Short, Sweet and Powerful: The Otago Flotilla

The drill ship the Noble Bob Douglas, also know as the Noble Dirty Bob, seemed to arrive right on schedule. You could see the drill rig sticking out over the horizon 20 miles away and it only took a few hours for them to arrive at the drill site that we had been occupying for most of the day with the two protests yachts.

One of the Noble Bob’s escort offshore supply vessels was sent out ahead to try to intimidate us and chase us off the drilling spot. They did this by coming slowly closer and closer until they were about 100 meters away and in the end I bluntly asked the skipper if he was planning to just ram us? He came back saying “no, no” – he was only wanting to park a bit further down! Why he had to get so close to us to do this I still don’t understand!

We then had a long VHF conversation with the Master of the Noble Bob Douglas where all of our five speakers had a good go at putting their argument forward. We let the crew of the Noble Bob understand that NO they were not welcome here and could they please turn back?

For me the speech that cut right to the heart was from 17 year old Toria Fyfe, from Quarantine Island. She spoke so well as she explained that it was her generation that will have to deal with the worst of climate change if we keep this run away oil driven economic model going.

The Reverend Peter Mathewson also had a few choice words to say, including expressing the hope that the bottom may fall out of their boat (without anybody getting hurt of course!) – my thoughts exactly Reverend.

The last speaker was Brendan Flack, who lives on the coast directly in front of the drill rig and will probably be able to see it from his front door when he gets home. He told them that the local Iwi was never asked if it was OK to drill in their waters, and that he did not want them there. He pointed out the extremely unusual sight of a very large flock of albatross sitting on the water right there, blocking the way of the NBD in its approach to the drilling site which they should take that as a strong sign and leave the area.

Lots of good words were being said by everybody but all we got in response from the Master of the Noble Bob was the standard replies of “no comment” and “please contact the Anadarko representative Mr Alan Seay or head office in Texas for more information” followed by “we are proceeding to drill, please do not interfere” – we all would have loved to interfere and possibly stop their actual operation if we only could.

There is a sense of helplessness in all of thi, but we have to persevere and make the break from our terrible oil addiction. I reckon if petrol cost $20 or $30 at the pump (as it really should if we factored in some of the cost of climate change) then we would quickly find new ways of getting around and doing business. Humans are a resourceful lot but maybe not resourceful enough to deal with climate change in the way that it is starting to shape up, that is if we don’t make some drastic changes quick.

We got back into port to a warm welcome on the wharf at 8am the morning after confronting Anadarko and there were even some hardcore supporters waving from the shore banners at 07am as we sailed up the harbour! I’m looking forward to seeing many more banners this Saturday down at St Clair beach and all over the South Island – you can find out more about Banners on the Beach here:https://www.facebook.com/events/183243645218500/

Let’s keep the pressure on.
Cheers
Henk

Otago community leaders Torea Scott Fyffe, Waiariki Parata-Taiapa, Niamh O'Flynn, Peter Matheson, Bob Lloyd and Brendan Flack stand aboard the sailing vessell Tiama in front of the drill ship the Noble Bob Douglas.

Otago community leaders Torea Scott Fyffe, Waiariki Parata-Taiapa, Niamh O’Flynn, Peter Matheson, Bob Lloyd and Brendan Flack stand aboard the sailing vessell Tiama in front of the drill ship the Noble Bob Douglas.

The sailing vessel Tiama in front of the drill support vessel the Hart Tide.

The sailing vessel Tiama in front of the drill support vessel the Hart Tide.