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:

Let’s keep the pressure on.

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.

PRESS RELEASE: Anadarko Fail to Turn Up at Drill Spot as Flotilla Continue to Occupy Site

The Oil Free Seas Flotilla have successfully defended the sea above the site where oil giant Anadarko intends to start drilling.

Anadarko have so far failed to turn up at the site, despite an official ‘notice to mariners’ stating that they could have started drilling operations several days ago.

Land Information New Zealand Notices to Mariners Edition 23, dated 8 November says that ‘On or about 15 November 2013 until 14 February 2014 drilling operations will be performed by drillship Noble Bob Douglas’.

The drill site is over 100 nautical miles off the west coast of New Zealand, and in waters around a kilometer and a half deep.

The Oil Free Seas Flotilla is made up of six boats. They were cheered off by hundreds of New Zealanders from various ports earlier this week.

They are continuing to defend the site from the Noble Bob Douglas drilling ship, which has not yet been tested to drill at these depths.

Bunny McDiarmid, the executive director of Greenpeace, is onboard one of the boats. She said:

“The Texan oil giant Anadarko were supposed to start drilling days ago. But they haven’t.

“I reckon there’s something wrong with their huge, untested drilling ship, or they’re staying away while we’re right above the spot where they want to drill. Either way, it’s great to see that they’re not drilling.

“That’s great news for our seas, our beaches, and also our economy, and our children’s prosperity.”

This Saturday, New Zealanders can show their support for the flotilla by making a banner and getting down to their favourite west coast beach. There’s lots more details here.

The Oil Free Seas Flotilla 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.

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


Here’s a link to the daily video blogs:

Contact information:

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

Ana Mules, communications officer, Greenpeace: +64 21 2609186

Steve Abel, energy campaigner, Greenpeace: +64 21 927301

Daniel at the Helm of Vega
Daniel Mares at the Helm of Vega

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”

©  2022, Oil Free Seas Flotilla, Waiheke Island, New Zealand. All Rights Reserved.