Monday, 31 January 2011

Pool Open!

After many months of work to make it safe for the crew, the pool has finally opened up on Deck 8 - while we are docked here in the calm waters of the Port of Durban. We don't know what the waters of Freetown will be like for the pool, but for now we are just happy to be able to swim and relax after a hard day's work!

Swimming in the clear blue waters of our new pool.

Reunited at last!

This past weekend all the non-technical crew who were living up at Appelsbosch moved back on the ship. The ship was decorated with the flags of all the different nations represented onboard, and there was even a huge banner welcoming the returning crew and families back home.

It is wonderful to be reunited with our Mercy Ships family, and to be one community again. And with all the crew back, it's now all systems go as we prepare to sail to Sierra Leone shortly!

The Gangway decorated with balloons and flags.

Flags flying from Deck 7.

More flags.

There were even balloons in the Reception area...

... And in the Midships Lounge too!

Sunday, 30 January 2011


This past Friday the bunkering barge Fumana tied up alongside the Africa Mercy and supplied us with around 600 tonnes of fuel for our upcoming sail. The Purser's office has a great view of the bunkering action!

She came alongside in the morning...

... And was fueling us till the evening. I hate to think how much that cost!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

New tugs for Transnet...

Southern African Shipyards, the shipyard contracted to repair the Africa Mercy, has also been busy building new tugboats for the SA Port Authority. These tugs have an amazing propeller and rudder mechanism - known as a Voith Schneider Propeller - that uses blades underneath the hull to manouver the vessel. To see how the Voith Schneider Propeller system works click here.

One of the new tugs is ready to be launched just alongside the Africa Mercy.

A close-up of the Voith Schneider Propeller.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Lifeboat Tests...

As I watched from high up on Deck 8 two tugs approached the Africa Mercy and lines were secured to the bow and stern of the Mercy Ship. The ship was pulled just clear of the dock as the tugs took the strain... Are we finally departing South African shores?

No, it was not time for us to leave Durban just yet. However, it was time for our starboard lifeboats to be lowered away and taken for their five-year safety inspections. This happened last Wednesday (19th January) and the two tugs sent by Transnet (the South African National Port Authority) had to pull the ship clear of the dock in order for us to get the two boats safely away.

It was a complicated procedure, which was potentially dangerous, but praise God all went smoothly and soon our two starboard boats were safely motoring up the river to be taken away for their tests.

Here are some more photos from this procedure.

One of the tugs approaches.

The forward end of the ship is pulled clear to allow the boats down.

Safely down, the boats head up the river.

And nearly out of sight.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Cricket at Moses Mabhida!

Last Sunday (9th January) a group of us went to watch South Africa take on India in a T20 (Twenty-20) International cricket match. But more than the excitement of watching some of my cricketing heroes playing live, the match was being played at Durban's brand-new Moses Mabhida stadium, built for the FIFA World Cup last year. The pitch had been converted for cricket and the atmosphere around the ground was amazing!

The stadium was a sell-out with 50,000 people packed in to watch the Proteas (South Africa's national cricket team) take on the might of India. And although South Africa came up several runs short and lost the game, it was still a wonderful experience to be part of the largest crowd to ever watch a cricket game on the African continent!

The teams make their way out onto the pitch. SA in green; India in blue.

The teams stand for the national anthems.

SA cricket legend Makhaya Ntini bowls in his final match.

My friends intently watch the game - we even managed to win over a few Americans!

The stadium from above.

South Africa's run-chase did not get off to the greatest of starts. Here Hashim Amla is bowled...

But there was still lots of cheering for South African fans!

Although SA lost, there was still plenty to celebrate, as SA fans said farewell to one of our sporting heroes, Makhaya Ntini.

After the match there was a concert to celebrate 150-years of Indians being in South Africa.

The sun sets on a great day!

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Return to life...

Let me first start by apologising for the blog silence over the past few days. It is largely due to the fact that work has hit me at a frenetic pace. I am now back onboard the Africa Mercy and continuing to work as the Assistant Purser while overseeing the training of a number of new receptionists who have joined the team.

Reception and the Purser's office are now fully functional onboard the vessel. I wanted to have things up and running in these departments (on the ship) first-thing in the New Year, since there certainly won't be any time for training or setting-up Reception when everyone comes back onboard towards the end of the month. This is one thing that needed to happen now. And so I am happy that things are working as they should.

In the busyness of ship life I have not had much of a chance to take photos around the ship, but hopefully as we settle into a routine here I'll be able to take a walk around to show you all the progress that has been made since my last shipyard update.

Being back onboard is certainly a different experience from what I am used to. With the shipyard phase still in full swing, there is no air-conditioning and thus it is rather warm onboard. I am happy to have a fan blowing on me at nights! And with less crew onboard, the serving line at dinner is much shorter. However, there are more tangible positives that can be seen.

It is a blessing to see the progress being made before my very eyes. I see cables being fitted and connected for the last time. I see deckheads (ceilings) which have been exposed for the last few months being covered again. I see an empty shell of a vessel slowly coming back to life. And I see the delight on the faces of Sierra Leone's men, women, and children, as the Mercy Ship returns to West Africa to do that for which she was made. And I am thankful.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Last Days in Cape Town...

"Time flies when you're having fun", or so the old adage goes. And this is true when I look back at my time in Cape Town this Christmas and New Year's. I have been able to hike up Table Mountain, cycle the roads of Cape Town with my parents, and catch up with old friends and family. I have also driven down to Cape Point (picture here from that drive) with a couple of my Gateway sisters, Christina and Danae, and we even went to see Johnny Clegg play live at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens for New Year's. It was one of my best New Year's celebrations in many years!

And tomorrow I fly to Durban and head back to the ship - not Appelsbosch - to set up Reception and the Purser's office onboard prior to all the crew coming onboard later in the month. I am thankful for this break I have had in Cape Town and am now getting ready for a busy next few weeks as we bring the Africa Mercy back online ahead of our 2011 Field Service to Sierra Leone. Please pray that this process goes smoothly - thanks! And I pray that 2011 is an AMAZING year for all of you!

Here are some photos of my final few days in Cape Town.

The waters were so clear in Cape Point Nature Reserve!

With Danae and Christina at the Cape of Good Hope.

We nearly got blown away at Cape Point!

The next day we went to Kirstenbosch for the New Year's Eve concert. Can't beat that setting for a view!

I even broke out my new fedora hat!

Johnny Clegg performs on stage.

With Rhyenn and Jesse, my two nephews.