Infinity: Back in Wellington with the Duke

Infinity is a fully equipped 36-meter sailing expedition vessel and was involved in the east cape flotilla which successfully confronted Petrobras in 2011. Currently on her way to Antarctica, Infinity is travelling via the east coast of the South Island to bear witness to the exploratory actions of Texan oil giant Anadarko which threaten our oil free seas.

Infinity is currently anchored just outside Wellington after having to run from a storm on the 9th. Since the last blog entry we have been following the Duke (the vessel currently partaking in the seismographic research) day and night. The crew has been amazing, tacking and gybing endlessly to stay within sight of the vessel whilst also staying outside her 500m exclusion zone. It hasn’t been easy, especially when the wind picked up and the seas increased.

On the night of the 8th the weather started to turn bad, we had a forecast saying the wind was meant to pick up to around 30 knots. The Duke must have had a more up to date forecast though as on the morning of the 9th we saw them steaming away to the west towards Wellington at a speed that we could not match. We started following but the wind picked up still and made life on board a bit tricky as we were rolling violently, crew members trying to rest after their long night shifts were startled to find themselves in midair flying out of their bunks! The captain made a decision to head west as well to seek the shelter of the South Island until the storm passed. The Duke with its up to date weather forecast was prepared for this storm but we were not aware that we where in for up to 50 knots sustained wind, it would have been nice of them to give fellow mariners a heads up, we guess we must have ruffled their feathers!

We sailed for the rest of the day in the rough conditions with just the mizzen double reefed and the staysail up and this carried us through the choppy seas at around 7 knots till we reached anchorage just before nightfall. All crew were glad to be out of the storm and also to hear some more news about the Duke that had arrived in Wellington.

We learnt that in this storm the Duke had lost some of its gear essential to their research. It is still unclear as to what they lost but the most likely would be the device that is trailed behind them. Yet another example of how ill prepared oil companies are for the heavy weather that can occur in the oceans off New Zealand… If a 40-50 knot storm can make a large vessel loose its gear and have to run for shelter then its hard to believe that in a storm that can be twice as strong that any vessel could be out their operating safely, both for its crew and for the New Zealand waters.

Infinity is currently getting ready to depart and head back into the research area in order to find the Duke and to await the rest of the flotilla to come out and show the support of NZ’s communities against Anadarko and deep sea oil drilling off its coast. While at anchor we have made a few changes to the ship to make it more comfortable in heavy weather whilst at sea.

The whole crew is excited to be out sailing again and cannot wait for the flotilla to come and show its support against the survey going on.