Last week we took the office staff from Greenpeace's new office in Taipei on the 3 hour train trip to Taiwan's eastern port of Hualien. The Rainbow Warrior was there doing some last minute maintenance before the start of the Ocean Defenders East Asia Tour, the first ever ship tour for Greenpeace in Taiwan.
My heart literally started pounding as the taxi pulled up at the wharf – and it had nothing to do with the realisation that our work was really about to start and we could all forget about any time off in the next 6 weeks. It started pounding when I saw the RW, those masts, and the dove and rainbow painted on the bow. Seeing her again brings back personal memories and a flood of collective history.
This is the ship, Greenpeace's flagship, which presided over the end to nuclear testing in the Pacific, the end of drift netting, the evacuation of the people of Rongelap and disaster relief in Aceh following the Boxing day Tsunami.
I have personally had the honour of being on board for some great campaigns over the last 11 years and just the sight of her great green hull evokes memories of friends, fear, hard work, excitement and often victory. For me the Rainbow Warrior embodies the optimisim of action- giving people and the planet a voice in a world which often values profit above people and planet.
The Rainbow Wariror II has been leading this charge for 21 years, and before her it was the Rainbow Warrior I until she was bombed and sunk by the French – in a tragic, and in the end futile attempt to stop Greenpeace from campaigning on nuclear testing at Mururoa – futile because Greenpeace and the people of the Pacific ultimately stopped the testing. Tragic because the French bombing claimed the life of Greenpeace photographer Fernando Pereira.
For 40 years, with a number of ships and crew all as brave as those who sail on the Rainbow Warrior, Greenpeace has used direct action to expose those destroying the environment upon which we all depend. Direct action is empowering, its challenging, and above all else, as hundreds of years of direct action from the Suffragettes to Dr King, from Gandhi to Greenpeace can testifiy to - it works.
I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to what will be my last trip on the old girl.
Christopher Hay, is a Greenpeace Logistics Coordinator from New Zealand
The Rainbow Warrior is currently on a tour of East Asia to defend the Pacific.
Images: © Greenpeace/ Paul Hilton