Waiting for Bob

Out on the Tasman it is still, sunny and calm. The water has been so flat lately that, ironically, it’s technically known as “oily seas” because there’s a sheen over the water. Take note of this though because it’s the only time you’ll ever see me happy with oily seas!

The SV Tiama awaits the Noble Bob Douglas at the deep sea drill-site about 110NM West of Raglan

This morning as we all sat on Vega having cups of tea and eating chocolate biscuits a very large right whale breached and wandered through the middle of the boats. It stopped the conversation in its tracks as we all stood open-mouthed, pointing.

This is also a very popular area for sharks (with their fins on) which has put a few people off swimming but did not dampen Barclay Armstrong’s standup paddling spirit as he took his board and visited the circle of boats as the sun set yesterday evening.

Out here we’ve been joined by seabirds, sharks, whales, seals and barracuda – it’s clearly an area of ocean very much alive both on top and underneath. That’s why we’re here, to keep it that way.

It really is a spectacularly beautiful site and it’s amazingly encouraging to see all this beautiful wildlife. This goes for not only the massive ocean behemoths we’ve seen but right through to the less ‘glamorous’ ocean creatures.

At night, sitting on watch under a full moon with the nav lights on the masts of the five boats spread out in the dark, it really makes you feel like you are at the centre of something. On nights like this, you can see a whole array of jellyfish, which look their most splendid in the moonlight, and make you feel as if you are actually in outer space rather than in the Tasman sea.

There are really a lot of similarities between deep space and the deep sea. We know very little about these places and  we have yet to discover and learn so much about them. While we still only know a tiny amount of the beauty that exists out here, it’s clear that even from just what we’ve seen since the flotilla launched that the value of an oil free sea goes far beyond the short term gains of risky drilling.

While it’s easy to get caught up with thoughts like this, we have to remember to keep our focus and sharp look out at night to  make sure we all dont drift into each other or there is not suddenly a giant blob on the horizon, all lit up and heading our way.

Of course that’s why we’re out here, not to enjoy the beauty of the Tasman but to keep it oil free and pristine for generations to come.

Interest on land is clearly growing and we’ve been doing a lot of media calls today; Radio Live!, ABC and others have been in touch and the Banners on the Beach event on the West coast this Saturday is really gaining traction we hear.

Tomorrow the big bad (ig)Noble Bob might decide to show his face and find that 6 little yachts, backed with a great following on land have beaten Anadarko to where they’re planning to start their risky drilling.

Bunny McDiarmid

Video Blog Eight: First day sailing

The crew on the Tiama talk about the campaign as they gain their sea legs.

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Video Blog Seven: The Wellington Departure

Tiama and Balthazar depart from Wellington with former member of Parliament Jeanette Fitzsimons and Greenpeace Executive Director Bunny McDiarmid

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PRESS RELEASE: Capital city farewells people’s flotilla

The last of the Oil Free Seas Flotilla boats leaves port from Wellington’s Queens Wharf on Thursday 14 November at 12noon.

There will be speeches by Members of Parliament, Ora Taiao and Oil Free Wellington. Jeanette Fitzsimons and Bunny McDiarmid will also speak; the two women will be sailing with the flotilla to confront Anadarko’s oil drilling ship over 100 nautical miles off the west coast of New Zealand.

“Jeanette and I are honoured to be sailing with the Oil Free Seas Flotilla in keeping with our country’s long tradition of peaceful protest at sea.

“We’re sailing not just to protect our beaches, and our oceans, but also to protect our nation’s economy. Our own clean-tech energy companies could provide a multi-billion dollar boost and thousands of jobs for New Zealand. But the government is instead backing oil companies like Anadarko, which makes little economic sense,” said Bunny McDiarmid, the executive director of Greenpeace.

Texan oil company Anadarko is due to start drilling around the middle to the end of November, using the previously untested drill ship the Nobel Bob Douglas.

The flotilla, made up of 6 boats, is a loose association of individuals and boat owners who oppose deep-sea drilling and the new legislation that takes away New Zealander’s long-standing right to peacefully protest at sea. One of the boats taking part, the Vega, also sailed against French nuclear tests in the Pacific.

“We love New Zealand, and this country is what it is because kiwis have stood up for what we believe in. I was on board the SV Vega protesting against French nuclear testing in the Pacific in the 70’s. Nuclear testing in the Pacific wasn’t right and deep-sea oil drilling in the Tasman is not right either. We will not be bullied into submission by big oil or dubious laws,” said Anna Horne of Oil Free Seas Flotilla.

Earlier this year, the Government announced a controversial new law to ban aspects of protesting at sea, known as the ‘Anadarko Amendment’.

“By being there we are saying to Anadarko that they are not welcome here doing this kind of activity. This law suits the suits, but not the environment and the wishes of the people of New Zealand” said Anna Horne.

The Wellington event is planned to run as follows. We invite everyone to bring a banner and come along.

10am                             Boats arrive

10.30 – 11:45am            Music

11.45 – 12.30pm            Speeches

12.30pm                         Boats Depart

Link to the Oil free Seas Flotilla website with daily video blogs:

http://oilfreeseasflotilla.org.nz/

ENDS

Contact information:

Anna Horne, Spokesperson for the Oil Free Sea Flotilla, 021 0222 1389

Ana Mules, communications officer, Greenpeace: +64 21 2609186 ana.mules@greenpeace.org

Steve Abel, energy campaigner, Greenpeace: +64 21 927301 steve.abel@greenpeace.org

Video Blog Five: The Ratbag leaves Opua

As the SV Ratbag launches from Opua, the skipper Chris Davenport has some inspiring words to say.

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Video Blog Four: The Auckland Sendoff

The fourth video in the series sees us in Auckland for the launch of the SV Vega, SV Friendship and SV Shearwater II.

As Steve Abel said on the day, “The importance of standing in defence of our oceans and our coastlines against the great and unnecessary risks of deep sea oil drilling could not be greater than it is at this time in history because there is no future in oil – we need to choose a future based on clean energy.”

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Video Blog Three: Paihia

Video blog 3 finds us on the streets of Paihia where a few people told us what they thought as a local boat called Ratbag prepared to join the Oil Free Seas Flotilla.


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Video Blog Two: Tiama in Kaikoura

In the second of our series of video blogs, we get to see the Tiama calling in to Kaikoura to pick up crew before heading to Wellington to meet the rest of the flotilla.

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