The MV Balmoral is a small cruise vessel, built in 1949, that takes passengers on day trips around the British coastline. This is her winter mooring.
Her website is here.
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!
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!
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.
A penguin was gaffed up.
The sea was rough today and waves were pouring into the factory deck.
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!
I have neglected my Falkland adventure in favour of street art and haiku poems, but this blog began with a digitisation of a diary I wrote in 1988 whilst working as a fisheries scientist in the South Atlantic. I feel it is time for me to add another section from the diary. The context to this diary is set out in the first post I wrote entitled ‘An ill wind‘. I recommend you read this first post to get a feel for what this is all about. All of the posts can be seen in the ‘Falkland Journal, 1988’ category to the left of the screen. Enjoy.
Wednesday 8 June 1988. Montevideo, London Palace Hotel
Today there is a general strike. Like yesterday it is cool and overcast, but I can overcome this in my new jacket. Yo ho.
Most of the day on the Koei Maru 30. Watched bits od several films and then all of ‘Lethal Weapon’…again, and also a film called ‘Gotcha’. it was ok.
Ate my first sizable meal of sushimi today, it was good.
The Fishing Master told me, if I understood correctly, that his wife didn’t want him back, so he is prepared to stay in the zone as long as you like. Poor chap. I don’t really understand. Anyway it seems that if another observer comes on board, they will work, but not talk to him. Nice!?!
El Fogon – hotel bar – bed.
Thursday 9 June 1988. Montevideo, London Palace Hotel
‘So begins another weary day’ Grey Day.
A very boring day on the Koei Maru 30. Oh I don’t know if I can bear it any more.
The crew seem to be in real ‘micky-taking’ mood, I think it has something to do with being in Montevideo.
It didn’t look like much refueling was going on today, so perhaps Brazil, here we come – who knows?
Friday 10 June 1988. Koei Maru 30
I checked out.
My visa receipt (N$ 103,172) amounts to roughly £172 for 11 days – a touch better than Emma’s
For the rest of the day I tried to kill time on the boat. I have forgotten how difficult it is. All the crew except Iyagi, who was on watch and in a horrific mood, and ‘Acne man’, had gone out on the town for the last time.
I needless to say, stayed in – no money no inclination. I bought a few special treats for myself, but stupidly some tobacco.
Saturday 11 June 1988. Koei Maru 30
We are at sea again – there was an eerie mist heralding a beautiful clear day – I took a few slides.
I have missed breakfast – quite a relief – it looks like eggs, eggs, eggs like before.
Saw loads of Magellanic penguins, but otherwise very little of interest happened.
Watched some films, including Indie Jones and the Temple of Doom – an irritating but quite enjoyable movie.
Sencho now tells me that when I go for my holiday, the Koei Maru will head for Japan – that’s not fair, it’s blackmail!
Sunday 12 June 1988. Koei Maru 30
The clocks on board are now set to Falkland time. I am overjoyed – I exaggerate. Radiod Mt ?? of KSJ to say that I’ll radio Fishops at KSJ tomorrow at 9.00 am. I have so much to say to John.
?? = Okaido or something of that sort.
It has become fairly rough and I have got my usual ‘second day at sea headache’.
I sorted things out with the Fishing Master and radio Radar – all seems ok-ish. They will also talk with John tomorrow.
Phoned Deb – highlight of the last fortnight – I am deliriously happy. I can’t help thinking though that she may have met someone – who can blame her? I would die if she had.
Abe said I could phone home tomorrow.
I haven’t written in this category of my blog for a long while, so for the benefit of the one or two visitors who are reading this blog for the first time I will attempt 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. I am doing this mostly for me, but really hope you enjoy reading it.
Sunday 5 June 1988, Montevideo, London Palace Hotel
A beautiful day indeed. I wish Jim wasn’t going or that I could go with him.I accompanied him to the departure stop and we chatted a while. Some older ladies turned up for the same tour (poor Jim). We said our goodbyes and I promised to get in touch the minute I get home.
I have been smoking too much recently, it is the influence of Jim. I must stop. I feel the damage it does to my lungs. I will limit myself to 4 only each day and vow not to buy cigarettes or tobacco in England.
I promise (signed) Stephen
The boatswain said we will probably leave Monte on or about the 10 June, so I have to cope with 4 nights alone in Monte – I will join the Koei Maru 30 the day before she sails. The Fishing Master is very curt with me – he is venting his disapproval of the proposals (for extended fishing) on me, it isn’t fair. Today I will begin to tick off the days until I return home (see back).
Alone I ventured to the Fogon – very depressing I thought – it’s not the same without a friend to chat to.
After, it was a case of a whiskey solo in the hotel bar before retiring at 9.45pm (pitiful) to read a book and write some letters. I am reading another Theroux novel, ‘the Black House’, it isn’t as attention-grabbing as some of his others.
Monday 6 June 1988, Montevideo, London Palace Hotel
The start of another week during which work on the vessel should be completed. Breakfast alone – the waiter asked me where my friend had gone. “Iguazu” I said, and thought – sod him!
It’s a no no on the jacket – possibly they’ll have one tomorrow – I doubt it. If I pay by visa it’ll cost more !?!
Well Mr Chiba (the Fishing Master) can’t hack it, he’s leaving for japan, and another Fishing Master will join the Koei Maru 30. This is a revelation and perhaps explains his odd behaviour the last few days. We had a hearty chat and quite a lot of fun, so things between us are now well again.
Quite surprisingly I went to the Fogon again. Oddjob was there alone and behaved a bit like a caveman. Oddjob (not his real name) is one of the new crew members on the Koei Maru. I returned to the hotel bar and quaffed a couple of neat whiskeys and read the TLS (Times Literary Supplement), rather classy I thought. My partner in crime was a young woman (28ish) rather attractive who sat two tables away facing me. She sipped her gin and tonic and pretended to read and write some notes.
Then to bed. Alone! I could never make an advance – I’m too bloody shy.
In the Fogon there had been a power cut – ace fun – it only lasted about five minutes but for all that time the place was plunged into darkness.
Tuesday 7 June 1988, Montevideo, London Palace Hotel
The waiter volunteered the information this morning, that the solo girl is English. He made several other suggestions, I think I got the gist, but “benita chica” was one. I breakfasted alone. How is it possible to ask an attractive girl if she would mind if I sat with her, without making her feel I was trying to pick her up. I must convince myself first.
Dreamed that Louise had a helicopter crash – it was so vivid and nasty, but she lived. Somehow she caused 29 million pounds worth of damage to a new airport hangar.
I bought the jacket. I hope I like it. Hip and cool and $185 roughly £100. But best of all, made today, for me, in Uruguay.
Guess where I ate…
Spoke to the English woman at the bar and chatted for a long time. Alas she goes tomorrow, and I will once again be alone in Monte, but it was great to have a long English conversation with someone new. Refreshing.
My opening words (so embarrassing) were “excuse me, but are you English?” She was delightful. Frightfully delicate and well spoken – about 30-35 – very reminiscent of Dr Brown (my university tutor). Independent. She was a freelance writer, but involved with English linguistics and Heinemann educational. I told her I lived near Bedford Square. I didn’t even ask her name – it didn’t seem important and hardly worth it really. So bloody English.
Watched return of the Jedi – ace film.
And drank the water from the tap in my bathroom – if I should collapse and die, this is why.
When I first arrived in Bristol, some 26 years ago, I was a young man with energy and an appetite for clubs and boozing. The Thekla was one of my favourite haunts and I regularly drank more than was good for me on this fine vessel. Many ships and boats on Bristol’s floating harbour have been converted into clubs, cafes and restaurants, and they add to the maritime tradition here.
This beautiful Inkie piece is not the first to be sprayed on the side of the Thekla. Some years ago, Banksy sprayed the Grim Reaper in roughly the same place. This piece by Inkie is perfect for the location, and one of my favourite works in Bristol.
There is a little bonus piece near the bowse of the Thekla of Homer Simpson. I am not sure who the artist is, but it brings with it additional colour to the flank of the ship. All a bit of fun.
opened up the gateway to
trading with the world.
To any visitors that will be reading this category (Falkland Journal, 1988) for the first time, it might be worthwhile reading the first post ‘An Ill Wind‘ which sets the scene and gives a little bit of context to the blog category.
Just to recap, at the age of 24 I was offered a job as a Fisheries Scientist and flown away from London all the way to the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic. Almost immediately I was sent out to sea on a Japanese squid fishing boat (a jigger called Koei Maru 30), and am now some three weeks or so into my second voyage. The journal entries are as they were written, with only the smallest grammatical edits.
Sunday 1 May 1988, Koei Maru 30
Is today Mayday? Maypoles and all that lark. What a lovely month May is, and yet so incredibly innocuous – it is neither Winter nor Summer, it is not early Spring – it is a corridor month. I daresay that for people with birthdays in May, it is highly important and memorable, but for me it is nothing – it is a month I remember little about – what happens in May? (How things change, it is now my favourite month of the year)
I am becoming a lazy arse – I don’t like it.! I had plans for learning some Japanese today but have not got round to it.
I must structure my life a bit – getting up is the first problem. Sleeping is another. But I soldier on with Queen Mab – she prevents my complete insanity. So kind of her. The fairies’ midwife.
Which oft the angry Mab with blisters plagues,
Because their breaths with sweetmeats tainted are.
Sometimes she gallops o’er a courtier’s nose,
And then dreams he of smelling out a suit;
And sometimes comes she with a tithe-pig’s tail,
Tickling as parson’s nose as a’ lies asleep’
And then dreams he of another benefice;
Sometime she driveth o’er a soldier’s neck,
And then dreams he of cutting foreign throats,
Of breeches, ambuscadoes, Spanish blades,
Of health’s five fathom deep; and then anon
Drum in his ear, at which he starts and wakes;
Had a terrible sleep. The sea became pretty rough and it was impossible to stay still. I wish I could handle that.
Monday 2 May 1988, Koei Maru 30
Into May! it looks like O-Zone will be over pretty soon – I have enjoyed it very much – I wonder if and when it will be made into a film – it lends itself very well to that – I wonder if Paul Theroux actually wrote it with a film in mind.
I will now try to learn Katagana in many slow steps.
Called Crag on the radio – it was great to talk to him – he is very lively on the radio. I mentioned the problem of accommodation and he said he’ll do his best to get me into Goodwyn’s or Emma’s. I’m not so sure about the latter. Jim will be in Stanley this week – lucky pig, perhaps he’ll be on the radio on Friday.
Began reading Ray Bradbury’s ‘the Illustrated Man’.
It’s funny, but I don’t think I have mentioned that I’m going to Montevideo yet, although I’ve known about it for more than a week now. I’m so excited about it, but also anxious (when was I ever not?). To be honest, I don’t really know what I’m going to be doing there, but I will be the last to complain.
Tuesday 3 May 1988, Koei Maru 30
Wrote a letter to Deb and a short note to Jasper with ‘reader’s tips’ in. I cried with laughter when I read it through.
A terrible night for fishing – once again I couldn’t sleep, it is so difficult with a rolling boat. Consequently I woke up really late. 10pm – I haven’t had breakfast yet, but am embarrassed to go to the mess to get it because it is so late and I can hear 8 or 9 voices coming from there. I don’t really want any breakfast, I can do quite nicely in my cabin, but often feel obliged to eat when I know a meal has been cooked for me. There is nothing worse than eating a meal you don’t particularly like, and being watched by several inquisitive faces.
Now I am looking forward to getting off this ‘junk’ for a few days. I want to get back to land, breath fresh air, eat bread/toast, talk to people.
Relax Steve, for God’s sake relax. I am a tense bunny.