16th November 2001
It’s funny what becomes newsworthy out here. Today we met up with another trawler called the Solsticio. We lowered our small inflatable boat and the bosun went over to collect a parcel from it. Okay, not the most dramatic sequence of events I grant you, but something different to shooting the net, dragging the net, hauling the net or processing the catch.
One really noteworthy thing did happen today, but I missed it. At first light we hauled the net and apparently we were accompanied by five large sperm whales or ‘Cachalotes’ surrounding the vessel while we hauled. I’m so gutted that I missed it, I slept through the lot, I didn’t even wake up to the noise of the winches. Apparently it’s quite common to see sperm whales during hauling, when they take the fish escaping from the net on it’s way up to the surface. You can see the whale’s logic as it saves them diving deep to the seabed to catch fish, when they can be offered them on a plate. I must have looked utterly deflated when Miguel told me that I’d missed the whales, because he promised that he would wake me up if the same scenario arose again.
I’m getting on well with the officers now, Miguel especially is friendly and good company. He’s young for a Captain, but what he lacks in wisdom is made up for by the First Mate, who is also a nice chap, and has been at sea for donkey’s years. I think this newfound ease between us has come about since an awkward conversation we had a couple of days ago. I asked to use the telex machine to send my weekly catch report, and the answer was a flat ‘No’. It was nothing to do with my figures being incriminating as so far they mirror the vessel’s reported figures closely. Miguel just refused to let me send them.
This didn’t come as a surprise. Simon had written in the note that he hadn’t been allowed to send them either, but I thought I should at least ask. I didn’t push the point, there was nothing I could do and my understanding from chatting to some of the other observers on the patrol ship is that this is often the case. When Miguel said that he wouldn’t allow me to send the weekly catch reports I made it clear to him that I would continue to do my job as accurately and honestly as I could, and that I would report at the end of the trip, on exactly what I saw. I feared that might be the end of our relationship, had visions of not being spoken to for the rest of the trip, being banished to my cabin with a daily tray of gruel and water, but to be fair he didn’t hold it against me at all. Now we understand each other I think we get on better as a result.
It’s a complicated situation living and working on a ship and trying to be impartial at the same time. I will be on board for months yet and so I don’t want to be disliked or feel like I’m betraying the trust of the officers or crew. So since we drew this line I think we all feel better about where we stand.