Monday, 14 December 2009

A wild goose chase.

A satellite image of the Isle of Man.Image via Wikipedia

Although plentiful, the herring in the Clyde was of poor quality, and with the quota system being enforce we had to catch good sized fish to ensure a good wage at the end of the week, so when Monday afternoon came we headed down to the Isle of Man where large herring had been caught the previous week.

It is no certainty that the same shoals would linger, but after an eight hour steam we arrived at the fishing ground off Douglas amid a large fleet of boats made up of purse seiners and pair trawlers, who had already hauled their first nets of the night having been towing during our passage down.

As we steamed through the fleet looking for a spot to shoot we noticed that the boats were lying with their deck lights on dumping what looked like ice over the side, but we knew they couldn't all be doing this as ice was rarely carried by herring boats when they fished near a port where they could land every night.

Before we had time to discuss it or neighbour, the Alliance called us up telling us his net was being shot, and to come alongside and catch the other end, before the spot of herring moved too far.

It wasn't long before we were towing away through the large spot that was showing up on our sonar, but during the tow we were told of the real objects that were being thrown overboard by the fleet.

Over the weekend massive shoals of big white jellyfish had arrived, taking the place of the herring shoals of the previous week, and all too late we had towed right through one of them.
There was nothing else we could do but lift right away, and sure enough up she came full of jellyfish, with a small scattering of herring through them.

In desperation we took lift after lift aboard, landed them on deck to salvage any herring that was among them and with back breaking work threw tons and tons of these white menaces back into the sea.
After hours of unpaid work, daylight began to break, and we could see that all the water around us was thick with jellyfish, lazily drifting along on the tide, creating havoc among the fleet.
There was nothing else for it but to head for Douglas, land the few herring we salvaged, and hope the the masses of jellyfish would drift far enough away during the day.

It was my first time on the Isle of Man, and as it was a lovely sunny day my shipmate Kenny (the same Kenny who was at the house in Tarbert with me when we downed two bottles of whiskey) and me decided we would take a look at what Douglas had to offer.

Plenty of pubs and a casino lined the promenade, and the only problem we had was choosing which one to try first, but as we had to sail later we knew we would not have the time to enjoy too many of the hostelries, so we rushed round as many as we could gulping down a drink, then moving on to another to see if it was better than the last.

By the time we decided to head back to the boat, tipsy but not drunk, we were at the far end of the promenade, with about two miles to walk back to the harbour.

All along the way girls were strolling or siting enjoying the sun, more girls than we had ever seen in one place before, which prompted and amusing remark from Kenny who was renown for his love of the opposite sex, and I must admit I was too.
"Two miles of beautiful women and we have to go back to sea." Was his quip, and it still brings a smile to my face every time I think of him or my first time at the Island.

It did seem ironic to us but after a short sleep we were back out to try and make a wage, and much to our dismay the jellyfish were still thick in the water.
It was back up to the Clyde without casting a net, a quick glimpse of the two miles of women was all we were going to get, and between them, and the promise of large herring, my first trip to the Isle of Man had been tantalizing but ended in failure on both counts.

We only had three nights left to try to make a pay, and with the prospects looking grim, a change back to the seine net was most likely to be our next move.

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  1. A good read, just to let you know I am still visiting!

  2. A story from a sailor man. It hums like a bedtime storybook. :) Angelic. :) But still very "sailor man" :)

  3. Oh, a tragic tale - what a long, sad walk that two miles must have been. It's good that you can smile about it now. I've heard that jellyfish are becoming more of a problem in some areas - is that true?

  4. I do believe that your "two mile" adventures must represent what many only experience in a two-thousand mile journey. I have a new friend who lives on ships (as he repairs them, motors, whatever)he loves the sea. Yet he makes his living as a artist ( a recent showing in Vegas) but the stories he reveals about his travels are like very interesting. How is the book coming on these collected adventures? A.J.

  5. Another fascinating tale, yuk jellyfish.

  6. It's fascinating for a "land rat" like me to read about all your adventures,Donald. I did some weddings on ships, but those were only an hour trips and I got already almost seasick from