This afternoon we set nets and crab pots at the western end of the harbour.
"You gone to visit Paul Watson yet?" Old Salt asked me.
"Why?" I was thinking of our local member of parliament. (Mental note, Peter not Paul.)
"Isn't he coming to town to save the whales?"
Ahh. The Sea Shepherd mob.
Apparently the Steve Irwin and the Brigitte Bardot are coming into port today and will be launching this season's campaign from the old whaling station on Monday. As I keep saying, the whaling dramas continue to play out in our town, the last land-based whaling station in the southern hemisphere.
"I think he's an arsehole," Old Salt was trying to get a rise out of me. "Putting people out of work. He should get a real job instead of sailing around the world, stopping good people from doing theirs."
The problem with working in a small boat is that you are stuck with whatever conversation is going on. Sometimes when Old Salt wants a barney, I'll ask him to drop me off on an island. This is a good lurk. This afternoon I was forced to stay aboard and, if you know me at all from A WineDark Sea, I'm quite partial to a rant if it suits me.
"Where was the Australian Navy when the whalers were cruising through the Australian Whale Sanctuary? Where? 'Crackpot' Watson was the only one out there. It's a territorial matter as much as anything but the government were behaving like total limpdicks." (I'm trying really hard to reign in my deckie mouth whenever I head off to uni but at sea, things are different.)
"I reckon the Australian government has some agreement with the Japanese we don't know about," Old Salt said. "But they've been eating whale meat for centuries. That should be their right. Imagine how many people you could feed with a single whale."
"They can't afford to eat Japanese whale meat."
He muttered something about poor people breeding too much and I smiled away to the water. I know he hates that.
"But they should be able to kill whales if it is a part of their ancestral heritage."
"Yeah, with diesel-powered gunships, thousands of nautical miles from their own waters. Yeah."
Old Salt said, "When I was whaling, oh it was a good life. We were a bunch of rascals, out at sea, coming in with shitloads of money, tearing up the town ... yeah, it was good. But I wouldn't do it now. I never liked seeing those creatures die. It was a terrible thing, to see them die."
When we got back to the boat ramp, he said "I want you down here at four-thirty tomorrow mornin'."
Four thirty. Three thirty out of bed, with forty five minutes to get my shit together. We go through this routine of bargaining waking hours every Saturday.
"It's dawn at five."
Summer is bastard for layabout fisherwomen like me. "Yep. That gives us two hours to pick up."
"With the pots and all," He chucks me his worried look. " ... and all those crabs in the nets ... "
He gave in a bit too fast though. Made me think he hated too-early mornings too. "Okay, don't be late. No socialising tonight."
I went for a drive around the headland after he drove off because I saw the whale watching cat set off and I thought they may be ushering in the Sea Shepherd fleet. There was a bit of a buzz in the air. But I had no joy when I went down to the pea factory on the channel to scout them out. I'll post some photos if I see them in my sleepy, dazed state in the morn.
In the mean time, here's some that I took of the Taurus heading out to the islands.