From studying, to sea trawling, Ant Anderson tells the tale of his life aboard a prawn trawler off the coast of Australia as he left his life in England for warmer climates and rockier seas. The English graduate decided to travel the world in favour of job-hunting, amidst Britain’s economic downturn, and his unpredictable, action packed years away include three seasons aboard the trawler ‘The Karumba Pearl’, as well as hundreds of hilarious anecdotes, all of which have been recorded in his absorbing and inspirational travel memoir, ‘Travelling, Trawling And The Utterly Appalling’.
Taking the reader on a journey around the world with him, we experience first hand the seasickness brought on by thrashing waves during his 52 hour shifts aboard the ship, to the harrowing fear as Anderson hangs from a tree vine 150m form a rock face in Thailand.
Anderson’s adventure verges on the unbelievable at times. Aboard the eight-man trawler he is faced with some of the world’s most deadly sharks, stingray barbs are never far away, and neither are the cyclones, which are known for sinking ships – an experience Anderson very closely avoided.
“There was a cyclone coming in from the north before we set out,” Anderson said. “But my captain was pretty insistent that we got out on time. He said we’d whip round it… I don’t know much about cyclones, but I don’t think you should whip round them. The waves were 30ft high. It was scary but we survived.”
And as if the prawn trawler full of crazed ex-convicts wasn’t enough, Anderson then goes on to try his hand in rougher seas for a deadlier catch as he moves on to the Indian Ocean to go fishing for sharks.
This fast paced book flies from the dangerous to the hilarious, and embodies the phrase, “to write about life, you must live it first.” Anderson proves his mettle as he completes three of the toughest fishing seasons with some of the sea’s toughest characters.
He goes on to explain that, “It was living outside the rule book. You sink or swim. You’re testing yourself to every limit, but that’s the appeal.”
And let’s be honest, we all expect to be given hell on our first day at a new job, but to be told to get into a net where a saw-toothed shark has become entangled, and then cut off it’s serrated nose is taking things to another level. Anderson, who until that moment had only ever seen a shark behind the glass at a sea life centre, was naturally unhappy about the task, but soon learned that he would have to get on with it regardless.
Working with ex-cons in an industry where more limbs are lost than in any other line of work, it’s fair to say the risks are great, but as a consolation, the rewards are plenty. In a season of eight to twelve weeks, even the lowliest deckhand can earn up to £1500, which may seem a small price for shifts lasting over two days, but it’s much better than any travellers bar job.
‘Travelling, Trawling And The Utterly Appalling’ is a must read for any prospective traveller, or even for those who have returned, but wish to relive their globe-trotting years. Trawling may not be on the cards for every explorer, but Anderson’s book shows the complete polarisation of emotion that occurs over three years on the road, or in his case, the waves.
The dangers are clear, but Anderson’s mentality ensured that he had fun at every turn and made the most of the opportunities available to him. From hilarious school boy errors, like blocking a girl’s toilet whilst she was in a lecture, to a 1500m race against Chinese athletes, this book will appeal to adrenaline seekers and adventurers alike as the perfect guide to making the most of your time spent travelling.
By Ella White