Early finish

When it comes to spending twelve hours a day on a scallop dredger, I have two choices – either medicate myself with anti-nausea pills, which cause drowsiness, and spend half the day asleep in a bunk below deck. Or, don’t take the pills and spend most of the day, below deck, in a bunk trying not to vomit. For this, my third trip out on the Sarah Lena, I chose the former; at least that way I can still function normally and take photos between bouts of sleep.17th February – At about 11.00 am I took my second dose of Stugeron, within half an hour I was passed-out in Juan’s top bunk; my plan was to sleep for a bit and wake-up after lunch, daisy fresh, ready for the low afternoon light.
I woke at about 1.00pm to the sound of the skipper, Tony; he seemed less than pleased – “Oh you f**king c**t!…for f**k sake!…C**T!!”. After about ten minutes of pretending to be asleep, I decided something serious must have happened and that I should actually be documenting it. I rolled out of the bunk and put one foot on the table below me to step down – that’s the last thing I remember…
“Phil? Are you okay? Did you fall out of your bed?”. Chris was standing over me; I was lying on the floor. Whilst asleep, two of the major hydraulic lines on deck had burst, spraying oil over most of the boat, turning any flat surface, including the table I’d used as a step, into a maritime skating rink. I’d slipped on the table and knocked myself unconscious. Apart from a bit of an egg on the side of my head, I was unscathed, but the damaged lines were irreparable at sea. We headed back to Port St Mary harbour, where I think for the crew of the Sarah Lena, the working day wasn’t nearly over.

All photos made using a Nikon F4, 28mm 1.8G, 50mm 1.4G and Kodak Ultramax 400 film. Developing and scanning by the excellent Canadian Film Lab


  1. Emma Caine

    I was at a dinner party last night, I showed this article to friends – they loved it. For the next hour, we went through your blog, looking at the incredible images and taking it in turns to read the articles out loud. You have an astonishingly interesting life and an individual talent with which to document it…well two talents, because your photos and writing are both superb.


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