Meet Chino, Deckhand Aboard The Esperanza

14 July 2009


Chino Uelese is currently aboard Greenpeace ship, the Esperanza, as a deckhand.

Kia orana/ Talofa lava,

As well as being a deckhand on the Esperanza, my ancestral roots and language have given me a unique role on this ship tour. My mum is part Samoan/ Fijian and my dad originates from Samoa and the Cook Islands. Sailing through the Pacific Ocean, and arriving at new islands and atolls, has really given me a sense of how my forefathers would of gone about their expeditions.

Being a voice to my people, as well as being part of Greenpeace´s long and proud history in the Pacific, is very humbling. It’s given me a great sense of purpose.

Arriving to warm and always colourful welcomes in the Cook Islands (Rarotonga, Aitutaki, Pukapuka, Nassau) has filled me with anticipation. At each new stop, we were met with cultural song and dance and presented with flower leis.

The locals have also shown us places where climate change had taken its toll on the islands. Soil salination, eroding beaches, the bleaching of coral reefs, rising sea levels and evidence of severe storms have all wreaked havoc on homes and plantations.

I was taken aback by the huge support from these people. Some were more vocal than others, but many were also proud to call themselves ´Pacific Climate Warriors´.

The constant smiles and simplicity with which Islanders go about their daily lives embraces the beauty within their shores, lagoons, surf, coral reefs, coconuts, taro plantations, numerous varieties of fruit/ flowers, thatched huts, coconut crabs, colourful varieties of fish and sea birds.

These Islanders improvise in providing for their whanau/ aigas, having little (if any) influence from the outside world, making their cultures largely unspoilt and very unique.

Life on the Espy

I’ve also been doing my fair share of deckhand duties onboard. Cleaning kicks off just after breakfast at 8am. At about 9am, we move onto the many different chores. A typical working day might see you knocking off at about 5pm. Meals have been varied, catering for the vegetarians and carnivores among the crew.

After dinner, the evening could consist of simply chilling out or various cleaning or watch duties. I’ve been learning new music with fellow musos on board. Another favourite pastime is hanging out on the heli-deck or poop deck while listening to the Pacific Ocean and catching mahe mahe fish on a baited line.

I’m thoroughly enjoying the variety and the new sailing knowledge gained from the other crew. Having an international flavour of different cultures all working harmoniously together on the ship is a great example for the world to witness.

We’re on our way to Vanuatu now — one paradise after another!!

Chino, Espy deckhand and Pacific Climate Warrior