Rainbow Warrior

Shea Mke is a Greenpeace volunteer and current deckhand on the new Rainbow Warrior. She boarded when the ship began its trans-Atlantic journey to begin its maiden US voyage. Shea originally posted this on her blog.

It’s 20:15 and in twelve hours we’ll be arriving to our home for the next week at the Chelsea Pier slip #59 in Manhattan, NY. It’s been seventeen days at sea and while I have quite the adventure ahead of me still with going to the Amazon and all, I figured it was about time to describe what it’s been like on board, besides all the rainbows and whales that is.

So here’s my account of today, a day different than any other day we’ve had yet with a similar rhythm.

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7:30 — Wake-up knock at the door tears me from a dead sleep. I fight the urge to rest just one more minute knowing I’d without a doubt fall back to sleep. I get up, pull on my work clothes and in my groggy state at least remember that we passed the Gulf Stream the evening before and it’s going to be cold so I push my shorts and tank top aside and reluctantly put on pants and grab a hoodie. I stick bobby pins in my hair, brush my teeth and do the set up ten push-ups I resolved on New Year’s to do each time I brush my teeth (on a rolling ship it makes it interesting as sometimes gravity’s on your side and other times it feels like you’ve got bricks on your back).

7:40 — I head to the mess (what on land would be the dining room) and sit down with my bowl of granola and cup of black tea trying to keep my eyes open let alone socialize.

8:00 — With a heavy load of work on the docket, I step outside on the deck to watch the sun finish rising above the horizon before starting in on the day. Moments later Sophia instructs Sjourd, Penny and I who had also been hanging out near the deck workshop, that “we must come to the bow”.

Dolphins! We watch as eight dolphins jump, glide and dart mere feet in front of the bow, playing in the momentum of our forward motion and the early morning light. After ten minutes about twenty dolphins had rendezvoused at the bow while another dozen jumped in crescent shaped arches to our starboard. A beautiful sunrise, dolphins and sailing on the ocean–a pretty fantastic way to start the day!

8:10 — Morning chores. All the deckhands are responsible for the daily cleaning on the ship. Each day consists of basically a choice between cleaning the 7 heads (toilets), the mess or the alleyways & companionways (hallways & stairwells).

9:00 — Deck wash begins. We bring out the water compressor, scrub brushes, degreaser and rags and go to work to make the ship sparkle for our entry into NYC.

10:00 — Smoko (coffee break!).

10:30 — More deck washing.

12:00 — Lunch.

13:00 — Finish the deck wash. I spent the whole hour and a half using degreaser coupled with elbow grease to scrub the area around the engine exhaust fans. The muscles on my right arm are already getting disproportionately stronger than my left.

14:30 — Smoko of tangerines and almonds.

15:00 — One of the projects given to me has been to replace the float and stainless steal eye on the painter line to one of our inflatable boats on board. I love rope work so I treated myself to a break from the deep cleaning and spliced the new float onto the line and also spliced a new eye onto the end, a feat that gave great satisfaction as I had never spliced eight-strand before and in fact, had only just learned to splice three-strand early on this crossing. I’m proud to report, they both look great and now I just whip them in a few places and they’ll be set.

Next up, finishing to clean the galley. Part of our anticipation of arriving in NYC tomorrow morning is the inspections by both customs and the Coast Guard. As a result, we’ve been really overhauling the ship getting ready for everything that there checklists advise they might require of us–things like an inventory of all food, feet of line (rope–so on a sailing ship, you can imagine that’s quite the chore to inventory!), liters of detergent, etc. Similarly, a deep clean was done of the entire galley and so I rounded out my workday in the cold of the walk-in cooler, finishing its cleaning with a thorough scrubbing, sweeping and mopping.

17:15 — Relaxation time. I took off my steal-toed boots and headed up to the lounge with the book I’ve been reading, Warriors of the Rainbow, a chronically of the Greenpeace movement from 1971 to 1979. I found it on the bookshelf one of the first days I was on board and figured it’d be good to learn about the early days of Greenpeace plus it was sure to be packed with some good adventure stories. And that it is!

We adjusted our clocks one last time before arriving in NY and so I had an extra hour between the end of the day and dinner to read and got to the part in the story where the crew tracks down a Russian whaling fleet for the first time off the coast of California and armed with three zodiac inflatables they intend to position themselves between the whales and the whalers harpoon. Reading the stories from these past “warriors” really makes me all the more proud and still somewhat in awe that I’m on board this beautiful, new schooner. And even though this Rainbow Warrior is new, it carries that history as its heartbeat.

17:30 — Headed up to see the sunset but was a bit too late and it was overcast and cold anyhow.

18:00 — Dinner time. With just cauliflowers, potatoes and peppers remaining for fresh vegetables, Wendy still manages to cook up another great meal.

19:25 — I write in my journal and check my email (and now of course, write this up).

22:00 — I’ll brush my teeth, do my ten push-ups, read some more and fall to sleep.

Tomorrow we’ve got a 6:30am wake-up call as we’ve got a lot to do before we get to Chelsea Pier, yet even on a normal day it’s easy to be in bed by ten. And that’s part of the beauty of the ship so far–each day is simple and filled with deep satisfaction from the hard work that leaves you exhausted to the brilliant sunsets and whale spotting to great camaraderie and story-telling.

So that’s it–a day in the life. NY will be totally different with the open ship days and the special events happening with the community. I’m excited!