Lord Foulmouth (Wayne Longford)

Lord Foulmouth (Wayne Longford), 15 April 2007
Ruth Maddison
Inkjet print
PXE 966/23

I went fishing from 1985 to 1996. I started on the Vigorus, Jeff Collett’s boat. At first it was all about the money and the ocean. In 1986 I made $16 000 clear in six weeks from gemfish. But another time you could be out for 200 hours and catch bugger all and end up with about $2.50 an hour. Then maybe your boat’s on the slips for three weeks – not so much as a thank you. It’s a hard game. Once they started bringing in quotas it all got harder. I’d be trawling in winter and poling tuna in summer. In a bad season we’d go to Tassie to fish. Geez we copped some bad weather on Bass Strait! Scary! But the things you’d see. I was a bush boy. To see a whale breach beside you and give birth – unbelievable! One time, in a wild hailstorm, the mutton-birds were all trying to fly, to take off from the water, and the hailstones kept knocking them back. In the morning all the back deck was covered in dead mutton-birds. Had to hose them off.

I’ve only been in salt water three times. Twice I fell in stepping from the boat to the wharf. In my thongs of course. Then once when I had to do my Marine Engineer Driver’s ticket. I don’t swim in salt water. I’m an inland boy.

The worst thing about fishing was when I became a dad and not seeing Karen and the kids. The two older ones got to start school and I didn’t know them. Then I’d come home so run down and exhausted I’d be crying. Mentally and physically stuffed. The five years I was on the Vigorus I saw more of the captain than I did of Karen. It’s a single man’s game. But it’s tranquil out there — except for that old diesel thumping away. And those diesel fumes. Depending on which way the wind was blowing it’d come straight back onto the deck and into the engine room.

But I ended up not even making what I could get on land. I was down to about $300 a week and I was one of the highest paid deckies. The fishing died ‘cos we killed the fish. No boat owner or captain will say that but I don’t give a rat’s arse what anyone says – we killed ‘em. They need a twenty-year and a twenty-mile rest and even then they’ll never be back like they were.

Lord Foulmouth (Wayne Longford)