December 16, 2007
Aboard The Steve Irwin 1500hrs Sunday 16th of December 2007
Up at 7:40am, my cabin is cold, ice circles the rim of my porthole, a blanket of fog surrounds the ship and finally I've acclimatized to the waves that either rock me to sleep or slap me silly against my bunk like Possidon's plaything. This morning I literally tumble out of bed and as we pitch and roll I focus on the pretence of having sea legs… toss, throw, fall, toss, roll, stagger, stagger and crawl just to put on my crew shirt and beanie. Bloody hilarious… minimum grooming with maximum effort achieved I step crisscross and crazy up the stairs to do a four-hour bridge watch.
We have long since sailed through the eerie fog of the Antarctic convergence to the furthest most southern part of this beautiful Earth to the ice-laden coast of Antarctica. There are forty of us from ten different countries aboard this 180 foot black pirate ship, warm on the inside, steel cold on the out. It feels so good to be alive, to be on this journey, to be here with this eclectic bunch… what an awesome crew and captain, I can't help but be proud.
Each day is a day closer to finding the Japanese fleet with a whole crew of determination, guts and tenacity; our ultimate goal is to shut down their operation completely. We are searching… stalking the Antarctic coast of ice-shelves, pack-ice, ice-fields, ice-floes, ice-burgs, ice-cakes, pancakes, shuga, growlers and bergy-bits (I'm now the ships ice expert… been studying). We are here for as long as it takes to fulfill our mission.
My crewmates on the bridge are Peter Hammarstedt from Sweden , who is the ships second officer, and Carly McDermott, an Australian and oceanic first-timer like myself. Carly and I are both Quarter Masters. Sounds cool aye… even though the other crewmembers call us bridge weenies our great bridge lord “The Hammer” calls us the bridge warriors. It's our job to watch… literally, anything and everything out in front, behind and around the ship; to log our co-ordinates, the fuel and water usage, and any incidents of importance. If we hit an ice-burg, it's our fault. Bugger that. So the correct lingo is imperative… “Bergy-bit off bow, 30 degrees to port, 150 meters”, that basically means there's a giant chunk of ice the size of a truck heading toward the front left side of the ship… so to us we feel somewhat important.
The journey down to the southern ocean has been harsh for a lot of the crew, twelve days later and seasickness still assaults an unfortunate few. For the first five days my head throbbed, my stomach turned against me, and all I wished for was sleep… Seasickness, it's likened to being in a washing machine… on board we have our own cleansing cycle, and what was I thinking? I set out to start this campaign on a detox… I'm already with the program. All meals onboard are vegan and our chief cooks, Pottsy and Zin, and our galley wenches, are worshiped by us all. Meals are generally followed by poker, chess, pirate or activist videos and Rob Longstaff sing-alongs… Rob has written a Sea Shepherd sea-shanty that has us passionately singing along like the rowdy and raucous bunch of pirates we are.
It's taken me a while to get used to my new home, I've finally started writing the songs for the new album and have come up with a great new track, one more day and all the parts will be finished. I love it, I love writing and finally I have the time and plenty of inspiration to do so. I've also assigned myself to being Auntie Mihi, not that everyone's adopted the notion yet. Auntie Mihi is the gossip columnist of the ships daily newsletter “the Scuttlebutt” Hee hee hee… never let the truth get in the way of good story… it's just a bit of fun really… a bit of trashy gos about the crew is great, far more juicy than the mainstream trash mags… The Captain is chief writer and editor of course…. he writes all the serious stuff.
Yesterday being in calm waters… the Captain, true to his sense of adventure, unpredictability and uncanny sixth-sensed of foresight (I do insist that he has psychic abilities but he doesn't believe in esoteric bulls--t)… suggested that we take off in the helicopter to shoot some video footage for “No War”. I wasn't really prepared for the call but I wasn't going to argue either.
It was the perfect day; the sun beamed his gold upon the crystals of glowing white and the contrasting stoney blue and light turquoise of the Antarctic water cradled our majestic black ship beneath an imposing white ice-burg… 150 feet high, one kilometer long, half a kilometer wide… The footage is absolutely stunning! The feeling was ethereal and the experience such a privileged opportunity…
I can't describe what being on top of the Ice-burg was like… To experience Nature like this is truly humbling. My gratitude will eternally linger beyond words, beyond imaginative description. I can't wait to share our creation with the rest of the world. The song and video will raise the awareness of Sea Shepherds Antarctic campaign and the resource exploitation that could potentially destroy this pristine environment.
Down here the birds of this ocean don't flap… they glide with the winds and skim the waves with the tips of their wings, their grace and elegance easing the stark contrast of the mishmash blue squally. Curiosity keeps the albatross close and I can't help but be in awe of their skill and jealous of their freedom. Here we are out on the ocean and its vast immensity pulls me out into its full extent but then I turn inward and can't help but feel the cramped confines of not just the ship but the isolation of humanity from the freedom of Nature.
As isolated as we are, we are constantly being lead, followed or surrounded. The albatross and petrel are constant familiar, dolphins have surfed the wake of the ships bow, a penguin flip flopps off-balance backihng off a burgy-bit stumbling stunned by our ships ginormousness… cute. And so early into the journey we have sighted a large pod of Minke Whales. They are so impressive, as least six breached up and out of the water, others spy hoped checking us out as the rest just cruised past spurting fountains along the horizon.
My heart fluctuated between bursting and collapsing, it really hit home… these beautiful beings are our clients, victims of a gruesome nightmare caricatured by an indifferent heartless few. Their naiveté of the imminent slaughter approaching is heartbreaking, their numbers and unity gives a false sense of bravado and hope. But if one is killed they will all stick together with the one they have lost and each be killed themselves.
To Tangaroa, God of the Sea, to Tawhirimatea, God of the winds, and to Kewa, the Whale God… protect our friends, guide them and keep them safe and away from the whaling fleet. We are doing the best we can but it won't feel like it's enough until the Japanese hunt is shut down.
We are here with the intention to bring this inhumane slaughter to an end. The harvesting of “produce” for the superficial pallet of a so-called intelligent superior few belittles humanity. Blatantly using a loophole to harvest whale meat under the auspice of “scientific research” belittles science. By the time our self-serving governments bantering is taken seriously and political bouts of righteousness are acted out to save face… we get closer and closer to an unbalanced, un-Natural world. At times it's hard to believe that I belong to the perpetrating species, trading Nature like she's some insignificant whore. Back alley pimps and prostitutes have more rights than She who is the greatest self-sacrificing giver of all. Damn hominid stupidity!
How can we prove that not all of humanity has gone insane? Can we be heroes? As much as I'd like to kid myself with the romantic notion… unfortunately we have no extraordinary gifts, we definitely don't possess superhuman strength, we don't wield any powerful weapons, we're not committing an act of gallantry and there are no rewards for outstanding achievement. We are here within the deterring restraints of the law… but yes we have passion and we have the emotional and intellectual intelligence to know what is humane. It feels “natural” to protect and defend “Nature”, it feels right, it feels urgent and it is absolutely necessary. Fools? Yeup… why not? I'd rather be a fool and be free of the restraints of conformity or gagged by the sickness of complacency… we are here simply to do the best we can to defend and protect Nature against Natures worst enemy…
Every Whale is an individual… each a unique personality of Nature.