Thursday, 13 January 2011

Another Close Encounter With The Grim Reaper. A TRUE STORY>

 I worked in the fishing industry until the Government of the day sold us out to the Icelandic Government, so that the Americans could keep a listening post on Icelandic land. The cold war was on at the time and they were more concerned about what the Russians were up to, than the survival of a thriving industry that employed thousands of people. You miners think that you have been badly done to, our men are still fighting for compensation. that is another story; too depressing and serious for this blog. This story is one of those that you laugh at afterwards.
 It was my second trip on Sir Thomas Robinsons trawler the 'Samarian' and my first trip as a Deckie Learner rather than a Galley Boy, The skipper called down from the bridge for us to go below as a gale was blowing up. I was busy clearing fish from the wash chute -a structure that looks like a slide in a children's playground-  I was at the top of this chute clearing it so that the fish could slip down into the hold as the deckhands gutted them and threw them up into the washer part at the top.
 If you have ever been to sea you will know how quickly a gale blows up out there, compared to ashore. I was not aware of this at the time but I was soon to find out the hard way.  Everyone else knew about it but me and they made their way aft to the door -or hatch- that led to the living quarters and the galley.
 I was too busy trying to impress the Skipper by making sure that the wash was clear before I made my own way below. I wasn't impressing him at all, "Get down from there and get below you C**nt!" He yelled. "We are battening the doors and hatches down!" They were! they were turning the large handles on the metal doors and there was no way anyone could open them from the outside. I made my way down from the wash having done my duty by clearing all the jumbo cod from it. I managed to get to the bottom and was making my way across the duck pond -more of a gully that runs from port to starboard just forward of the large winch and aft of the pounds where the deckhands gut the fish- a wave dropped on my head from a great height, knocked my sou'wester down over my eyes, knocked me off my feet and filled my oil frock with water (I must have looked like the jolly fisherman from Skegness; wide of girth with seaboots, oil frock and sou'wester; only not so jolly looking for obvious reasons) I was heading towards the port side of the ship and on my way over the wall when I grabbed a part of the winch, the wave was so strong that it would have torn me away from the winch if the ship hadn't rolled back over to the starboard side and the wave abated for a moment. I clung on and managed to get onto my feet again; when you buy a pair of seaboots you have to make sure that they are two sizes too large in case you do go over the side, then you can kick them off to give you some small chance to swim, I didn't have a chance to kick mine off as one of them had been pulled off by the devil wave that had tried to take me over the side and to my maker. I managed to hobble squelchingly around the winch; holding on as I went with waves crashing against my body and over my head. When I reached the safety rail that ran to the after end of the ship I grabbed it and clung on with my legs being whipped from under me every so often, I struggled along hand over hand until I managed to get to the hatch. The Skipper, Mate and Third hand had been watching my progress from their high point in the bridge and were reporting my whereabouts to the deckhands waitng below. As I reached the hatch it opened just enough for me to be dragged in by the strong arm of a giant deckhand and clanged shut behind me. After suffering the brickbats of the crew who made it more than clear that I was...well an idiot of the highest order, in the way that it can  only be put in a man only enviroment. It was a misserable day for me they sent me up to the bridge with cup of tea for the Skipper and mate. I had to go through the engine room, the ship was tossing around in the storm and as I passed by the electrical board with all the mains fuses and switches on, I was thrown against the board just enough to give me a sizzling shock in my arm, I dropped the cups on the metal grating of the engine room and had to do the journey again. I managed to reach the bridge with three quarter full mugs where I was given a dressing down by the Skipper who set about dismantling my self esteem.  
 

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