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Life on the Arctic Sunrise (For me anyway)

by Dan Howells

August 16, 2010

This is my first Greenpeace expedition and I’m barely into to it so the many old salts out there try not to have a laugh at my expense or do so anyway, it’s OK. But here are some first impressions.

Cleaning Toilets: There seems to be a mystique about being on a Greenpeace ship and for good reason. The Rainbow Warrior was sunk for protesting nuclear weapons, the ships have challenged whaling, they’ve been to the ends of the Earth and many places in between, and they are a huge platform for the work we do and the places we want to save. But we all still have to clean the toilets. And swab the deck (yes we do that). Wipe down the showers, sort the recycling, the crew is constantly doing maintenance, there’s often safety drills, laundry has to be done… All the while running the campaigns and doing the work we set out to do from the ship.

the messThe Mess: It’s where we eat and no it is not messy. Actually we all work hard to keep it anything but. We have a fabulous cook and a new assistant cook (me, even though I am not much of a cook but can chop a mean veggie). But being part of this kinda important aspect of ship life, people gotta to eat, has given me an expanded view of what it’s like to be on the ship. The Mess is becoming a part of me and my pride in the ship. I don’t want to see debris on the floor or tables nor cleaned dishes laying about. A dirty Mess does not make me happy where 48 hours ago it meant a bit less to me. The Mess is now part of my home. I see this pride in the Arctic Sunrise in the crew as well while they tend to the functions of ship.

The Work: There is always something to tighten up, something to paint, something to wipe down. I started today cleaning toilets, went to the kitchen (I did wash my hands) to help, sent Willie, hung some laundry, had a campaign call and sent some campaign emails, went back to the kitchen to help Willie, did an interview with Time magazine, threw a rope to one of our RHIBS, saw a friend off to hopefully a good result, set up a science briefing, held a campaign huddle, and am now writing this blog. Of course I’m doing this from the deck of the Arctic Sunrise watching lightning off in the distance and discussion campaign strategy with Paul Horsman.

First impressions are that being on the ship is a lot of work. It’s good work but it’s also the day to day of keeping the ship and crew and yourself happy, healthy, and able. It’s a long Greenpeace tradition of working off the ships to expose the truth about issues we care about. Now here we are working with independent scientists to expose the truth of Deepwater Horizon disaster and all the other fossil fuel disasters happening all around us. Life on the Arctic Sunrise isn’t a pleasure cruise by any means, but by all means its a pleasure being here doing the work we do.

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