Monday, 27 September 2010


This weekend we went on a safari. We first stopped at a preserved Zulu village, where we were shown how the Zulu people lived before the settlers came.

They showed us some of their traditional crafts and skills, and dancing.

And then we went into a game reserve,

where we saw rhinos,



and various bucks, buffalo, birds, and zebras. The following day we went on a boat ride and saw crocs.

And hippos, in the shark infested waters of the St Lucia lake.

Funny enough, the boat we were in didn't have any life saving devices - I guess if it capsized we would be eaten alive before anyone could throw us a life ring.

At the end of the day we saw monkeys eating fruit out of a rubbish bin (this will never cease to amuse me!).

And we all had a little sleep on the long journey home.

Thanks to our supporters for paying for this trip. Olly

Another dockyard update

I took these photos of work in the Africa Mercy last Thursday whilst the ship was still in the water. Below, the Harbour Generator room with the port side bulkhead removed (click on photo to enlarge). You can now see the ribs of the ship. That whole wall will be removed shortly to allow the old generators out and the new ones in.

Below, Lucas and Mike replacing the bridge controls. New cables have to be laid from the bridge to the engine room for these controls, a big and awkward job in itself involving removing many deckheads and cutting through numerous firewalls.


Record breaker?

Is this the biggest tangerine you've ever seen?



This is my favourite room at Appelsbosch College of Education - it is where teachers were taught how to write on blackboards. The room contains 16 blackboards for them to practice on, and their writings can still be seen today, 13 years after the college closed. Olly

Another photo...

...of the convoy to Appelsbosch. This must have been quite a sight driving through Durban.

I love it. Olly

Dry dock

On Saturday the Africa Mercy went into Durban's dry dock, to have her hull scraped and painted and also have her side cut open to remove the old generators and air conditioning compressors, and install new ones.

On my last dive in Togo, I scraped "Dive" in the seaweed on the hull, about 2 meters below the water level. I am delighted to see most of it survived the sail. Olly

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Water On

Tuesday 4.30pm: Praise the Lord, the Municipality has turned the water on again! Clear, cool, drinkable water is now pouring from our taps. No longer are we reliant on water trucks bringing us muddy brown stuff (until the next time). And rain clouds are gathering: hopefully we'll have a downpour this evening. Thank you for praying. Olly

Water Off

Its our second day without a water tanker delivery to Appelsbosch. This means that we have no running cold water. The only water we have available is from the hot taps, which comes from big storage tanks on the roofs. So we have to bucket flush the toilets with water from the hot tap:

and drink the water from the hot tap (yuk!), and wash in it if its not already too hot already. Praise God for the tanks on the roof, although they will be running dry if we don't get a delivery soon. Please pray for rain. The countryside is parched, and the farmers are facing a serious problems if the spring rains don't come soon. We need the water table to rise again, quickly. Olly

Friday, 17 September 2010

More shipyard photos

Work continues on the Africa Mercy. She is not yet in the dry dock - possible she will go in early next week. Meanwhile, the deck plates have been removed around the Frichs and Harbour generators (next two photos):

...and the port side wall of the Harbour Generator room has been cleared of all pipes and cables, so it can be cut away once the ship is dry, and the generators can be taken in and out freely.

Our good friend Lourens has been busy, cutting the top levels off the tables in the cafe. The pieces removed have become the tops of the stools at the cafe. Nice. Olly


Finding a good, God-focused, no-compromise, bible-based church is very important to us wherever we are. Last Sunday we headed into the nearest town, Ballito, and quite by chance found Destiny Life Church - an SBC style church with no dress code, and a great vision for the community. Their facilities were great - they even had a big wooden jungle gym for the kids to play on, and views out to sea. We were made to feel very welcome, and have every intention of being regulars. Thank you Pastor Pete and many others for making us feel so welcome. (We still miss you though, SBC & Silencio!). Olly

Blog re-redesigned

Thanks to everyone who commented on the redesigned blog. Most responses were positive, but both my wife and my mum didn't like it (too cluttered and hard to read) it's back to something more simple. Olly

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Worm girl strikes again

In late 2006, we squeezed a living maggot out of Anna's leg - a larvae of the mango fly (Cordylobia anthropophaga). Today, bizarrely, and without a mango tree in site, our friendly crew nurse squeezed another maggot out of Anna's leg. Huh.
In other news, the freakishly warm weather of Tuesday (where 40 degrees C was recorded locally) is but a distant memory - it has crashed back down again to a miserable 16 degrees, with driving drizzle. The forecast isn't good, with sunshine only expected on Saturday and Monday. I understand that winter is drier and warmer than the spring here.
And finally from Appelsbosch: two weeks ago today we moved here. The toilets still don't flush properly in our dorm; much of our garbage still hasn't been collected, water is hit and miss as the local well has dried up, and our work emails still don't work. These are trying times. Olly

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Crew wedding

Yesterday our good friends Alex (from England) and Sharon (from America) got married right here in Appelsbosch. It was a lovely day, with great weather - 35 degrees C (compared with 15 degrees we had on Saturday). This was the first wedding our kids have attended, so they were thrilled. And its the first Mercy Ships wedding we've attended with ALL the crew together in our natural habitat. Some of the ship's crew came over too. Congrats, you two. Olly

Friday, 10 September 2010

Shipyard photos

I went to the ship yesterday, and took these photos. She is still in the water, but is running off shore power, and is half dark and eerily quiet.

Below: the starboard side pilot entrance. Do you recognise it? All the walls and floors have been covered in wooden boards to protect them. The main gangway is not rigged; the only access is through this pilot entrance (which is quite a squeeze at low tide). The Gurkhas and Alison are protecting the ORs, so they remain oil free and sterile.

Below: new hole in the cargo hold to bring up bits of generators:

Below: the remains of the port side Harbour Generator. I guess it will be taken out of the ship in dry dock once a hole had been cut in the side.

Below: the remains of the starboard side Harbour Generator. The alternators are still intact, again I guess they will be taken out in one piece in dry dock.

Good progress has been made so far. The Frichs generators are still in one piece, as are the Sabro air conditioning compressors - but they are small enough to be moved from the ship in one piece. The Africa Mercy will go into dry dock next Wednesday, 15th September.

More photos of HMP Appelsbosch

Below: Cell Block D, our home for the next 4 months:

Below, John (site manager & security) burning garbage in the diesel fuelled incinerator:

Below: the original anthracite fuelled boiler house, now abandoned. It used to send hot water to all the buildings by above-ground insulated pipes:

Below: HMP toilet:

Below: HMP sinks:

Below: HMP showers:

Below: the greyest and most echoey corridors in the Southern Hemisphere:

Below: The gym from the outside:

Below: the temporary internet cafe inside the gym:

Below: the kitchens and dining room (see the overhead insulated hot water pipes):

Below: the inside of the dining room:

Below: the Tuck Shop stocking South Africa's finest snacks:

Below: Dawn over Appelsbosch: the mist is slowly burning off.

S'all for now. Olly

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Blog redesigned

So how do you like the new blog layout and background? Please comment. I can always put it back the way it was with minimum of fuss. Olly

Appelsbosch in photos

Our dorm, with a variety of home-made curtains:

Appelsbosch in the rain:

Appelsbosch in the sun:

The gym:

Sunset over the sugar cane fields:

More photos to follow. Olly