Logbook Tres Hombres (May 8, 2012)
The story of a trainee's stay on the island of Faial in the Azores.... a fantasy (part 2) by Charlie trainee a/b
Part 2, Port.
The last day of our stay was my birthday... 51 today! We are due to leave after breakfast. I make my farewell calls home the night before, send emails to my mother, sister and sons, receive one back from my eldest wishing me happy birthday, bon voyage and other little grace notes which fill my eyes with tears. But no wind at daybreak, so we wait on board until our departure is postponed till evening... eight sharp, wind permitting. Everything I asked for on my birthday is given me. The night before Albino had brought two more remarkable natives on board to say hello and goodbye.. Francisco and Norberto. Francisco runs the museum in the old whaling station. for some reason I had not known of its existence. But for our delayed departure I might not have had the chance to make a visit which was one of the great things in my life. Down the line, but near the top. If you have any interest in whaling you should go. Actually, most extraordinary exhibit is a film, made in the 1950s on the old Azorean whaling traditions, intact relic of the days of Moby Dick. In open sail-boats, not much bigger than canoes, with a crew of five or six, hand-held harpoons and a permanent exhilaration etched in the eyes and on the faces of the men who gave themselves to this extraordinary and terrible way of life.
Francisco, great man, locks his office and shows me round. "Francisco," I say as I embrace him on my departure, "it is my birthday. Thank you." And then I hurry to my second friend of the previous evening -Norberto. Born a fisherman, Willie Neslon lookalike, a man of whom Albino says, "if I know one person, he knows ten, and he gives more than anyone to the island." Norberto has a business running whale watching tours, and works with the marine biologists in the University in tracking and tracing all the whales of the seas. Apparently he knows more than anyone about the ways of the great cetaceans. I hurry to his shack and find him briefing a group of schoolchildren, he squeezes me onto the boat and their teacher out. We go out in search of the Sperm Whale. We soon find him, we stand and watch. I am very interested. As a boy I loved books on whales, without knowing why. I read them again and again, and here I am bobbing above a sperm whale. I had never met a creature from the deep before, but after that hour in Norberto's boat I believe I have. Unlike other whales or any dolphin, no sleekness, a strange paper-mache asymmetry, almost puppet or carton shaped, these creatures which battle with giant squid 3 km beneath the surface. And a mammal quite indifferent to our surface curiosity. Norberto wants no money from me. "But Norberto," I say, "it's my birthday, you have to let me pay."
And then a jog to rendezvous with Aurora, who was to lead me to the basketmaker's lair, but he was gone. Except I learned that he had tried to press many baskets on me, as I had tried to buy one from him, and we had neither understood the other.... Then I snatch a dinner of kid and wine and wine and back on board.... Still no wind, and the decision is taken to postpone our departure till morning. More adventures follow, an evening of wonderful scrapes and funny drunken disasters! In the morning I hint at some of them.... "Charlie, you are a real Able Seaman now!" the captain says.
from the foc'sle.
Please leave a message. Your message will be sent to the ship.