Thursday, August 1, 2019

Remembering environmental campaigner Steve Sawyer, 1956-2019

Steve Sawyer, Rongelap campaigner with the original Rainbow Warrior which was bombed by French secret service agents in July 1985 in Auckland, aboard the new Rainbow Warrior during the ship’s first visit to New Zealand. © Nigel Marple/Greenpeace
A tribute to STEVE SAWYER by former Rainbow Warrior captain PETER WILLCOX, who was skipper at the time of the Rongelap evacuation and the French bombing in 1985.

I MET Steve in 1981 in New Bedford, Massachusetts, on the first Rainbow Warrior. I was answering a job advert he had placed in the National Fisherman. We spoke in his cabin for a while, and then went to the mess to meet the crew.

One of the things Steve liked about the manager’s job on the RW was that he got to do real physical work as well as intellectual organising. The crew was all giving him a hard time about his painting technique. It seems the day before, Steve, while climbing down into an inflatable (not a rhib by a long shot), had stepped directly into a five-gallon bucket of paint.

That he took the ribbing good-naturedly and laughed with everyone else was to me an excellent sign of life on board that ship.

Steve was the first guy I ever worked for who was younger than I. I was 28, and he 25 in 1981. But I learned fast not to mess with him. He could argue you into a corner quickly, and he did not suffer fools.

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