36
PYOTR ILICHOV

In about a week, Cerograska caught up with Pyotr Ilichov.
In the distance of 1 or 2 miles from Cerograska, Pyotr
Ilichov
was floating. The two ships were connected by a
wireless phone.
Mr. Kojima who was on board Pyotr Ilichov came on the
line. He was surprised at hearing my voice since he had never
expected in the world of my being there.
Later, the same day, the rescue boat of Pyotr Ilichov came
to Cerograska. Mr. Kojima and one of the sujiko technicians
Mr. Yonemoto, were on it. They had beards on their faces
and they looked quite tired. The Russians that came together
on the rescue boat, kept on rushing them to hurry up. They
said that they had to hurry since they had little time allowed to
spend on Cerograska. They said they had to return within 30
minutes. They mentioned nothing about the reasons, which is
an attitude seen very commonly among Russians.
"Okay, okay," I told the Russian crew of Pyotr Ilichov.
The two Japanese and I talked in my cabin.
The pink salmon catch had been very good according to
what they said. It had been a big catch that there seemed to be
no end in delivery. Since the Russian translator got off the
ship for personal reasons, there was a lack of communications
between the Russians and the Japanese. Therefore, the sujiko
processing line was not working in the way the Japanese had
supposed. No Russian workers helped them. Only the
Japanese were forced to work in severe conditions like in the
Kobayashi Takiji novel, "Factory Boat."
I told Mr. Kojima and Mr. Yonemoto of the orders from
Japan. They didn't change their expressions after hearing what
I had told them, but they seemed to be lost for words. To
produce sujiko on both ships, Cerograska and Pyotr Ilichov,
with only two Japanese on each ship, must have sounded
impossible from the situation. I myself thought that the order
was hard to take after hearing what they had said and watching
to how they looked.
From the beginning, this business was not working under
satisfactory conditions. There was so little time for preparation.
The time was too close to the beginning of the salmon season
that only 2 technicians were available. The necessity were 4.
There was no time left. The crew of Pyotr Ilichov knocked
at the cabin's door hustling Mr. Kojima and Mr. Yonemoto to
come. I told the two Japanese to get ready to set up the sujiko
production lines on both ships.
A few days later, the waves were rather gentler than before,
and Cerograska put herself just beside the Pyotr Ilichov. I
went over to Pyotr Ilichov by leaping on huge rubber tyres,
hanging down the side of the ships as cushions, like stepping-
stones.
I took a look at the sujiko production line and the cabin
that the Japanese were staying in. The sujiko production line
was built in a space wider than that of Cerograska. Things
like packing material were scattered all around. The cabin
was really a mess. Boots, clothes, dishes with food on, ashtrays
full of cigarette butts made it look exactly like a pig's pen. I
could imagine what had been going on.
The pink salmon delivery must have been endless. There
must have been little time to sleep. And since they didn't like
Russian food, they must have made their own food, but most
of the time, they slept without even doing that.
I cleaned up their room while they were working on newly
delivered pink salmon again.
I went back to Cerograska. I was feeling uneasy since I
couldn't help the pink salmon processing on Pyotr Ilichov. I
had to inspect the fish (not the roe) processed on Cerograska,
which was an order I had received from Tomen.
When I was leaping on the rubber tyres again on my way
back to Cerograska, the Russian crew of Pyotr Ilichov came
out on deck and yelled to me,
"Don't go back to that junk ship. Stay on Pyotr Ilichov!"
They were all laughing and they talked badly about
Cerograska. Well, yes. Cerograska was old and close to
junk in fact. She was going to be scrapped the following year.
The crew of Cerograska were also far from refined. They
were all from a small village in Petropavlovsk Kamchatskij,
named Cerograska. The crew of Pyotr Ilichov were still picking
on Cerograska and I didn't like it.
Pyotr Ilichov kept on processing pink salmon
tremendously. One reason why they were so active was
because they had been to Alaska that year, and had installed
an American new fish processing machine. They were very
enthusiastic about using it. The three Japanese couldn't get
any time to rest since they had to keep up with the machine.
Cerograska also started to process pink salmon but they
were gutting fish by hand, which was much slower than gutting
by machine. I didn't make sujiko since I couldn't afford to,
while doing fish inspection. The space of the sujiko production
line was too small. The roe of the pink salmon was processed
to Russian type ikra. Ikra seemed to me the best way for the
roe to be processed, but the Russians wanted to make sujiko
since they believed it would make more foreign currency. But
in my opinion, maybe they were wrong since the Japanese
knew so little about the Russian ikra.
To live without information is a pretty hard thing to do.
The Japanese on Pyotr Ilichov and I had no information from
Japan, but it was clear that it was useless to process pink salmon
anymore. In the first place, to process pink salmon was only
to pass the time until we hit a school of red salmon.
Red salmon was what this business was all about for the
Japanese.
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