March 1, 2021

life aboard the largest ship of Greenpeace

They are sailors, activists and sometimes even volunteers. On board the Esperanza, the largest ship of Greenpeace, a crew of 20 people makes sure that the ship sails the seas in defense of the planet with the environmental philosophy always on board.

With the Dutch flag, the Esperanza is different from the majority of the ships it crosses in waters around the world: its propulsion system is designed to reduce CO2 emissions, the paint on its hull has no toxic and its heating It is based on the use of waste.

Therefore, the work of the crew is not only to ensure that the ship arrives at the next port, but to carry the message throughout the voyage; in this case, the protection of the oceans, the objective of the expedition "From Polo to Polo" that these days keeps the ship in the waters of the Portuguese Azores.

"The Greenpeace ships are not commercial, so the objective is totally different, we are not working to make a profit," explains Russian-born Spaniard Vlad Votiacov, who heads Esperanza at this stage of the expedition.

Votiacov came to Greenpeace in 2007 and a year later he started working as a captain. His long experience has allowed him to verify that the crews that work for the environmental organization are "unique".

"It's not the crew of a common commercial ship, the percentage of people with studies is much higher, which creates an interesting environment, sometimes it's a challenge," he laughs.

Everyone is united in the dedication to fight for the conservation of the environment, as assured by the second in command, the Panamanian Adrián, who is the first officer.

"The human warmth is what makes a special Greenpeace ship," says Adrián, who worked on cargo vessels until, 13 years ago, he decided he wanted to use his knowledge of seamanship for another purpose.

"Over the years I realized that I wanted to use my skills not only for commercial benefit but also to help preserve the environment," he says.

The crew rotates, although they usually spend three months on board and three more on the mainland. All are linked to the organization and many of them started as partners or volunteers.

This is the case of David, a 26-year-old sailor from the Canary Islands (Spain), who approached Greenpeace eight years ago and became an activist.

Four years ago, when Esperanza began to frequently pass through the islands, he decided to embark as a volunteer and learn seamanship work.

"Greenpeace now means something else, it's part of me," says the young Spaniard, who in this journey is the "garbologist", the one in charge of separating the garbage well for proper recycling.

In the boats of the organization, all the waste is separated: the organics are frozen until they reach an area where it is allowed to throw them overboard, and the rest is saved until reaching port.

The "good vibes," says David, is always present among the crew. In the morning, after breakfast, all the cleaning tasks are distributed, in which the guests who get on the boat are encouraged to participate, whether they are responsible for Greenpeace, scientists or journalists.

All gather around three large tables at lunch and dinner, with a menu that is 90% vegetable, sometimes even more, explains Efe the cook, the Mexican Daniel.

Daniel has been working with Greenpeace for more than 15 years and has lost track of the trips he has made on the organization's ships, where he uses organic agro-ecological ingredients, which is not always easy to find when they dock on a remote island. They need provisions for several weeks.

"It is difficult but always, in all the places I have been, there is at least a small portion of organic production," he says while preparing gnocchi with several sauces.

Gnocchi are the "most popular option" of this day, which will be accompanied by other more exotic dishes that can range from Mexican food to Thai curry.

All to please a crew so diverse that, in this journey, is composed of a fortnight of nationalities that have a common goal: to conserve the environment.

Paula Fernández

(tagsToTranslate) Mariners (t) activists (t) board (t) major (t) Greenpeace

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