First contact

by Guest Blogger

December 21, 2005

The 12 to 4 watch, normally just Naomi and Hana. But tonight several others were on the bridge to admire penguins standing on a nearby chunk of ice. We were near the ice edge, in a field of large icebergs with lots of smaller bits littering the water. Everyone was on a sharp lookout for dangers to navigation as well as wildlife. Naomi pointed to a distant whale blow, which Nathan checked out through binoculars. Seconds later he was saying, "Am I hallucinating, or is that a ship?"

It was indeed a ship. Very far off. Just on the visual horizon. Drifting. As yet, unidentified. The time was shortly before 2:00 a.m.

The whaling fleet consists of three hunter ships, a factory ship, and two spotter (observation) ships that range far from the others. The spotter vessels are used to chart the ice edge, look for whales, make observations, and (in the past) track Greenpeace ships so the rest of the fleet can avoid us and keep working.

This one is a spotter vessel. The last thing we wanted to find, or rather, the last thing that we wanted to find us. By the time we are close enough for a positive ID, they have surely seen us. Frank (captain), now on the bridge, immediately called for the helicopter crew (already awake and standing by) to get aloft to look for the rest of the fleet. Engineers were also woken, to prepare for maximum speed. Spare hands scanned the horizon.

Game on, advantage whalers.

(Post written 3:40 a.m. ship time)

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