I have never been on any Greenpeace ship. So when Greenpeace veterans would tell me stories of the Rainbow Warrior or of the Esperanza, all I could do was to listen in awe and imagine them in my head. But today was different, as I set out on my journey to see our ship, the Rainbow Warrior in action at South Quay in East London.
As I started my journey at 7am on a cold Sunday morning, I asked myself whether indeed hundreds of people would line up to see the Rainbow Warrior docked in East London. But as soon as I had the Warrior in sight, I knew exactly why so many had indeed lined up the day before to see it.
The Rainbow Warrior was simply mesmerizing. I took a couple of shots on my camera even before I was within 100 metres of it. After my briefing, which lasted for an hour, I was assigned to the front of the queue where I took charge of the DVD and TV stall. This involved running a short film aboput the Rainbow Warrior and answering questions with regards to the Warrior's activities and the coal campaign.
Thanks to my involvement in this year's Climate Camp opposite Kingsnorth, I was able to answer most questions on coal and what part the Warrior was playing in the campaign. Thankfully there were no police around, so children played freely and had their faces painted in rainbow colours or had Greenpeace written on their cheeks.
Inside the ship, I met many colleagues who have made the Warrior their home while she's docked in London, and also met a lot of volunteers who form the core of our organization. The tour guides kept the visitors busy and each group followed the other seamlessly, quite an achievement as vistor numbers over the whole weekend were probably the highest any Warrior crew has ever had to deal with.
The Warrior is in town to Give Coal the Boot, so that's exactly what alll our visitors were encouraged to do. On a large sheet of white A3 paper, visitors could leave their boot print and their name as part of the Warrior's Quit Coal tour. By bringing its high-profile presence to the Quit Coal campaign, the Warrior is sure to mount more pressure on Gordon Brown's weakening argument in favour of coal.
Key highlights on the ship for me included the retention of some items from the original Rainbow Warrior, which was sunk by French Special Forces when it tried to disrupt nuclear testing that France was carrying out in the South Pacific. Also on board were the rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIBs) that Greenpeace has come to be associated with that help carry out direct actions.
We heard stories from the international crew members and also peered down from the hatches into the ship's kitchens where food was being prepared. After having my fill of first hand stories of crew living on the ship, I took a string of photographs that have permanently captured this day in my life. The Rainbow Warrior certainly brought some life and colour to the monochrome that is Canary Wharf.