I will be the first to admit that I am not a sailor. Port and starboard are relatively easy, but terms like chain locker, gypsy and lazarette might as well be equal parts brain surgery and rocket science. On the Arctic Sunrise, everything is so new and so different from anything that I have ever done before, it has been difficult to find any kind of bearing. However after nearly five weeks aboard, I am finally finding my sea legs and a slight semblance of competence.
Each time I get directions, a piece of advice or a story from a crewmember, I can't help but think of the African proverb, "It takes a village to raise a child." All totaled, the crew's experience easily spans a century. While I dream about far off lands, they have been around the world and back again. Their breadth of knowledge makes my experiences seem relatively provincial in comparison.
Breaking through dense pack ice and navigating the waters around Greenland, they know the exact limits of this ship. They also know every corner, too. Without their diligent guidance I would be just another land lover, fumbling from one project to the next. Even as one crew departs and another embarks, I'm still the beginner.
My New Teachers
I've only spent a few days with this new crew that will tour the East Coast of the United States. Slowly, we are beginning the process of understanding one another. But it is second nature on a Greenpeace ship. I will glean important knowledge from this crew too.
Day by day, week by week pearls of wisdom are dropped carefully so as I am sure to find them. Each person has specific advice to make the whole function. But the crew is more than just engineer, first mate or deckhand. The original Project Thin Ice crew has seen the dramatic changes happening to Greenland's glaciers, firsthand. It is unfortunate to think that they may be some of the last "outside" people to witness the Arctic before global warming destroys it.
This boat and the other ships in the fleet are easily one of the most recognizable aspects of Greenpeace. They are like floating villages - raising their young, casting them out and hoping that sometime soon they will make the world a better place.