A Little More Like It
Trip Start Dec 03, 2004
85Trip End Nov 31, 2005
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By about 4:00 we were done with the beach life; a German guy we'd met had snorkelled out to the reef on this side of the cape and discovered that Cyclone Vance, in '98, had devastated much of it and left a lot of the coral dead
At 3:30 (on time, unlike my bus) the bus pulled up and Ian spilled off, wearing only socks on his feet. "Oops," he muttered. "I left my shoes on the other bus." Well, it was a good thing I'd brought his flip flops with me from Port Hedland, then, but he'd have to walk to the hostel in bare feet. On the way he filled me in on the saga of the NW de Grey fishing boat, and what a saga it was: after four days at sea with Chad, the skipper, two Japanese backpackers who spent a lot of their time convulsively vomiting, and a crazed, heroin-addicted woman as the mate, the boat broke down and had to come in for repairs. (This I already knew). At this point the two backpackers unceremoniously jumped ship, not even so much in reaction to the nausea as to the intensity of the work. They get up at 6:00 in the evening and work all through the night, until about 9:00 in the morning. The nets come up filled mostly with prawns---but partially with other things, including at one point a turtle so big it took three people to lift it, a few tiger sharks, sea snakes, and obviously, quite a few nasty sea-germs, because Ian had managed to get a couple sea-boils on his arm. "I know exactly how much pain you must have been in when you had them, now," he muttered, showing me the scabbing remains of one and the raised welt of a new one. They separate the prawns out from the rest, throw them into a very, very cold freezer, and continue on with the work. There's no cook, which basically means that Ian became the cook, as the only one interested in eating well-cooked, solid meals. Soon after they'd gone out for the second time, Ian was promoted to an 18% share of the profits because he was doing engineering work in the engine room, as well as the fishing work. The skipper must have been counting his blessings in getting this guy, since the "mate" was getting progressively crazier.
Finally, after excusing Ian of "reading her mind," the woman was sacked, cursed the boat (no kidding), and disappeared. Now they needed some new crew, and itn came in the form of an old man, a Vietnam vet who was legally blind and not much in shape for the hard work on a fishing boat. So not much improvement over the previous situation. Through the rest of the weeks they would be given stop-gap crew members, many of whom would quit after only a few days of working, moaning that it was too hard. (A second crew member, upon quitting, also cursed the boat. So now it's doubly cursed and, in fact, the curses seem to be working). Ian heard a story about a man who'd gotten a job on the boats after coming out of prison, and after the first three week stint, announced that he wouldn't be coming back: he'd rather be sent back to prison than go out on the boat again.
"You know that makes you certifiably crazy, what with the wanting to go back again?" I pointed out. "Yup," Ian said. "I don't think it's too bad. Anyways, the food's good, and I get to order in whatever I want in the way of supplies. I've ordered lots of apple pie for this next time." I wonder if he realizes that there are probably easier ways to get an unending supply of apple pie.
Finally back at the hostel room, we snuck in and passed out until the next morning.