Francis Meyrick

A Blip on the Radar (Blip 34) “Die with the Dolphins (1) “

Posted on May 7, 2011

A Blip on the Radar (Blip# 34)

Note: although this is part of my draft for a novel, it actually truthfully describes an experience I went through. Everything is factual, including the outcome…

DIE WITH THE DOLPHINS (novel excerpt)

He had heard the Fishmaster’s shouted ‘Let Go!’ in the distance, through a haze of sleep, and glanced wearily at his watch. Four thirty in the morning. It was still pitch dark outside. He had decided to snooze on for a short while, and then he had slowly roused himself, showered and breakfasted on porridge and coffee.

It was still a slightly sleepy Bob Meyrick who had appeared on deck, bracing himself against the unnatural lean of the ship. He had casually glanced out at the set, still large at this stage, and instantly come wide awake. A young common dolphin, obviously distressed, was struggling at the surface, gasping and opening and closing its eyes. Even as he watched, horrified, two more dolphins, much larger, surfaced beside the baby, and one nuzzled it tenderly. His gaze raced around the set. He counted four more. That made at least seven dolphins caught in the closed set. It had been three months since he had last seen any dolphins trapped, and that time there had only been two. Both drowned. Seven dolphins inside was the highest number he could remember for a very long time.
He moved quickly to the upper working deck control panel, where the Navigator stood manipulating the levers.
“Hey! Dolphins! Eh? “
He made the traditional hand movement, a rough mimicking of the dolphin’s surfing movement through the sea. The Navigator had nodded, sadly it seemed to Bob, and muttered, almost quietly:
“Many, many! ”
Bob looked out again, and saw four, no, five more dolphins surface simultaneously, line abreast, unhurriedly, diving again almost immediately. He groaned inwardly. Could he help? He thought of his brand new scuba diving gear in his cabin. This was the first time they had trapped dolphins in the set, that he actually had diving gear and tanks on board. But…

He looked at the sea, and winced. There was a four foot swell, with waves breaking in swirling white foam. The wind was not strong, but it was brisk. He only had a total of sixty three dives experience, and none in this kind of sea. Added to which was the ominous, partly unseen hazard of the massive nets, waiting to trap and ensnare the unwary. He glanced at the winches, that creaked and groaned noisily as they strained at the Herculanean task of hauling in the combined weight of cables, chains, nets and fish. He felt frightened at the very thought of entering the water with so many dangers. Besides which, he was alone. The cardinal rule of his PADI training had been to never dive alone… What would his old instructor say if he knew his former student was even remotely contemplating a dive under these circumstances? He would most definitely NOT be impressed…
It was impossible. What could he do? Nothing.
The decision made not to try anything foolhardy, he tried to feel better about himself.
Sorry, Dolphins, wish I could help, but I can’t…
He felt better already. There was nothing he could do, so why fret about it. It was… beyond his control.

The Dolphin pup surfaced again, its beaked mouth pointing up vertically and unnaturally. It appeared to be panting, and struggling for breath. Instantly, at its side, another dolphin appeared, nuzzling it, seemingly supporting it. Coaxing it to breath.
He stared in horror…
In his ears, the crashing, grinding noise of winches, cables and hydraulic systems reached a peak of destructive frenzy, an impersonal apparatus bent only on catching and destroying…

Almost before he knew it, he was flying into his cabin, and ripping out his diving gear. He suited up in a greased blur of speed, and hauled his equipment bag out onto the deck. A second time he flew back, this time to grab the air bottle. Up the stairs to the bridge, round the corner at full speed, swaying dangerously, and panting with exertion. He almost collided with the Fishmaster, who scrutinised him with a quiet stare. He stopped, pointing to the set, making an urgent dolphin hand gesture. He was unaware that more than the gesture or his dive skins, his face spoke volumes. The Fishmaster studied him for a moment, and then nodded, smiling surprisingly warmly.
Bob was already on his way, with a high-pitched, indignant voice hammering through his mind.

“You’re crazy, you know that, don’t you? You’re stark, staring, bonkers! What the heck do you think you’re going to actually do? Pick it up and carry it? It probably weighs as much as you do? How are you going to control it? How are you going to catch it? What about the mother Dolphin? She’s not going to be real pleased with some creature grabbing her pup! What if she headbutts you? What if you get caught in the net? What if you get trapped down there, you big plonker? What about the PADI rules about not diving on your own? “

He assembled his gear in record time, and wondered how and where to enter the water.
The least risky way would be to descend the ladder in the side of the ship away from the nets. Then he could swim around the ship, cross the yellow bouys, and enter the set that way. The more direct way was simply to enter on the net side, but that meant risking God knows what.
Entanglement with nets, cables, steel links….
There was all sorts of stuff there to get caught on…
The voice was back.

“What in heck’s name are you DOING? This is just so stupid, even by YOUR standards, Mister Helicopter Man! You have no idea what you’re letting yourself in for… “

It was obvious that the safest way was also the roundabout way, on the side away from the nets. He looked over the side. It was a ten to twelve foot drop to the water, too much for a giant stride entry. The most he had ever done was maybe four feet. Ten to twelve feet was scary, with the chance of hitting the water really hard. Then again, if he actually sat on the nets, he could possibly just slither down…

“SLITHER DOWN??? You’re five hundred miles out at sea, you’ve never dived in this kind of rough sea,you’ve never dived inside a purse seiner set, and now you want to save a few minutes and SLITHER DOWN THE NET??? You ARE bonkers! “

It wasn’t feasible. There was no way of knowing how the nets were lying. He could get caught and trapped. It was foolhardy. The voice in his head sounded relieved.

“Well, maybe there is SOME sanity left in you then, Bob Meyrick… “

He struggled into his Boyancy Compensator Jacket, and checked his gauges. The small sharp knife peeked somewhat reassuringly from its holster. That was one decision made then. He was going around the sensible way, on the starboard side away from the nets…

A minute later, he was sitting – port side – on top of the nets coming in over the side of the working deck. Surprised sailors were beginning to turn around and look. He studied the swirling water below. Maybe, just maybe, he could slide smoothly down the net like a child down a chute in a playground. It would be about fourteen feet, as the net sloped steeply…
Placing the mouthpiece between his teeth, he drew in a lungful of air, and shoved off.

He got two feet, and something snagged his right flipper. It pivoted him over forwards, and he hit the water with a colossal smack, face first, and completely out of control…

(to be continued)

Francis Meyrick

Last edited by Francis Meyrick on March 18, 2014, 9:01 pm

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