It is summer in New Zealand. The season that brings the wind, the rain and the brightest sunshine all in the same day.
I’m on board a Greenpeace ship, the brand new, purpose built, Rainbow Warrior setting out to tour the coast of New Zealand for the very first time. She’s here to meet as many New Zealanders as possible as she travels the country for the next few weeks.
When I received my invitation to tour with the New Rainbow Warrior as the on-board blogger I was, as you would expect, extremely excited, although I harboured some real reservations about coming on this trip. It certainly played to my passion for adventure, a real “bucket-list” moment, but I was concerned that my streaky bacon addiction might see me keelhauled before we even left port, a kind of Vegan pre-venge to get the carnivores off the boat. In a nut shell what I expected to meet on the boat is exactly the image conjured up in the media; Hard-core hippies.
In my mind’s eye I had a picture of Greenpeace and the ship’s crew as trustafarians, old hippies and humourless vegans. I wrote in my diary …“the long range weather forecast is for tie-dye and veggie burgers…” That’s what I expected to be met with when I boarded the Rainbow Warrior at Marsden point last night.
What I found was something altogether different.
The crew are hard-working, professional sailors and everyone seemed to be busy with repairs and maintenance, no slack stoners on board this ship, and no tie-dye t-shirts to be seen either! The captain Joel, dressed like the nicest, most conservative American dad you could ever want to meet, runs a tight ship; Wakeup call at seven am, breakfast until eight, chores until nine. That applies for everyone on-board, including me. This morning I chose to clean the area of the ship called the “wet room”; a transitional space from the wet and windy outside elements into the dry warm heart of the ship. The wet room was funded by donations from New Zealand supporters.
At six pm on the dot, dinner is served. The crew all come together from across the decks, up the masts and from deep inside of this giant ship. Along two long bench tables the crew of the Rainbow Warrior sprawl. No sign of hierarchy here, just sit where you can and eat what is on offer. I thought it would be all tofu burgers and salad, but there was beef for the meat eaters. The conversation flows, the language is English but the subject matter is Global; Who snores? This is our first night on-board with the Greenpeace crew and the bunks are being allocated. No heated arguments here, just warm hearted banter, joking and fun.
There is a special place in the hearts of New Zealanders for this boat and her crew. The respect they attract from the port workers, the boat pilots and the other crews in port is obvious and my first impression says it is a respect that is hard-earned and well deserved indeed.
Everyone I have met so far out of the crew of fifteen has been ultra-professional, hard-working and extremely friendly. I think I’m going to like it here.
I hope you enjoy coming along on the journey with me.