31. Long, tiring days

This is another of my infrequent posts which is what Natural Adventures was originally set up for. For those of you unfamiliar with my Falkland Islands journal I will offer a quick recap. In 1988 I landed a job as a fisheries scientist working with the Falkland Islands Government on a contract just shy of a year. This blog is a faithful digitisation of the journal I wrote on that trip. For me, this is a catharsis, for you it may be an insight into the mind of a 24 year old on an exciting and challenging adventure.

The scene is set in the first post ‘An Ill Wind‘, which you might like to read for context.

 

Suday 26 June 1988. Koei Maru 30

Aah, at last a day off. I slept so terribly, the rough sea rolled me about something rotten. It is a little better now, but would have been terrible if we had tried a set (setting the longline) this morning.

I think my stomach bugs are caused by the sashimi! my body just isn’t used to it. I must confess that the raw tuna is excellent.

Wrote letters to Mum and Ad and to Deb.

I have been considering a reply to Karen’s rather frustrated letter in which she seems to ask ‘what are we doing here?’ or something similar.

I’ve thought of many answers, but some may seem a little brutal, and sinceshe thinks I am a brute anyway I don’t want to upset her again.

Began to write my schedule for other scientists (I refuse to call them observers) who will work on the KM30 while I am on leave, namnely Crag and Phil.

I am still furious about my tax position with PDA – this company seems to be nothing but trouble.

 

Monday 27 June 1988. Koei Maru 30

A beautiful sunrise – I wonder if I will see such lovely sights again when I return to the UK – for starters I don’t think I will ever be up in time!

I hear Africa calling

Africa calling

Possibly cos I’m listening to African Sanctus at this moment.

Some more pretty corals today – I should be able to build up quite a good collection.

Several albatross were caught up in the lines today – I think they go for the squid bait  when the line is deployed and get caught up, dragged down and drown – it is very sad indeed. I also thought it was unlucky to kill an albatross, but maybe that is only if it is intentional.

Black browed albatross and giant peterels alongside the Koei Maru 30, 1988
Black browed albatross and giant peterels alongside the Koei Maru 30, 1988

Not long now ’til home.

 

Tuesday 28 June 1988. Koei Maru 30

I’m getting sick and tired of saying long, tiring day, but today really was – I hope I get some decent sleep.

Had a good radio chat with Elizabeth today – she’s also due for a break in August. She gets two holidays in the time I’ve only had one! RAW DEAL!

The fishing was ace today – I hope it puts egg on the Fishing Master’s face – the crew were working fairly close to capacity I reckon.

5 tons/day, yeah pull the other one shortie!

Zone IV has been the best covered so far – all this is quite a laugh really.

Wrote a letter to Beth – very sweet of her, Charlie and Carl to write, but thwen I suppose I did write first. Letters are my life-blood.

Watching ‘With love from Oregon ’87’ for the third time – what a terrible drama, but a gorgeous half Indian (red) (OMG – we don’t say that these days – native north American) half Japanese girl of about 16 in the starring role.

I now feel at ease with all but two of the crew – ‘Rolf Harris’ and Iagi – they don’t seem to want to be friendly. I’ve made good friends with the grumpy old man – he’s really quite a good bloke.

Abe and Abe, crew members of the Koei Maru 30
Abe and Abe, crew members of the Koei Maru 30

Aah – shower and bed – nice.

 

Wednesday 29 June 1988. Koei Maru 30

A short day – it became too rough to set more than 60 lines (baskets). It was all over by 7.30am. So I decided to sleep, to make up for lost sleep last night – unfortunately this means that I won’t be tired and won’t be able to sleep tonight – vicious circle.

It’s funny but however hard I try I just can’t conjure up any original thoughts – I have none, so my diary becomes a dull, dreary account of my days and not an abstract random selection of my thoughts. I hope the reader (if any) will bear with me. It must be obvious that I’m not very happy at the moment, perhaps this can explain sume of this mundainity (is there such a word?).

As I write I often wonder if any of my children or grandchildren (if I have any) will pick up my diaries and read them. Perhaps they will understand me better for it and see into who I am a little more clearly.

 

Advertisements

30. Overslept

Just a quick recap – This blog ‘Natural Adventures’ was set up so that I could digitise a journal I wrote while working in the Falkland Islands in 1988. The Haiku and street art took over completely, but every now and then I like to get back to my roots. For any readers who have not seen any of this Falkland stuff before, it is worth getting some context from my first post ‘An Ill Wind’.

 

Wednesday 22 June 1988. Koei Maru 30

I think I have a slight stomach bug – I am not sure of the cause – it causes only a little pain, but it’s there. Today will be a long day again, 450 lines deployed. Wrote letter No 49 to Deb. That isn’t bad, 49 letters and cards in 106 days since I’ve been here. Admittedly, they aren’t as long as they were, but they still keep coming (going).

The Desire (one of the patrol vessels) came – yahoo – and delivered loads of letters and papers – I am glowing. It has been a very good day.

A school of dolphins passed by and I took some snaps, some new fish came up, I got some lovely corals and a hairy winkle (pardon?!).

The fish, the best one, unfortunately ended up as sashimi.

IMG_0852

I now smell really fishy!

All my doubts and fears about Deb have cleared away – I’m a happy bunny – Mum and Karen and granny’s letters are all ace. I still want to get home though.

 

Thursday 23 June 1988. Koei Maru 30

My stomach bug continues, but it is mild. My shit is like liquid ‘caramac’, but not quite so tasty I’m sure.

It has bee an idyllic day – calm and sunny – loads of photos (none very good)

The catch has been good – I would guess at about 2.5 to 3 tonnes of Kingu (Kingclip). I hate this work and I want to go home – all my letters (which I received yesterday) are now haunting me. I don’t think I’m content here – I could not live this way for the rest of my life.

My last duty of the day (changing my camera film and sticking the slide reference number in my journal) before showering and turning in. These days are so long, I don’t have much time for reading or letters – a shame really, but it is good that I am occupied.

Saw some ace penguins hop out of the sea Vertically onto a patch of floating kelp. It was very funny. I thought I was in for a superb sunset, but I was wrong.

IMG_0853

 

Friday 24 June 1988. Koei Maru 30

My bug seems to be over, which is a relief. So many birds today.

What I’m thinking right now is why do I get spots?

Now I know ‘Queen Mab’ properly. Now to set about the whole part of Mercutio. Will I ever achieve it?

Amongst my letters was one from Granny G. She had sent me a tape, but I never received it, which is a terrible shame – it would have had all the family news in it. I still don’t know if Simon and Sue are married yet. Nobody has mentioned it to me. (Reading this paragraph now in 2017 rather breaks my heart. I would love to hear my grandmother’s voice on a tape trapped in that year of 1988.)

29 days and I’ll be home! yahoo. Until then I wait.

Articles about the Falkland Islands
Articles about the Falkland Islands

My cabin is a tip – I love it like this – my papers and magazines all over the floor, a full bin, folders strewn everywhere. A mixture of work and leisure.

 

Saturday 25 June 1988. Koei Maru 30

I may as well use up this space (alongside an article I stuck in my journal) it seems such a waste otherwise. A beautiful sun rise but not a beautiful day. It is choppy, the waves are cutting across our path and the ship is rolling like billyo.

Times article about the Falkland Islands, 25 May 1988
Times article about the Falkland Islands, 25 May 1988

So many people have said how vivid my letters are – I can;’t believe them. Frankly I think they are dull, uninteresting and badly written, but there we are.

Yuk! I’ve just disposed of a tin of custard down my gob – in times of hardship one loses all self-pride – It’s so true.

I forgot to mention that I am now an expert in chopstick (hachi) management. Pretty bloody cool.

28. Cottoperca gobio

Any readers who have not encountered this story on my blog before, I recommend you take a quick look at the first entry ‘an Ill Wind‘ to provide some kind of context. As you can see, this is the 28th excerpt from my 1988 journal, and it will appear meaningless without some context setting. The full catalog of chapters so far is in the ‘Falkland Journal, 1988’ category on the left of this page.

 

Monday 13 June 1988. Koei Maru 30

Spoke to Drin on the radio. JB is at this moment on the Right (one of the Falkland Islands fisheries patrol vessels), trawling. It looks very much like I’m on my own. I spent two hours talking to the Fishing Master. He and I now are in good form – he is a good man and cares for his crew. The contract should have included a certain amount of input from him. It was worked out by imbeciles who knew little about the fishing operation. I understand that now.

I have just been watching Crocodile Dundee, but at the critical moment have been cut off – a subtle lunch hint I think.

Spent the evening with Sato (gold tooth) and Naganuma and we watched a couple of porn videos. They became boring very quickly – the only interest I have is trying to understand why the hell people perform in such videos…are they desperate for money? or exhibitionists? very strange.

Tuesday 14 June 1988. Koei Maru 30

40 days to go!

I can’t believe that this is all I had to write on this day! wrote to Louise and Deb.

Prepared for fishing. Did some ace drawings I reckon.

Wednesday 15 June 1988. Koei Maru 30

Stand by at 0200 hours – what a nightmare. I hardly slept at all before and I had difficulty afterwards. False alarm, the sea was too heavy, so we moved to the southeast (Zone II).

Spoke with Drin and some idiot on the Falkland Right. People really piss me off sometimes.

Oops I think it was Dave ‘intense’, the one who I didn’t know.

I have arranged for Mr Ikido to deal with the problem of trawlers and traffic – delegation, that is the key to power.

Smoking still – I wish I would stop, but the day drags on so.No smoking before 1200 hours but maybe 4-8 after that. I am looking forward to going home, not least because I’ll be able to stop. (Something that took a further twelve years to conquer!)

No more pictures today. I think that stand by tomorrow is at 0300 hours. Bed early tonight.

I am watching a Japanese TV drama (It’ll last for hours) about blackmail – they really go in for these ‘video dramas’.

My spots under my stubble are still flourishing. I feel fairly ugly at the moment, but my spirits are high.

Thursday 16 June 1988. Koei Maru 30

What a bloody day. Quite exciting really, but very tiring and bloody annoying when the bastard Fishing Master holds you responsible for all the problems.

Caught this amazing monster fish, like a giant goby or blenny and called Cottoperca gobio – yellow, green and gold with a beautiful dorsal fin. See photos.

The whole long-lining process is a bit of a miracle. A production line for the set – really primitive, but thoroughly effective.

Saw a whole bunch of gentoo penguins, loads of albatross too – a real wildlife day. It would be great if I didn’t have to bloody do something! 30 more days of this – I may go bananas!

fullsizerender-18

I’m so bloody tired I feel like a zombie – I may if I’m lucky, grab 6 or 7 hours sleep tonight. I pray for bad weather!

BONKERS.

Friday 17 June 1988. Koei Maru 30

Another long hard day. Some very interesting things coming up, so I was happy. I got some corals, with any luck I could get them home to Deb, or add them to my collection.

I am still motivated by marine life – there were loads of echinoderms and possibly crinoids today, as well as some ace fish, but none of it what the Fishing Master wants. He and the crew are restless.

Unknown spp, caught by the long-liner Koei Maru 30 in Falkland Islands waters June 1988
Unknown spp, caught by the long-liner Koei Maru 30 in Falkland Islands waters June 1988

A penguin was gaffed up.

The sea was rough today and waves were pouring into the factory deck.

fullsizerender-19

I am once again very tired and want to go to sleep, but I’m sure that, like last night, I won’t find it easy.

Roll on July!

19.Turning Japanese

Wednesday 4 May 1988, Koei Maru 30

It is almost the end of Wednesday. Yesterday was quite a busy day…by yesterday I mean last night. Although there were very few squid, I managed to do two samples. I also helped remove the viscera from the bodies for my second sample. These squid will be used as presents for the crew’s families.

image

I cannot eat my breakfast yet because all the crew members are asleep in the ship’s mess/saloon. I must wait until the ship stops, although I have no idea when that will be.

Thursday 5 May 1988, Koei Maru 30

It is just as well that I drew those pictures, because I wrote practically nothing yesterday. Instead I read and wrote letters. This evening I have hurt my back again, just a little twinge this time, but a warning

We have sailed west to the edge of the zone. I would not like to leave it. I think the Argies have some fishing patrol boats of their own, and I would not like to be boarded by an Argentinian fisheries officer.

I am now looking forward to a bit of time in Port Stanley, I have been out at sea this time for three weeks now! I would quite like a bit of fun time on a patrol vessel – I would like to use the gymnasium.

image

Slept very badly once again. I may have to resort to a couple of stugeron fairly soon. Watched Deathwish – a good film despite having seen it twice before and it being in Japanese! Another week is over. Three gone, how many left to go?

I want Stanley (nowlookatthemessyou’vegottenmeinto) soon. I cannot eat much more of this rich food without having a heart attack.

Friday 6 May 1988, Koei Maru 30

Not a bad day. The best part was hearing from John on the radio that I would be picked up by a fishing patrol boat on Tuesday or Wednesday next week. Obviously a lot depends on the weather, but I live in hope. Otherwise I could be stuck on here until about 20 May – this would be terrible.

I may have made another real blunder on the radio, when complaining to John that the conversion factor is way out. He seemed to brush it aside casually and changed the subject pronto. oops!

I had three beers (and 3three cigs – God they’re bad for you) and watched TV and slept, and slept, and slept.

Curious dreams:

  • Busking competition in a library, some trendy geezer borrowed my guitar and played it from the neck, letting it dangle…

image

  • Jim and I are going to a pub in Highgate full of weirdos and under-age drinkers – I try to order a bottle of cider for Jim and two pints of bitter for me. It takes an hour for me to get served, during which time Tippy (my step brother) appears with a rucksack on his back. Jim has disappeared when I get served, somebody nicks my bottle of cider and I get furious and rude, but end up with a beer tipped all over me in the struggle.
  • Working in a bank with a whole bunch of moaning graduates. Mealtime is £10 a head to eat at the bank, with yellow lobster, cucumbers, lettuce, salami, but nothing to drink, so we all trundle off down the road…it becomes Covent Garden…to a small shop to get some orange drink from a kind of pump, which I can’t operate. Too bad, I only get half an orange drink. I return to the bank, the front of which has turned into a pub, but the bank is inside, to find that most people have now finished their lunches. I contemplate this and decide that sandwiches are the best way out of this terrible situation.

11. Land Ho!

Wednesday 6 April 1988, Koei Maru 30.

My breakfast (actually yesterday) was steak again, with prawns, chips and macaroni. 3 enormous steaks was all I could manage. I am beginning to tire a little of them, but I do love them so.

The time is going quickly now. The days drift from one into another and I’m sure that in no time at all I shall be home on holiday. I think for me Italy has to be the answer.

I have just eaten a fruit salad that had some peculiar jelly-like cubes in it. They were clear and disintegrated much more easily than jelly. I asked Abe what it was and he said it was made from ‘sea leaf’ so I take it that it is agar gel from seaweed. It was completely tasteless and probably only in the fruit salad as a cheap filler, like sawdust in sausages.

From the same conversation it looks like we will be returning to Stanley on the 9th or 10th of this month – it is good to know that it is sooner rather than later!

Thursday 7 April 1988, Koei Maru 30.

I can’t help thinking that my diary and my mind’s capabilities are being severely disrupted by the volume of letters I am writing – they are sapping my inspiration. I also feel cheap because of them – I write many of the same things to people – sometimes using exactly the same words…

e.g. Houses in Stanley – Allotment garden. ‘Well to do’ shanti town.

Reading a great deal – David Copperfield. Theroux.

Zzz snore! – I only hope that those to whom I am writing enjoy the letters I suppose it is better than no letter at all.

Her waggoner, a small grey coated gnat,

Not half so big as a little round worm

Prick’d from the lazy finger of a maid;

Her chariot is an empty hazel nut 

Made by the joiner squirrel, or old grub,

Time out o’minds the fairies’ coach makers.

And in this state, she gallops night by night

Through lovers’ brains, and then they dream of love

O’er courtiers’ knees, that dream on curtsies straight;

O’er lawyers’ fingers, who straight dream on fees;

O’er ladies’ lips, who straight on kisses dream;

Nananuma has been very sweet. He has made an order for cornflakes and milk for the next voyage – what a good bloke.

It is at this moment as I write (10 minutes to 7am) and it is still not light, and very little sign of becoming so.

Friday 8 April 1988, Koei Maru 30.

Radioed Crag today – I definitely have a month off in Britain. Much of the conversation was about getting picked up, time in Stanley etc…

image

I have talked with the crew much more over the past couple of days. The poor chaps care only about one thing – sex – they wait with eagerness to get to Montevideo, so they can see ‘street girls’. I find this very depressing – they discuss very little else.

I am in a bit of a void at the moment, reading wise; the print in HG Wells selected short stories is too small and I have difficulty reading it. The alternative, Conrad’s Typhoon, is impossible – the dictionary syndrome – it is irritation to a degree. I have a mental block with Conrad.

Saturday 9 April 1988, Koei Maru 30.

How odd. I was sitting wondering what to do, trying to shake off a terrible dreariness when:

image

So off I went. A message came from the KSJ office to say that the ETA for Koei Maru No30 in Stanley will be 7.00 tomorrow morning – they will arrange for me to be collected by the warrah.

This is good news – whoopee! yahoo! A day early

The other bonkers thing is that it has turned out to be bloody cold and when I came back from the radio room it was bloody snowing hard. Can you believe it? Yup. April bonkers showers.

Sunday 10 April 1988, Koei Maru 30.

I got up with the sun, although I hadn’t been able to sleep a wink, I feel at least that I have been to bed. It is a very cold morning and the ship has arrived in Berkeley Sound – it is almost enough to make me cry, to see land again – it is beautiful and covered in a light scattering of snow. I must brace myself for the bad news that I might not be picked up until tomorrow – God I hope it’s today. A lovely thought – after my week in Stanley, only half of April will be left and then it will be May.

10. Romeo and Juliet

Sunday 3 April 1988, Koei Maru 30.

I wonder how Arsenal did yesterday. I have written to Sean, holding him to his promise of sending me cuttings of Arsenal’s progress.

I have almost finished David Copperfield. What a deeply moving book – I find myself laughing and crying throughout the book. I shall be sad to finish it.

I spend my whole time looking forwards or backwards in time. I keep making plans for Deb and me to go on  a holiday together for a week – perhaps to a Greek island, or to Sicily or to Corsica or to Siena or anywhere – I live in that dream.

I also think much about my school days and the third chapter in my life – Cholmely, but I can’t put it on paper yet. (Cholmely was the upper-junior school that I went to from age 9-11)

I am learning Queen Mab’s speech – this is what I know.

She is the fairies’ midwife, and she comes

In shape no bigger than an agate-stone

On the fore-finger of an alderman:

Drawn with a team of little atomies

Athwart men’s noses as they lie asleep

I have finished D.C. – I am sad at this prospect. I feel I have myself lived the life of David Copperfield, that I have loved little Emily and that I do love Agnes. Having finished, I am left with the grim reality that I am thousands of miles away from my family and close friends. While Dickens can act to halt progression of my ‘disease’, he cannot cure it. I lived each minute of that book. I know intimately my Aunt, Mr Dick, Dr Strong and his wife Anne, Traddles whom I consider to be a best friend. What a sadness that they are all dead, the author too. Enough mourning. I must read some other books. (It’s lucky I bought so many!). (11 days for Copperfield!)

blog pics  001 10 July 15

A comment from the present day (2015) to put the significance of this last entry into some kind of context. I was never much of a reader in my youth, and only reluctantly read books on into my twenties, preferring to bury myself in my studies, or watching TV. Looking back, I think reading David Copperfield was a life-changing event. There are many of these kinds of events in this journal.

There are also the first signs of a ‘madness’ creeping into my writings, and it feels a bit strange reading them now.

Monday 4 April 1988, Koei Maru 30.

Wrote to Pia and Louise B. Both good friends and good company – as before – writing to them made me feel I was with them – what an incredible thing the mind is.

Milk in a ring-pull can!!

blog pics  002 10 July 15

Sabudo gave me a crate of this stuff – he is looking after me very well indeed. what a good bloke.

Continued Mabs:

Her wagon spokes made of long spinners’ legs;

The cover, of the wings of grasshoppers;

The traces, of the smallest spider’s web;

The collars, of the moonshines watery beams;

Her whip, of cricket’s bone; the lash, of film;

I radioed Stanley and spoke with Crag. I will wait definitely until the KM30 comes into Stanley/Berkley Sound. I am worried about how much time I will actually get on land. I am also worried that I may be being short-changed a bit. Crag said Drin would be coming in, she has been at sea a month – this is not true, she has been at sea less time than me!

Tuesday 5 April 1988, Koei Maru 30.

Watched ‘Inspector Clouseau’ today on video – what a load of cobbler’s – it was an old film (’60s). The highlight for me was that ‘Catweasel’ was in it, playing a chocolate factory porter/watchman. It was a very weak film indeed, but I’m not sure whether it pre-dates or post dates the Pink Panther films. Wrote to Mr Radford and J&J.

9. Bread

Wednesday 30 March 1988, Koei Maru 30.

Bread – will I ever be able to look another piece of white bread in the face again and say ‘I want you’ ? It seems unlikely.

Since telling Nananuma (the ship’s cook) that I liked bread and butter, he has produced this stale stack for me each breakfast of up to ten thick slices. It is not only stale, but tastes of the plastic it has been kept in.

He thinks he is doing me a kindness by this service, for which reason I oblige him by eating what I can and taking what is left to my cabin, where, I am sorry to say, having festered in my fridge for a couple of days, it is destined for the waste disposal unit which is my toilet. It is slowly driving me bonkers and I feel that somebody, somewhere is watching me do this! Am I guilty?

I saw a beautiful flock of white birds, their reversed silhouettes emphasised by the black sky background and the bright lights of the ship shining towards them. I took unsuccessful photographs. They looked heron-like or egret-like and tried to roost a while on the masts, but were unable to remain long due to the winds forcing over the bow. They had yellow beaks and long black legs with large feet. What were they doing here? (I found out some time later that they get blown off course from the mainland and probably perish at sea.)

Thursday 31 March 1988, Koei Maru 30

At last March is almost over – roll on April, May, June, so that I may be home again.

The sea has come up in a terrible fury, but is still nowhere near as bad as I am sure it can become. I think fishing may be abandoned in this weather, although I am not sure. It will certainly be affected. Good for the squid I say. I cannot help thinking myself that the season ought not to start until April, to enable all those immature females the chance of at least producing and spawning eggs.

Friday 1 April 1988, Koei Maru 30.

So, I can’t play any tricks on anybody – but I might be able to do something in a letter or two. Yesterday was maddening – no fishing last night and passing the time was even more difficult than usual. I watched ‘Rocky 2’ – wow, some film! And also two really shitty Japanese films, both looked like they were made on Super 8 or something like that.

I can’t remember when I last ate – eating times were all up the spout yesterday! I must keep up with my letters.

image

Only another ten days or so on board and then aaah land ho!

The crew are much better for their enforced day off – no longer do they walk about like zombies.

Mr Chiba (the fishing master) has had a haircut (it was short to start with)

Abe radar has had a shave. They have all slept well and look refreshed.

image

All is much calmer, but we still roll -like right now for example. Wrote to Jazz and Michael.

Saturday 2 April 1988, Koei Maru 30.

A day just like any other passed by. This is a maelstrom of tedium. I want to go home.