Thursday, 30 September 2010

AFM dry docked in Durban!

Well, it goes without saying that I am now back with Mercy Ships after a lovely three-and-a-half week break home in Cape Town, South Africa. It was great to see family and friends as well as visit my home church and do a presentation there. It was also wonderful to meet our new family dog, Flicka, (pictured just below) and reconnect with my nephews who have grown so much! (Pictured at left.)

Here with Mercy Ships I am based at the off-ship location of Appelsbosch, in the heart of the KwaZulu-Natal midlands. This is where those crew who are non-technical are situated. I don't have many photos of Appelsbosch to put up right now (they will come soon enough), but I do have photos of the Africa Mercy in dry dock in Durban. I went out to the ship on purser business and snapped these pictures earlier today.

AFM in the Durban graving dock.

The whole weight of the ship is supported by hundreds of these little wooden blocks! Also visible in this shot is our bow rudder, which is no longer used.

The starboard bow thrusters.

It's a very deep dry dock!

The bow of the ship.

One of the holes the shipyard has cut in the side of the ship for the generators.

Another view of the hole in the ship... Would be a bad idea to fill the dry dock now!

All the way aft and you have the propellers and rudders.

Instead of going into Deck 5, the Gangway is forced to use Deck 7.

Looking forward from the Gangway.

One of our gurkhas, Chitra, at the main entrance.

There is a lot of work happening here on the Bridge!

And this is the main engine room, where you can see the hole they have cut for the generators.

Even the Midships Lounge has been transformed... into a Nursery for the plants!

A view of the AFM from the road.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Spring in Cape Town...

With the spring equinox just around the corner (22nd September), the flowers in Cape Town are beginning to bloom. This past Friday (17th September) I went with a couple of Mercy Ship friends to Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, a mere ten minutes drive from my home. Here the indigenous vegetation, known as fynbos, has begun to show its true colours - as these photos show!

Yellow pincushions in the Protea family...

And orange pincushions too!

Close up of an orange pincushion.

One of the larger Protea species.

And the King of them all... The King Protea, the National Flower of South Africa, and the emblem worn on the South African national cricket, rugby, and soccer jerseys.

A plant that looks like a daisy, but is probably something else.

These are a form of daisy.

Another daisy-like plant.

This was one of my favourite shots of the day.

Pretty flowers...

And lovely reflections!

With my Mercy Ship friends at Kirstenbosch.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Touring the Cape Peninsula...

This past Friday (3rd September) I had the privilege of giving some of my oldest Mercy Ship friends a tour of the Cape Peninsula. The Cape Peninsula juts into the Atlantic Ocean, south of Cape Town and forms part of the Table Mountain National Park. It is also this landmark that has been called, alternatively, the Cape of Storms and the Cape of Good Hope. It has also been described as "the Fairest Cape in all the World." My quest on this trip was to show my friends that the Cape Peninsula is indeed one of the fairest capes in all the world. I would like to think that I did a good job in this! Photo here of Cape Point.

Phil and Ali, Julle and Elliot came to my house at a little after 10h00 and we drove down towards Simon's Town, the picturesque seaside town that is the headquarters of the South African Navy. On the outskirts of Simon's Town is Boulder's Beach, one of the last remaining breeding colonies of the endangered African Penguin. We walked along the walkway and were able to view these special birds in the wild, as they lazed in the sun. On land these birds appear to be rather clumsy and ungainly, but at sea they are expert swimmers. Photo here of an inquisitive African Penguin.

From Boulder's Beach we drove down to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, part of the Table Mountain National Park. On the drive to the park gates, we passed a troop of baboons, lounging at a picnic site. Once in the nature reserve we headed down to Cape Point. Here we enjoyed the views from the lookout points and had lunch as we watched a herd of eland (a large South African antelope) browsing further down the slope. We then drove to the Cape of Good Hope, the most south-westerly point of the African continent (pictured here).

We then went out of the reserve and drove along the west coast of the Peninsula, through the conservation villages of Scarborough and Misty Cliffs. We passed the lighthouse at Kommetjie and drove over the twisting road of Chapman's Peak Drive (pictured here), one of South Africa's most scenic mountain passes, with sheer drops to the Atlantic Ocean on the one side and large imposing cliffs on the other side.

We eventually made it home to my house at a little after 17h00. I also spent much time with these four Mercy Ships friends on Saturday (4th September) and ended their time in Cape Town by having a braai with my family. It was sad saying farewell to them, but it was also such a blessing to be able to see them here in my own hometown (which I speak about often on the ship). We have a rule amongst my friends on the ship - when any friend leaves and heads home we keep waving, no matter what, until their vehicle is out of sight. I kept waving until they had turned out of Norfolk Lane. Safe travels, friends!

Simon's Town.

Penguins on the rocks at Boulder's Beach.

A couple of African Penguins.

The beautiful waters of Boulder's Beach.

Baboons having a picnic!

A close-up shot of Cape Point and the new lighthouse to the left.

With Phil and Ali at Cape Point.

Looking across towards Cape Hangklip from Cape Point. The bay in-between is False Bay.

View towards the Cape of Good Hope.

An eland resting in the bush.

A bontebok in the park.

At the Cape of Good Hope.

On the road near Kommetjie.

The view from the top of Chapman's Peak Drive.

This is the lovely Hout Bay.