For two weeks, we've been in a stand-off against the Japanese
whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean. The situation has been
intense, dangerous, and often heart-breaking for our crews aboard
the Esperanza and the Arctic Sunrise. But the tides are turning,
and for the last 8 days, we've been able to prevent the whalers
from slaughtering any whales. In an unprecedented chain of events,
we have the whalers on the run, and our ship, the Esperanza, is
keeping pace with the Japanese flagship and bringing a halt to
Get a first-hand update from our crew member Nathan, aboard the
December 24, 2005
Today, for me personally, was one of the greatest days I've ever
my first blog post I wrote about how, 17 years ago, seeing
footage from the first anti-whaling campaign led me into Greenpeace
and, ultimately, to my involvement in this current campaign. I
vividly remember pointing to the monitor with the tape running of
an inflatable trying to thwart the harpooner, turning to my father
and saying, "I want to do THAT". At the time, it was a dream.
Today, that dream was finally realized.
Over the past month, the Billy G (the boat I'm driving) has been
fitted with a high-powered fire-fighting pump that sprays sea water
either straight up or out like a peacock tail. Working with the
wind, I can position the Billy G to send a wall of misty water up
in front of the whaling boat's bow.
So today, we fired it up. The whaling boat was not pleased.
We positioned ourselves upwind and created a screen of water
blocking the view of the whales from their ships' harpoons. After
taking a good twenty minutes of bridge soaking, courtesy of the
Billy Greene Custom Whaling Boat Rinsing Service, the captain
changed course for an ice field.
This went on for four unrelenting hours. Into the pack ice, out
of it, into drift ice, then into a little open water, then into
more, new pack ice. Ice everywhere. Constant course changes. Having
to turn around in dead-end leads to quickly retreat and fall back
to their stern wake to follow their ice breaking. Skirting through
gaps with inches on each side. Once we actually struck a shelf
underwater and came to a full stop. Phil came to us and with his
crew helped us to just barely get out in full reverse. Once,
frighteningly, we hit a desk-sized piece straight on at good speed,
jumping up and over it. But for all the ice, we came out
The harpooner did come out to his perch. But he didn't stay
there too long. He looked quite annoyed. And very wet.
We passed icebergs the size of mountains, basking in full, cold
sunlight, just breathtaking. In my experience, it was an epic
contest set in the most stunning natural amphitheater, beyond
anything I could have ever imagined. It was, even less than a day
after just experiencing it in reality, simply unbelievable. It was
a dream, a real dream.
But the real dream-come-true part was that this hunter boat did
not find or shoot a whale with us beside him. Everything he tried,
we foiled. Eventually, we turned back only because we needed to
take on fuel for our boat and pump. We had gone almost 25 miles
from the mothership with him, much farther than they will normally
go from the factory ship to hunt. And he was empty-handed.
For one day at least, I can say we faced off with a whaling
captain, and thwarted him. It takes a massive effort to get a small
boat like the Billy G to Antarctica to do this: it's a huge task to
simply operate a ship like the Esperanza and all of its support
infrastructure. There's a complex web of communication and
coordination woven between offices around the world. There is a
direct link that goes all the way from the individual who eagerly
sends us a donation all the way to us down here, using the
equipment they bought us, eating the food they paid for, putting on
the survival gear they donated.
Because of the efforts of the entire crew on this ship and all
of the folks involved in Greenpeace worldwide who put this effort
together and, most importantly, the supporters who give us what we
need to make the effort, I was the very lucky soul to actually get
behind the wheel and get a chance to protect these whales - 17
years after a dream was born. That truly moves me. It's such an
honor to be given that chance, I find it hard to talk about without
For me, that's what Greenpeace is about.
And we'll try to do it again tomorrow.
Happy Holidays to all. Thinkin' of ya.
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