Thursday, February 24, 2011

Pleasantly surprised.

Coal Free Future Tour
Last week, The Lifeguard was strolling around The Hub and he saw M/Y Arctic Sunrise, a Greenpeace icebreaker, moored at Rowe's Wharf. After scanning the horizon for French warships, The Lifeguard made his way down the quay for a quick look around.

Attired in jacket and tie, and a bespoke cashmere overcoat, The Lifeguard expected fully to be escorted away by the Greenpeace volunteers manning their posts at the gangway. Instead, The Lifeguard was enticed with a free tour of the vessel, along with two other visitors.

The Greenpeace volunteer said, "Just fill out this form, so we know who has visited. Would you be interested in signing a petition to encourage Governor Deval Patrick (D-MA) to close the Salem (Massachusetts) Power Plant?"

There were no high pressure sales pitches, no outrageous pronouncements. There was, instead, reasonable dialogue about the need for reliable and clean energy.

After a brief conversation, in which we discussed clean alternatives to coal (wind, solar, and slave labour), the Greenpeace position on the Cape Wind project (Greenpeace has been an outspoken supporter of the wind farm on Nantucket Sound), and nuclear power (in spite of nuclear power's stellar safety record--fewer deaths attributed to nuclear than the number that die each year because of coal-fired plants), The Lifeguard was piped aboard M/Y Arctic Sunrise.

A stroll to the bow was without incident, and the tour guide, a Greenpeace volunteer, was relatively knowledgeable about the workings of the vessel. She even managed, without pause, to identify "bow" and "stern"; "port" and "starboard." Interestingly, the hawsers holding the ship did not have rat guards. (Boston is known for its rat population, so perhaps they figured that a few additions, either way, would be all right.)

Next, we mounted the ladder to the bridge, where we were entertained by the second mate, a pleasant Australian woman who has been with Greenpeace for about eighteen months. She demonstrated the steering gear, as well as other features such as manoeuvring thrusters (bow and stern), and the tower, from which a lookout could watch for ice, whales, or French warships. She also talked about how the 50m vessel performed at sea, noting that since it was an icebreaker, it "...was like a bathtub in heavy seas."

Finally, we strolled to the stern to see the helipad, as well as the mechanism for launching and recovering the RIBs (Rigid Inflatable Boats).

After a short film outlining Greenpeace activities, and a brief question and answer session, The Lifeguard left the vessel, and made his way to the nearest bar for a dirty martini and a chat with a few friends.

So, gentle reader, you are probably wondering, "Where's the joke?"

Well, there isn't one.

While The Lifeguard doesn't share the views of Greenpeace, he is a sailor. The opportunity to crawl around a working icebreaker was cool, and The Lifeguard was pleasantly surprised at the lack of crazies, kooks, or hairy women. In fact, to a man (or, woman), the crew and volunteers were actually pretty knowledgeable, very interesting, and incredibly devoted to their cause. For this, The Lifeguard applauds their work, and wishes the captain and crew of M/Y Arctic Sunrise a safe passage.

[Photograph courtesy of The Lifeguard.]

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