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