I saw a story in the press today about a shipload of soybeans, which loaded in Seattle June 5th or so, probably at the grain terminal up by Pier 91, which is now circling in the Yellow Sea, doing doughnuts as they say. During its voyage across the Pacific, China and the US started placing retaliatory tariffs on trade items, among them soybeans, so the ship chose not to unload and pay the higher rates. Instead it is circling offshore while the owners decide what to do. There is even a picture in the attached article of the track the ship has been taking, around and around. Not a word, though, about the people aboard that ship, the sailors, the deck officers, the engineers, the cook. I have been on a ship doing doughnuts, circling, only we did it for four days, not over 30, and we had an end in sight. Thee poor souls do not. They are in motion, at work, food and stores running low, milk going bad, supplies disappearing, fuel perhaps running low, unable to guess what will happen – will they choose to unload? Will they head somewhere else? I imagine tempers are growing short. Perhaps they are out of toilet paper, or laundry soap, or fresh water. Now tempers are really short.
But still they circle, around and around.
Check this out, from the Antarctic toothfishery, which was developed about 1990 and has become a big distant-water fishery in the southern ocean using longline vessels fishing with the Mustad mechanized longline system (same system I used in 1981 on Georges Bank with Roger Bakey’s Sea Dog V, when I measured every damn fish he brought aboard and determined that if you took fish with hooks instead of nets you could bring home twice the tonnage and still leave the population intact)
Now this, this is fishin’…….
This is grainy, filmed in 1991, but worth watching. Unbelievable.
A gazillion years ago when I fished from Chatham we had to cross the bar from Pleasant Bay into the Atlantic. It was (and still is) hairy, especially if it was foggy – and it was always foggy – and a sea was running. The channel shifted daily, sand, tons, being moved, and the course would wind among the breakers, left, then right. The boats fishing from Chatham are small, 40-50 feet, yet those seas could be large. When I was fishing we’d cross the bar. Just beyond was the broken and sunken half of the ship Pendlelton, which in the early 50s had come ashore and broken in half. There was a movie made about it, Finest Hours, recently, which I thought was pretty accurate except the absolute hairiest part of that saga, crossing the bar back into Pleasant Bay with all those men aboard and the storm raging, was sort of skipped. But those of us who fished from Chatham, we understood how hairy that had been. There are lots of other bars and hairy entrances around the world fishermen must pass, and even ships (the Columbia Bar off Oregon and Washington for example). This grainy You Tube video here shows the Grindavik, Iceland, harbor entrance in January 1991 in a nasty sea and is in my opinion the most dramatic bar crossing on video ever made. My guess is the boat in the video is 110-130 feet long. Just imagine….
Shackleton’s trip to South Georgia Island from Elephant Island in the Southern Ocean. But he has competition – Bligh’s passage after the mutiny across 2,000 miles of Pacific Ocean in an open boat, or Blackburn’s row across the Atlantic after losing his fingers and toes in a blizzard off the Grand banks…..humans have been going to sea in open boats for hundreds of thousands of years, before writing, before history, before legend…what about their journeys? Imagine – navigating an open boat, skin-covered perhaps, along a harsh coast, heavy ice on the upland, great animals, hungry, roaming and looking if they come ashore, forced to find food as they travel, despite danger, facing the cold, the weather, the unknown…..yet still they traveled….and found, and populated, the earth…
Some things never change…..four years ago when I sailed with APL we stood pirate watch all the way from the foot of the Red Sea out northeast toward Oman, going and coming. The situation then was that a ship traveling at 16+ knots was pretty untouchable; it was the slower vessels that were vulnerable. I remember being told, back then, there were dozens of seized ships being held along the Somali coast, for ransom, and that ransom was often paid, with little said about it. Maybe that still happens. By the time I sailed that route they had established lanes, outbound and returning, and some warships were in the area patrolling the lanes in case of attack. But, still, ships are seized, held, and then, as in this story here, released….