Calm seas and a false alarm

Daniel at the Helm of Vega

It’s lunchtime and we are visiting Tiama, Jeanette and I and having some lunch and doing some emails. Well actually Jeanette is making the lunch and I am doing the emails.

It was once again a beautiful night, clear skies, flat seas, we are rolling a bit though so sleeping is a bit of a roly, poly affair and you need to stuff clothes and gear around you to keep you in one spot.

This morning it was overcast but has now cleared and is sunny again! Apparently there is only a 2% chance of getting this kind of flat calm weather in the Tasman and I think we are using up the whole 2% this week, as its supposed to last a few more days.

Early this morning we were alerted to the fact that one of the support vessels for the drill-ship Bob Douglas, the Hart Tide, was on its way and we figured it might signal the imminent arrival of the drill-ship.

It turned out to be a false alarm after the Hart Tide turned around and vanished back over the horizon after a short while but it sure put a jolt through the crew and got us thinking clearly about where we are and exactly why we’re here.

We are right now on the site, at the place that Anadarko intends to drill a big hole in the seabed in some of our deepest coastal waters in search of more oil. Finding oil won’t make a scrap of difference to the price we pay at the pump but will make a big difference to our climate and wastes yet another opportunity to invest in the kind of clean energy and tech that will give us a fighting chance in the global economy of the 21st century.

This is desperate extreme frontier drilling – like drilling in the Arctic. The sort of drilling that used to be uneconomic due to the high level of risk, but now the big oil companies are increasingly willing to take more risk.

But the real risk is taken by us, not by Anadarko. A spill here could devastate NZ’s marine environment, our good reputation as a clean producer that is the bedrock of our economy – and also our very way of life.

If things go wrong here, oil could flow into the ocean unchecked for weeks on end and wash up on beaches on much of the North Island’s west coast.

So we’ll stay here as long as we can.

Bunny McDiarmid

Co-Skippers of the Vega, Daniel Mares and Inigo Wijnen, en route to the drilling area from Auckland.

Enroute from Wellington to the flotilla renzezvous point

Slept like a log last night, my watch finished at midnight, my eyes closed and brain switched off
at 5 past. This morning I woke to us motoring because there was very little wind. But when I popped my head outside, right there only 15 miles across the water was the truly majestic Mount Taranaki with a ring of cloud at its base and a white cap. It looks like it has risen straight up out of the sea.

It was a beautiful site, and I was struck by how lucky we all are to live in such a place with mountains and coasts like we have, and what a responsibility we all have to look after it, love it and pass it on in good shape to those who come after.

Looking at the land from sea is a different perspective, everything looks closer, the distance from the coast to the mountain seems almost non existent, the land really looks like it is at the mercy of the sea, very vulnerable to what the sea wants to bring ashore. Continue reading “Enroute from Wellington to the flotilla renzezvous point”

Leaving Wellington on the SV Tiama to join the flotilla


Wellington turned out a beautiful day for the send off to the last two boats, Tiama and Baltazar, joining the oil free seas flotilla today. More than a 100 people, politicians, media, musicians and lots of young people turned up to see us off which was great.

It was almost flat calm in Cooks Strait when we sailed out of the mouth of the harbour
today at around 2pm, hard to believe really, all those murderous Picton to Wellington ferry trips of my youth seemed a big fat lie of a memory.

It is now a very clear night with the familiar outline of Kapiti off the starboard bow, and wind from just the right quarter to make it almost textbook perfect sailing conditions. So a gentle start weather wise for this intrepid group today and that’s very much welcomed by those of us that need to get our sea legs back in shape and makes us feel like the sea gods are very much on our side.

We picked up Niamh and James from Otago from just off Mana Island around 8pm this evening, truly amazing that they made it, thank you everyone for making that all happen, feels so much better to have them as part of our team.

They chugged out to meet us in an oompah, oompah little motor launch with a skipper in a white captains hat and a small dog, accompanied by Mike and Hinekaa. It felt like something out of a Tintin story.

A successful end to an exciting day. We all had a dinner of hearty potato and leek soup and a sobering safety briefing from the skipper, set the sails and set our course for the spot where we will meet up with the rest of the flotilla and take it from there.

The boat is quiet now with most tucked up in their bunks reading or sleeping. We have three watches, Henk and I on the 8-12, Pascale and James on the 12-4 and Niamh and Barclay on the 4-8. Jeanette will do the 4-8 during the day.

We made it, we are on our way.

– Bunny

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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With the Anadarko Flotilla – day one


What a fabulous send off. A dozen kayakers, wearing penguin suits, lined up and waved us on our way as we left the harbour. Several small boats sailed with us. About 100 well wishers gathered on the wharf; speeches in support from Green and independent MPs, Oil Free Wellington, Ora Taiao (climate and health council); two sails spread out on the ground covered with signatures and messages in support of our mission; and home baked cookies and chocolate cake delivered to the wharf by old friends.

Continue reading “With the Anadarko Flotilla – day one”

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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