You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
At 8pm, SV Tiama and Erewhon ''occupied'' the intended drill site, about 60km off the coast, while observing the 500m legal exclusion zone around the drill ship Noble Bob Douglas. They are expected to return this morning to the Birch St wharf.
''Via radio, the Otago community leaders on board the SV Tiama voiced their opposition to the drilling plans to the captain of the drill ship as it approached.
''Each person spoke to their area of expertise, ranging from climate change to concerns for fisheries, but all came together to share a common message - stop deep-sea drilling off our coast,'' the statement said.
The Rev Dr Peter Matheson told the captain of the ship: ''Anadarko's actions are criminally irresponsible, and, from my religious perspective, structurally sinful. There will be no blessing upon them.''
Asked what the short trip achieved, group spokesman Dwayne Daly told the Otago Daily Times the flotilla delivered the message that many local people opposed the exploration.
The group had no interest in obstructing the drill ship's work, and Mr Daly did not see any point in staying longer than needed.
''I don't think there's a great deal of point in staying out there for days on end,'' Mr Daly said.
The flotilla, including a third yacht, Evohe, was farewelled from Birch St wharf on Saturday by about 50 people. Many cheered the flotilla, calling out messages of support, but a few people jeered at the protesters.
Anadarko New Zealand manager Alan Seay declined to comment when contacted last night.