After months undergoing re-fitting and maintenance in dry-dock, the Sea Shepherd flagship R/V Farley Mowat has set sail for the Galapagos.
The Farley Mowat was scheduled to have all repairs completed by the end of January, unfortunately, complications with the repairs caused many delays. It has been a long, frustrating, and costly effort to complete the required repairs to her engines.
In summary, the major problems were repairs to the shaft, variable pitch propeller and rudder. It was long past due, having not been done since the ship was purchased in July of 1997. Numerous trans-oceanic crossings and the 2003 campaign into the dangerous ice packs near Antarctica took its toll on our ship.
Engineers pulled, tested and polished the shaft; the propeller was dismantled and reassembled with new seals and the rudder was repaired. Serious complications arose with the fitting of the shaft bearings. The work was done and reassembled however upon starting the engines, the new bearings were destroyed as a a result of incorrect material used in the re-building and a misalignment of the engine. The consequence was the shaft had to be re-pulled, the damaged bearings removed, and new bearings customed made, fitted and reassembled.
Finally two and a half months after the initial scheduled completion, the job has been finished.
The good news is the Farley Mowat is ready for campaigns again. The bad news is the repairs will cost twice as much as estimated. The total drydock bill is $315,000.
We took on fuel a month and a half ago, when fuel prices were high at $1.21 per gallon. Taking on fuel early was fortunate as prices are now $1.46 a gallon. Unfortunately we still need to take on 22 barrels of lube and hydraulic oil.
Rising fuel prices promise to be our biggest obstacle for operating in the future.
The ship and crew will head directly for the Galapagos to deliver supplies to the rangers and support for our ship Sirenian, now in her 4th year of a five year campaign to patrol the Galapagos National Park and Marine Reserve.
Our biggest disappointment as a result of this mechanical set-back, was our inability to intervene against the slaughter of harp seals on the East coast of Canada. We simply do not have the time to reach the ice to intervene.
Instead, we have focused our attention on undermining markets for seal products and this has been successful. Our latest victory is that Costco Wholesale Corporation- Eastern Canada division has pulled all their baby seal oil Omega-3 capsules from their St John's Newfoundland stores,and will not restock their shelves with this product. Costco was a leading distributor of seal oil in Canada and this move represents a major economic blow to the sealing industry. Seal oil cannot be sold in the USA as this contravenes their Marine Mammal Protection Act.
The Farley Mowat will be kept in the North Atlantic for the next year in preparation to intervene against the 2005 seal slaughter.
In the meantime, after delivering the supplies to the Galapagos we will transit the Panama Canal to help with the protection of sea-turtles in the Caribbean Sea. We will then turn our attention to opposing illegal whaling by the Icelanders and the Faeroese.
We also intend to construct and deploy net cutting bottom obstructions on the Grand Banks to rip the nets of illegal bottom trawlers. These devices will be railway rails welded into giant jack like structures that will lie on the bottom to snare the bottom drag nets. The idea is to discourage destructive bottom dragging by ripping the nets open as they are dragged across the bottom.
And of course, along the way, we will intervene against any long line operations we run across and we will confiscate and destroy any long lines we encounter.
So the upside is that the Farley Mowat is back in business and our business is making life difficult for those who are ruthlessly and illegally plundering our oceans