Keeping them moving on

by Guest Blogger

January 19, 2006

For the past several days, since the African Queen had the harpoon fired over her and the rope came down into the boat, the fleet has broken up and the mothership has picked up and run around erratically, as we’ve seen before. We have not had to launch the inflatables because the seas have been up and rough, which isn’t good for hunting whales nor driving small boats.

So it is as before: right when we needed it we get a break to get some rest and make repairs, and although that means the ship is bobbling around, it’s a very welcome development.

Why did they pack up and run? Who knows, but it does fit a kind of pattern we’ve seen. After the first two days of action, where the Kyo Maru rubbed sides with the Esperanza, we made it hell for them to do transfers and then we showed them the sprayer invention and the fact that they couldn’t shake us in the ice because of the jetdrives, they raised tail and ran for a while, perhaps to give things a think and talk to their handlers back home after the story hit large in the press. When they did resume whaling they stayed out of the ice but we stayed out in front of the harpooners. They attempted the transfer of whale meat to the Oriental Bluebird which earned that ship a new paintjob, then the Nisshin Maru intentionally collided with the Arctic Sunrise and the Sea Shepherds appeared. Again the story went wide and again they packed it up and ran, perhaps to have another think? The third (and last) time they restarted their efforts they seemed intent on whaling regardless of our presence, until the harpoon crossed over a boat and again there was intense coverage.

Perhaps now they’ve decided to wait until we chose to leave, as we’ve made it known before that we haven’t intended to stay with them the whole season, for practical considerations.

If so, I take it as a huge victory in terms of action tactics: they couldn’t intimidate us out of the effort down here and, perhaps under a spotlight a bit too intense for them, had to cease whaling? For the first time they can’t outrun us, can’t outmaneuver us, and, forced to carry on their work in front of us, can’t hide the graphic truth of their activities from coming to light.

While there is no way to know for sure about any of this, the fact remains that they have stopped whaling and that was our goal.

61 days we’ve been at sea, 28 of which we’ve been with the fleet. I haven’t done a count of how many of those days with the fleet were days where we launched the boats, but I expect it may be roughly half, at one point sustained everyday for a week. It has been quite a haul but again I’m just amazed at the tenacity of the crews down here and their focus and determination, and their ability to remain inventive and actually improve our equipment when making repairs. We’ve broken every boat we’ve launched at some point, but all save one will still be running when we return to port (hell, I won’t be surprised if they find a way to get that one back on line too) and there have been no major injuries.

I’m not sure exactly what will happen next, but will write more later then things become clear. It appears we will return to Cape Town eventually after all, because of the demands on these ships for their next endeavors. At this time, however, I’m not sure of the expected schedule and above all on this trip, I’ve learned that you can only take it day to day because the unexpected seems to happen here as the rule.

-Nathan 

(photo ©Greenpeace/Sutton-Hibbert)

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