Are you a secret superhero?

Posted by jamess — 4 October 2010 at 1:34pm - Comments

Scrubbing the toilets this morning a bizarre thought crossed my mind: I’m going to miss this. The squeaky whiteboard, with our names for the 8am cleaning rota, reads: Messroom/Leila, Lounge/Frank, Showers/Victor, Alleyways/Elena, Laundry/Ben and Toilets … James.

A strange thing to miss perhaps, cleaning the ‘heads’ – my ship lingo is rapidly expanding – but it’s another part of the daily routine that has defined the communal life on board our floating Esperanza.

This is a working ship and everyone is busy pretty much all the time. Whether it’s in the engine room, the galley, the fitter’s workshop, the Radio Operator’s room, up on the bridge or out on deck, there are always things to do, just to keep a ship going.

But this isn’t just a ship travelling from A to B carrying cargo. As one of the family of Greenpeace ships – the others being the Rainbow Warrior II and the Arctic Sunrise – the Esperanza is an action ship. And that means everyone on board doubles up as both a member of the crew and an activist.

Stopping Cairn’s Arctic drilling by evading a naval warship and scaling an oil rig is pretty incredible in itself. But it means even more to know that those dangling over the icy waters had only the day before been working full-time as deckhands - chipping rust, painting the deck and doing pretty much anything needed to maintain the Espy.

The same was true up on Chevron’s anchor chain with the pod, or when in the water stopping their drill ship.  All great achievements on their own, but when you know there’s still the Esperanza to run, you realise all the action comes on top of the day jobs.  That’s why you get a chief engineer driving a safety boat, a doctor as boat crew and a videographer bobbing to stop the 228-metre oil driller from moving. 

So as I pack my kit, hang up my mop and get ready for land life, I know of all the things I will miss about the Esperanza, the biggest will be the crew – the friendly people who one moment are busy running a ship, and the next are putting their bodies in the way of environmental harm.

But I take comfort in the fact that there are others all over the country, and indeed all over the world, who are also secret superheroes. Under their work outfits or uniforms, and in a myriad different ways – from volunteering for a local group, lobbying politicians or pension managers, supporting with donations or maybe all of the above - they’re taking action to protect our planet.

You – I suspect – are one of them. 

So from me and everyone else on the Esperanza, a big thank you for all your support - we’ve really felt it throughout the journey.  But stay tuned, because although the ship tour ends here, the go beyond oil campaign is only just beginning.

-- James on the Esperanza

Photo: Crew on the Esperanza. © Will Rose / Greenpeace

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