by Shea Mke
January 26, 2012
Shea Mke is a Greenpeace volunteer and current deckhand on the new Rainbow Warrior. She boarded when the ship began its trans-Atlantic journey to begin its maiden US voyage. Shea originally posted this on her blog.
Unaware of the time change that had taken place, I thought it was nearing on 18:00 and time for the daily rendezvous and number of us have made habit of to watch the sunset from the bridge deck. Off by an hour but completely content to sit and watch the horizon turn into cotton candy puffs of pink and purple clouds, I was in the perfect place when Lila came out from the bridge pointing to port and exclaiming that there were whales.
Dan slowed the ship and made an announcement over the PA so the rest of the crew could partake in such a treasured and rare occasion. For the next twenty minutes or so we watched the whales occasionally surface and blow air creating huge swaths of glassing rings on the water in their wake. How beautiful and magnificent!
Surely inspired by the whales earlier, Pete, our Captain who’s been with Greenpeace since the early days, announced during dinner that he’d be hosting storytelling session of Whale Stories on the bridge at 19:30. I believe our whole crew of 16 packed into the bridge when the time rolled around, though it’s hard to be sure as all of the lights are off and my night vision isn’t quite honed yet. Regardless, there were a bunch of us packed into the bridge and for the next couple of hours we all sat and stood in the dark silence listening to Pete as he spun two great stories.
The first story was at the beginning of his career with Greenpeace and aboard theat the time newRainbow Warrior I. Having quickly become the Captain of the ship, Pete told of one of the first anti-whaling actions he partook in which resulted in six people being left on the Soviet shore while the Soviet police tried to chase down the Rainbow Warrior via two military ships and a helicopter. They made it safely back to Alaska before being captured and were able to get the film they had shot of the illegal atrocities processed and publicized exposing the USSR for the illegal whaling that it had been conducting and also getting the 6 crew freed from jail. What a thriller!
The second story was one in which I’d heard bits and pieces of before, yet to hear the emotional story directly from someone who had been there, let alone the Captain, was pretty incredible. Pete shared the story of how the French government bombed the Rainbow Warrior I in a New Zealand port, killing one crew member on board and sinking the ship. Instead of retelling the story, I’ll urge you to watch this video and let Pete tell you himself: