Friday, 30 August 2013

Tristan Trip...

As I have mentioned in an earlier post, Candace and I have some exciting plans for the future. One of those plans is to sail to the island of Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic Ocean next week! I have blogged about this island before today. An ore carrier ran aground on one of the neighbouring islands in March 2011. Many sea-birds were covered in oil in this ecological disaster.

But before we tell you more, we would just like to thank everyone who is reading this blog and has prayed for us, supported us, and encouraged us over our time with Mercy Ships in West Africa and at Zithulele. God has been so faithful and we feel very blessed!

That being said, we will be boarding South Africa's new polar research vessel, S.A. Agulhas II, and will sail to Tristan da Cunha, the most remote inhabited island in the world. We will be following in my grandfather's footsteps - he was the first person to accurately map the island in 1937. Allan Bryant Crawford also wrote many books on Tristan da Cunha and supported Mercy Ships throughout his latter years. He dedicated his final book, Memoirs - North, South, East, West, published in 2006, to Mercy Ships. This adds special significance to our trip.

Providing the Internet is fast enough, I will continue to keep this blog updated during the voyage and our visit on the island. Keep posted for more!

The photos here were taken by my parents and are of the island of Tristan da Cunha, as well as the S.A. Agulhas II. Enjoy!

 S.A. Agulhas II.
Antarctic map towards the aft of the ship.
Passengers wave farewell from the flight deck, as the ship sails for Tristan in September last year.
Exiting Table Bay Harbour, bound for Tristan da Cunha.
The settlement of Edinburgh as seen from the new volcano.
Island cottages.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Melkbos 4x4-ing...

While I drove Land Rovers and Nissan Patrols on numerous occasions while serving with Mercy Ships, I very rarely took the vehicle anywhere requiring much technical skill. I mean, I did go off-road on several occasions, but I never really had to engage the differential lock. So when my cousin invited me to join him for a day of off-roading last week, I jumped at it. This was a chance to see how modern Land Rovers perform on rough, muddy tracks. We drove up the West Coast to Melkbos, about 30 kms north of Cape Town, and visited a special 4x4 track there. My cousin Adrian even let me have a turn driving in the mud. It was a great day!

Lots of recent rain had converted the tracks into small rivers.
 Similar proportions in terms of Mercy Ships... 4 Land Rovers and a solitary Nissan. However, Mercy Ships are now turning more to Toyota Land Cruisers.
Deflating the tyres prior to hitting the rough stuff.
 Entering the course.
Some of the less-challenging bits.
Negotiating a flooded corner.
Flooded course.
The front wheels of this Land Rover Discovery 3 almost get some serious air time!
Adrian's Discovery comes down the slope.
Table Mountain visible in the far distance.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Nephews' birthdays...

The past few years I have always been away for my nephews' birthdays, so it was rather special to be in Cape Town for their birthdays this year. Rhyenn and Jesse are two years apart in age, but were born within a week of each other in August, so a combined party made sense. The weather cleared nicely for the party and the children had a great time!

The theme was "Magic" and so Mom made the boys a magician-themed cake.
Jesse has a horse ride.
 Rhyenn has his turn.
Sombre-looking horses in the muddy field.
Table Mountain and Devil's Peak from the party venue.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Travels from Zithulele to Cape Town...

Candace and I left Zithulele on Saturday, 10th August, and travelled the fifteen hours by road back to Cape Town. We decided to take our time on the trip back and enjoy some of the Garden Route's treasures. We stayed a night with our friends Brad and Lydia in East London before heading on to George, one of the Garden Route's main towns. The photo at left was taken above the Knysna Heads.

We stayed for two nights in George with Mercy Shippers Lourens and Ruth and had a lovely time chatting about the ship and exploring the surrounding area together. My family used to have a holiday house in nearby Wilderness and so we relived some of my childhood memories in this beautiful area of South Africa. We arrived in Cape Town last Tuesday, 13th August. The photo at right is of the beach at Wilderness. Enjoy some more photos from our time exploring this region!

 On our way to George we stopped at Knysna, a town on a beautiful lagoon. This is the view towards the town from the Heads - where the sea enters the lagoon.
 Catamaran in Knysna lagoon.
 View towards the Heads. Many a ship came to grief between those two cliffs.
 Smit Amandla, a powerful ocean-going tug, standing by off the Heads. The reason is the next photo...
 The Kiani Satu, a bulk carrier, had ran aground between Knysna and Sedgefield. Thankfully, salvage experts were able to pull her off the beach and out into the deep ocean, where she has now sunk.
 Lourens and Ruth drove us along the old road from George to Wilderness and we crossed this pretty mountain river.
 We visited the Big Tree at Woodville.
 It is said to be over 800 years old.
 Now that's a Big Tree!
 We then went through to Wilderness and visited the Malachite Bird Hide.
 This is Island Lake, Wilderness. My family once had a holiday house overlooking this beautiful place.
 Kaaimans River Bridge, Wilderness. My family and I used to walk along the railway track collecting coal from the steam train for our winter fires. We'd walk from Wilderness to Victoria Bay and back. It was always scary crossing this bridge!
 The railway line is out of service due to a severe storm several years ago.
 The bridge is still sturdy enough - though very scary.
 I don't like heights, so this was quite a challenge. Candace encouraged me all the way across!
 Almost there!
 There are a number of tunnels between Wilderness and Victoria Bay.
We made it to Victoria Bay!
 This is Victoria Bay - it's a great view.

 It was low-tide and so walking back we crossed the river mouth under the bridge.
Candace and I on the tracks.
 View from Lourens and Ruth's place in George. Above the prominent point in this photo you can just make out the Kiani Satu aground, and to the right of centre, in the sea, is the salvage tug Smit Amandla.
 Sunset in George.
 Sunrise in George on the morning of our drive back to Cape Town.
Snow on the mountains as we near Cape Town.