Trying to walk on a boat that has 300 tons of tuna hanging off of the port side is a lot like trying to walk while drunk. In fact doing anything on a boat with 300 tons of tuna is reminiscent of a drunken stupor. The boat keels over about 30 degrees and everything not nailed down goes with it. A lesson I learned on the first set, but that our cook – who presumably has far more experience out here than I do – learned it the hard way when half his kitchen slid off to the port side of the room. Two trash cans slid first, crossing behind him, then a few trays and plates, a bottle of oil (which only made things worse after that) was last to make the trip – greasing things up thoroughly.
You would think that while the crew are busy with the catch it would be a good time to get the basics out of the way, like a shower and perhaps some laundry. I thought that, and the verdict is – not true. In the shower, all the water pools on the wall (which is strange to write) and obviously can not reach the drain, leaving you with a shower that has a line of water about ankle deep across the far side just waiting for the boat to level out before sloshing around toward the drain. The laundry machine has similar problems. It works, but it makes a god awful noise when the boat is on its side.
Today we made one hell of an early set, and got lucky on it too. The captain dropped the net boat and began to set around one school, and just as we were about 70% complete at closing the net off a second school, or foamer, swam INTO the enclosing circle. This second school swimming into the net prompted a whole lot of action from the crew as they scurried to make sure this big payout didn’t turn away and get back out of the opening they just swam through. Men with hammers began banging on the steel of the front of the bow, using sound waves to drive the fish further into the net, while other men tossed those green dye packets by the handful into the opening to tint the water and steer the fish back inside.
Once the set starts and the process of pulling fish out of the ater starts there isn’t much for the flight crew to do, we get everything prepped for the next flight, then watch a movie, or read a book, check in on the crew, take pictures, and of course – eat. One thing you had better be prepared for coming out here, to a Korean boat at least, is to eat a lot of cabbage. They love the stuff, everything is served with cabbage. Cabbage is the potato of Korea. It’s on every plate, it’s in every soup. I haven’t had to visit a doctor out here – but I’m about convinced that they love cabbage so much that it’s uses extend beyond the kitchen, perhaps cabbage bandages? Cabbage ointment? Cabbage everything. It’s good though, a bit of roughage to go with the loads of rice. Rice and cabbage, and soup.