Sunday, 31 January 2010

AFM as seen from the air...

This is a photo that was taken by Tom A. Larsen, a member of the Danish Ferry Historical Society, and was sent to me by a friend in the society. It is of Santa Cruz de Tenerife from the air and was taken on departure from Tenerife North Airport on the 2nd of January, 2010. If you look closely enough (or enlarge this photo), the Africa Mercy can be seen at the very end of the cruise liner dock, Dique del Sur - a little upwards and to the right of centre.

Another cycle in Tenerife...

This last week I cycled out to a little village at the end of the northern road - Igueste de San Andres. I actually did this route twice - on Wednesday by myself and then on Thursday with my friend Liz. The weather was a little dodgy on Thursday with some rain falling, but otherwise it was a fun bike ride.

The northern road winds along the coast to San Andres where it passes the beach at Las Teresitas and then cuts into the mountain. From here the road goes up maybe 150 metres in altitude before sweeping down to a picturesque valley - where the village of Igueste is located. The climb to get over to Igueste from Las Teresitas is deeply reminiscent of Chapman's Peak Drive in Cape Town - although maybe not as long or as challenging. But the view looking down towards the beach is pretty special.

It was a lovely cycle and made me appreciate the beauty of God's creation even more. He is a creative genius and deserves all our praise! Enjoy these photos!

The start of the climb over to Igueste.

Looking back at the road cycled.

View down on the beach at Las Teresitas.

Liz and I at the top of the climb.

Heading down towards Igueste.

Monday, 25 January 2010

A Trip to Loro Parque...

It was meant to be the day that I conquered Mount Teide - like so many of my friends did this past Saturday. But due to a cold that lasted for five days I decided to leave Teide for another year. Instead I joined a large group of Mercy Shippers in going to Loro Parque, a lovely wildlife and marine park located in Puerto De La Cruz. Mercy Ships were given a half-price entry fee into the park, and it was really worth it!

There were many little paths that wound in and out of different sections within the park, and offered the leisurely walker many opportunities for a scenic view. Of course, some of these views were a little more scary than others... There was a large gorilla section, an alligator area, as well as a shark tunnel in the aquarium, where you walked through a glass tunnel surrounded by sharks and other marine life. Add jaguars, meerkats, penguins, chimps, many beautiful birds and displays of lovely flowers into the mix and you have something to attract everyone.

But the favourites were the dolphin, orca, and sea lion shows. We went to the Dolphin show first and were amazed by these graceful creatures. They are such intelligent animals that share a strong bond with their trainers. They entertained us with tricks and many displays of leaping through the air.

Next stop was Orca Ocean, where we got to witness the huge power and beauty of the orca. Orcas are also known as killer whales and they have incredible strength. The orcas also performed tricks and leaped out the water to crash down again creating a huge splash! The capture and holding of orcas in captivity is controversial, and I believe that a natural environment is always best for wild animals. But I will say that it is useful to see these animals up close to gain a new perspective and a deeper respect for the creatures that share our planet.

The final show we went to was the Sea Lion show. These animals are also intelligent and were definitely my favourites. They performed many tricks in a routine that kept the audience laughing. It almost seemed as if they understood what they were doing the whole time - and appreciated the audience just as much as the trainers did.

So all in all it was a fun day out with good friends in a lovely environment - definitely a worthwhile expedition off-ship. Here are some more photos from this trip.

The penguin section.

The dolphins performing tricks...

And getting some major air-time!

One of the orcas breaching.

The sea lions.

Inside the shark tunnel.

Some scary sights!

Not sure what kind of bird, but it sure is pretty.

A couple of colourful but attractive birds.

Some beautiful flowers.

And some lovely orchids.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

German Naval Visit...

I'll admit it. I like the navy. There's been a lot of criticism back home about our navy and how the Government has spent many Rands (SA monetary unit. 1 USD = 7.59 ZAR) upgrading our navy and buying new frigates from Germany, but I take pride in the SA Navy. Both my Grandfather and my Dad served in the Royal Navy and SA Navy at Simon's Town, half an hour south of Cape Town's city centre. For more on the SA Navy within this blog, click here. Add this to my love for the sea and anything maritime, it makes sense that I'd be enthusiastic whenever a naval ship docks near the M/V Africa Mercy.

This past week we had four German naval vessels dock in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. There were two frigates, Brandenburg (F 215) and Niedersachsen (F 208), the large supply ship Frankfurt am Main (A 1412), as well as a smaller fast attack craft. Here are some photos of these large NATO warships.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Cycling in Tenerife...

There are some beautiful, scenic routes here in Tenerife - and none more so than the one I ventured up this past Saturday.

I took the northern coastal road as far as the little town of San Andres, ten kilometres distant from the ship. Here I took a left onto the TF-12 road into the interior. I went 12 kilometres inland along this road to the viewpoint at El Bailadero. The road is a constant uphill, from sea-level to around 850 metres in altitude - perhaps more.

The road snakes along the side of the mountain, with a pretty valley down below. There are many quaint little farmhouses here. After winding up a mountain pass, I came out at El Bailadero, and here the view was spectacular! Totally worth it for the hour and a little more it took me to get there! Enjoy these photos from my lovely Saturday morning cycle.

The view from the top was breathtaking - although most of my breath had been already taken away by the 12 km long climb!

On returning to the ship (pictured) there was a pretty yachting regatta in the harbour.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Never a dull moment in the Purser's office...

For nearly four weeks now I have been the acting Assistant Purser on the Mercy Ship. This is while my friend and coworker Tim, the current Assistant Purser, and his wife Hannah take a well-earned break. So what does the Assistant Purser do on the Africa Mercy?

My day starts at around 08h00 with a Bible reading and prayer with Rob, the Purser (although for the last ten or so days he has been on vacation too so it has just been me in the office - but I still start the day with a chapter from the Bible and a prayer). I then start the day by doing the embarkations and disembarkations. This is a process wherein I ensure that all the arriving crew from the previous day are captured in the system, and that those who have left have been correctly disembarked by Reception.

I am in charge of the Article sheet and assign crew members "articles". It is a requirement of maritime law that all crew on a ship sign articles - a contract that means the Captain is responsible for the crew member during their service onboard. This information is fed from our database so therefore it is important that I get the correct dates for crew arriving and departing.

I also receive arrival and departure notices for crew throughout the day and ensure that their names are on the Arrivals and Departures list and if necessary, I book out a ship's vehicle and make sure the relevant department assigns a driver to fetch or drop them off. There are also constant queries from crew to answer and e-mails to reply to, so there is always something on the go in the office.

My busiest days are Monday and Tuesday. Monday I play catch-up from the weekend - doing the embarks and debarks from Friday, Saturday and Sunday (which can take a while if it was a busy weekend), and then Tuesday is "List" day. I e-mail crew lists to various people and update the lists on the Mercy Ships intranet, Navigator. I also update the emergency muster sheets around the ship - which can take quite a while, especially if we are preparing to sail and there are In-Port and At-Sea muster sheets to go out. I also hand short-term and long-term crew lists to Reception, as well as updated muster lists for the alphabetical boards located there.

I'm looking forward to Tim coming back so I can be back helping in Reception, but it has been a good and challenging time for me being here - and it's always good experience to learn another role. So anyway, that's just a little slice of what I do here in the Purser's office. Acting Assistant Purser Out!

Saturday, 16 January 2010

New Pool...

The Africa Mercy has a new pool that is being installed on deck 8 while we are in Tenerife. In the past there has just been a small portable round pool, but not any more...

Once finished, it'll be a great place for crew to come and relax and unwind after a hard day's work. Thanks to Richard Brewster for these photos.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Support Page...

Hi all, just a quick one to say that Mercy Ships launched a new-look website some time ago, and with this new website they offered a personal support-raising page for crew members. This gives crew the opportunity to not only have their own space, but also to be able to edit it as well! Check out my personal support page by clicking here. Thanks and God bless!

Monday, 11 January 2010

Everlasting Covenant...

God is such a creative genius. I believe He really must take such delight in making things that we, made in His image, delight in. Like a rainbow. Not only beautiful, but a reminder of his love and grace toward us. Composite photo taken this morning looking across the harbour from the ship.

"I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth."

- God speaking to Noah and all the world. Genesis 9: 13 - 16 NIV

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Spiritual Home...

I have discovered my spiritual home here in Tenerife. It is a small church in the south of the island, Silencio Christian Fellowship, and I have been there the past two weeks. The church meets in a small commercial centre, housing restaurants and a traditional English Fish and Chips shop to a tattoo parlour and cabaret bar.

But it is not the location that is a drawcard. It is the wonderful community filled with the Holy Spirit. I am inspired by the worship and challenged by the messages. But more than the teaching and music, it is a church that is so diverse in its representation. And this, I think, is what fills me with such joy and hope when I am there. For it is God's kaleidoscope - and it is beautiful.

After the service this past Sunday we headed down to a seaside town nearby, Los Abrigos, and ate our lunch overlooking the picturesque harbour. It reminded me of Hermanus (a seaside town near Cape Town) and the beauty of South Africa, and I was for a moment homesick, but then I thought of the work I do on the ship and the reason that I am here. I thought of all my lovely friends here and the real blessings they are to me. I thought of the journey that God has called me to travel - the path that I must walk - and I am so grateful to be right here, right now.