Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Further thoughts from aboard a tuna boat

[Some more about yesterday's fishing expedition.]

We were out there for such a long time, with so little action, that after a while I was just staring into space. It was not a large boat - you had to find somewhere comparatively comfortable to lean and just settle in there.

The basalt stacks of the coastline are pretty amazing. Tasman Island has an unbelievable timber platform perched above the rocks, with an almost-vertical tramway up which supplies were winched to the now-decommissioned lighthouse.

We couldn't see the top of the island yesterday due to sea fog. Wikipedia to the rescue.
How did they ever get anything onto the platform?

Interesting and beautiful as all of this is, I was finding it less novel after about six hours of circling around. At least I wasn't leaning over the rail the whole time like Dan. It must have seemed like an eternity to him, as he couldn't even see where we were going. I started to think about eternity too.

The rocks are being bashed constantly by the sea. I understand the "constantly" part a lot better now. Every day, all night, no breaks for weekends - down here it just doesn't stop. It's been happening for hundreds of thousands of years, and will keep happening no matter what. It's happening now.

I thought about how I would go living on one of the islands. I'd be eating a lot of raw seabird eggs, I decided. The birdlife all around was very varied. Gulls and albatrosses and terns and ... prions? The albatrosses could glide into view, glide about just above the waves until your neck got stiff and your eyes hurt from watching, then glide off around behind the boat and out of view, all without a flap. Incredibly efficient. Smaller birds were flapping like nobodies' business - they must have to eat a lot more than the albatross I suppose. But not too much at once - then you can't fly. A tricky business. I love how seabird eggs are the pointiest, so that if they roll, they roll in a circle and not off the rocky ledge.

We saw a lot of basking seals on the rocks, but more fascinating were the ones in the water. In pounding waves that would have drowned me in a few minutes, the seals attitude was more akin to a Tuesday night in the lounge room, with not much on the telly. Idly rolling and lolling, waving a flipper here and a tail there. Just hanging out in the 3-4 metre swell. "Hi, humans! Catching any tuna? No? We've got heaps!! Hahahahahaha!! BRAAAAAAAP."

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