Portrait Sitter: Euan Crawford,
by Robert Hannaford


The Captain Who is Leaving the Sea

He is in his last year of service. Retirement is compulsory these days, although he would have retired early anyway as the industry has changed so much and he is disillusioned with where it is going. He is a bit of an old school charmer, who does things by the book and feels a certain nostalgia for how things were. He enjoys having guests eat with him at the Captains Table, where he will wear full uniform and sometimes recite poetry. Poetry is his passion – especially arcane Early English (Saxon) poetry… in which he is well versed. He feels his proximity to retirement acutely and is unsure how he will deal with it. His wife very much runs the home and has her routines and girlfriends. They love heritage houses and open-garden weekends. He’d rather stick pins in his eye, but loves her and is prepared to learn something about gardening if it is what she wants. However he doesn’t know who he is without the sea, and is not sure what he will do with himself. On this last trip he tends to reminisce about the traditions and the way things were better – even though he knows the young ones don’t really care. He is also practical however and is the first to admit that the industry has seen many improvements. The Captain retreats to his cabin and his contemplations take us back and forth in time. He is sad that where once there were over 220 Ships under the Australian flag, over 200 of them are now gone. Soon there may be no industry left. He is aware of a wave of debilitating depression that sometimes hits him. He is hoping nothing goes wrong on this trip. No additional paperwork. Siting in his cabin, with his poetry and his memories he feels something coming like a storm.

Explore more stories below….