Friday, 30 July 2010

Crew photo

Yesterday the whole crew turned out on the dock after the fire drill for photos. Click on the photos below to expand. You may just about recognise someone. The Peet family are in the shadows on the right hand side. Olly

Monday, 26 July 2010

Liberian feast

This evening we joined the Africa Mercy's nine Liberian crew members in celebrating their country's Independence Day. Liberia was the first country in Africa to become a republic, gaining independence from America in 1847.

Anyway, Chris and Oretha spent the whole day cooking a selection of Liberian dishes, including my absolute favourite, rice and potato greens (below):

Below, African chicken and jollof rice, and a bowl of spicy Liberian peppers:

Below, 7 out of 9 of our Liberians; Wablo, Chris, Gregory, Eddie, Libby, Oretha, and Sieh.

There was enough food to allow Libby and me to plate up more fish and greens for dinner tomorrow! Happy Birthday Liberia. Olly

Sunday, 25 July 2010

More Land Rover engine pictures

More photos of Andy, Koffi & Mathieu pulling the engine out of #998. Olly

Friday, 23 July 2010

World record?

I am really enjoying having Andy working in Transport with us. Today he took out a Land Rover engine in 2 hours. Is that a world record? Photo of Koffi (left), Andy and Mathieu (right). Olly

Saturday, 17 July 2010


We've been leant a Wii over the summer holidays. Sally and I struggle to use it, but the kids (including Libby, aged 5) know their way around each and every game perfectly. What's that all about? Olly

Anyone aboard?

With only 4 weekends left in Togo, each Saturday and Sunday sees a mass exodus of crew as we travel far and wide, buying last minute Togolese crafts, visiting friends, and taking in the magnificent West African countryside. Today I noticed that every single Fire Team Leader was off the ship (including me!)...

Huh. Olly

Big hole

Today I broke my personal record of hole digging. I got permission at a local beach to dig under a disused concrete path, and created a cave for the kids to play in...only to be told an hour later to fill it in again. WAWA.

So then I dug a big hole in the middle of the beach, where no-one could complain...

...and buried Libby. Olly

The launch of the Espoir

Today, the barge Espoir was launched. We have seen her being built from the bottom up, over the last 4 months. She will help service the port's fenders or a pipeline - not sure which. Enjoy the photos. Olly

Friday, 16 July 2010

Against the flow

One French West African thing I will never get used to is driving against the traffic flow (for example, you're on a 4-lane highway and your lanes are blocked, so you just pull over into the other lanes and drive half a mile flashing your lights and honking a lot, and everyone else will move out of your way). Our local drivers are used to it; in fact everyone here is used to it, and they probably can't understand why the white guys sit patiently in traffic instead of using all the other options available - like driving the wrong way around a roundabout or along the wrong side of a 4 lane highway, dodging vehicles. Olly

More pig abuse

I just found this great photo of our friend Liz and a man carrying a pig...on his Benin. Olly

Tuesday, 13 July 2010


Today Andy, Mathieu and Koffi finished replacing the gearbox they started putting back on Friday. It took two whole days plus numerous test drives just to adjust the master slave thingy which had previously been messed up by other mechanics. PTL it's now finished. Three days work at UK prices...I've just saved Mercy Ships about £2 million...Olly

Another Scandinavian overland biker

In 2003, Anastasis welder Bowie Buverud (on left, with big beard), travelled on his own by motorcycle from Togo to his home in Norway. Today, following in his footsteps, Africa Mercy carpenter Jens Smedegaard (on bike, without big beard) started his own solo journey by motorcycle from Togo to his home in Denmark.

Good luck Jens. Stay safe! (Incidentally, Jens also had a big beard until only a couple of weeks ago). Olly

Monday, 12 July 2010

Mighty Ships - Africa Mercy - UK screening

Mighty Ships: This is a TV series by Discovery Canada about large ships which includes an episode about the Africa Mercy. It will be broadcast in the UK on Quest TV on Tuesday 7th September at 9.00pm - see their website: Sky Channel 154 / Freeview Channel 38. (Thanks, Anne in Aberystwyth for the info. Olly)

Friday, 9 July 2010

Gear box fun

On Wednesday our new mechanic arrived on the ship - a very experienced guy called Andy from Tasmania. Today, under his expert guidance, we did something we've never attempted before - remove and replace a Nissan Patrol gearbox. And my oh my, I now know why we've never attempted it before - it came out easy, but took 6 hours to put back in. We even had to hire in extra mechanics for the job - at one stage we had no less than 7 mechanics working on it. Of course, with no car lift or gearbox jack, and only the uneven cobbles of the dock for our trolley jacks, we were bound to struggle. We ended up lifting the gearbox into position with a strap hanging off a scaffolding bar which was lifted by 2 guys standing next to the drivers door, and 2 guys standing by the front passengers door. Right now the gearbox is back in place, but not tight yet - still plenty to do on Monday. Never again. Olly

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Mighty Ships

The Discovery Channel program about the Africa Mercy has recently been aired in North America, and we've just watched it here on the ship. Everyone in the Peet family was in it (albeit briefly in the background), and I even did a talky bit about diving under the ship. Discovery Canada are showing it again on Wednesday at 8pm - click here for a link to their website. Looks like you can download it via iTunes too, which may be the only way to view it in the rest of the world for now. Olly

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Mummy Dada

Ewé is the predominant local language, here in Togo. Rather confusingly, the English word "Mummy" translates into "Dada" in Ewé (Sally assures me). Huh. Olly

Cold feet

Last night Sally and I had to wear socks in bed, our feet were so cold. Of course, our air conditioning system only works in the cool of rainy season, so our cabin temperature now hovers between 21 and 24 degrees, instead of around 29 degrees typical of the dry and hot season. Olly

Smoke rings

The other day I watched someone start up a Land Rover on the dock - it was a still afternoon, and the thing blew a perfect smoke ring. Cool. Olly

Monday, 5 July 2010


Today I switched off the pumps and drained the ship pool. It is a big blow to everyone. Who would have thought that Cammel Laird, the pride of British ship building, would have designed such a disaster just before they became insolvent in 2001. In the meantime, it remains up to our own engineers and welders to design and install an ingenious method of keeping the waves down and stopping the water slopping out of the pool during the slightest of rolls, even whilst docked in port. Olly

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Dry Rainy Season

I think there are four seasons in West Africa, not two: dry season; dry rainy season; rainy season; and rainy dry season. Currently we are at the height of dry rainy season: by all accounts it should be raining every day, but it's not rained for a couple of weeks despite the clouds and cool winds. I think the whole local population is waiting with baited breaths for the flooding still to come. Olly

Encounter with poo

To you and me, the Gulf of Guinea is somewhere to cool down on a hot day, and where fish come from. But to millions of West Africans, it's their toilet. Today, whilst frolicking in the waves, Libby shouted that she had poo on her arm...and sure enough she'd squashed a turd (not hers!) between herself and our friend Liz, smearing both with someone else's waste. Delightful. Olly

Young -v- not-so-young

So I was watching the Germany -v- Argentina match yesterday with a load of twenty year olds, when the TV camera zoomed in on two celebs in the executive box: I saw Mick Jagger and a young guy whilst my friends saw Leonardo Dicaprio and an old guy. I even said to one of them "it's Mick Jagger" and she said "Who is Mick Jagger?". Huh. Olly

Friday, 2 July 2010


As I've mentioned before, we've become part of a group of friends which we've come to call "the family". This week has been a momentous week for us all - I had my birthday yesterday, and Jenn left us today - so we celebrated our joint celebrations/commiserations together every night this week with movies, pizza, more movies, ice cream, hanging out together, eating together, singing together...This is the closest it'll ever get to us being in that TV show "Friends", and we love it. Over the next couple of months we lose every single member of the family except two...but we will all be reunited again in Sierra Leone early next year. Below, the family at the joint Jen's farewell/Olly's birthday meal. Olly