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.

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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.

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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.

29. Long-lining

Back to my roots for a moment. This whole blogging experience began in February 2015, when I was taken ill with ‘flu and had to spend several days in bed. For a long time I had wanted to digitise a journal I wrote in 1988 but simply hadn’t had the time. Being Ill afforded me the chance to get started.

Since then I have been increasingly distracted by haiku and street art and feel bad that I have for so long neglected the original purpose of ‘Natural Adventures’.

The full journal can be accesses by clicking on the homepage of Natural Adventures under the heading on the left ‘Falkland Journal, 1988’. For context it is worth reading the first entry ‘An Ill Wind’. Enjoy.

Falkland Islands diary homepage

 

Saturday 18 June 1988. Koei Maru 30

I woke at 06:05 with a start and a half – I couldn’t believe that I had overslept by four hours. Panic! Perhaps it was the double mattress.

Sleeping on a double mattress
Sleeping on a double mattress

But there was no standby bell. There was no fishing today. I don’t understand why because the weather has been good, despite a gentle swell of about 15 feet or so. Possibly just to give the crew a rest

The reason I was given was “the parameter” ?? eh? I thought, then I realised they were saying “barometer”.

I watched Mosquito Coast – a good film, but inclined to depress me.

Now King Kong Lives has just begun. I never knew such a film existed – looks like it could be good.

King Kong
King Kong

I quite enjoyed King Kong, the remake, but this film looks slightly laughable.

Today I have spoken no more than fifteen words. This makes me sad.

 

Sunday 19 June 1988. Koei Maru 30

Another long hard day. This is more like it! I think that this is ten times better than squid fishing. I’m sure my enthusiasm will fade before long, but the fact that there are only twenty or so bottom long-liners in Japan and this is the only Jigger-long-liner makes me feel quite lucky. This is my baby and I am going to do a good job!

Today some grenadiers, and at last some Patagonian Toothfish. I think the Fishing Master was pleased, hence the saki at supper – it is potent stuff – yummie.

Crew on the Koie Maru 30 processing long-line caught fish, Falkland Islands 1988
Crew on the Koie Maru 30 processing long-line caught fish, Falkland Islands 1988

Last night I had a very vivid dream about Mr Baker (my housemaster at school) as he was when I first met him twelve years ago. I think he is ill or dying or dead, I don’t know why, but I just get that feeling. He was so friendly (in the dream) and knew who I was – he came over to me and started chatting – I felt close to him, like I did in my final year at school. Odd.

Tomorrow I talk to Fishops via KSJ (the fishing agent) – why is it always like this? Fishops radio, like everything else is so bloody inefficient!

 

Monday 20 June 1988. Koei Maru 30

Today is colder and the catch is very poor – no doubt the Fishing Master will be in a rather bad mood today.

I am sure that before long, there will be an accident in the factory deck. Already the Ice Master has gaffed his own leg. Next it will be a finger in the circular saw or a hook in the face. It is bound to happen sooner or later.

‘Don’t give up ’cause you have friends
Don’t give up you’re not the only one
Don’t give up no reason to be ashamed
Don’t give up you still have us
Don’t give up now we’re proud of who you are
Don’t give up you know its never been easy
Don’t give up ’cause I believe there’s a place there’s a place where we belong’

This could keep me going for a while.

Everyone has gone to bed sharpish (it is now 7pm). After some 17 hours work I don’t yet know if we work tomorrow. I fear so, because we are steaming now to a new fishing ground.

There is a…what? I’ve forgotten – oh yes, a patrol ship the Falkland Desire on its way to deliver some letters for me. So I am writing a whole bunch of pre-paid airmail letters.

 

Tuesday 21 June 1988. Koei Maru 30

Oops – I overslept this morning, thinking that after such a tough day yesterday they would have a day off – no such luck.

Luckily the Fishing Master writes down times, temperatures etc. for the set and deployment, so it isn’t so bad missing the start.

Saw some penguins in a school, leaping like dolphins out of the water – and a seal, playing with a dead Salilota (red cod).

Peterels and Black browed albatross feed on discarded fish waste, Falkland Islands 1988.
Peterels and Black browed albatross feed on discarded fish waste, Falkland Islands 1988.

I’ve taken some otoliths for myself to try to help explain the work I do.

Perhaps tomorrow I’ll take some photographs of such things (for my lectures!)

Some funny dreams last night about getting caught sleeping with Emma W by my dad – very odd – try to interpret that. All in all very confusing.

It is now about 5.30pm and I am ready for a good night’s sleep. I’ll continue to read One Hundred Years of Solitude, and then I’ll dream of Deb and home.

25. Topless

There may be one or two visitors who are reading this blog for the first time. To provide a little context, it would be worthwhile having a quick read of the first entry ‘An Ill Wind‘. In short this is a faithful digitisation of a journal I kept when working in the Falkland Islands and South Atlantic in 1988. Enjoy.

Wednesday 1 June 1988, Montevideo, London Palace Hotel

Summer isn’t here at last. It is clearly Autumn, the plethora of leaves littered by the London plane trees tell the story well enough. Got my camera past the dock gates – took some Montevideo piccies, but not many. It is quite nerve racking using a camera, each picture may be your last.

Since this is a stick in page, I may as well put in some misfits.

Falkland Islands May Ball 1988, ticket
Falkland Islands May Ball 1988, ticket
Emma's Guest House bill, May 1988
Emma’s Guest House bill, May 1988

I was mightily pissed off by all on the KM30, they were not helpful at all. I think there is a conspiracy against me.

Iguazu is out for me, it seems that it must be for eight days or nothing. I can’t give up the time.

We went to the el Fogon a restaurant (still there, I just checked on google) for lunch and also for supper and then on to a topless nightclub.

What an experience! It was like watching an American film- the two uninterested dancers weaved and twisted out of time to the music on podia which allowed a maximum half-stride in any direction. After a while at the bar, Jim and I were approached by a call girl/prostitute who couldn’t understand why we were at the club if we didn’t want a girl. Were we gay? No.

Basically it was a knocking shop and although Jim and I want to return, I think it could be a mistake. Nonetheless it was an experience and life is made up of experiences.

Thursday 2 June 1988, Montevideo, London Palace Hotel 

Fun, fun, fun – Jim and I bought leather jackets. His was much nicer than mine, but was also more than double the price. Mine was US$75.

I have decided to get another like Jim’s but at US$185 (£100) it is a little on the expy side.

Belfast Leather Factory, the place for leather jackets. Montevideo June 1988
Belfast Leather Factory, the place for leather jackets. Montevideo June 1988

Jim has decided on the jacket and Iguazu, lucky thing, meanwhile I am to be left, festering in Monte. I’m so glad he has been here up to now.

Nicer weather, clearer skies.

Friday 3 June 1988, Montevideo, London Palace Hotel

Shaved again – I’ve got those lumps and spots once more – it is definitely shaving that produces these infections. Will I ever be free of them?

My jacket, the more I look at it the more I feel is cheap. It will be ok for a ‘rough and tumble’ in the UK, but I am only proud of it because it is Uruguayan.

The sun is at this moment pouring into my hotel room, a seemingly impossible feat given the angle of the room, window and sun.

View from the roof of the London Palace Hotel, Montevideo. June 1988
View from the roof of the London Palace Hotel, Montevideo. June 1988

I am quite pissed off that Jim is going on Sunday, I have enjoyed his company – being alone will be quite boring, but perhaps I’ll meet someone or something – things usually work out alright in the end.

We went again to the topless bar (called Baires). What a seedy dump. Once again we were both approached – in my case by a girl called Giselle? Anyhow we kept a stiff upper lip, refused all approaches and thought ourselves very cool for being so good. I think Jim could quite easily be tempted if I wasn’t here, but if I wasn’t here then he wouldn’t be here at all, so all’s well.

Saturday 4 June 1988, Montevideo, London Palace Hotel

A sunny day to wake up to.

Today we went wandering and Wandering. La la la. Jim cocked up on the money front and I bailed him out with US$100. I have worked out that he owes me on the basis of $1.83 dollars to the pound: £54.65 + £8.21 for the other money I lent him, giving a total of £62.86.

Went to the boat and took a hook and line (snood). Watched a German league football match on the TV.

Bought a gourd for Deb and a leather notebook, perhaps for Emily.

Lovely day all day. Jim and I went out onto the hotel roof.

After a very pleasant meal at Otto’s – a more exclusive restaurant than el Fogon we pootled on to the show below:

Flyer from the nightclub, Montevideo June 1988
Flyer from the nightclub, Montevideo June 1988

It was really seedy – it included a ‘free’ drink in the £1.60 entrance fee. What a laugh. The film was a very cheap British Caligula Caesar film, terrible. The strip was more like modern dance performed entirely without interest. The girls and bloke can’t earn much more than about a tenner a day. It was a real gas. Jim and I then went off solemnly to our hotel rooms.

24. Montevideo

Today marks British Summertime and Easter Sunday, but the weather and its unpredictability has forced me indoors. I thought I’d use the time productively to update my Falkland Island journal from 1988. I urge any new readers to read An Ill Wind, the first ‘chapter’ of this personal voyage in order to understand the context.

Thursday 26 May 1988, Koei Maru 30

Yesterday I got $900 which was about £500. I hope I don’t spend this in Montevideo. I will be right pissed off if I can’t get subsistence.

It is a miserable day, but fairly calm. I will miss Port Stanley. I do miss Deb. I can’t wait to go home.

Meeting with Sam, John, Abe ‘Radar’ – Total farce – John is a fool, he has no command of the situation, he didn’t take control. I am sitting with Jim, some hours after our departure from Port Stanley. A poignant moment. Sad.

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Jim and his last farewell to Port Stanley, May 1988

Leaving Port Stanley can be painful.

Friday 27 May 1988, Koei Maru 30

Mellow music, mellow mood – I am surprisingly happy. Martin Stephenson can see me through.

Not so happy now. I have just watched ‘Platoon’ on video. It is a clichéd but nonetheless depressing film. I am now ready to sleep. I am scared of montevideo, it could be quite a dangerous place and I am always a coward. I pray I don’t get any trouble. Wrote to Deb and Gavin.

Japanese wine – bloody horrible.

Saturday 28 May 1988 Koei Maru 30

Pulled off the first of my calendar tags that I made.

Had a ‘conference’ with Mr Chiba (the Captain) and ‘Radar’ (the radio operator). It seems that the KM30 intends to leave here by August 30 at the latest, after only 80 days fishing in the zone. I have the task of being the man on the spot and telling John and John that 120 days looks out of the question.

Sunday 29 May 1988, Koei Maru 30

Pay day tomorrow, actually the day after tomorrow.

‘Down and out in Beverly Hills’ – good film. Little Richard remains extremely cool.

The moon is almost full and very bright. It is much warmer here, but still no sight of South America.

Monday 30 May 1988, Montevideo, London Palace Hotel

Arrived at last – we’re here and I can’t believe it.

The docks of Montevideo, May 1988
The docks of Montevideo, May 1988

A long wait in a shyte hut.

It was cold – Jim had problems with customs.

It is cheap here – only $27 for a reasonable hotel. Meals out here are pretty cheap too. Jim and I ate out and I paid on Visa.

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I can’t understand it.

SOUTH AMERICA!

Tuesday 31 May 1988, Montevideo, London Palace Hotel

Now, let me write with a straight head. We waited in a derelict dock customs gate for some three hours in the cold rain, before the Japanese agent finally sorted something out. Jim in the end will have to pay $25 for his camera. Rip-off.

My ship pass for entering the docks
My ship pass for entering the docks

We saw the customs man accept bribes from an African crew. Two tins of sardines. It was shameless and very funny. It is kind of expected here.

My ship pass for entering the docks
My ship pass for entering the docks

I slept very badly, because I was so very hot and dehydrated, but at least I am here, and have survived the ordeals of the first day.

I must keep a tab on my spending. See p.94.

The cars and trucks here have to be seen to be believed – out of the ’30s ’40s and ’50s. We were given a lift by the agent in a huge Mercedes.

There is no highway code, or so it seems. The whole place is a ‘Tintin’ adventure.

I went to the boat – not much seems to have happened there yet, except a few of the machines have been uncovered. I will return there tomorrow.

We wandered fairly aimlessly about, something I love doing in foreign cities, but Jim seemed to tire of it. He derives his pleasures in different ways to me. We inquired about trips to Iguazu falls.

23. Marking time

For those reading this blog for the first time, please read the first entry called ‘An ill wind‘ which sets the context for an adventure I had as a 24 year old in 1988. I am taking the time to digitise my journal from 1988 in the Falkland Islands and am remaining faithful to my original text – this post ‘Marking time’ is a particularly drab entry, recording what was a rather boring few days. My apologies.

Sunday 22 May 1988, Port Stanley, Emma’s Guest House

The KSJ dinner/buffet was a complete success for me.

Squid and tuna sushi, cold beef, rice, squid, chicken and free drinks – it was brilliant.

Today was a lovely day although we had a couple of rain showers. Jim and Pete L and I went went to Penguin Walk and the lighthouse. I took loads of slides of penguins etc. I was happy, as I listened to ‘Smells of Summer’ on my Walkman. Sometimes this place can be such a joy – getting away from pressures. But it doesn’t last. The loneliness and tedium get get to one eventually. I want to go home so badly, to see Deb and my family. I will never be the same after this experience. I’m sure they will see a certain change in me. I feel so remote.

Penguin Walk, Falkland Islands, May 1988
Penguin Walk, Falkland Islands, May 1988

Monday 23 May 1988, Port Stanley, Emma’s Guest House

I spent most of the day pretending (once again) to work at FIPASS. Not much has really happened. I felt really good having had an early and sensible night last night, but disgusted that I smoked again today. Got a letter from Pat and Roy – quite why I got it today I don’t know.

Pete and Steve left for volunteer point, in this weather I didn’t envy them. Roll on Summer time.

Went to have a meal at John’s (John and Alison went out) with Jim and Sean. Later Anna came round and we watched ‘La Bamba’ on video. Shitty film but with good music.

Tuesday 24 May 1988, Port Stanley, Emma’s Guest House

Worked again on my drawings.

The Koei Maru 30 came in. I saw the crew and all they could say was “girls, girls – jiggy-jiggy” it is very sad and depressing. I went into the galley to say hello to Nananuma. It was awful, like rekindling the flames of awful memories. Quite terrible.

In the evening Drin, Jim, Phil, Liz and I went to Monty’s and for some reason I ended up paying for the lot. We then went to the Goose and I got pretty merry. Ended up writing a drunken letter to Deb.

Wednesday 25 May 1988, Port Stanley, Emma’s Guest House

Today I have a lot of work to do. I must also buy supplies, since I expect to leave for Montevideo tomorrow.

Lost at cards. Phil won and is the champion.

Phoned Deb – it was great. She was in Edinburgh with her granny. She is revising for her exams on Wednesday.

Melanie was at the Cable & Wireless office – she is so sweet and I think it is fitting that when I telephone Deb, she is there.

I don’t want to go to sea, despite the fact that Jim is able to come. Went to the fish and chip shop with Phil and then the Globe – became a little merry. Power cut at midnight.

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Penguin Walk, Falkland Islands, May 1988
Penguin Walk, Falkland Islands, May 1988

16. Scissors, Paper, Stone

Saturday 23 April 1988, Koei Maru 30

I keep wondering if I heard correctly on the radio that I am going to Montevideo, the only thing I remember about the conversation is that I will have a long-lining trip before I go to the UK, which confirms that I must be going to Monte. Ace!

I hope Arsenal won today and the top five clubs all lost.

I really miss Saturdays at home – either at a match or watching old Des and the teleprinter on TV.

Sunday 24 April 1988, Koei Maru 30

The first thing I learnt today was how to play oli oli iddle (Scissors, paper, stone) in Japanese:

the paper is called ‘Pa’

the scissors called ‘Choki’

the stone is called ‘Gu’

Just before that, I knackered my back lifting a huge basket of squid. Bloody foolish. It hurts a lot. I took an asprin and had a fag. I hate to admit it, but I’ve started smoking rollies…only about one a day, if that. I don’t like them, but I am going through a rebellious phase and they make me feel the part of the wild marine biologist, beard and all.

The reason the crew played oli oli iddle, was because the loser had to provide a box of chocolates as a snack for everyone. The loser was Abe radar. He was amusedly pissed off.

I have spent at least two hours drawing onto pieces of paper the numbers 31-35 and 36-40! This is for labeling the boxes of squid and refers to the number of pieces per box.

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I asked for a crate of coke or juice earlier today. I think it has caused as bit of a fracas. I know I was being talked about by Nananuma, the captain and other crew members, by the glances which were cast my way during the conversation. It is very unnerving, especially when you can’t communicate things properly.

Monday 25 April 1988, Koei Maru 30

For the first time on this voyage, I kept the same hours as the crew and it was good to see the sunrise. I radioed Stanley at 10:00 and spoke to John and confirmed the Montevideo plan, so there is no doubt in my mind. It is on, as far as things can be at Fishops.

I was on a real high before going to bed, but now don’t feel so sure. I miss home. Still I should be back in a matter of two months or so. After that being out here will be easy.

Yesterday was a ‘holiday’ for the crew – a rough sea and an appalling catch. I was lucky to get even one sample.

I have got to get my letter-writing act together, I am falling well behind.

Yesterday I developed my own clinometer. It is built using the window (porthole) catch as the pointer and a piece of paper in the shape of an arc as the dial. I think it is ace. It is graduated with 15 degrees, 10 degrees, 10 degrees.

Tuesday 26 April 1988, Koei Maru 30

O-Zone paperback from my voyage

I can’t honestly believe that I wrote nothing today – what terrible neglect. Probably because I began reading O-Zone and also watched the film ‘Parker’ – a great film. Not much else to say.

13. Brief respite

Wednesday 13 April 1988, Port Stanley, Malvina House Hotel

Another day off – I join the Koei Maru tomorrow, a little sooner than expected – I hope I can cope.

Shopped and watched Mad Max 3 and a dreadful film called Spasmo – I only watched half of it, it was so bad.

The West Store, April 1988
The West Store, April 1988

 

Thursday 14 April 1988, Koei Maru 30

And so, after much deliberation, my second term begins. Oh what have I done to deserve this? At least I have some cereal and also my own stocks. My room now is too hot, but I shan’t complain. I wrote a very mizzy letter to Deb, I was mizzy – it is terrible watching the land get smaller and the night come on.

I learned many things today:

  1. KSJ (the fishing company) want an observer to go to Montevideo. This could be me, Crag or John.
  2. the long-lining will begin in June.
  3. This voyage should end in 4-5 weeks.
  4. the KM30 is due to come into Port Stanley or leave on 27 May.

I would love to go to Montevideo, but not at the expense of a holiday home – I just won’t do it. If I could do both – chance would be a fine thing – then it would be very exciting.

Malvina Guest House bill
Malvina Guest House bill

 

Friday 15 April 1988, Koei Maru 30

We are still within sight of land – yahoo – it makes such a difference to me to be able to see the distant islands and mountains, it makes me feel less remote. Jigging was very good last night and the crew are still up. Poor bastards, almost 36 hours of hard physical work without sleep.

Within sight of land
Within sight of land

Talking of sleep, I don’t seem to be able to stop. I drop off at the drop of a hat. It will take a few days and some discipline to get into the sleeping regime of the crew. I suppose the secret is to stay awake later and later each night. It don’t half make you feel lousy though.

Saturday 16 April 1988, Koei Maru 30

I am now waking up around 1.00pm – the sun is up and the sky is blue, but I think we have lost the land.

Each morning there are videos of Japanese T.V. very interesting. Their sense of humour is almost entirely slapstick. Dreadful overacting and tons of commercials, many with western actors. Incredibly sexist, all of it.

While it is still fresh in my mind, I must remember the two children playing snowballs and war in the garden of the Malvina Guest House. They were employing spanish accents and saying things like ‘you dirty eenglish piig’ (being baddies of course). Amazing, the effects of war.