'Do we keel haul the little %$#@ or chuck him in the chain locker?': How Life at Sea Becomes 'Stories to Live By' for a Woman on a Fishing Vessel

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Emerald, Elke
Ewing, Fiona
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Brown, M

Humberstone, B

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Fe’s energy fills a space. She is big – as in, personality big. Her life force is strong. I cannot imagine being in a room and not knowing she is there. I guess that is one of the reasons she was so successful at sea. I am thinking it is not a place for shrinking violets or wallflowers. And, she swears – not too much, but to effect. So do not read further if you are offended by salty parlance. We are on about our fifth cup of coffee as Fe tells me the story of ‘this guy’:

As an observer on board these fishing vessels we are in someone else’s space you know. The boat is their workplace, as well as living, eating and sleeping quarters. You do everything you can to respect that. Pitching in with meals, doing your work quickly with as little disruption to the crew as possible. It’s an unspoken rule. If I can’t add value to the space, then I just keep out of the way … The mere fact of my presence on the boat means that the crew are being held up in their work, they are being inconvenienced in pursuit of their livelihood, but more, they are best suited to make what you need to happen, happen. They know their working environment and they are the experts here. You have to work collaboratively, be a contributor. Not this guy. He was from a large research agency. I can’t even remember his name. He just had no respect. Carlos and I were on this particular trip as scientific observers. This guy was there conducting some complementary research. The research equipment he had took up a big chunk of the working deck of the boat, which was an inconvenience to begin with. He didn’t even bother to explain anything about his research to the boys. And he’d make them wait – like when it was time to come down on deck and take little jars off the buoys, he’d make them wait, you know. Do it in his own fucking time, you know. These guys are working 18 hours a day and through the night and crazy shit and they are accommodating him and cooking for him and then he leaves them just hanging, waiting in the cold, for him to do his thing before they could get on with their thing – which is their livelihood. Just no idea. He was on the boat for 10 days.

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Seascapes: Shaped by the Sea

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Sociological methodology and research methods

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