34. Close to home

Some readers of this blog may not know that it is called Natural Adventures because it was started as a digitisation of an adventure I had to the Falkland Islands in 1988 when I was a young man. I was a fisheries scientist working for the Falkland Islands Government and at this point in the Journal had spent several weeks at sea on a Japanese squid jigger called the Koei Maru 30.

For context, it might be worth reading chapter 1, ‘An ill wind‘.

The adventure continues… (prompted by Cannibalrabbit to post about the Falklands again)

Thursday 7 July 1988. Koei Maru 30

Once again we aren’t fishing – Today I think it was more of a holiday than bad weather, although the waves are quite big.

It has been a newspaper reading and letter reading day. It is weird, but I am loitering in late May and early June at the moment – London marathon and things like that.

I suppose Wimbledon is happening round about now. I feel detached from summer, it snowed for a while here today, so I find it difficult to connect.

Africa still calls. I yearn.

17 days and I will be home – Yahoo.

In reading my letters I discover that my mother writes excellent letters, they are a real inspiration. Alex too wrote a very good letter indeed.

Is Jasper really getting hitched? I sincerely hope not. Getting married has to be a questionable act.

“Girl you really got me going” – The Kink

Abe, crewman, Koei Maru 30, Falkland Islands, July 1988
Abe, crewman, Koei Maru 30, Falkland Islands, July 1988

Friday 8 July 1988. Koei Maru 30

Spoke with John Barton this morning – it seems he wants me back by the 15th or so, that is fine by me, but when I broke the news to the Fishing Master he was not at all pleased – sometimes he is such a miserable sod.

The weather is still pretty poor, although there has been no snow or rain today.

There is so little that I can write about these days, I think boring is the phrase or word I would use to describe my life at the moment.

I pity Phil having to take over from me – I reckon He’ll get a pretty hard time of it.

Saturday 9 July 1988. Koei Maru 30.

Well if we do get into Port Stanley on the 15th then this is probably my last Saturday ever on the Koei Maru 30 – a joyous occasion, since each day of the week I spend here will now be my last of that day. I am scoffing my rations accordingly but will leave a few bits and bobs for Phil.

Why am I so bloody organised? I have devised loads of forms for Phil to fill out while he’s on board and have given him tons of info about how to get by. The truth being told, I don’t trust that he’ll do as good a job as me because he probably doesn’t give a monkey’s.

Coastal snow, Falkland Islands, July 1988
Coastal snow, Falkland Islands, July 1988

I have rediscovered my 0.70 Rotring pen which I used to often use for my lecture notes and diary etc back at Newcastle. Oh God, I miss my undergraduate days, they were a lot of fun and very exciting. The thing I’ve noticed most about being here is that I am not a kid any more and I can never be again – this is my biggest regret in life. If I had a wish, I would wish I could begin again – suffer the pains of school, puberty, embarrassment and the joys of discovery, adventure, exercise, childish fun.

It may sound pathetic, but I also consider a lot how good it would be to be a father – my time will come, but I am very excited about having children and being everything they could want from a father. Enough pondering. (Little did I know)

33. Thinking of home

Some readers of this blog may not know that it is called Natural Adventures because it was started as a digitisation of adventure I had to the Falkland Islands in 1988 when I was a young man. I was a fisheries scientist working for the Falkland Islands Government and at this point in the Journal was out at sea on a Japanese squid jigger called the Koei Maru 30.

For context it might be worth reading chapter 1, ‘An ill wind‘.

Previous chapters (in reverse chronological order) are listed here.

The adventure continues…

 

Sunday 3 July 1988. Koei Maru 30

Today I had a lovely lie in – woken by the bell some time around 5am and then by the generator at about 6.15 or so. What it means of course is that I shan’t be able to sleep again tonight.

A bird is on  the deck, seemingly knackered, perhaps dying – I gave it some fish livers which it is eating quite happily. I hope it lives – I may take a piccie.

It is a dolphin gull and I think it has thrown in the towel – poor thing – I wish there was more I could do for it.

Watched Lethal Weapon (4th time) ace film, and smoked loads of ciggies and drank lots of beer and whiskey and am now ready for bed. I miss Deb so much – especially now when I know ‘home time’ is only three weeks away.

Whiskey and cigarettes, Koei Maru 30, Falkland Islands, 1988
Whiskey and cigarettes, Koei Maru 30, Falkland Islands, 1988

 

Monday 4 July 1988. Koei Maru 30

One year ago today we sat in the Annex (one of the residences at Bangor University where the overseas students lived) garden stuffing ourselves with home made beefburgers and cake and chicken and potato salad and beer and wine and it was a lot of fun – fighting off the mozzies as the chill of the summer evening set in, lighting fireworks and basically having a good time.

I will never forget Moyo’s dancing or Pia’s shirt. Andy Brooks threw a good party and I was happy. How can it all be a year ago? It seems so unfair that life slips by like this.

My cabin, Koei Maru 30, Falkland Islands 1988
My cabin, Koei Maru 30, Falkland Islands 1988

Life is sometimes a big disappoitment – never waste it, remember it and live the memories, enjoy them – they’re all we have when we die. Memories are all that is left. I remember Jeremy Jones with a good heart – he lives on in my mind. So sad. I shed a tear every now and then. How can he be gone? That’s it, he’s over.

My seagull has disappeared – I pray that it lived and flew off.

Sleep once again accompaned by a wee dram of scotch.

Slept well for a change (probably the five steaks!).

 

Tuesday 5 July 1988. Koei Maru 30

Spoke to Liz on the blower.

I should be getting back to Port Stanley round about the 17th or so, but in looking at this I realise that it is a Sunday, so it will have to be the 15th or the 18th – it will be fun breaking the news to the Fishing Master!

Processsing deck, Koei Maru 30, Falkland Islands 1988
Processsing deck, Koei Maru 30, Falkland Islands 1988

I must be barmy bonkers.

Wrote a letter to Deb in which I told her that I smoke now,

God I wish I didn’t – my lungs now are burning and full of shit. I am in very poor condition. I dislike myself at the moment.

I wish I was home – I wish I didn’t have this blasted job.

Sod the expeience!

Sod this!

I miss home, and I’m ultra pissed off and my cabin is too hot and I’m sweating!

Bollocks!

 

Wednesday 6 July 1988. Koei Maru 30

Slept terribly, only to wake up this morning and celebrate a day of no fishing. What makes today even better is the fact that we are sheltering from the rough seas in the shadow of Pebble Island.

I therefore am relatively happy

Very little else to write about – these non-working days are very long indeed.

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!

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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.

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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!