On the sixth day, Captain Randy announces that we will trawl until dusk, and then head for home. Barry and I continue monitoring from the catwalk.
We've seen four species of albatross (shy, black-browed, Indian and Atlantic yellow-nosed), 11 species of petrel (white-chinned, spectacled, and flesh-footed petrels, sooty, Manx, Cory's and great shearwaters, European and Wilson's storm petrels, southern and northern giant petrels), four species of skua (pomarine, parasitic, long-tailed and subantarctic), plus Sabine's gulls, terns and Cape gannets.
I had a distant glimpse of what I thought was a northern royal albatross, one of the 'biggies', but it never came close enough to make out for sure.
As dusk falls, the crew get excited as the last net is hawled, and we turn for home. It is difficult to sleep with all the noise on board, as the crew set about thoroughly cleaning the boat and stowing everything away. The chief engineer pokes his head around the door at 2 am, and as I'm still awake, tells me we have rounded Cape Point.
I emerge on deck to watch the lights of Cape Town get closer. Table Mountain is dimly lit in moonlight. Chief then gives me a guided tour of his pride and joy, the 16-cylinder, 1,500 horsepower diesel engine that has taken as so far. The engine room is huge, a mass of machinery, hot, oily and very, very noisy.
We finally dock at 4 am, and emerge onto dry land for the first time in a week. Funny, but everything is swaying, and I can hardly keep my feet!
Barry and I spend as much time on deck as possible. Our main work is monitoring interactions between seabirds and the two warp cables at the stern. To do this, we sit for hours on end on the 'catwalk', a raised metal gantry above the stern of the boat.
Barry's work has shown that it is collisions with these two thick steel cables that is causing problems. Seabirds are attracted to the discards from the trawler, and as they fly in around the stern of the vessel, some collide with the warps, because they simply do not see them in time. The smaller sooties don't seem to collide much, the white-chins more often, but both seem reasonably robust.
But it is the albatrosses that are more prone to drowning or fatal injury. When feeding, they often sit with wings raised or flap around, and with the vessel moving forward or in a heavy swell, the warp cable can instantly dunk an unsuspecting bird, sending it down rapidly into the depths.
Sometimes the birds pop up many yards further astern, but often they do not. We see one shy caught in such a way, the body brought up later on the warp cable onto the deck in a broken and bloody mess. Those that survive often have broken wings, meaning a slow lingering starving death.
Observations made over several years have shown the potential toll that these collisions may be having on albatrosses. Numbers are lower in summer when more birds are at their breeding grounds, much higher in winter, and based on the numbers of trawlers known to fish in southern African waters, an estimated 18,000 seabirds may be being killed each year, the majority of them albatrosses.
Tori (the Japanese word for bird scaring) lines, modified from those now being used on longliners, are beginning to provide an effective solution on trawlers too. They are simple and cheap to make, costing as little as R300 (about £25).
A large orange traffic cone is tied to a length of rope, some 50 metres long, onto which loops of bright yellow garden hose are tied. The lines are attached above and outside the warps, the cone keeps the line taught, so that the lengths of hose touch the water, providing a 'curtain' that the birds can see - and avoid.
Barry's work shows they really work, reducing collisions by between 80 and 95%. I soon see just how effective they are. In the right conditions, we have two v-shaped areas of water with no birds around the two warp cables. Heavy wind, swell or currents sometimes push the tori lines away from the warps, making them less effective.
I ask Barry what measures could be introduced to make trawlers totally safe for albatrosses. 'Stop dumping discards, either completely or at least whilst shooting the nets. You can't deploy the toris until the warps have stopped feeding out, otherwise they can get entangled and just snap off. That's when birds are most vulnerable.'
For four days, we fish within sight of Cape Point some 15 miles distant. At times, we are followed by flotillas of small boats, hoping to hook some of the yellow-finned tuna that are attracted to the discards. Some days we see them, bright white flashes under the water, as they hunt small fish. We even see a few leaping from the water like dolphins.
On the Sunday night, we sail the 90 miles to Danger Point. The change in bird numbers and species is remarkable - gone are the Cape gulls, and instead of a few dozen albatrosses, we have over a thousand.
And this is summer. In winter, there are even more birds, as adults and youngsters desert the breeding islands. On Monday, the bad weather results in a European storm petrel and two white-chins colliding with the vessels. We gingerly pick each up, take photos, and release them over the side.
It takes a while to get used to life on board a working trawler. There is the constant rolling motion, with a 2-3 metre swell most days, sometimes 4-5 metres. The constant thud of the engine is interspersed with the rhythmic clank and hum of the winches.
Each day is the same routine. Nets are hauled shortly after dawn, taking 20 minutes to winch in and a further 20 minutes to haul on board and deposit the catch into the hold for the waiting factory team to process.
The deck team then clean and prepare the net for shooting. The net is basically a huge bag, the size of a football pitch, yet only 2.5 metres high at its mouth. Massive metal leaf-shaped 'doors' weighing two tonnes each are attached, and both sink the net to the seafloor and spread its mouth wide.
Once the doors are attached, the winches let out around 700 feet of thick steel cable, the 'warps', until the net is pulling along the sea floor some 400 feet below and behind us. Each trawl takes 4-5 hours, and continues around the clock, so the whole cycle is repeated five times a day.
And it is hard, filthy and dangerous work. You soon become coated in grime, a combination of oil, grease, fish and salt (take it from me, showering aboard in a five-metre swell is an interesting experience!).
Facilities on board are basic but comfortable. I soon make friends with the chef, Emanuel, a happy and likeable young Port Elizabethan, who conjures up wonderful curries, soups and fried hake freshly caught each day.
Remember my last diary and about Captain Celso and his strong opposition to implement the tori line on his boat? Well, my strategy worked out well.
After a month I managed to get him to put the tori line on the boat and that was a great achievement not only for me personally, but for all of us at Projeto Albatroz!
It was great to see the tori line construction. Even more beautiful to see it on the boat. WOW! All the fishermen started making the line to the tori line with all the colourful strings attached. It was funny, however, they managed to make it with great spirit! I told them they were making history and that they would soon became famous!
And they were! After the tori line was finished, I told Celso to put it on his boat with the lines. As soon the tori line was up, the boat started attracting the attention of all the people from the harbour and other captains were asking what the hell that was. Well, I told them all: 'It's the new technology to capture more fish and to reduce the numbers of seabirds on the hooks'.
As they were seeing this for the first time, some reporters started arriving and making interviews with fishermen and with Celso. It was like this for two days. Then, the main Brazilian TV station, Rede Globo, arrived at the boat with a famous reporter and started immediately making interviews with all the crew.
They eventually went on a cruise for six days with the TV crew and made a programme that was broadcasted nationwide.
If that was not enough attention, some days later the BBC arrived. While they were doing all the recording, it was great to see them all happy interacting with the fishermen and Celso.
To be honest Celso was not used to getting this attention, but looking at him I could read his thoughts... he was already thinking where he was going to go on his next fishing cruise...
Wednesday morning finds us in the BirdLife offices, when the phone goes. It is Barrie Rose. I can go, but I must let I&J review all my photos before I leave the country. I agree, put the phone down, and whoop for joy! We are finally going, and soon. Our vessel, the Aloe, departs this afternoon.
It's 4 pm, and Barry and I are walking the rusty gangplank onto the ship. The Aloe is a 53-metre long Protea-class stern trawler, built in Durban in 1973, old but more stable than the modern vessels, Barry assures me!
We clamber across the gear piled high, avoiding the crew as they busily load crates, ice, and provisions. We stow our kit in our cabin (we're lucky, we've been given our own small room rather than sharing with the crew) and climb from below decks the three sets of stairs to the wheelhouse.
Barry introduces me to our captain, Randy, short, bald, toothless and, I soon learn, proud father of five children, all of whom have gone through university. The whole crew, including Randy, are black - an illustration both that the black majority still do most of the lowest and hardest manual jobs, and that some are now highly-qualified and holding professional positions in the new South Africa.
Barry gives me some quick instructions: stay out of the wheelhouse and off the deck when the nets are being hauled or shot; keep well clear of all the winch machinery; and always hold on with both hands ('one for the ship, one for you'). We head back ashore for some last minute provisions.
At about 7 pm, the engine noise increases, and I head on deck to find us heading out of Cape Town harbour. I'm extremely nervous - I've never been on a boat for more than five hours before, and we are going to be out in the roughest oceans in the world for seven days! It'll be a test of my - to date - reliable sea-legs (I've been on the Scillonian in some pretty rough weather), and there's no going back, no way off.
As we head out, the searing heat of the city dissipates rapidly as the sea breezes take hold. A mile out, with Robben Island (Nelson Mandela's prison for 25 years) at our bow, we turn south, and head for Cape Point.
We are already picking up birds - at first Hartlaub's and cape gulls, then cape gannets and terns, then we sail through a flock of 1,400 Sabine's gulls! As dusk approaches, with the lights of Cape Town shining brightly below a shadowy Table Mountain, we begin to see sooty shearwaters and Arctic skuas. Above the darkening horizon, the long misty tail of Comet McNaught can be clearly seen.