11th December 2001
The storm was travelling fast and left us as quickly as it arrived; today was fine and bright, a few big swells remain but conditions are good enough to fish. So it’s back to reality and I’m up to my elbows in fish guts again. Yesterday was a welcome interlude though, and I’ll never forget those monster waves.
I found out tonight that I have FOUR parcels from home, waiting for me on the Santa Christina. That is very exciting news. No, I don’t think you heard me right – THAT IS VERY EXCITING NEWS! Unless you have spent time in a similar situation as this, deprived of small luxuries and with minimal contact to the outside world (i.e unless you’ve been to prison), you might not fully appreciate just how exciting the prospect of receiving a parcel is. It’s like four Christmas’ rolled into one. It’s like winning the lottery, only you have to wait for the bank to open before you cash the cheque. I was on walkabout earlier and wandered onto the bow to see the good ship Santa Christina and her precious cargo pass by us. I looked longingly, knowing that somewhere in that lump of steel were parcels sent all the way from Cornwall by my family. We won’t be servicing with her for a while as the Captain wants to save it for nearer Christmas. Apparently she is carrying so much stuff to be transferred to us that it will take the largest part of a day to do!
Dinner was the low point, my worst meal was served up…boiled hake, boiled potatoes and boiled broccoli. It doesn’t sound that bad but it is all boiled in water so salty they must scoop it directly from the sea. Every mouthful turns your stomach. The broccoli is boiled to a pulp and holds all the water from its extensive cooking. Every mouthful tastes identical to the last. I ate hardly anything.
I was listening to two observers chatting over the radio earlier and they were talking in a very sincere and earnest way about chocolate. About the pro’s and con’s of milk versus dark chocolate, high cocoa content or regular? Best served at room temperature or out of the fridge? It transpired that one of the observers had with them a bar of delicious Belgian chocolate and the other one was enjoying it vicariously, as was I – an uninvited voyeur on their chocolate exchange. They discussed it in great detail for 10 minutes or more. That might sound odd, but after spending so long out here I completely understand. Petty things become major, and chocolate, tea and other such luxuries hold more value than gold. I’d exchange a day’s wage for a Twix and a cup of tea right now.
“When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned, only then will we realise that one cannot eat money.”