After a rather sleepless overnight flight from Chennai to Singapore - thanks, in part, to two relentless crying babies on-board - it didn't take long before we were driven off to the shipyard where the Esperanza was docked. We were part of a team that would be working on-board the ship and had joined the rest of Espy's crew in Singapore. Most of us know Singapore as the world's shipping capital, but it really is something to feel dwarfed by the sheer scale of things in one of its shipyards. Amongst the many monstrous and tiny sea vessels being worked on and parked there, was the Esperanza (or simply the "Espy", with love). The Espy had apparently been there since late December last year undergoing maintenance works, before she'd leave for her long voyage to India.
Stepping onto the ship over a narrow metal stairway, we met Kevin, the third mate, for a brief chat. We were then welcomed by Adrian, the first mate (the second in command, after Captain Vlad) who took us through to the mess area where we met a few others who'd sail with us for the rest of our journey to India. Hung on the walls of the mess, like other places of the ship, are mementos that showcase the Espy's journeys to various parts of the world, fighting for our cause to save the environment. My excitement took me around the ship taking pictures of all of that and more.
In the time between arrival and lunch, I got my laptop hooked to the Internet with the help of Greenpeace East-Asia's resident techie on-board the Espy, the Thai Mong. He's been on this ex-Russian firefighting vessel for a couple months and works from the Radio Room.
The mess area is where the Espy's 15+ crew get together to have their meals. It was lunch time and Babu, the fifty something Chef from the South-Indian state of Kerala had laid his freshly made, mostly organic, hot and lip-smacking food out on the mess counter. There were plenty of items to choose from for a whole three-course meal. The crew served themselves with the food and prepared their plates and cutlery for the dishwasher soon after they were done with their meals. Greenpeace India's very own action-man, Senthil, has joined Babu as the Assistant Chef until we're in Chennai, and he seems to be liking his new job very much!
The Espy, although the largest vessel in Greenpeace's fleet, isn't particularly large compared to most other vessels that operate in the open seas. Its class is still that of a Motor Yacht, yet it is an old ship with a big character. Over the years, the crew that have come and gone, worked, stayed and frequented it have left a part of themselves on the ship, and it shows on the various cabins, workshops, galleys and other spaces on this beautiful ship. It's just a day gone by and I'm a little tired from all that sleepless travel between Bangalore, Chennai and Singapore. I have until the first week of March until I'm familiar with this sailing beauty, and become accustomed to life on a Greenpeace ship. I'm really looking forward to all my days aboard the Espy!