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July 11, 2012

Shepherds and Voyagers Unite

By Julie, Campaign Director

Julie rides the bow of the Fijian Vaka with the Bardot in the distance on one of our crew swap sails. Photo: CarolinaJulie rides the bow of the Fijian Vaka with the Bardot in the distance on one of our crew swap sails. Photo: CarolinaWe didn’t choose the Solomon Islands as our first stop in the campaign randomly. In fact, it was for a very specific purpose.  We chose it because it was the final destination for the Pacific Voyagers. In the last week The Pacific Voyagers have become our brothers and sisters in a shared mission- to protect our planet by saving our oceans.

The Pacific Voyagers have spent the last two years travelling over 20,000 miles guided by the stars, powered only by the wind and the sun. 120 passionate and absolutely determined individuals from 20 different nations are carrying forward a critical and very personal message to local communities around the Pacific – that the oceans are in trouble – yet through local action and accountability there is hope.  By reconnecting with traditional cultures which have long celebrated and respected the oceans, sharing stories of what they, the Voyagers, have personally witnessed in contagious song and dance, and by illustrating there are no-impact ways to travel the seas, the Pacific Voyagers are compelling voices for the oceans. Voices that are being heard around the world.

Over the last several months, a partnership has evolved and strengthened. The Voyagers have long believed our message and approach are in harmony with theirs – even journeying to Sea Shepherd in Galapagos as part of their long sail through the Pacific.  During the last week in the Solomon Islands, we visited one anothers boats, drank kava, sailed together, broke bread, shared our stories, and most importantly, collaborated on ways to make an even bigger impact. From sharing educational materials to swapping out crew members, many plans were made, bonds forged, and knowledge shared.

Personally, it was an experience of a lifetime. Sitting on the bow of the ship, riding the waves just as I knew ocean voyagers over the centuries had. I realized that as far as we have come, we all desperately need to reconnect with what has given us life.  Even someone like me who spends my life dedicated to the ocean, and spends many days on the sea.  As my feet skimmed the water and all I could hear was a ripple of the sails, I fell in love with 120 Pacific Islanders from Vanuatu to the Cook Islands to New Zealand to Rapanui and one very special man who was behind it all – Dieter Paulmann. Spending the week getting to know the crew and their stories, learning from their approach, and seeing the world through their eyes, I was hopeful again. Watching the Haka, joining in their songs and even learning Maori ceremonial dances (not to mention killing it in our dance-off), I was reminded how important a positive message emphasized through culture truly is. And I learned what an amazing place the South Pacific is – as well as how amazing its people are. Welcoming, warm, wonderful and as passionate about the environment as we are. It is a place and spirit that needs to be protected and preserved.

Regardless of where we were born and how we were raised, we share a similar message. We all believe that through art, culture, community, and grassroots movements, we can positively celebrate the oceans, share our stories, and work together to protect our blue planet.

And now, three voyagers have joined us on the Brigitte Bardot for the next several weeks and two of our crew have joined the Fijian Vaka, the Uto ni Yalo to even further our cultural and conservation exchange.  Yesterday, two Fijians, Seru Saumakidonu and Angelo Smith, and one Vanuatuan, Kalo Nathaniel, left the Solomon’s with our crew of seven. Also two Hawaiian Sea Shepherds, Nic White and Galen McCleary, left on the vaka today bound for New Caledonia. We can’t wait to hear about the amazing ideas that come from this exchange as well as the good work the crews do together spreading the message – one planet, one ocean, one cause.

Both teams will be filming, blogging, and sharing their experiences. In the coming months, we will be announcing much more exciting developments that result from our partnership.

We came to the South Pacific wanting to listen, learn and collaborate. With 120 new ambassadors, teachers and guides, we are doing just that.

Cook Island Pacific Voyagers on board the Bardot. Photo: SimonCook Island Pacific Voyagers on board the Bardot. Photo: Simon

Founder and man behind the Pacific Voyagers, Dieter Paulmann, with Captain Sid and Campaign Leader Julie. Photo: SimonFounder and man behind the Pacific Voyagers, Dieter Paulmann, with Captain Sid and Campaign Leader Julie. Photo: Simon