Monday, August 07, 2006

Sea Of Heartbreak

Shooting whales for no reason. Torturing birds. Throwing bags of garbage into the ocean. Cutting loose nets that will fish the waters forever. These are some of the violations of nature that Michael Dwyer had to endure seeing while on board a fishing expedition in the waters off the coast of Labrador Canada.

After the expedition Michael put into words everything he saw and wrote Sea Of Heartbreak. Living in a place like Newfoundland and writing a book like Sea Of Heartbreak was a very brave thing for him to do. In a small town in a province where jobs are hard to find, and fishing is still one the biggest industries; Michael has been blacklisted from ever getting another job aboard a fishing vessel because of this book!

In August of 1998 Michael was in desperate need of work. Not just financially was he in need but not being able to provide as a husband and father was also taking its toll. So when the opportunity came up for a job on a fishing trip with the prospect of making good money he took it right away. What followed was about a month and a half at sea, sailing along Iceburg Alley, trying to fish for Turbot that were not nearly as plentiful as hoped.

From what I can tell it wasn’t the small paycheck or the time away from home or the often violent sea that really made this trip difficult, it was the attitude the men on board had for the very waters that they earn their living from.

Michael’s first experience with this attitude or “way of life” came after dinner during his first day on board. He had been on clean up duty for that meal. One of the crew members asked Michael to throw the compressed bag of garbage over the side of the boat. Being his first day on the job and not wanting to ruffle any feathers Michael followed the orders.
“Watching the bag fall astern, playing peekabo in the swells, I tried to remember the last time I had done such a shameful thing as to deliberately pollute the sea with garbage.”

The day this ship set sail, it was loaded with truckloads of supplies.
“After the five-week voyage, the only garbage left onboard was a little bit in the galley at the bottom of the gum bucket.”
What?? That’s it!!?? My family just went camping in Algonquin park for a few days and we carried all of our garbage including dirty diapers in backpacks until we got back to our vehicle. Then it stayed in there until we were out of the park and we found our first garbage can. Surely a boat can figure out how to store a bit of garbage till their next stop.

Throughout the book Michael gives some great descriptions of the amazing nature he’s able to observe. From iceburgs to glacier carved cliffs and the tundra of the north to wild birds and seals and polar bears and caribou. He also describes a visit they made to an abandoned Inuit village where he saw his first polar bear. He also describes how the majority of the crew seemed to do what they could to destroy what he was enjoying so much.

Some members of the crew were always looking for polar bears just so they could try to shoot one. They would also often use the wild birds that fly around the ship for target practice. It seemed they really didn’t like these birds. Michael describes how one time they caught two of these birds and proceeded to smear fish parts on their bodies. Then they tied two birds together at the legs and watched them peck each other to death.

Continued next entry . . .


Kathryn 8/07/2006 9:47 PM  

wow, reading some of these, i can see that this book has been aptly titled. I can't believe that people can be so cavalier, having no respect for life.

Denise 8/08/2006 10:35 AM  

That makes me sad.

Well, if the Lord ever tells you to stop being a rockstar, you can always write book reviews!!


Holly 8/10/2006 12:16 AM  

Wow, this all sounds horrible! I just can't believe there are people out there who would do these things!

Anonymous,  10/03/2006 9:07 PM  

I think I saw you in Wal-Mart yesterday.


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