14 August 1997

(Part of my Gone Fishing story)

Thursday 14 August 1997

Day 27 at Sea

0845 hours SAMOAN TIME (Pacific Time minus four hours)

One could say that my earlier thoughts on not seeing anybody else out here have firmly been shot down.

After a good stretch of fishing, things have slowed down once again. We are well over the halfway point with approximately 750 tons on board.

We are also definitely not alone out here on the ocean. Upwards of thirty boats have converged on the area that was so good to us. Boats from Taiwan, Korea, Japan and the US, to name a few, have somehow gotten word of this area and now you can’t so much as sneeze without fear of spraying another boat.

Yesterday I saw somewhere between eight and ten boats, and this was just while I was paying attention. Too crowded for us, so we are heading east, towards our rafts, towards a full moon.

Yesterday morning we made a set on a school of skipjack, under the watchful eye of a Korean boat. Captain Joe gave the order to make the set while the fish were traveling at a high rate of speed (no bait to attract their attention and slow them down). Unfortunately the skipjack managed to escape.

As we were hauling in the net, the Korean boat waited about a quarter of a mile away to see if we missed. Sure enough, they made a set. Too what degree of success, I will never know.

Mid-afternoon yesterday, in a space of only a mile or two, was almost one-half of the StarKist fleet (three of seven). I felt like we were caught in the middle of a family reunion. Seems that the captain of the Adriatic Sea is the son-in-law of our captain, and the captain of the Capt. Christiano is our captain’s nephew. How sweet it was…

The Adriatic’s helicopter, a C model Hughes 500, came to visit us as our helicopter was out making the rounds. After trading insults and tales of conquests, the three boats went their separate ways, bringing the end to another unsuccessful day.

Over the last three days, I have been spending more and more time up the mast in the crow’s nest. It is very relaxing to stare out over the ocean from that vantage point. No longer does it bother me to climb up the wooden ladder, even as it sways with the movement of the boat.

It is interesting to feel the force of gravity react to my body differently as the boat sways to port and starboard. One minute I am grabbing the ladder as gravity tries to throw me off, the next minute I am doing pushups as I am flung into the soot covered steps. Throw in the motion of the ladder itself as I rapidly climb, and you get quite the amusement ride.

The actual motion up in the nest is not as bad as I would have thought. I mentioned this to the Captain as he and I were sharing the wonderful sights from high above the steel decks, and he said it is not bad now since the forward fish wells were full of both water and fish, but once the water is pumped to the aft wells, hang on- it can feel like you are trying to ride a bull. I can hardly wait!

Looking through the large binoculars in the crow’s nest gives one a different perspective on things. The way the glasses are mounted, there is very little vertical movement allowed. Thus, if you want to see anything close to the boat, you have to use the handheld binocs. The large binoculars give you a commanding view of the ocean ahead, and to the sides, making birds miles off appear as if they were just ahead of the bow.

Looking at the water on the horizon makes for interesting illusions. With the naked eye, the point where the water meets the sky is a sharp, straight line. Through the wonders of magnification, this line comes alive as the waves on the horizon come into view. The seemingly straight lifeless line in actuality has real character and reminds me of seeing solar flares on the sun- unnatural movement along a natural shape.

At times, the motion of the ocean gives way to the illusion of a distant island, with sandy beaches and a low landmass. If it were only true…

Next Entry – 16 August 1997
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