It’s easy to tell how much work Hoang Gia anh puts into his poetry and song writing, but I wonder how many people know about his other full time job as a long-line fishing Captain.
I work as a fisheries observer for the U.S. government. It’s my job to live and work aboard fishing boats to record and catalog all catch and by-catch and to take samples and specimens as needed. I have just completed a 44 day swordfish trip with Hoang or as some people know him here in Hawaii, Captain Andy. From the very start to the end of the trip not a day went by that I didn’t see the Captain in the galley diligently working at his writing, even though many times the conditions were less than agreeable. For starters, while we were just steaming out to the fishing grounds, we ran over a large floating mass of rope and netting that entangled itself on our propeller. Because of rough weather it was too dangerous to try and dive down and cut the rope free. We were forced to drift in rough seas for three days, until it was calm enough for one of the crew members to dive down and cut away the rope. We were now able to start fishing; however the swordfish proved to be difficult to find this season. We fished hard and tried several areas that from experience should have been prime swordfish grounds, but we had only a little success.
About halfway through the trip our air conditioning unit broke down, making the rest of the trip quite warm during the hotter parts of the day. This wouldn’t be terrible news but unfortunately it was just the first of several mechanical failures that would occur.
Over a month into the trip the Captain was able to find a productive fishing spot that was turning up some swordfish. He planned to fish hard in that spot for the next six days before we needed to head back to Hawaii, but on the third day the generator which ran the hydraulic system failed. Fortunately we had just reeled in 50 miles of line and were at the very end of our haul, so we were able to pull the rest of the line in by hand. Now we were unable to fish and had to start the four day trip back to Hawaii.
On the first night of our trip back to port we experienced a major problem with the engine. Two of the pistons in the 12 cylinder block broke apart. It would not run. We were stranded, drifting some 400 miles away from Hawaii with no other boats anywhere in the area to give us a tow back to port. Thankfully threw the skilled hands of the Captain and crew and with several calls made by satellite phone to the Captain’s mechanic, we were able to run the engine on 10 cylinders and slowly make our way back to the islands.
Threw all these things any free time the Captain had was spent on his poetry and song writing, meticulously perfecting each one. He would neatly write with one hand and steady himself against violent rocking and rolling with the other.
Of course the best thing about his dedication to his writing is his commitment to give anything he makes from his work to charity.
I am impressed and inspired by your skill and dedication Captain, and I hope you have some smoother sailing on your next fishing trip.