Thursday, 30 December 2010

Advertisement Feature

So, yesterday the clutch on our little Citroen Picasso broke. Here are the guys that helped me in the Ramsgate/Margate area on the South Coast of Kwa-Zulu Natal in South Africa.

Roedolf Fourie of Giorgio Express tow-trucks: 039 317 3534. Provided friendly service and great local advice about where to take the car, and even took me there the next day. And a Christian too - very interested in what we are doing here.

Johann van der Merwe and Etienne Goosen (100% Boer), ProTech Auto: 082 493 6873 and 076 889 6714. Worked flat out to get the clutch fixed in less than a day! And they've got a extremely cool Land Rover Defender 300 tdi tow truck.

May God bless them all. Olly

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Cheeky monkeys!

Vervet monkeys, typical to many parts of South Africa, are really cute. A troop of them hang out in the garden of the house we are staying in, and it is fun to see them moving around with their tiny babies clinging to their mummy's tummies.

However, today we came back from the beach only to find a load of them had raided our house, and stolen most of our fruit and bread, and made a BIG mess in the process! My parents even had to throw a couple out! Bless 'em! Olly

Merry Christmas

It's been a while. I've not blogged for a couple of weeks, simply because there was nothing worth blogging about. Life at Appelsbosch stays the same: it remains misty and cool. Life on the ship stays the same: slowly the engineers are finalising the refit. Meanwhile, my parents arrived in South Africa a week ago, and we are now staying in a beautiful house in Ramsgate, about 3 hours from Appelsbosch on the south coast of Kwa-Zulu Natal, having a great time in the sunshine, playing on the beach etc etc. Anyway, Merry Christmas! Olly

Friday, 3 December 2010

Africa Mercy update

Thanks, Chuck, for another great photo. So, the new and improved Africa Mercy, still moored at the repair wharf: note the new and huge "URL" down the side, the new and huge logo on the funnel, and the new and smaller exhaust pipes coming out of the funnel, and also the frame for the Deck 8 canopy. Great. Progress continues...


Tuesday, 30 November 2010

I'm having another breakdown

On Saturday one of our Nissans broke down. The beast weighed 2400 kgs compared to a Land Rover's 1943 kgs...nevertheless I towed the Nissan 11kms back to Appelsbosch in a Landy. On Monday a tow truck came to take the Nissan to a workshop, and the driver boasted he would have no problem towing it, until he tried to lift it! His truck nearly took off at the front, whilst the Nissan barely cleared the ground for the long tow to Pietermaritzburg. The photos hardly do it justice.


Saturday, 27 November 2010

Ghana bans second-hand knickers

BBC: Market traders in Ghana will be banned from selling second-hand underwear from next February, trade regulators say. According to the Ghana Standards Board, used pants - and other second-hand goods like handkerchiefs and mattresses - are unhygienic and could pose a health hazard. Some traders in a market in the capital, Accra, told the BBC they were unhappy the move might affect business.

The BBC's David Amanor in the city says there is a lot of consumer demand for second-hand clothing, often imported from Europe, as it is cheaper than locally produced items. It is the same in many African countries.

Shame! If you've lived in West Africa for any length of time you'll know how important quality 2nd-hand clothes from Europe and the USA are to the people - they will last way longer than the locally made or cheap imports, and will be passed down, literally, from kid to kid until they fall apart. Olly

Logo completed

It's bigger; it's better (etc etc). Thanks, Chuck, for this great photo of the newly installed bigger and better Mercy Ships logo on the Africa Mercy's funnel (and note the new configuration of exhaust pipes on top). The two white things at the bottom of the photo are the containerised oxygen plant (left, covering part of the logo) and one of my trailers containing Land Rover parts (right). Olly

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Ground Hog Day

Appelsbosch update: same old same old.
Ship update: same old same old.
Weather update: same old same old.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Hair lock

Over the years Sally has tried many different styles with Libby's hair, from simple Afros to elaborate braids and extensions. But each style takes ages to do, and costs money, and only lasts for a couple of months. Enter Nanita: she has two Liberian daughters too, and has braid-locked their hair (like small dreadlocks), which will stay in the girls hair forever with minimum of maintenance, and will even grow as their hair grows. So today Nanita locked Libby's hair: it took over 8 hours, during which time Libby watched five movies whilst Nanita put in 187 braid-locks. Thank you so much, Nanita. Below, Libby with a simple 'fro before the braiding began:

Below, half way there:

Below, Libby and Nanita:

Below, the finished product.

It's a bit short at the moment, but as the hair grows the new hair can be locked into the original braids using something like a darning needle, and will get longer and longer. It is very low maintenance, and she can even shampoo it like real hair, which she couldn't do with normal braids or extensions. Great. A significant weight off Sally's mind! Olly

Pool's progress

The pool's wave catcher has now been installed. It looks good, but only time will tell if it will be effective. Olly

Monday, 15 November 2010


Sing hallelujahs! Noah was persuaded to have his hair cut yesterday. A great improvement from previously, don't you think? Olly

Harburg Waterfall*

(*I think that's what it is called). On Saturday we visited the neighbourhood's best kept secret - a hidden waterfall and gorge, only a few miles from Appelsbosch, just outside the settlement of Harburg. It was fantastic. Our walk involved a long climb down the valley side to the bottom of the falls, on a path that hadn't seen other walkers for a long time. And most unexpectedly, there wasn't one drop of litter anywhere to be seen.

Magnificent views, eh? Olly

Uncle Ben

No, not a fat man with his own brand of rice. Or a bear who lived in the Everglades (or was that Gentle Ben?)...Last weekend my brother came to visit whilst on business in East Africa and the Middle East. It was lovely to see him again after 4 years apart, and we had a great 3 days together. He is now a big fan of Appelsbosch. Olly

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Happy Libby Day

On the 11th November 2005 we picked up Libby from her orphanage in Monrovia. And what a beautiful strong Liberian girl she is growing into!

Thanks, Uncle Ben, for this lovely new family photo. Olly

Friday, 5 November 2010

Guy Fawkes Night

Today, 5th November, is Guy Fawkes Night, or Bonfire Night, in the UK. Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators tried to blow-up the British Houses of Parliament on 5th November 1604, but were caught red handed, and sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered (drawn by horse on a wooden hurdle to the place of execution, and once there were ritually hanged, emasculated, disemboweled, beheaded and quartered (chopped into four pieces).) Fawkes managed to jump from the scaffold and broke his neck before the full sentence was executed. I am surprised to see that here in South Africa, Guy Fawkes Night is celebrated too. Any excuse for letting off fireworks and having a big fire, eh? Olly

Shipyard update 5th November

Work continues. The funnel now boasts four new "aero-dynamic" exhausts (currently painted red), for each of the four new generators:

The funnel now looks very different, with a total of 6 newer and smaller exhausts, and four remaining big old exhausts for the four main engines.

The deck-plates in the engine room are gradually being replaced, as are the miles of pipework:

The Deck 8 canopy frame has been put up, with the help of the shore crane:

Welders are creating a wave-catcher in the pool:

It's bigger; it's better: a new Mercy Ships logo is going onto the funnel, twice the size of the one that was fitted ten months ago in Tenerife:

Jeff and Bowie are busy replacing sinks in the galley. The washing area will now have a triple sink in it:

Lastly, contractors are replacing much of the original flooring in the Deck 7 corridors, which involves removing the old lino and cement, and grinding or needle-gunning the deck before applying paint, new cement and lino. Very messy though: look at the red dust on everything in the photo:

S'all for now. Olly


On Tuesday night, we were invaded by millions of big flying bugs (ants or termites). I have no idea why they all came at the same time on the same night, heading towards any light source and even squeezing through cracks in doors and windows. We had to retreat several times, firstly inside, then into the corridors, and then into our rooms as they breached our defences again and again like an invading army.

After only a few minutes of flying, their wings fell off and they hooked up with other bugs and mated, before the ladies crawled off to their holes to lay their eggs, I presume.

The next morning the whole area was covered in millions - nay, billions - of wings. 3 days later, the clean-up is still under way. Olly

Monday, 1 November 2010


Last Sunday my nephew Thomas was the mascot for Liverpool FC in a game against Blackburn. Here he is, with someone quite famous (I think). Olly

Lake Appelsbosch

On Thursday afternoon we experienced a MASSIVE storm, which including viscous winds, torrential rain and hail stones the size of Land Rovers. Several of the buildings flooded, and many of the crew were put on bailing-out duty, and the power was knocked out too. Appelsbosch's famous amphitheater flooded, which kept many of the kids amused for hours as they paddled in the freezing water...

Huh. Olly

Shipyard update Thursday 28th October 2010

The slow work of making the Africa Mercy a functioning ship continues. The four new MAN generators are now in position and being hooked up to fuel pipes, exhaust pipes and cables. Below is a shock absorber, on which the generator sits, which will help to reduce vibrations and noise. These shock absorbers critical to the project: without them, the new generators might create as much noise and nuisance as the old ones through vibrations.

Below, one of the two new Carrier air conditioning units, and (in the background) the hole in the ship's side through which they came.
Below, fireproof flooring with a layer of cement, going into cabin 3414 and neighbouring cabins.

Below, the smoke stack slowly changing shape, as six old exhaust pipes have been removed...
...(old exhaust pipes on the dock waiting to be taken away for scrap)... be replaced by four new exhaust pipes for the four new generators.

Below, all these pipes and valves have to go back into the ship and be reconnected in the right order, to carry diesel fuel, heavy fuel, fresh water, salt water etc etc.

Below, another big challenge, sorting out the wires coming from the bridge through the International Lounge:

And so the work continues. Good luck shipyard workers and AFM crew! Olly

Student life program

The Academy's Student Life Program is giving ship kids the opportunity to learn about things they never have the opportunity to experience whilst living on the ship, such as camping skills, and gardening. I am teaching the gardening class. Below, students Noah and Josie,

and Rachael and Bethany...
...planting up some of Appelsbosch's abandoned flower beds. In four short weeks we will cover all aspects of gardening including growing plants and vegetables from seeds, lawn care, and landscape gardening. Olly

Tuesday, 26 October 2010


T-shirts used to play a great part in the life of Mercy Ships crew. One was designed for every different outreach, and even for dry-dock phases and public relations tours. Alas, a different t-shirt for every occasion is no more. But I spent a few moments thinking about the t-shirt possibilities on the "got?" theme, and came up with these, which are specific to Appelsbosch. Hope you enjoy them. Can you think of any more, less lame? Olly

Friday, 22 October 2010

Blah blah shipyard blah blah blah

I've not been to the ship since Tuesday, but my mate Murray went yesterday and took these photos. Below, one of the two Sabro air conditioning compressors being removed from the engine room through a new hole in the ship's side. They will be replaced by two new Carrier air conditioning units, which are more effcicient to run, and being brand new are more reliable.

Below: the original Mercy Ships website address on the side of the ship was too small, so a bigger version has been painted on. Great. I wonder if they'll leave the old one there too.

Curiously though, the address has been painted on the forward part of the ship, starting at the bow, not mid-ships as seems to be usual on other ships:

Thanks Murray for these photos. To see more of Murray's blog, click on
Lastly, here's a photo of the whole Africa Mercy shipyard crew in the dry-dock, taken Tuesday (not by Murray). (Or me). Olly