In a moment we’ll be off again. The Rainbow Warrior is all ship shape, squeaky clean and ready to go south. And we really are heading South - next stop – the sub-Antarctic Auckland Islands.
The Warrior has been in a Lyttelton dry-dock for several days having the hull cleaned in preparation. It’s a uniquely pristine and ecologically sensitive place down there and, wisely there are some good regulations to keep it that way. One of those is that boats must pass a hull inspection before being allowed to visit - and that’s why we’re having ours cleaned now. This is a little ironic given that the Government has opened huge areas just north of there for deep sea oil exploration, but we'll get to that in coming days.
It’s amazing what can grow on a ship’s hull when it’s in sea water 24/7 travelling the world’s oceans – and it can be a bit of a problem. The ‘undergrowth’ causes drag in the water slowing the ship down and decreasing efficiency, and unwanted species can be moved around and introduced into places they don’t belong.
Most ships have their hulls painted with anti-foul to prevent these undesirable passengers attaching below the water line but this also has its problems. The coating commonly used contains copper which can leach into the water causing toxic levels to build up – especially in harbours where there are a lot of ships. We’ve seen this problem highlighted in New Zealand only last week.
The Rainbow Warrior, being the hyper efficient eco-friendly campaigning ship that it is, doesn’t carry the toxic anti-fouling. Instead we have a more modern coating called EcoSpeed which provides a finish on the hull that makes it harder for sea creatures to attach – and easier to clean them off if they do.
So anyway, we’re almost ready to go. I’ve just joined the ship and, all going well, I’ll be your eyes and ears from the Rainbow Warrior for the next three weeks. I’ve stowed my gear, charged my camera and I’m praying to the gods of the sea for some stout sea legs to see me right. This will be a once in a lifetime experience and I don’t want to spend too much time horizontal!