37
THE POOR CATCH OF RED SALMON

Everyone on the ship wanted to know how long the fish
catch would last. To know it was to know how longer they
had to work and when they could get back to port. But it was
always a mystery on the ship. The answers depended on whom
you asked.
There were rumours, hush-ups and know-alls.
I asked the captain, who must have had the most
confirmative and certain information. He recommended me
to get on a rescue boat that was scheduled to go to land to
meet some set netters to find out what was going on.
I stood on the deck of Cerograska in a complete water-
proof outfit. It was dark although it was in daylight. A rescue
boat was hanging down from a winch above me, and it was
going to come down. Raindrops were hitting my face.
As the day gets closer to the evening, the sea gets rougher.
When the rescue boat came down to the same level as the
upper deck, the winch stopped. The rescue boat looked like it
had been floating in air, and a wooden board was passed to it
as a bridge. Two crewmen got on board the rescue boat first,
and they tried to start the engine installed in about the middle
of the boat. Meanwhile, officers were giving them orders from
the deck.
It was cold.
After pulling the starter wire quite a few times, the engine
finally started. Most of the crew of Cerograska were on the
deck to see what was happening. The first mate came and
urged me to get on the rescue boat. After me, the first mate
and two other young crewmen followed. The wire on the winch
loosened again, and the rescue boat with six men on board,
sled down swiftly to the rolling surface of the sea. As soon as
the boat hit the water, the young crewmen took off the hooks
from the bow and the stern, releasing the rescue boat from the
winch. In a glance of time, the rescue boat was hit by a big
roll of waves and she drifted away from the main ship by about
10 feet. The first mate stood on the stern at the helm and
headed for the beach way ahead.
We sailed zigzag so as not to go against the current, for
about 20 minutes. The rescue boat reached a place where white
buoys floated. The first mate ordered something loudly, and
the crewmen lined up on one side of the boat. They pulled up
the set nets attached to the buoys from the water. The first
mate started to help them and the bottom of the net appeared.
There were no fish to be seen.
The first mate let the crewmen start the engine again and
went to see the other nets but they were all the same.
At a place where yellow buoys were floating, the first mate
told me to take a look. The net part of the set nets were all
tangled around the buoys, making them look like thick and
heavy ropes. The typhoons must have done that.
The first mate made a gesture to me, which indicated that
the schools of red salmon had passed under the tangled nets.
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