Ship’s Log: Day Five (Melbourne to Tilbury)

Our third day crossing a wintry Tasman.

And now the first mate opens up, a wary man without the calm of the third mate or the sheer loquaciousness of the second. But on a dark bridge he fired back a question at me after I had assumed our brief opening exchange was over. Children, home, the sea … these were our topics. He had gone to sea out of tradition and for the money, for the pay was much better than at home. But he came from an island in the north of the Philippines, where people still managed largely on their own, something he much preferred. No big cities, just fishing villages, vegetables and animals. His girlfriend too was from there. Not quite ready to be captain, for he needs some more experience (this being his fourth voyage as first mate). Competent, allocated a seaman to assist him, the first call of a calm captain, he still had the wary air of one from the country: too much deference to power, perhaps, too wary of officialdom (immigration and customs). But that will pass with experience.

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