Sunday, 27 February 2011

the new view from our cabin

 This is the view from our bedroom - taken from deck 7- so our view is a little lower than it might look here, they should be re-arranging the containers to make a more secure wall, so it might be different containers soon :-)
 To the left looking out, more containers - anyone would think we live in a port or something - plus a mountain in the background which makes it a little nicer
To the right looking out - the view from the rest of our cabin windows - more containers and mountains, but you can also see the fishing village just behind that area of water on the right of the picture. It is easier to see it in real life and it is possible to see people over there.

Destination reached: Freetown, Sierra Leone

 First thing today we saw the sun rise and land was visible on the horizon
 The pilot came by boat
 There was a fishing boat, so Tommy was happy taking pictures again, there was a little fishing village that we sailed past just before we docked so we'll probably see lots of these soon
 There were many people on the dock to welcome us, many to join the ship as crew, plus some locals, a few dignitaries and a marching band
The Sierra Leone flag was carried down the gangway by our two crew from Sierra Leone while we sang the Sierra Leone National Anthem from the upper decks. There was then a short arrival ceremony on the dock and then the day carried on for us like any other. 

The first verse of the National Anthem:

High we exalt thee, realm of the free;
Great is the love we have for thee;
Firmly united ever we stand,
Singing thy praise, O native land.
We raise up our hearts and our voices on high,
The hills and the valleys re-echo our cry;
Blessing and peace be ever thine own,
Land that we love, our Sierra Leone.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

we crossed the equator

and it rained a little bit. We squeezed the water out of Josh's t'shirt outside, then quickly took him down to the bathroom to change the rest of his clothes. He stood on the bathroom floor, dripping, and said 'Mummy, I'm leaking'. I don't think he even really realised why we were outside (despite my excellent geography lesson complete with globe and everything). I guess we've 'been there, done that' before and dancing in the rain was more fun than seeing an imaginary line!!

To see a cool pic of the weather see:

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

life expectancy 40 years in Sierra Leone

The BBC have an article with a video (that we haven't watched as we can't watch anything on-line) titled 'Why is life expectancy in Sierra Leone 40 years?'

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

a different side of life

Someone said yesterday that we must be constantly entertained by our boys. I'm sure that is true of most children, they constantly do and say funny things, it is especially true of Joshua. He is a little Uncle Sam in the making, a class clown, regularly saying funny things whether he means to or not. Yesterday he 'packed his bags' for Sierra Leone. This involved finding the only available bag - a small plastic bag that he had brought home from a party - and putting plastic lions in it. Today he wore his swimming goggles in the bath so he could put his face in the bubbles and look at the bottom. Life is not dull. Nor serious a lot of the time. Nor quiet, but I digress.

Anyway, today was the first of many briefings we have to learn more about Sierra Leone, the ships host country for the next ten months. We saw pictures, nothing gory I might add, but of people missing their arms or legs, a result of the horrific cival war that Sierra Leone saw only a few years back. And our happy little four year old showed more distress than I thought he would understand. And we talked about wars, and bad people and how God can let bad things happen. It is certainly going to be an interesting, eye opening time, and we are excited by the capacity of the ship to help many. Already over 5000 patients have been screened for surgery in the North of the country and hundreds of them scheduled in. There is such great need for health care and we are excited to be part of a ministry that is making a difference to some of the worlds poorest. We'll be seeing some of a different side of life once again, wondering why things happen to some people and why by the grace of God they don't to others. We're excited to be starting this new chapter, serving the God we love through serving the poor and needy of Sierra Leone.

moving zones

We've moved into the Western Hemisphere, will be crossing the equator into the Northern Hemisphere soon and we've changed time zones twice. We're now on the same time as the UK - yeh!

Friday, 18 February 2011

sailing update

The sea is grey, the sky is grey. There is no wildlife to be seen, no ships passing, just lots and lots of water. It is pretty dull. There should be some fun things planned this weekend to help the time go quicker, another olympic games, sock golf competition, karaoke, movies and the like. The kids (and Tommy) are in Saturday school this week to make up for having Monday off in Cape Town. Josh doesn't have to go and make up the day of school and is excited about going to a princess birthday party for his two favourite princesses.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

2nd Stop: Boulders Beach

After visiting Table Mountain on Sunday afternoon we had Monday morning to explore further and the family vote was to go to see penguins on Boulders Beach.
 The kids swam with the penguins at the beach.
 There were penguins around the rocks everywhere.
 They were completely oblivious to the people around.
 It was fun to watch them, lots of them seemed to be having some kind of competition to see who could stand still the longest.
 Apparantly they started with two breeding pairs and now there are over 3000 pengiuns! There were lots of fluffy baby penguins too and we saw some penguins sitting on eggs so there will be even more soon!

1st Stop: Table Mountain

We only had 24 hours to explore Cape Town, so we decided that Table Mountain was something we should try and see. This photo shows the typical terrain at the top and a view of the ocean.
 You could hike or go up by cable car which had a revolving floor.
 This is a dassie, a bit like a big guinea pig!
 The views were spectacular - you can see around 360 degrees and there wasn't a cloud in sight.
We could even see the ship (on the left of the harbour looking down).

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

at sea again

After an all too brief 24 hour stop in Cape Town we are at sea again. We'll write more soon about how we spent our 24 hours, for now, the ship is rocking and rolling about. We left Monday evening and did various manouveres as part of the ongoing engine tests, resulting in a lot of uncomfortable movement. We'd already put all our things on the floor so we didn't have much in the way of crashes, just things rattling about in drawers and cupboards. We did get a call to identify our freezer drawer contents as the communal freezer had become unbraced and emptied around the floor. You never know what to expect living here! We're hoping that we just have a few rocky days ahead and then the seas will get calmer. It is going to be a long sail otherwise.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

V and A Waterfront, Cape Town

We docked right in the middle of the V and A Waterfront in an amazing berth. It probably couldn't have been a bigger contrast to where we are headed next - the port of Freetown, Sierra Leone. Here is a selection of random pictures:
 The Clock Tower
 Not very beautiful, but quite unique - a man made from coca cola crates
 The ship at sunset from the strip of restaurants, that's how close we were to them!
 The view of the ferris wheel, just a little further down the path from the ship
 The view across the harbour  - it was all lovely with the backdrop of the mountains

A brief stop

Some technical work needed to be done in Cape Town, and fuel needed to be loaded for our mammoth sail up to Sierra Leone, so while that was happening we got to enjoy the sights. As we sailed in we saw seals swimming everywhere, including right into the Port waters. The sun was shining and we had beautiful views of the mountains and coastlines around Cape Point and then into Cape Town itself.
 The mountains were stunning as we sailed towards Cape Town Waterfront. The thing in the water in the foreground is a seal. Their jumping in and out of the water was too quick for our camera to catch.
 Our first view of Table Mountain as we sailed into the V and A Waterfront in Cape Town. Not a bad view from our window for a few hours!!

Friday, 11 February 2011

what happened in Shipyard?

Well quite a lot it would seem (taken from Olly's blog as I couldn't find this info anywhere and then he happened to blog it so I just copied it here :-) )

Replacement of 6 old, noisy, unreliable and dirty generators with 4 super efficient, more economical and environmentally friendly brand new MAN generators;

Replacement of 2 old and unreliable air conditioning SABRO units with 2 shiny new and reliable Carrier units;

New engine room piping for cooling salt water, fire mains, heavy fuel, diesel fuel, fresh water, etc;

Replacement of engine controls in engine room and bridge;

7km of new cables between engines and bridge;

Modification of electrical switchboard;

New shelving in Deck 6 and Deck 2 food stores;

All lifeboats, life-rafts, and lifeboat davits serviced and all cables renewed;

All fire-fighting and SCUBA equipment repaired/serviced;

New Mercy Ships logo on funnel and along side;

Pool modified with installation of wave catchers;

More sprinklers installed in cargo hold;

Damaged windows replaced with new ones;

Main engines overhauled;

Tons and tons of provisions loaded;

All Land Rovers and Nissans repaired and serviced;

Elevator converted from manual to electronic, with fancy new controls.
Thanks Olly (and yeh for generators and A/C that work!)

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Goodbye Durban!!

 Leaving our dock, Southern African Shipyard
 Being turned around by the tugs. You can see the Durban skyline in the distance.
 We get closer to the Durban skyline and notice that there are people standing fishing just a little way from us inside the Port waters!
 The tugs job is done and they leave us to make our way out of the Port
So begins our lovey sail, time to enjoy the sunshine :-)

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

green hen and chickens help childbirth (apparantly)

 As found in the botanical gardens in Pietermaritzburg - a green hen and chickens plant claiming it's roots help childbirth...
...and another plant claiming its leaves help childbirth. In fact whatever ailment you might suffer there was probably a plant to help, stomach problems, skin conditions, sexual dysfunction all included!!!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

we survived the bosch

Our limited edition, no you can't have one unless you survived it with us T'shirts say so....
(The Bosch AKA Appelsbosch College, our home for the last five months)

swimming in the sunshine

 Finally, only a year after it was installed the pool is open! We lost the childrens playspace for the pool to go here up on deck 8 so we are pleased it can now be used. The cars are loaded up ready for sailing, the pool is up the steps behind the green netting.
So here it is! Currently out in the Durban sunshine.

Monday, 7 February 2011

our latest view

 The view from our cabin - we always seem to have such beautiful buildings outside. haha.
 The rest of the dock
The view on the other side of the ship is pretty nice :-)

Thursday, 3 February 2011

getting sorted

We are almost unpacked and just have a bit more cleaning to do in our cabin. Things are gradually getting back to normal in the academy, for Tommy it has been busy making sure all the IT things are back as they need to be. That said this morning there had been a flood in the school library so we helped the high school team sort through the books and dry the wet ones just for an extra challenge. The air conditioning has been on throughout the ship for a day or two, and although off again right now, we know that it works and brought our cabin temperature down by over 5 degrees to close to 25 degrees which is much more comfortable. The boys have settled in just fine, and not yet mentioned missing anything from Appelsbosch. We have tried out the new pool on deck 8 before it is drained for the sail and that was pretty fun and will be a blessing once we are in the heat of Sierra Leone. It was warmer than the showers as the pool is out in the sunshine and we still don't have any hot water in the cabins. We started our 'at sea' drills, lifejackets and all, which is always encouraging as you know that the date to set sail must be getting closer. They are still doing whatever it is to get the generators working and talking to each other so pray for these last days for things to go smoothly for the technical crew that we would be ready to sail soon.