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.
I’m on the SV Tiama, a 50 ft cutter-rigged steel sloop built by skipper Henk, veteran of many campaigns. With us is Bunny from Greenpeace, Barclay who will make a sailor of me by the end of the voyage, and Pascale from Canada with the camera and the laptop. Later tonight we will pick up two more before heading out to the site 120 miles west of Raglan where Texas oil giant Anadarko has been invited, nay begged, even subsidised, by our government to try a repeat exercise of what went wrong in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.
The Baltazar is sailing with us, skippered by Andy Whittaker, and we plan to rendezvous on Saturday on site with four other boats which left from Auckland, Bay of Islands and Bluff.
Anadarko says that coming out to their drilling site is dangerous. Yeah, right. Who’s causing the danger, drilling under 1500 m of water, knowing the very similar Macondo Prospect they part-owned in the Gulf of Mexico blew out, spewing 650,000 tonnes of oil?
If that happened here, it would take weeks for emergency clean up equipment to arrive from overseas. While we waited the oil would spread, contaminating our coast from Taranaki to the Hokianga and poisoning the whole marine web of life: including our fisheries, seabirds, whales, the Maui dolphin and coastal communities.
We really are sailing on behalf of hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders who would like to deliver a message to Anadarko that they are not welcome to drill under our ocean. They can’t go themselves because of jobs, children and other commitments but we have the privilege of representing them.
We also sail on behalf of all our grandchildren – the generations already born and still to come who will have to live with extreme weather events, food and water shortages, constantly rising sea level and new pests and diseases if we go on burning the fossil fuels that are changing our climate.
Wellington has turned on one of its special days – sunshine and a light wind and a following sea, so we’ve had a delightful afternoon powering along under renewable energy. It’s such a cruisey sail they’ve even let me take the tiller.
Now we are just passing the Makara wind farm – the best view I’ve ever had of it. How could any one not think they were beautiful?
New Zealand is so blessed with renewable energy alternatives, it is just daft to explore for more fossil fuels when we know burning them will wreck the future for everyone.