Author Archives: John Dunford

Video Blog Twenty-Two

As conditions out in the Tasman get choppier, Anadarko’s preparations for the start of drilling are intensifying. The repeatedly delayed start seems to be coming closer as the flotilla reports seeing further equipment being readied on the Noble Bob Douglas.

There are just 22 people in the Tasman as part of the Oil Free Seas flotilla but as Daniel Mares of the SV Tiama says they represent the views of tens of thousands on land. As Daniel says, “the fight really has to go on on land”.

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Video Blog Twenty-One

Some of the crew speak about why they are sailing with the Oil Free Seas Flotilla

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Video Blog Twenty

“Rest assured, as long as you are here in Aotearoa waters, our flotilla and our people’s voices will follow.” The skippers of the flotilla yachts send a message to the masters and crew of the Anadarko fleet. They tell them in no uncertain terms that, while there is no personal animosity towards anyone on the Andarko fleet, their drill-ship and their intentions to drill in the deep seas of the Tasman – are not welcome.

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Video Blog Nineteen

“Let’s keep it up and be seen and be heard” Messages from the flotilla to everyone back on land, supporting the Banners on the Beach events taking place across New Zealand on Saturday the 23rd of November

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Update from inside the exclusion zone

Day twelve at sea for the Vega, day seven on the drill site, day four bearing witness alongside the Bob Douglas.

The tracks on our AIS (ships digital identification) screens show heavy black scribble lines back and forth on all sides of the Noble Bob Douglas, indicating our whereabouts over the last four days. We are often close enough to the Bob Douglas to see people on board. Some even wave back!

The SV Vega holds her ground near the drill ship the Noble Bob Douglas.

We are thinking of ways to be able to talk to the crews of the Noble Bob Douglas and the supply ships, rather than just to the captains. We want to make sure they know why we’re here – that’s its not personal – we’re here to send a message to Anadarko and to our government that deep sea oil drilling in New Zealand waters is an unnecessary risk: for our coastlines, our economy and our climate.

Minister Bridges’ statements about putting the industry through the wringer and having an EPA rigorously checking that the oil industry has the right response plan in place is unfortunately proving to be the sham we all feared it was.

They have not started drilling yet but there’s lots of activity happening: supply vessels coming alongside, divers in baskets being
lowered by cranes onto the supply vessels, a lot of noise and at night it’s lit up like a Christmas tree.

We are in a kind of rhythm here now on Vega. We’ve settled into night watches, day watches and meals schedules. We have got used to seeing each other in pretty much the same clothes every day. A bucket bath is the ticket for both the crew and the deck, where the tea bag drips are evidence of hasty late night cups of tea – made between our tacks alongside the Bob Douglas.

We are getting more imaginative with our cooking as the fresh supplies dwindle. But rest assured there is no shortage of good food on board, and far too much chocolate and time to eat it for all people!

The weather again is unbelievable good after a few days of flop and chop. The clear sky and moon at night allow us to
see the friendly outline of our fellow flotilla boats near us. They contrast with the big, beefy bridges of the supply ships which look a bit like bodybuilders in relation.

Its very heartening to hear of the growing numbers of communities along the coast organising for events on their beaches tomorrow. Their going to send a clear message to our Government that risky drilling is not what we want to see in our deep waters.

We have now just discovered two eggplants in the forepeak, so no more blogging for now – I’m off to prepare lunch!

– Bunny McDiarmid, Executive Director of Greenpeace NZ

Video Blog Eighteen

Greenpeace Executive Director Bunny McDiarmid speaks to the Noble Bob Douglas from the SV Vega

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‘We are making it very clear to them that they are not welcome here’

100 miles offshore from Raglan, in the Tasman sea onboard R/V Tiama

It is midnight, a dark evening, some stars, no moon. A light sailing breeze makes it easier for the 5 oil free seas flotilla boats to stay close, circling around the Anadarko drilling ship. The drilling ship sits on the very same spot that we occupied with the flotilla boats for a few days before they arrived. It was a nice peaceful place then, with lots of marine and bird life around us, now it is an industrial factory site, complete with stinking exhaust gases drifting our way, loudspeakers bellowing and the ocean lit up like downtown Auckland.

Flotilla facing the NBD

And right in front of them is the little sailing vessel Vega, doing its thing. For the last 3 days and nights she has been stalking this huge 220 meter long drilling ship, going back and forth, back and forth. Tonight during my night watch onboard Tiama I have been trying to mirror Vega’s tacks up and down along side the drill ship, albeit from a much further away. It takes Vega about 8 minutes to travel at the slowest speed they can do, from one end of the exclusion zone to the other end, then they turn around and go back the other way again for another 8 minutes.

After keeping pace with them for 2 hours I was getting very bored and slightly dizzy. I take my hat off to the crew of Vega for their stamina, keeping this up for 3 days and nights in a row, with no stopping in between. At this stage they are showing no signs of giving up either.

They always sound upbeat on the radio when we talk to them, they are living in a 500 meter bubble around the drilling ship that we, the other flotilla yachts cannot enter – the forbidden zone. One of the crew onboard the boat is Jeanette Fitzsimons, our very own peoples granny. She has been such an inspiration for all of us here, with her clear thoughts and strong stand, and she is there on Vega, doing her thing. Amazing.

We can only wave from afar and send support over the radio. In the meantime the Texan cowboys who are operating this thing pretend to be blind to the presence of little Vega in their exclusion zone and it’s just business as usual. But it’s not business as usual, not by a long shot. You can hear the tension in their voice when they are forced to talk to Vega over the radio and this strong little boat, with its staunch crew, is really a pain in the butt for them. I would not be surprised if it is actually stopping them from getting on with the actually drilling, who knows?

Some of the skippers and crew of the Oil Free Seas Flotilla have tried to ask the Texans some questions but our request are all answered with “no comment”. This brings back memories from when the US nuclear powered ship tried to enter our waters and their captains had the standard reply that they could not confirm nor deny if they had nuclear weapons onboard. This seems to be a similar story.

Anadarko is not willing to show us their oil spill response plan, what are they trying to hide? One could come to the conclusion that they cannot confirm nor deny that this whole deep sea oil drilling is a very risky operation.

Guess you just have to take their word for it that it’s safe, yeah right……

Vega and her crew are doing a fantastic job bearing witness and slowly but surely getting on the nerves of these Texan Boys who are such a long long way from home. We are making it very clear to them that they are not welcome here.

Enough ravings for one night, it is late. Good night.

– Henk, Skipper R/V Tiama

Video Blog Seventeen

Tim Foreman, skipper of the SV Friendship discusses life at sea and his views on the world’s “fossil fuel addiction”

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Images from our ‘meeting’ with the Noble Bob Douglas

Video Blog Thirteen: On SV Balthazar

Andy and Rosalind from the SV Balthazar talk about their reasons for joining the Oil Free Seas Flotilla.

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