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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

At Sea - 2. AS Chapter 2

I spent the next ten minutes giving more detail on what the work was like on the cray boat, including the regular motion from side to side and up and down in rough weather.

I mentioned that we depart the St Helens fishing harbour at 6 am tomorrow, on return mid-morning on Monday, with an average of 12-hour days, I suggested that anyone who is susceptible to motion sickness may not be suitable for the job, and this reduced the number down to below half.

I added that there is a lot of heavy lifting and long periods of standing and trying to stay upright, and this reduced the number down by 4 to just 7 people remaining. I hardly knew any of my class mates, so I found it a bit difficult to try and work out who was suitable for the journey, and I looked at each of them, all are a few years older than me, and two were young women.

“Ok, I am finding it a bit difficult to choose, so can each of you tell me what your reasons are for taking this field of studies and what you hope to gain out of it” I said, and once I had heard from each of them, I had decided that three were not really suited, and so I had the four candidates for the job.

Once the three unsuccessful students had left, I explained to the two men and two women that they would sharing a twin bunk cabin, with a shared bathroom with one other, and that they would need to be at the fishing boat harbour no later than 5.40am, and to bring one small bag or suitcase with 4-days of clothes, including a warm woollen jumper and jacket, I mentioned that the boat provides wet weather gear, safety harnesses and life jackets, and that we share the cooking and cleaning duties.

I asked my four classmates, soon to be crew mates, to write down their full name, home address, phone number, and once they had done that I used my phone to photograph the information, then a photo of them, so I could present it to my uncle. I thanked them for their interest in working on the boat and I would see them in the morning bright and early.

When I arrived at home, I went straight to the house to speak to Uncle Jay, who was on the computer, studying the weather forecasts for the next few days, and when he saw me arrive he smiled, “We have good weather forecast for the whole four days, which makes a good change, get changed, as we are going to need a major food shopping excursion with the extra crew” Uncle Jay said to me, as I passed him my phone so he could see the crew information.

When I returned five minutes later, Uncle Jay and Aunty Jacq were talking as they looked at my phone, “Are you sure these two women will be able to cope?” Aunty Jacq asked me as I walked into the house from the back door, “Yes aunty, they are not afraid of hard work, they don’t have problems with motion sickness, and one of them works as a casual chef at a restaurant on weekends, while the other is a fitness instructor” I replied with a smile.

Two hours later we were bringing all the food and supplies that we had just purchased onto the cray boat, with connection to mainland power, the galley fridges and the cray freezers were all operating, as we stocked up the galley fridges and freezer, and the pantry. We had also purchased extra linen, including blankets and towels, new pillows and sheets for all the crew cabins.

While Aunty Jacq made all the beds, I got to work cleaning the four lower deck, one main deck, and bridge bathrooms, while Uncle Jay did a final check on the engines, and double checked that the fuel tanks had been filled.

We arrived back home shortly before 10pm, and retired to our beds for a good night’s rest, and the following morning as I entered the house at 4.35am, Aunt Jacq was busy cooking breakfast for me and Uncle Jay.

I gave my aunty a peck on the cheek, before heading to the fridge to retrieve the orange juice, and I poured three glasses, before sitting down at the table to start breakfast. “Good morning all, I hope this new crew are as good as you say they are” Uncle Jay said to me as he sat down, and we all ate in silence.

At 5.15 am, we arrived at the harbour, and I was surprised to see Amanda and Julia already there waiting for us, as I introduced them to Uncle Jay, before leading the way onto the boat, and took them downstairs to their cabin.

Back on the main deck, I looked up to see Uncle Jay making preparations on the bridge, he had the engines running now, and that was my cue to disconnect the onshore power supply, roll up the power cable, and stow it away in the locker on the jetty.

Once this was done, I opened the freezer hatches to check that everything was in order there, before closing them again, and I lowered the central work table, and secured it into place on the main deck. At exactly 4.45am, Peter and Sam arrived, and I welcomed them on board, and took them downstairs to their shared cabin, and I returned to the main deck to prepare for departure.

Five minutes later I made my way up to the bridge, “All are on board and settling into their cabins, skipper” I said as I entered the bridge. “Very well Nav, you have the bridge, I will cast off” Uncle Jay said as he walked to the door and went down stairs. I quickly scanned all the instruments in front of me, and once happy that all was in order, I opened the side window and sat down in the skipper’s chair.

A few minutes later I heard Uncle Jay shout “cast off”, and I opened the throttle to slowly cruise out of the St Helens Bay, and into Burns Bay, and out into the open Tasman Sea. On the navigation panel, Uncle Jay had the cray pot lines marked, so I just had to go to the first marker, which is the start of the first line of cray pots, located about 17 nautical miles out.

About ten minutes later, Amanda arrive on the bridge with a cup of tea for me, just as the first signs of daylight started to appear behind us. “Thanks Amanda, just what I need” I said with a smile as I accepted the cup, after a few moments of silence Amanda spoke up “Your uncle seems like a real nice man, I hope we can do a good job for him this weekend, and I have had a look in your galley, I see its nice and clean and well stocked up” she said with a smile.

“Uncle Jay, Aunt Jacq and I did it last night, and I hope you don’t mind, but I chose you because of your cooking talents” I said to Amanda, who smiled and gave me a little friendly nudge with her elbow, “I am here to work, so whatever you want me to do Carson, I will do it” Amanda said happily.

“I’m sure you will be needed on deck as well as below, and I’m called Nav when on the boat, as I’m the navigation officer or coxswain on this boat” I mentioned, “Ok Nav it is then, I better get back to the main deck so I can learn what to do” Amanda said as she left the bridge to join the others.

Looking out the back window of the bridge, I could see at the very back of the boat, Uncle Jay giving the new deckie’s their first lessons on working on a fishing boat, including wearing life jackets and safety harnesses during rough weather.

About half an hour later, when I spotted the first marker, I grabbed the microphone of the ships intercom, “First Buoy to the port side” I announced and I expected Uncle Jay to come up and take over, but he didn’t appear, so I slowed down as we arrived at the first buoy, and followed the line, taking a quick glance over my shoulder, so see Uncle Jay doing the Pot lifting, so I presumed the others were mid deck, emptying the pots and stacking the pots up.

Once the first line was completed, with the Tasmanian east coast visible in the distance to the west of our current position, Uncle Jay appeared on the bridge. “They are learning really fast and doing well, do you want to be lead deckhand for the next run?” he said to me, and I nodded and made my way downstairs, as he took over the controls.

Grabbing my weather apron and gloves from the storage locker on the main deck, I stepped out to find my four deckhands, finishing stacking the last of the pots, before they sat down on the table.

I went over to the tubs that contained the crayfish, and checked a few of them for size, before opening one of the freezer hatches, and lowering the tub down, and closing the hatch again. “Uncle Jay said that you guys did a good job on the first run, well done.

You have a half hour before we reach the next run, so go and grab a cuppa and warm up, just be back on deck as soon as you hear the call” I said to them and they all headed downstairs to the galley. I remained on the deck for a few minutes before I went down to make a cuppa for myself and Uncle Jay and heading upstairs to the Bridge.

“I see the first line was just an average catch, I hope the numbers improve this time” I said as I handed Uncle Jay his cup, then looked out to the ocean which was now fully visible with the sun now up and shining brightly, “I think if the weather stays good, we might get a good catch this time” Uncle Jay said as he checked the navigation panel and adjusted his direction slightly so we are now heading east north east.

Once we had collected the second and third lines, we headed north west and starting setting out the pots in a new area between Tasmania and Clarke Island, I showed Ben and Sam how to rebait the pots, and I threw them out once Uncle Jay gave the word to start setting out the pots.

We stopped between the first and second line, to have some lunch and when we completed laying out the last line of pots, I headed up to the bridge, knowing that we would probably be heading to our usual overnight stop. “I hope this new line will be a bit more fruitful than today’s collection” I commented as walked onto the bridge.

“You can take over now Nav, we will go to our little sheltered cove on the north-west underside of Preservation Island” Uncle Jay said, and he left the bridge, leaving me to steer the boat north east to the small island located between Clarke and Cape Barren Islands in the Bass Strait. The place Uncle Jay mentioned has become a favourite overnight anchorage, because it is protected on three sides, and has a 200-metre long white beach.

When we arrived at the small cove, Uncle Jay set the fore and aft anchors, and as I turned off the engines and walked down stairs, I found my four class mates staring out onto the beach, and I smiled as I walked to the back of the boat to join them.

“A pretty awesome place eh” I said to break the silence, “Nav, its more than pretty awesome, is stunning and beautiful” Amanda said as she came up to me and wrapped her arms around my waist, “Thanks for this weekend, it has been hard work, but this is special, and makes it worth it” Amanda added, as she gave me a kiss on the cheek, which made me blush deeply, making the others laugh at my blushing.

“Uncle Jay showed me this place on the first weekend I ever started working for him, when I was 14, and we use it as a safe overnight anchorage every season. The crew usually has a beach cookout and a game of volleyball, if the weather is good, but it’s a bit choppy at the moment so not today, maybe tomorrow if the wind drops” I said as I headed down stairs for a shower and fresh change of clothes.

When I returned to the main deck, Uncle Jay had pulled out the barbeque, and he was starting to cook some steaks and sausages, “The boys are having a shower, and the girls are making up some salads” Uncle Jay said to me and I smiled and nodded as I watched the sun slowly dropping towards the horizon to the west.

After we had eaten and cleaned up, I decided to have an early night, so I said goodnight to everyone and headed to my cabin, and as I was drifting off to sleep, I heard the others coming down the stairs to retire for the night.

The next morning shortly after dawn, I was in the galley cooking some bacon and sausages, “Good morning Nav” Uncle Jay said to me as he entered the mess and galley to retrieve a cup of tea, before he sat down in the mess.

As I put the eggs onto the hotplate and placed some bread in the toaster, Uncle Jay looked up at me, “That smells good, I hope it tastes good too” he said with a smirk on his face, which made me laugh, just as well you are the skipper or you would get nothing to eat for that comment” I responded.

A few minutes later Amanda and Julia appeared just as I was dishing out the breakfast onto plates, “Morning Nav, that looks and smells great” Julia said to me, as she poured herself and Amanda a cup of tea.

Copyright October 2017 Preston Wigglesworth All Rights are Reserved
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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All appears to be going well with the new crew so far. The grumblers may have just lost some hours of work permanently.


(The character's name is Carlton, not Carson. An easy edit.)

Edited by drpaladin
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I like the addition of Carlton's classmates as crew members! It sounds like they are off to a good start.

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