket – at the fish counter!
I am over the worst of my queasy feelings and am able to attack the beer in my fridge. I don’t know whether I mentioned it or not, but I was given a case of beer and a bottle of Japanese whiskey on arrival by the fishing master. He is the most gentlemanly of the whole crew, and the senior officer. The captain looks and behaves like a wild man. These men are not the well-groomed, tidy, automaton-like, businessmen I always associate with Japan. far from it…they are rough, tough, informal, friendly fishermen, as fishermen the world over tend to be. There is little that is typically Japanese about this lot, except the shoe ceremony, which I shall describe at some other date.
I will complete today’s entry in about 8-9 hours or so, which for me will be tomorrow. Incidentally, my dreams last night (night/day) were all about flying or acrobatics. (the effect of the rise and fall of the boat?). I could fly. It was great!
Breakfast was divine. Yucky eggs, cucumber and lettuce, but also yummy steaks mmmmm, it was good. I did my sampling early to get the first one out of the way and also to avoid the crew (I didn’t want to be in their way). As it turned out I did get in their way.