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.
The digitisation of my 1988 Falkland Islands journal continues…
Wednesday 27 April 1988, Koei Maru 30
Rudely woken at 1pm – it was the fishery patrol ‘Falklands Right’ calling. (At that time the Falkland Islands fisheries directorate had two fisheries patrol vessels, the ‘Desire’ and the ‘Right’, named after the Island’s motto ‘Desire the Right’) They had come to deliver my books (which I notice are already stamped with Falklands Fisheries Directorate! – don’t they trust me or something?)
It was good to speak English and see European faces, even for a fleeting moment. It is also the first time I have seen the ‘Right’. I wish I had taken some photographs. I spoke to ‘John’ on the radio and asked if it was the same ‘John’ as I had spoken to before, and then at last he helped me put two and two together. It was John Clarke all the time – silly me.
The books are pretty good, but either too simple or too complex. When I am in England I will buy the Kanji book, it looks fascinating.
The newspapers from home are a right mixed bunch, some weeks or months old, others pretty recent. It is nice to have them though.
I had forgotten about page three girls…hideous!
Thursday 28 April 1988, Koei Maru 30
It is now the 28th. I cannot believe how time is flying out here. I don’t seem to be able to write my diary quickly enough. I have just had the best sleep since I arrived on the KM30. Nine uninterrupted hours – few dreams, no nightmares, just restful sleep. Before going to sleep I radioed Port Stanley and spoke to John B. I am so bloody clumsy on the radio it is pathetic. I tried to indicate that Jim and I would like to coordinate being in Port Stanley together – I felt such a sword (dick) asking him about the possibilities. The point (which I know well) is to have as few observers in town at the same time. But that doesn’t stop it from being a lonely job.
I couldn’t bring myself to talk to him about accommodation – that would be really pushy – but I really don’t want to go back to the Malvina Guest House.
Abe radar is a good bloke – I was embarrassed to wake him up for the radio call. He always gives me a beer (and cheese this time) and a couple of cans for my fridge. I am always humbled because they give me things all the time, but I am unable to give them anything back.
Watched the sunrise, but that is tomorrow…
Friday 29 April 1988, Koei Maru 30
Saw the sunrise. It was beautiful – I took some photographs just befort the sun broke the horizon. I was quite moved.
Another bit of Falkland news, This is becoming a bit of a FI scrapbook, but that’s OK.
It is a beautiful day, the sky is really blue and the sun is shining – I only wish I didn’t have to go to sleep now.
I woke up, once again, having had a lovely sleep – it will be murder getting back into a daytime routine again. I am almost exactly opposite a normal sleeping regime!
Watched some more Japanese TV. Their quiz shows are terrible – money this, money that. one of the quiz games is called ‘how much’ – you have to guess what a certain item in a short film clip costs in the currency of the nationality shown in the film. Stupid or what? Japan is the ultimate consumer society. Completely bonkers.
Saturday 30 April 1988, Koei Maru 30
Deborah’s Birthday! Nothing else matters about today. It is 03:00 here and in the UK it is 08:00 and Deb will be up and probably having breakfast (or perhaps having an indulgent lie in). I am thinking of her very much and hope that Karen sent the flowers I asked her to. Deb will be touched if she gets them, I know.
23 today. She makes me feel old.
Correction, one other thing matters today and that is the welfare of Arsenal. I hope they won…come on you reds!
I have become a sleep zombie. I had about 7 hours of sleep today, got up, had a rather yucky breakfast and then slept for 2-3 more hours. Bonkers.
Sleeping at the wrong times is just as painful as it is, say, when you sleep in the day – real ‘boiled egg’. (Boiled egg is a family expression for feeling lousy on account of getting up too early, for example to catch an early holiday flight).
Utsire, where in
God’s name is Utsire and
should I be worried?
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.
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
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.