In addition to the regular crew sailing aboard our shiny new flagship, the Rainbow Warrior, we've got some New Hands on Deck, and they're going to take you on a journey behind the news, below the decks, and some places that have so far been off the record.

There's a magic aboard a Greenpeace ship that's hard to describe, hard to capture, hard to communicate. Those who sail with the ships can "go native" very quickly: you get drawn into life on board, it becomes a home, and you forget how extraordinary the most mundane aspects of life on a Greenpeace ship can be to those who've not had that experience.

The New Hands are our fresh eyes -- young activists who have seen Greenpeace action and proven themselves tough, smart, roll-up-your-sleeves campaigners, but who haven't had a lot of ship time.

And with them we've embedded a film crew. Julia Stanislawska, Gustav Forsberg, and their colleagues at award-winning Agaton films, aboard to document the three journeys that await anyone who joins the Rainbow Warrior, and to bring you, the supporters and donors and volunteers who made the Rainbow Warrior possible, along on those journeys too. They'll be filming 15 episodes of life on board, the "Stories from the Rainbow Warrior" along with tiny story fragments, "Snippets from the Rainbow Warrior."

The first journey is learning your way around the ship. You bonk your head a lot. You trip over things. You tumble or slide down stairways that are always steep, often wet, and sometimes moving. You have to ask directions to oddly named places like the "tank top," the "crow's nest," the "fo'c's'le" and the "deck house." Stairways seem, M.C. Escher-like, to arrive in different locations than they started.

On this ship, brand new as it is, this journey of discovery is one that the entire crew is taking together.There have been trainings and sea-trials aplenty, and our marine folks began systematically installing much of the same electronics gear that's aboard the RW III on other ships over the last year, so as much as possible twill be familiar to the crew. For this first voyage of sea-trials and port-visits, crew is rotating though so we get many hands learning the … er…. ropes.  But a new ship is a new ship, and as we prepared for our first departure there was anticipation in the air -- had we forgotten anything, how quickly will we settle into an easy routine, and how soon will the weather test us for the first time?

The second journey is the social dimension of finding your place in a hierarchy that has changed little from the earliest days of seafaring. One in which your place and your authority are rigidly defined and strictly enforced -- for the safety of the ship and crew and to ensure, as far as possible, harmony in close quarters. A ship's crew is a unit with very specific values and work ethics, and finding acceptance in that circle requires you to earn your place, take your part in the tasks and rituals of life on board, jump when things need doing and make yourself useful. As on Spaceship Earth, there are no passengers on a Greenpeace ship -- only crew.

Finally, becoming a part of the crew means learning the legends, the stories, the history of this ship and its predecessors. The story of her struggles and victories for the environment, of the activists who walked these decks, of the places she's been and the people she's touched.

The ship has a collective memory, kept alive by successive crews, photo albums, log books, mementos, art works. The Rainbow Warrior was the place where a young leukemia victim in the Philippines chose to go as her dying wish, and passed away on board, the victim of groundwater contamination the Warrior had fought against. On the Warriors of the past marriages were made, children were conceived, love was found and lost. Life here has an intensity that makes for lifelong bonds -- you risk your lives together simply by being at sea, then add to that the pressure of challenging the Goliaths of planetary destruction and the corporate, government, and military might with which they battle back. More than one eye aboard this ship was blackened, figuratively or literally, as our non-violence protests were met with force.

But in our collective memory there is also laughter -- unscrubbed stories which take the burnish off our halos.  Like how we discovered, on replacing the engine on the first Rainbow Warrior, that the lubricant in the original drive shaft had been whale oil. Or how one of our green recruits, sent ashore for supplies, tied his inflatable tight to the wharf, forgetting the tide was high, and came back hours later to find his boat hanging four meters in the air.

As we travel from our current berth in Hamburg on to Amsterdam, London, Stockholm, Marseilles, Genoa, and Barcelona, we'll be looking to bring you more of those stories. This tour is about learning the ship, putting her through some rigorous trials, and making port visits until the crew is ready for action. And while we're at it, we'd like to bring you aboard to learn about life below the decks and behind the scenes. We hope you enjoy. Are we sitting comfortably? Good. Then let's begin.

Keep up to date on the Maiden voyage by "Liking" the New Hands on Deck Facebook page. Catch our web video series "Stories from the Rainbow Warrior" and see the maiden voyage through the eyes of our newest activists, the New Hands on Deck follow their updates onFacebook and Twitter and Flickr.