Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Might Ships

The TV premier of the Discovery Channel documentary about the Africa Mercy and the work we do, due to be shown on Quest TV on 7th September, has been moved to 14th September. Olly

Friday, 27 August 2010

Land ahoy!

We can see mountains! Yippee! We are sailing along the southern cape of South Africa. I was even able to pick up radio stations from Cape Town for a short while this morning. Right now we are passing the most southern point of the continent of Africa - Cape Agulhas. We can see beaches and sand dunes through the haze. And thus our long sail continues painfully slowly - it will take us another 4 days to sail up the west coast to Durban. And its cold - 13 degrees C on deck right now. More later. Olly

Thursday, 26 August 2010


A regular feature of any Mercy Ship sail is the sighting of dolphins and whales, but they are usually very brief sitings. However this evening we spied dozens of dolphins off the bow, keeping pace with the ship for nearly twenty minutes. It was getting dark, so the officers on the bridge put their powerful spotlight on to help us see better. It was a great site. The seas have calmed down in the last 24 hours, and we are now sailing east instead of south, as we prepare to round the Cape of Good Hope. We will pass Cape Town during the night, and then head north east into the Indian Ocean and to our destination in Durban. Olly 

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

A better night at sea

The Force 10 gale has reduced to Force 7 or 8, but we still had a very choppy night. Thankfully my brilliant wife packed all our cupboards with blankets and cushions, so nothing banged or crashed all night and we all slept surprisingly well. This morning the Deckies put up the steel shutters on the bow that prevents the waves from smashing windows into the dining room - maybe they know something we don't, or maybe they're locking the stable door too late? I still find it very hard to concentrate - the pressure in my head is immense every time we do a big roll, and even reading (or writing this) is hard. Olly

Monday, 23 August 2010


Thanks Murray for this cool photo of waves crashing over the bow of the Africa Mercy earlier today. Olly

Things to do on a long and rough sail

1. Build an Africa Mercy in lego. Well done Mr Calvert for this excellent model, complete with crane and Tenerife-style mountains in the background.

2. Door anagrams. How many different words can you make out of "The Peet Family"?

(should say the fire team lad, but the "a" fell off)

3. Pirate Games: we spent Saturday dressed as pirates and enjoying a treasure hunt.

4. Olympic Games - we spent Sunday in teams playing the 2010 Africa Mercy McVities Hobnob* Olympic Games: here is Libby's team:

...and Anna's team (building a tower out of empty McVities Hobnob* boxes).

*We use Hobnobs to ward off sea-sickness.

Today it's back to work, but half the crew are zombified having had no sleep last night, and the other half can't sit still to work without being thrown across the office by the Force 8 gale. Olly

Rough night

Monday 4am: I don't think we've slept all night. Since about 9pm last night the ship has been rolling horribly; everything is on the floor, entire offices are scenes of destruction, and Sally feels sick. The Force 7 storm causing the rough seas is expected to be harassing us for 24 to 36 hours...can't wait for it to calm down so we can get some sleep. Olly

Friday, 20 August 2010

Day 5 at sea

From somewhere off the coast of Angola: smooth sail so far. Getting colder by the day - only 20 degrees on deck right now, with only one day of sunshine. The sea and the sky are dull grey. No passing ships, and very little sea-life. We thank God for the great sail! Olly

Monday, 16 August 2010


Hope you enjoy these photos of me doing various things in, on, and around the Africa Mercy. Thanks Sean and Murray. Olly

Sunday, 15 August 2010

On the road in West Africa

My good friend Eric now has a website showing photos of many of the road signs and things he has seen whilst on the road in West Africa. These are some of my favourites - click on each image to enlarge. Have a look at http://www.africanroadsigns.com/. Olly

Goodbye Togo

I am constantly in awe of missionaries who are vague or elusive about their itinerary for security reasons. We have friends in Afghanistan and Pakistan whose lives, or their ministry, must be at threat daily. But such is the way of the world that Mercy Ships too must now be vague about our itinerary for the same reasons; lets just say that over the weekend the Africa Mercy departed from Togo. It was a sad departure as usual, and we have left behind many good friends and colleagues, and places where we have had both fun and incredible experiences. Yet it was a joyous departure too - as usual we have changed thousands of people's lives, and in recent weeks people would thank me in the streets for restoring their sister's eyesight, or for giving them glasses, or for pulling their rotten tooth. It is always encouraging to receive those messages and even shouts of "thank you" from workers in the port as we maneuvered away from our berth. I think this field service was harder because it was only 6 months long instead of 10, so I for one wasn't ready to leave the country yet. And so to sea...we have begun our 14 day sail to Durban in South Africa where we will go into a shipyard to have our generators replaced amongst other things. The weather forecast for the first week or so is good, but is likely to become less so as we enter South Africa's waters and round the southern cape. There probably won't be too much to blog about during the sail, but if there is you'll be the first to know. Bye for now. Olly

Sunday, 8 August 2010


Today I took Anna to church with me whilst Sally, Noah and Libby went to Kid's Church on the ship. I was very proud of her. The service lasted well over 3 hours, and she didn't complain once. Praise God that the weather was mercifully cool, and the plastic seats were comfy. During the service the pastor thanked us for the work we had done here, and afterwards were were treated to soft drinks and snacks. May the good works of Action Chapel International in Lome continue. Olly 

Sausage festival

On 4th September the ship's power will go off as part of the project to instal new generators, so in the meantime we have to eat up everything in our fridges and freezers, including two bags of fantastic English sausages that we bought in a British frozen food store in Tenerife last year - you know, 99% breadcrumbs and 1% mechanically recovered fat.

Today I lovingly grilled each sausage to perfection, whilst Sally and Libby made bread rolls...and thus the 2010 Festival of Cheap Sausages commenced. We will be eating them for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next few days, I have no doubt. Yum. Olly

Friday, 6 August 2010


One week today and I will be a very HAPPY man - nearly all our vehicles will be loaded pending our departure from Togo, and I will no longer be fearing that at every pager message and phone call will bring news of yet another breakdown. But today is a very SAD day, because we said goodbye to our faithful local staff. Over the past 6+ months we have been ably assisted by over 200 Togolese men and women, who have acted as translators, cleaners, cooks, dining room staff, laundry staff, engineers, deck hands, mechanics, drivers, security guards and teachers...we simply couldn't be here without them. This afternoon we had a very boisterous service of celebration with them, where we thanked God for bringing them to us for this incredible time in Togo. We will miss them. Goodbye my guys - Peter, Koffi, and Mathieu. And goodbye Andy from Australia, who's been our brilliant head mechanic for the past 4 weeks. I'll miss you too. And thanks for letting me borrow him, Jodie & Jessica. 

After all these years, leaving friends and colleagues behind still isn't any easier. Olly