Saturday, 31 December 2011

Exploring Accra...

Candace and I went out to Accra, the capital city of Ghana, this past Thursday (29th December). I had wanted to do some exploring in the area for a while, and so we left the ship on Thursday morning with a rough idea of where we were going - but no concrete plans.

We drove out along the Beach Road - which runs from Tema to Accra - and it was along this stretch of road that we made our first stop. We came across the coffin showroom that was showcased in Season 17 of The Amazing Race. The competitors in the CBS reality TV series had to push decorated coffins through the streets of Accra as one of their challenges in the Ghanaian capital. It was amazing to see the actual coffins that I'd seen on TV - and more so because they are carved in shapes to commemorate the person's lifestyle: lobsters, trucks, fish, cameras, etc.

From there we drove on into downtown Accra and through the city centre to the poorer - but culturally and historically rich - neighbourhood of Jamestown, on the coast. Here we explored the magnificent, operational lighthouse, and the fishing village. We were given a guided tour of the community and saw the beautiful fishing canoes and met some local children. In contrast to the beauty and vibrancy of the community, we also saw the darker places where in times gone by slaves were loaded onto ships and sailed across the sea. We walked past the Jamestown fort and saw the remaining tracks where carriages transported slaves to the sea, a fading memory of a turbulent past.

We then headed into Accra and stopped at the Post Office and also did some street shopping, before heading back to Tema via the Mall. It was a good day out that gave me a greater appreciation of the historical significance of Ghana - and how proud the locals are of their rich and diverse history.

The coffin showroom along the Beach Road.

Lobster design coffin.

Small fish - sadly, for a child.

Club Beer and Coca-Cola bottles.

The monument to Ghana's Independence.

Jamestown lighthouse, Accra.

Looking down from the lighthouse to Jamestown Fort.

The fishing village from the lighthouse.

The lamp in the lighthouse.

Candace and I at the top.

Looking up inside the lighthouse's winding stairs.

Canoes in the fishing village.

Another view of the Jamestown fishing village.

The door of the Jamestown fort.

Tema-bound, passing the Accra Mall.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Christmas on the AFM...

Christmas on the Africa Mercy is a special time, and maybe more so than elsewhere. This is because we are here so that we may be Jesus to the world's forgotten poor, and we are all called to Mercy Ships to do exactly that - whether in the Dining Room or in the Operating Theatre. It's our common love that draws us here. And we are all part of a bigger picture - the Great Commission - to be Jesus to a fallen world.

Yes, we do have decorations and trees. But it's much more than that. It's about remembering the sacrifice God made of sending his Son to earth as a baby. It's about remembering all that He did for us on that cruel cross. And it's about being thankful. My prayer is that you experienced God's love this Christmas in a tangible way, and that you'll show that love to your friends and family and those around you throughout the coming year. God bless into 2012!

Here are some more photos of our Christmas here.

Door decorating is one of our Christmas traditions.

Candace's cabin door.

Christmas frosting on the ship shop windows.

Nativity scene near the ship shop.

Gifts outside cabin doors.

Christmas brunch buffet.

There was a large Africa Mercy gingerbread model...

Complete with swimming pool...

And name and port of registry on the stern!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Happy, happy Christmas!

Wishing you a wonderful Christmas and a blessed New Year. Much love, Murray & Candace :-)

Monday, 19 December 2011

Arrival in Tema, Ghana!

After a five-day sail from Freetown, Sierra Leone, the M/V Africa Mercy pulled into the Port of Tema, Ghana, at midday last Thursday. (15th December) Our arrival went smoothly and it was great to see our Advance Team waiting for us on the dock with a big sign welcoming us to Ghana. We have a lovely dock on the main quay of the harbour - our area is fenced and allows us plenty of space to run or walk, or park our Land Rovers.

We are in Ghana for a little more than two weeks now and I've already done some exploring into Tema and the surrounding areas. There is a lovely mall just outside of Accra and it almost feels as if you're in South Africa when you walk around in it - so many South African retailers, like Shoprite, Mr Price, and Game! The road infrastructure is great too, and I think I'm really going to enjoy my short stay in Ghana!

The Tema pilot boat approaches.

Pilot clambers onboard...

... And the pilot boat heads back to port.

Approaching the breakwater.

Tema is one of the largest ports in the region, with a substantial container terminal.

Advance Team waiting on the dock.

Tug stands by to assist in docking procedures, if necessary.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Bunkering at sea...

Last Tuesday (13th December) the Africa Mercy had her first experience of bunkering at sea. This happens when a tanker comes alongside the vessel on the open ocean and fuels at sea - as opposed to being refueled in a commercial port. It is a process that can be fraught with risk; not only to the vessels and crew involved, but to the environment too. Thankfully both the crews of the Africa Mercy and the Chemical Progress were professional and the process was incident-free.

The refueling was a pretty lengthy, overnight process, taking some 16 or so hours, but we were soon on our way again to Tema, Ghana!

The clear blue waters of the Atlantic as Africa Mercy awaits Chemical Progress.

The tanker approaches followed by a fishing vessel, also waiting to be fueled.

Chemical Progress.

The Bridge - note the little puppy!

Lines are made secure as the ships manoeuvre together.

Crew line the deck to watch proceedings.

Bow of Chemical Progress as seen from the Dining Room windows.

Propeller spins as the tanker departs.

Sailing away...

To refuel yet another waiting ship!