From Pioneers Blog “Meeting Shari”

Here is a blog post about me from The Pioneer, just because this woman writes waaaayyyyy better and nicer about me than I could or would. So for a bit of a background on me, read on :)

Scantlings from Harker's Yard 
Meeting Shari

Shari, fresh from a week on Pioneer, breezes into the room. A huge beaming smile greets me, “I’m sorry, I must stink” she gasps. She doesn’t at all! She is radiant, windswept and utterly exhausted but has agreed to talk to me about her time spent working for The Pioneer Sailing Trust before she heads off on her next mission - to try and free Morgan, the orca whale, held in captivity in the Canary Islands. Born in the Seychelles on 2nd June 1986, Shari’s family moved to Cape Tribulation in the far north of Australia when she was 18 months old. Early days were spent being educated by ‘the School of Air’ where they were sent educational toys and puzzles in the post before going on to the High School in Cairns.  Her passionate love of sailing began when, aged 16, she was sent on a sail training week aboard a large schooner and her love of the sea blossomed.

Later that year her mother brought her to England to live in Hereford, close to her grandparents. It was a huge move, starting afresh in a new school, new friends, all very daunting at that young age. However in true Aussie style she embraced it, studying ‘A’ levels in Modern History, Politics, Sociology and Archeology. She then accepted an unconditional offer from Essex University to read International Relations and Politics. Essex Uni was close to the sea, a major factor in her choice!
Following her gap year back in Australia, this energetic young girl started life at University, living in Wivenhoe and working at the Station Pub to earn some extra money. How incredible it would be to have a job working and sailing at the same time she thought. Some fruitful conversations led her to a few unpaid yacht deliveries and the next stage of her plan was to head down to the Mediterranean and find work on a super yacht. This required several courses on Health and Safety and various other skills which ate up her savings, leaving her unable to afford to travel out there. Frustrated, she continued working at the pub and by chance a great friend, Alex, who had previously worked on Pioneer, told her about the Bosun’s job available at Pioneer. Was this to be her opportunity? Sadly not at this time as Alex got the job!
However, she started to volunteer for the Trust as an extra pair of hands when needed and when Alex decided to move on she stepped comfortably into his spot as Bosun. Her role is hugely varied - in her words “I do as the mate tells me!” The mate is 22 year old Josh with whom she works closely as they are the 2 permanent members of staff on Pioneer with 4 skippers working in rotation. She is going to miss his banter and sense of humour! The sailing season runs between April and October with the winter months spent taking the boat apart for general maintenance. The worse bit about the job - cleaning the heads, but the best, well, where should she begin....? The biggest part of her role has been to make sure people feel comfortable and safe aboard. If they don’t, they won’t have fun and Shari wants to show them how exhilarating sailing can be.
She exudes such a love for life which must be extremely contagious. Her warm personality shines through and her eyes light up as she describes how rewarding the days on Pioneer are. She is a wonderful role model to young and old alike. Groups have included Emmaeus, the homeless charity, Young Carers, a charity supporting young people caring for an ill or disabled parent and many other special needs groups. Listening to her talk about people making new friendships, the shared experiences, the sense of family, team-work, the cancer sufferers, the opening up of emotions, the laughter, the tears, the talking, the heartbreaking stories, makes us both feel incredibly grateful for all that we have and just how rewarding her job has been. She is moved to tears by her passion for the role and by the realisation that she is moving on.
This extraordinary girl has many more strings to her bow. She has taken time off to work for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in Japan, highlighting the tragic capturing and killing of dolphins. She has loved returning to Pioneer as she feels the boat is her ‘happy’ place even on a cold, miserable British day! The next stage of her life will take her to Tenerife to join the Free Morgan Foundation which is trying to free a female orca held at the Loro Parque in Tenerife. As she says “if I don’t at least try, I will fail, so I am going to keep trying” This bright and ebullient young woman has been a key part of The Pioneer Sailing Trust. I sensed by talking to other members of the team just how much she will be missed and I feel honoured to have met her. << is the link to the original.

Superpod 6, San Juan Island

Superpod 6 begins and so too my first time to the magnificent San Juan islands. During the Superpod talks I learnt a lot about the issues facing these populations and the efforts being made to stop their demise. Unfortunately I also learnt about the lack of action and the inability politicians have at listening to scientists and the recommendations. Tres tres fustrating but that is the world we live in. I had a wonderful time with my inspirational friends and mentors Alex and Maria who are making a documentary about the Southern Residents a population who are literally are on the brink of extinction.
I also met an incredible young scientist called London and her family.
If you want to keep up to date with my friends documentary you can follow them on the ‘gram @searchingforchinook.

Oh well I meant to post this ages ago but just seen its been stuck in “drafts” for an age, oh boy, must get better on this blogging lark.

Anyway incredible things happened while I was on the islands. Thanks to my friend Alex I was able to meet and interview my hero Dr Ingrid Visser. Dr Visser is the woman spearheading the fight to free Morgan, I got the low down and she filled me with hope. “While Morgan is still alive there is hope” Dr Visser. Unfortunately the sound recording I have from the interview is proper shite, so that has set me back a bit and made me feel a bit rubbish but its not the end of the world so will keep plugging on.


Að leggja höfuðið í bleyti

Að leggja höfuðið í bleyti , “To lay your head in the water” is an Icelandic saying which means to take some time to think about something, to look at a problem from a different angle or in a new way to find a solution.

I have spent the last 8 days in Iceland for Sea Shepherd documenting the whale hunts that occur here. Specifically the Fin Whale hunt. My college, Eleanor and I witnessed four of these endangered animals being dragged by their fluke up the fjord, winched on to the slip and meticulously butchered.  It’s been a real hard week. We have spent hours in the car on watch, taking turns to sleep, desperately hoping the hunters come back empty handed. The Fin Whale hunt has no research or scientific argument to it. The meat taken from the gigantic bodies by this small group of humans (led by one stinkin’ rich egomaniac….(He reminds me of a certain heartless Entertainment Park owner)) will serve no scientific or cultural purpose whatsoever, it will simply be sold to Japan, for shed loads of money.

I won’t lie to you friendzz…(mainly ’cause riddle me this: what would the point of a blog if I did?) this week I really did feel overwhelmed with sorrow and I did struggle. And I feel a bit silly admitting that, like “boohoohoo” “poor me, a privileged white woman sitting in a car in Iceland typing on my laptop”, but I really can’t help how I feel. Sometimes, pretty often, …okay daily, when I think about the shite, the violence, the injustice and most heartbreaking of all, the sheer apathy that continues to pervade our little rock, it just feels exasperating. But…. *deep breath*… life is to short, and there is too much to do to dwell only on the glum so I would hereby like to give thanks for these three developments, because they are just spiffing and have surely put a smile on my dial.

Number one is: I’ve had such a lovely response to my wee blog, thank yee one and all for taking the time to read 🙂 I was wondering what exactly the point of a having a specific blog would be but thanks to you lovely friends of mine sharing the link etc, I have had friends of friends reach out to offer me help, which is a bloomin’ big deal (as previously mentioned I need ALL the help I can possibly get). So, for example, a friend of a friend (and now a bona fide actual friend of mine) works at a Media consultant firm and she emailed me to arrange a meeting. So, a massive, huge, mega thanks to Christine and intern Beautrix of Studio Graphene for our wonderful meeting. They shared loads of their pro tips, and knowledge of marketing and social media in this crazy tech age we live in. I can’t really repay those ladies for taking the time out of their hectic schedule to help me get the “free Morgan” out, but they shared so many fresh and new perspectives on the problem, I endeavour to put what they taught me to good use and do them proud.

Number two: Before I left for Iceland I had an email back form an agent of a celeb, not the actual celeb themselves but but still had me happy dancing around Tariqs kitchen like a loon…a darn tootin’ happy loon. But not much else to report re the “#letters4morgan” but that’s okay cause I have a shed more to write and send off. I’ll mention no names, much as I want to cause maybe it wouldn’t be fair, maybe it would? Maybe I should? Hmmm, I won’t, for now, I’ll just be happy with the knowledge that at least on of the first batch made it in to the hands of someone real.

And number three: This was the week that Dr Ingrid Visser and one Mr Matthew Speigal spoke to the European Parliament about the unjust sentence Morgan now serves. This is a massive step forward and months in the planning. To have such an important stage to speak on Morgans behalf is so exciting, not only from Morgans corner but because there are countless non-human persons who have, like Morgan, been let down by the current CITES system. We will hopefully get an update on how Dr Visser et als presentation went in the near future.

I have spent many hours thinking and writing while watching over Hvalfjördur (Whale Fjord). Iceland seems like a great country and one day I’ll return to explore it proper. But here, just so we all on the same page, I have distilled…(que dramatic music)… “The Plan”.