The Disappeared | The Swordfishing Team: The Roles and its Players
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The Swordfishing Team: The Roles and its Players


25 Oct The Swordfishing Team: The Roles and its Players

Swordfishing in The Disappeared would not have happened from a dory, (they only functioned as life boats) for the main fishing boat. Swordfishing boats are very specialized specifically to catch these fish. They have a long extended bowsprit with a “pulpit” at the end where the “striker” stands ready to harpoon these huge lethargic basking fish. The boat also has an extra high “crow’s nest where the spotter can scan the surface of the ocean for the basking fish with one man looking out for the fish and one ready with a harpoon. Swordfish can swim up to 100km/ hour with one-third of their bodies above water, so you have to catch them when they’re napping. The spotter will signal the striker, who must be ready to attack and on their feet with a quick aim.

When one is spotted, the harpooner attempts to spear it with a 4 to 5 meter long harpoon attached to a secure line. Fish are hauled on to the deck of the boat where the deck hands take over. The person in charge of the deck is the bosun (a corruption of the Old English term Boatswain), and then the process repeats. Spotter and striker wouldn’t be the only ones working on the boat – merely two key parts (or shall we say the sharp end of the stick) of a bigger machine.

Usually, fishermen are paid by shares. The boat is usually owned by an investor(s) on land who put up the money to build the boat. They take half the price received for the catch for each trip. The captain takes the next largest share, then the first mate, then the cook, then the deck hand in proportion to their role and experience.

The characters of The Disappeared are Gerald, Mannie, Pete, Merv, Gib and Dickie. Their roles aboard their boat the Dorothy Jean are Captain, First Mate, Striker, Bosun, Spotter and Cook, and well, the Greenhorn. Here is a little look at what all that means…

The Captain is in ultimate command of the vessel; he is responsible for its safe and efficient operation, including cargo operations, navigation, crew management and ensuring that the vessel complies with laws, etc. All persons on board are under the captain’s ultimate authority. Captain my captain!

First Mate
The First Mate is second in command and in charge of the ship’s cargo and deck crew. The chief mate is responsible to the captain for the safety and security of the ship. Responsibilities include the crew’s welfare and training in areas such as safety, firefighting, and search and rescue.

This is the person who harpoons fish, ready at all times to hurl their lance into the swordfish’s fast moving body. They are like major league baseball players – they have strength, speed agility and accuracy.

The cook oversees food management and storage for the vessel, maintains galley cleanliness and prepares and serves all meals.

The spotter must have a very keen eye and watches for approaching swordfish and alerts the striker when to throw.

The bosun, or boatswain is a highly skilled mariner who maintains the ship’s structure, equipment and oversees cargo rigging, winch operations, deck maintenance, working aloft, and other duties required during deck operations. The bosun is well versed in the care and handling of lines, and has knowledge of knots, hitches, bends, whipping, and splices. Depending on the ship, the bosun could have many different roles.

There always has to be a first time out to sea. That means starting out at the lowest position. At sea or on land, that is the greenhorn – the do-it-all, do-whatever is needed man on the boat (and do it fast, or else). It seems to be the tradition to tease and torture greenhorns unmercifully.

This team would have worked together to complete the difficult task of harpooning those potentially dangerous swordfish. The size of the crew would depend on the size of the boat. In this case a modestly sized boat with a crew of six each player as key as the next to make a successful fishing vessel. They would go out to sea for 5 to 10 days to see what they could find to fill up the hold before their food and fuel ran out. And now you know. Go team Dorothy Jean!

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