Thanks to the generosity of the Sea Shepherd crew there have been a whirlwind of great events around the city in the past 24 hours, beginning with an open-air forum at Parliament on Friday afternoon, ahead of the Steve Irwin docking at 5.30pm.
Today, I went for a stroll and took a young friend of mine to hear Captain Paul Watson speak at Chicago Bar, then we took the opportunity to take a tour of the Steve Irwin itself.
I’ve also had the priviledge to have visited the Rainbow Warrior II twice in my life, in 2002 and 2008, so I had a bit of a comparison going on in my head as I looked to see what an anti-whaling ship looks like.
It was great to see the safety gear, winches and small craft on the foredeck as we entered the ship; after a quick intro on the bow deck, we went up to the top of the ship and viewed the helicopter deck – one of the smallest helipads I’ve ever seen! Certainly made Helipro’s accommodations on the wharf beside us look very lavish.
Then it was down to the bow again, inside the ship to see the Bridge – again, bristling with safety gear, communications and navigation gear, just as you would expect from a ship sailing challenging international waters continuously. The feature that departs from most maritime standards is the discrete collection of inspirational art scattered around the bridge – images and representations of whales and dolphins, sculptures and even a special little carved wooden piece from the Dalai Llama.
Having heard about how the ship began with a substantial gift from a certain Bob Parker, after whom the ship was originally named and registered in London, we were told that the ship was re-named the Steve Irwin in recognition of the Australian wildlife conservator, who was also a significant benefactor of Sea Shepherd organisation – and advised that if anyone wished to make a substantial gift, they’d pretty happily name a ship after that person, too. Cue grins all round.
We then travelled down through the interior of the ship to the crew quarters, where a short video was shown in the mess room. I took the opportunity to have a quick look at the Galley, which is really well kitted-out to feed a crew of vegetarians who need solidly well-prepared meals to counter-act the rigors of antarctic campaigning. Everything was very well-organised and ‘ship-shape’, I can report. Our guide on the tour had already informed us that they have had one supply consignment of vegetables quarantined, so they’ve been using the galley a bit less than in usual while they’ve been in port.
If you are interested in supporting their efforts to get the Government to do something about whaling, or you’d like to see if you can help in any other way, you can contact the New Zealand Sea Shepherd supporters at firstname.lastname@example.org
There’s the ubiquitous Facebook Group – “New Zealand Sea Shepherd” .
Also have a look at the new campaign on the Greens website, send John Key an e-card or a postcard – Take Your Head out of the Sand, John, You Can’t Save Whales by Killing Them. On the whaling page here
Captain Paul Watson speaking at Chicago Bar
Banner for Pete Bethune
Crowds queueing to go onboard
Crew mess onboard Steve Irwin
Crew lounge area
Crew lounge where video was shown