We’re at port in Hamburg now, after a ride down the Elbe and across the Helgoland Bight that I’ll never forget. Late at night in the campaign office behind the wheelhouse, headphones on, a fine playlist providing the soundtrack as I worked and felt the sea start to rise. By early evening, the Rainbow Warrior was crashing through the waves like an eager dolphin. We were taking an easy pace, but I got the impression she wanted to run.
By the time I hit my bunk, around the time the midnight watch came on, I was too excited to sleep. Pablo and I are in the most forward cabin, where you feel the motion of the bow more than in the center of the ship. My bunk tossed me up and caught me, rolling slightly as the bow descended.
The German office met us in style next morning, with a flotilla of inflatable boats.
All day we had folks from the office coming aboard and doing the “look how shiny!” routine as we showed off the new ship.
And among the folks who visited were a couple old deck hands, pictured above with the “New Hands on Deck” Pablo, Harmony, and Helene.
That’s Rien Achterberg on the left and Gijs Thieme on the right. They’re among the legendary activists to come out of Greenpeace Netherlands, a powerhouse of the early days of Greenpeace in Europe. When they walked on board I grabbed the young’uns and said “Do you know who that is?”
If you’ve seen The Warriors of Waiheke, Rien recalls there his days of stopping nuclear weapons tests in the Pacific. He was aboard the first Rainbow Warrior when it was bombed in Auckland harbour in New Zealand, by French agents intent on shutting us down. He has a storied past, and was part of many other Greenpeace actions from our early days. (And if you’ve not seen the Warriors of Waiheke, seek it out. It’s a beautiful film).
Rien was cook on a trip I sailed with the Esperanza back in 2006, around Iceland to promote Icelandic whalewatching as an economic alternative to whale killing. A finer hippy one could never hope to sail with. And I NEVER use “hippy” as an pejorative term.
And if you’ve ever seen the footage of a radioactive waste barrel being dropped on a Greenpeace inflatable boat and the driver being flung into the air, that was Gijs.
The New Hands knew these fellows as dimly lit characters — legends out of our history, and when they showed up on board I was glad to be able to make a link between two generations of activism, and have them meet the guys behind those pictures.
And I hope that when Rien and Gijs meet the likes of Pablo, Helene, and Harmony, they have the same reaction I do — that the future of this organisation is in good hands.
Because these kids are the real deal. And I have a feeling that a generation down the road, one or another of these three and their fellow New Hands will wander onto a Greenpeace boat in some harbor, and someone will point to them and say “Do you know who that is?”
I’m running a Flickr Set of photos the Maiden Voyage here.
Catch our web video series “Stories from the Rainbow Warrior” and see the maiden voyage through the eyes of our newest activists, the New Hands on Deck. Follow their updates on Facebook and Twitter.