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Monday, February 14, 2011

A Holiday on the Bob Barker

Chad Halstead
Deckhand/Delta pilot, Steve Irwin

Chad HalsteadThe Steve Irwin was running low on fuel when Paul asked me if I'd be willing to take the Delta and stay on the Bob Barker until the Steve Irwin returned in a couple of weeks. The Bob Barker was going to make an attempt to get rid of the tailing Yushin Maru No.3. I had very little interest in returning to port in the middle of campaign, and was adamant about staying in the Southern Ocean if it meant I could keep obstructing the Japanese whaling fleet from killing more whales. I agreed to stay on the Bob or do whatever I could to help the campaign. I thought land can wait, but these whales can't.

I packed a bag in 30 minutes, loaded the Delta with anything it possibly needed for the next month and steered it over the horizon to a position where I was told I could find the Bob Barker. I was greeted with a warm welcome, smiling faces and warm hugs from friends and crew on deck. I was excited to be on a new ship with new faces, a new environment and new spaces. A change of routine felt nice.

As I settled in, the whole ship had been talking about this one objective, which needed to happen soon - lose the YM3 from our tail. If the Bob Barker couldn't get rid of the Yushin Maru No.3, we would have no chance of ever finding the Nisshin Maru in the next two weeks. We wouldn't be able to do much more than just occupy the time of one harpoon ship, which still saves whales from being killed, but we wanted to be striking at the heart of this corrupt whaling fleet.

Once the Gojira returned to the Ross Sea, we planned for an action to hold up the Yushin Maru No. 3 , so that the Bob Barker could gain enough distance to get away and disappear from the whalers' radar. The action took over seven hours, and was an entire success. We spent five hours with the Yushin Maru No. 3, and once we saw the ship stopped in the water, the Gojira stood by and kept an eye on them while the two small boats made a dash for the horizon. The Bob Barker kept steaming away. When we caught up to the Bob, we were out of radar range of the Yushin Maru No. 3, which was still not making way.  We were back on the hunt to find the Nisshin Maru.

All ships deserve credit for this action. In retrospect, we couldn't have done it without each other. We end up in situations where we are outnumbered or in some sort of rut, but this is an example of how much stronger we can be. Working on the Bob Barker and going up against the Yushin Maru No. 3 have both been a great learning experience. We're all equally important and productive moving parts in a machine to stop whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. We have benefited greatly from the number of ships and crewmembers involved this campaign. To see the variety of ideas, strategies, and energy people bring to the table is phenomenal. On every ship, people are bringing new ideas, materials, or equipment into the equation, finding anything they can use to our advantage. My time on the Bob Barker has shown me how diversity is a huge key to this organization's success.

With the Steve Irwin on its way down, I am both happy and sad about to returning to the Steve Irwin. I know once I'll leave, I'll miss the Bob and everybody onboard. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to sail on the Bob Barker under Alex and Peter, and to build friendships with the crew while taking action against the unnecessary and unjust slaughter of whales. With the Steve Irwin returning with full tanks, we will have more than enough fuel to stay down here until the end if the whaling season. I can't describe how much I look forward to the days which we continue holding a formation behind the Nisshin Maru as we escort it north, out of the whale
sanctuary, and on a course back to Japan.