Ahab's Axplanations

Previous Axplanations
December 2011 - Axplanations from December
December 2011 - Axplanations from December
November 2011 - Axplanations from November
September 2011 - Axplanations from September
August 2011 - Axplanations from August
May 2011 - Axplanations from May
Feb 2011 - Axplanations from February
Dec 2010 - Axplanations from December
Sept 2010 - Axplanations from September
July 2010 - Axplanations from July
June 2010 - Axplanations from June
April 2010 - Axplanations from April
February 2010 - Kipper Procurement Model (update No.1)
December 2009 - KPM3 ( Kipper Procurement Model)

After some time spent in dry dock, our old friend Capt. A.Hab has returned to update us on what is going on in the world of fishing and how changes are affecting his members. Here is his most recent memo to the membership.

Federation of Grimsby Trawler Operatives

Dear Fellow Operatives,

The Olympic period has been and gone, and I was inspired to have witnessed the international spirit of togetherness which the Games engendered, even among countries that hitherto may have been seen as 'rogue states' (such as Iceland and the Spanish). It appears that several of the Staff Officers in the Admiralty were so impressed by the achievements of our athletes that they have instigated a new regime of fitness tests for all Mariners, to start in October.

When this concept was first put to the Federation of Trawler Operatives, the Admiralty representative, a keen sportsman himself, insisted that the test should consist of climbing the rigging as far as the mizzen-topmast fifty times in under five minutes, then sixty press-ups with a bale of wet oakum on your back, followed by a bare-knuckle wrestling match against him and four of his mates while blindfolded and bound with anchor chains around the bellbottoms. Anybody who failed the test would be lashed to the grille and given a lick of the cat before being submitted to Unsatisfactory Piscatorial Performance (UPP) processes.

A large meeting was hastily convened with delegates from diverse groups, including the Mission to Seamen, alongside those who represent Mariners with wooden legs, eye patches, The Black Spot, hooks, scurvy and parrots. They gently pointed out that a failure to reach such a standard did not necessarily mean that the Operative was incompetent. After much debate the standard was set as a three-minute 'shuttle-climb' between the main deck and the lower mainroyal staysail. There will be no sanction against those who cannot get their leg over the spanker.

Our Fishery has always been open to innovation - so much so that one older mariner recently suggested that we've enthusiastically embraced more 'pilots' than Mrs Wagstaff at the Bide-a-Wee Guesthouse in Grimsby after a US bomber squadron was stationed just up the road in 1944.

Discussions are now underway about introducing new 'Predictive Fishing' technology. This is a computer device into which various fishing data (water temperature, depth, salinity etc) is entered. The machine then uses something called an algorithm to predict where fish are most likely to be found. It has been suggested that any Operative worth his salt who has fished in their sea area for more than a dog-watch will know the shoals, shallows, currents and feeding grounds and will happily tell you where the fish will be, without the assistance of some newfangled algyrythmnic thingummybob. The question increasingly asked, however, is not 'where be the fish?', but 'where be the trawlers?'

The situation is so grave that a recent BBC documentary quoted figures showing that when a shoal is spotted in the Dover Straits it is likely to be two or three days before a trawler shows up to deal with it - the result being that the nets are put out too late. When they are hauled back in there is nothing to show for it but a rusty shopping trolley, an old boot and a couple of fetid sprats.

In order to improve the situation the Admiralty is pumping Operatives from one compartment to another to prevent some parts from going under completely. Those familiar with 'Free Surface Effect' will know that such an approach to ballasting can quickly lead to wet feet and fish swimming through the wheelhouse.

Yours, flooding the Q tank and preparing to dive,

Capt. A. HAB (M.N. Ret'd)