Operation No Compromise
Crew Blog

Crew Blog

Read accounts from the ships' crews in Antarctica during the campaign.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

From the High Seas

Megan Jolley
Deckhand, Steve Irwin

Megan FitzeIt’s a great feeling being back onboard the Steve Irwin, being with familiar friends and faces, making new friends, and settling back into the routine of deckhand. Having our daily routine of maintenance, boat training, cleaning, etc. is great as we work like a well oiled machine, increasing trust in each other, and working great together so when it comes to deploying the small boats, we are ready, and it all goes very smoothly, and safely, which is extremely important especially in these freezing, rolling seas.

I’ve had to take a few deep breaths since being here on campaign. One, purely for the fact that it’s a privilege to be a part of this campaign and it’s something I have wanted to do for a long time…to be able to do that much more. Coming to Antarctica, seeing this amazing, wonderful part of the earth, growing up in Hobart, Tasmania, we see, hear, and learn a great deal about Antarctica and it’s somewhere I have always been drawn to and fascinated by. And thirdly, leaving my son, my 5-year-old Harrison, knowing I would be missing his first day of school.

He and I discuss marine conservation a great deal and he said he’ll miss me but wants me to help save the whales and everything down here, especially “Mumble Penguin” (from Happy Feet). So with his blessing and enthusiasm I have joined the crew for Operation No Compromise!

Monday, February 28, 2011

A Final Reflection from the Bob Barker’s Vegan Galley

Merilee Nyland
Chief Cook, the Bob Barker

Merilee NylandThe Bob Barker is heading home! Towards Hobart. Towards supporters. Towards friends. Towards family. To the end of whaling!!!

I am thankful for a successful campaign. I look forward to returning home proud and valiant--yet humbled by three months at sea. This is the longest a Sea Shepherd ship has been at sea without restocking—creating quite the challenge for the galley. What we left port with is all we have had to sustain us through our trying campaign of three meals a day, for 36 people.

As I look back to the first blog I wrote as we were leaving Hobart, I can’t help but laugh longingly at our abundance!  We filled every inch of fridge and pantry with food. Now, our fridges look like this: EMPTY. We are eating from the bottoms of our freezers. We are rationing the remaining cans of fruit and vegetables. It is grim, to say the least. But our menus are creative and our spirits in the galley remain high. The meals keep coming. The crew keeps gathering. And plates are being cleaned and stomachs are being patted.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Nothing Extreme About Compassion and Action

Sara Keltie
Deckhand, Bob Barker

Sara Keltie Dr. Martin Luther King once said, "The world is in need of creative extremists."

When I read that earlier this year, it was the first time I have ever observed the word 'extremists' being used in a positive tone. So when did the word come to hold such negative connotations? It appears that once the mass majority of people stopped caring enough about issues to take direct action themselves, that laziness and apathy became the norm, and thus suddenly enthusiasm, concern, and action became considered extreme behavior.

As long as the greater majority of the human populace are sitting idly by as atrocities such as the mass slaughter of whales are carried out, then those who choose to do something about it will indeed be considered different, and what a sad thought that is. Rather than sitting on our couches watching it on the news and feeling depressed, we have made the decision to instead pack up our bags and our lives and head to the furthest reaches of the world to take direct measures in opposing that which has no place in a modern, compassionate world.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Girl’s Cabin, aka the Hen-Den

Fiona McCuaig
Quartermaster/Rescue Swimmer, Bob Barker

Fiona McCuaigThe morning alarm sounds and I fumble around to try and find it somewhere hidden between the many layers of my Antarctic bedding. This particular morning, I can’t find it. After a minute of frustration, I pop my head over the side of the bunk to see if I’ve stirred any of the other girls in the cabin. “Sorry,” I whisper. I can’t see a thing - it’s pitch black in the 'Hen-Den,' not a shred of light penetrates three decks below, and not a lot of fresh air for that matter.

I turn on my bed light and look around the cabin to check the status of my roomies; there is not a lot of movement. Sharing a cabin with five girls for four solid months could resemble something of a nightmare, but the acceptance of the little privacy and constant noise becomes the norm, and only leaves room for laughs.

I finally locate my alarm in the bed, wedged annoyingly in the corner of the duvet cover. The morning then starts out like any other. I lie in snooze-button position on my back for 10 minutes, listening to Rosie rummage around the cabin, only slowing pace to open the bathroom door which is located 15 centimetres from my head (Rosie admits she still wakes up at 5 am, thinking she has to get up and walk her two English bulldogs before the rise of the hot South African sun).  ”Morning Feeeeee,” she says in her cheery voice as I stick out a few fingers lethargically in an attempt to wave. She’s one of those “morning-people,” something that I’ve convinced myself is part of one’s genetic makeup and unlikely for me to suddenly acquire.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Highs and Lows of being at Sea

Grant Meikle
Engineer, Gojira

We are currently heading due north out of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, I feel very proud to be part of what has been our most successful campaign ever. Knowing the Japanese whaling fleet has retreated and is also heading home, has made the personal sacrifices we all make as crew all worthwhile.

For me the campaign started in Hobart, and has been somewhat of an emotional roller coaster with the highs being stopping the Yusshin Maru No. 3 dead in the water, finding the Nisshin Maru, and staying on its tail until the Bob Barker caught up. The low has been that my mother passed away while I was on the campaign.

Now that I have experienced being part of the crew, I will only have the utmost respect for anyone who takes time out of their lives to stand up for what they believe in. It was a huge step outside of my comfort zone. It’s a major change in environment being at sea, from sleeping habits, to food, and general comfort. When my wife asked my 8-year-old son Jake if it was ok for dad to go away for along time he replied, “I will miss him, but it’s his dream,” and that sums up very well how I feel.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Across Antarctica

Andrea Gordon
Ship Manager, Bob Barker

Andrea GordonOur epic journey eastward circumnavigating half of Antarctica came to an abrupt end this morning when the Nisshin Maru turned around and began heading due west. We were almost at the Drake Passage, which would have taken us around South America. I'm amazed at the distance the whalers have traveled in an attempt to lose us - halfway around Antarctica, and now back again. Now, our monumental chase continues westward.

This journey across Antarctica through the Amundsen Sea is unchartered territory for Sea Shepherd ships. The world here feels different somehow. While we were close to the coast, we saw icebergs everywhere that were amazingly different - white, turquoise, pointy, round, flat and layered. Nature put on her full display of ancient masterpieces here. I wonder if the whalers appreciate the incredible beauty as much as we do. Are they taking scenic photos? Do some of them see this as a place other than one to slaughter the last of the great whales? I have to think that some of the people onboard the whaling ships must. It seems impossible not be touched
by a place of such exquisite beauty.

Recently, we saw land for the first time in over 60 days! A sunny day gave way to a stunning, serene Antarctic night with the sky turning at its darkest a pink, purple, and blue twilight. In the distance, above the thick white ice shelf, rose Mt. Siple. Even though it had the gentle slope of a
hill, the mountain still towered 10,000 feet above the ice shelf. I've been in awe of the spectacular scenery, and its all the better with the Nisshin securely in front of us.

We are far from the nearest port, much closer to Chile than to Australia. We're almost directly south of San Francisco. With each passing mile we travel, it's another mile the whalers are not in their self-appointed killing grounds. Wherever the whalers go, we will follow.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Road to the Southern Ocean

Jeffrey Milstein
Security Officer, Steve Irwin

Jeffrey MilsteinI was raised on a historic non-working farm surrounded by trees, wildlife, and cornfields and from a very young age my parents instilled a love for nature and all creatures in me.

Some of my fondest memories as a little child were when me and my father rescued a fox from a trap in the woods, and when I helped raise some bunnies who lost their mother for long enough until I was able to set them free and they could survive on their own. I even remember spending a few hours a day watching a small family of groundhogs, until one day when one of the babies came over to me and literally climbed in my lap. I remember it was such an incredible feeling that they felt comfortable enough to walk over to me and let me pet them. That feeling only lasted for a short while of course, until I heard the frightening growl of its mother who was quite large and unhappy with me. She proceeded to chase me all the way to my front door. She actually waited on the porch for a few hours for me to come out.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Expressionism at Sea

Howie Cooke
Quartermaster, Steve Irwin

Howie CookeApart from being a Quartermaster and sometimes-deckie on the Steve Irwin, I have also, in being a painter, fallen into the role of ship’s artist doing sign writing jobs as needed (Chad too), decorating the ship’s logbook and producing a daily cartoon for the crew’s notice board.

Cartooning is a fun way of depicting ship life and the cruel stupidity of whaling through the eyes of the crew, animals, icebergs, and the ship’s basil plant, Basileco.

It is an honor to be part of the Sea Shepherd fleet and our great international crew of life-loving, passionately dedicated people bonded by the same goal of blocking the whale killers and driving them out of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

We have been thoroughly awed by the wonders and the wildlife of Antarctica and we are more resolved than ever to see whaling crushed forever and this great wilderness preserved into the future.

Equally I am honored to represent Surfers for Cetaceans and the global surfing community’s support for Captain Paul Watson’s vision of direct protection, and freedom for the whales and their oceanic world.

Click an image to view full size

Howie Cook cartoon 1 Howie Cookie cartoon 2
Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Infinite Blue

Georgie Dicks
Quartermaster, Steve Irwin

Georgie DicksThe Steve is rolling and pitching in an infinite sea alongside albatrosses gliding effortlessly totally at home in their pelagic wanderings across the vast and unpredictable Southern Ocean. Our ship accommodates a vast array of people from all backgrounds and nationalities who all share the same lust for the ocean and an ardent connection to its residents.

I feel honored to be a Sea Shepherd crewmember and have dreamed of this for years. I have had a passion for the ocean for as long as I can remember, and love scuba diving. I’m on the bridge in the morning and on the deck in the afternoon. The rolling of the boat is very comforting; knowing that we are making a huge difference is fantastic.

Antarctica is a wilderness of icebergs temples in the Southern Ocean where seals, penguins, and other birds can gather and rest before heading off into the infinite blue. They are so at home in their icy world, perfectly adapted to the freezing conditions, whilst we rug up warm and gaze upon them in fascination and amazement with a rogue tear or two rolling down our cheeks filled with hope and happiness.

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