8. Sleeplessness and a Penguin

Just to recap, this blog is about an incredible adventure I had in 1988 when I was a young man. It is a faithful transposition of my written journal into a digital format. I had trained as a marine biologist and fisheries scientist, and was offered a contract to work in the Falkland Islands. I am now about three weeks into my trip, and have been at sea for some 12 days.

Sunday 27 March 1988, Koei Maru 30.

Good ol’ Masamitsu gave me his business card today. Unfortunately I was unable to reciprocate this kind gesture.


I couldn’t get to sleep for ages – my mind was active – thinking about some most obscure things.

– Like when Adam died and R&C came over and I hid in the garden, because I was ashamed of grief. I didn’t want to see R so unhappy.

– And the time I was to walk down Muswell Hill Broadway in my pyjamas and dressing gown…the ultimate humiliation.

There were other thoughts too. I couldn’t sleep. The result of this is that I have slept until 5.30pm and shall probably forego my stroll around deck. Needless to say is is another clear blue sky – the albatross patrol the boat in their usual manner – I suppose they are waiting for scraps.

My pen is running out – I fear I use more ink here than ever I did at Bangor on Newcastle University. it is just as well I brought plenty of spare cartridges. What a clever boy!

It is strange to think that for each entry or most entries in my diary for each day, I have slept between the beginning and the end somewhere. Eh?

Monday 28 March 1988, Koei Maru 30

Well, only one sample last evening. There were no squid in the early part of the evening and there seemed little point in sampling from so few squid.

Quite an evening for wildlife though – at about 1am I saw, in addition to the black browed albatross, the black/grey birds – ugly little things, and the fast flying swift-like which flit over ther waves (Storm Peterel). I also saw a penguin and a seal which was frolicking about.

The jigs picked up another hake and also a penguin. The poor thing was in shock, and was not enjoying the bright lights or my orange suit. It even looked a little sea sick. I was unaware of how large penguin feet are. It seemed to be uninjured though, and was released when jigging was over.


I asked (rather naively and perhaps insultingly) if it was going to be eaten – Abe said certainly not and looked astonished at my question. I was always led to believe that the Japanese ate everything there was to be had from the sea.

Tuesday 29 March 1988, Koei Maru 30.

I could not, but could not sleep. I set down at 4am and lay for four or five hours without sleep. Radioed Port Stanley and spoke with Crag – it was good, and tried to sleep again but couldn’t for at least an hour. Then I slept until 6pm. Completely bonkers.

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I am a little annoyed. It seems I have made little or no impression yet with the work I am doing and also with the Department itself. I don’t know, but I don’t feel as though they really care much about me, only the project I am working on. I can’t see that I’m an unlikable chap, I try maybe too hard.

I seem to be going through a bit of a bad patch – perhaps it is too much Dickens. I didn’t write any letters yesterday, in fact I didn’t do much. I am in a slump again and must act on it. I miss Deb and want to see her, or at least read her letters. I am now half way through this voyage, and nearly 10% through my contract.

I am keeping my earring hole open by daily putting a paperclip through it. Unhygienic but effective. I left all my earrings at home.

I wrote again to Mum and Ad. It’s funny, but I never seem to be able to express myself as well on paper (especially in letters), as when I compose things in my head. Perhaps I should make use of my tape recorder.

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I am Stephen. I live in Bristol, UK. I decided to shorten my profile...to this: Wildlife, haiku, travel, streetart, psychogeography and my family. Not necessarily in that order.

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