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 http://www.mercyshipadventure.blogspot.com/.
Lastly, here's a photo of the whole Africa Mercy shipyard crew in the dry-dock, taken Tuesday (not by Murray). (Or me). Olly

Anna and Fride

This is Anna and her Norwegian friend, Fride. They recently had an operation to join them together at the head. Now they are more than inseparable. Olly

Three photos

Here are my favourite three photos taken in the last week. The first is of a sign on an escalator in Pietermaritzburg, the municipal capital of KwaZulu Natal, showing that bare feet are not permitted:

The second: it was so cold in Appelsbosch at the end of last week that we had to wrap up to stay warm even indoors:

The third: last weekend it started to warm up, and we had some decent rain. The following day me and the kids dammed a MAJOR stream not once, not twice, not three times, but FOUR times at a beach in Ballito.
Another personal best, and I have only just stopped aching from all that digging. Olly

Thursday, 21 October 2010


The countryside around Appelsbosch is spectacular, with steep hills, deep valleys, and magnificent views:

The land has mixed use: much of it is used for the grazing of cattle (lovely big fat cows, unlike the half-starved cows we are used to seeing in West Africa), and also for sugar cane. Below, fields of cane. There are three massive sugar processing plants locally:

In some areas, Zulu villages and small holdings cover the landscape. Many of their houses are still round, but constructed of concrete with tin roofs, instead of the mud and straw their ancestors used:

Appelsbosch is located at the highest point between Tongaat and Wartburg. It is so high, in fact, that some of the time we are covered in low clouds. Come on summer! Olly

This man

This man is one of the unsung heroes of the Africa Mercy's dry-dock phase. Whilst the ship is dry, it is using a combination of shore power and power from a containerised generator on Deck 8...which this man maintains. He sits there all day long, day in, day out, patiently feeding diesel into the fuel tanks and checking the guages...

Bless him. Olly

Monday, 18 October 2010

Grandparents Day

Our Grade One kids celebrated grand parents with a Grand Parents Tea on Friday, and in the absence of their own grand parents used with other peoples. Each kid got to invite two grand parents. They served tea and cakes.

Libby eventually remembered she had invited Lynn (the crew nurse) and Janice (one of the accountants), (both pictured), and Marilyn and Karen (who she forgot).


The Gateway to Hades

Last night I watched the 2010 remake of Clash of the Titans. I was interested to see that the scenes for the Gateway to Hades were filmed in Llanberis in North Wales. Huh. Olly

Sunday, 17 October 2010

101 uses of a Land Rover #63


No wonder that roof-rack got bent. Olly

Friday, 15 October 2010

My Friday update

The new MAN generators are now inside the Africa Mercy, although not positioned or welded down yet. I understand that today she will be floated to allow the ship behind it to leave the dry dock, but to enable her to float the holes in her side must be welded closed, so I guess they wanted to just get the new generators in so they don't have to open the side up again later. Here a three photos of the new generators being craned onto the loading platform (courtesy of Chuck Dodgen):

Back to my photos: one of the new MAN generators, starboard side in old Frichs generator room (with the incinerator to the right of the photo):

...and one port side in the old harbour generator room, still waiting to be moved out of the ballast tank into its new home:

A bank of welding machines ready to weld down the new gennys:

And on the bridge: fancy new engine controls:

Meanwhile, some of the forward ballast tanks are being converted to store diesel, which involves sandblasting the inside of the tanks, and insulating the outsides with fire-proof material. To do so, all the walls and floors surrounding the tanks have been stripped away. Below, the Boutique, of which nothing is left except the original doorway.

All the black is the black-painted walls of the fuel tank. The cabins either side, and the weight room and the prayer room are similarly stripped out too. Below, did this used to be your cabin? Cabin 3423, similarly stripped out to allow fire-proof insulation of the floor. Can you see the original railway lines, previously hidden beneath the carpet and cement?

Below: Cabin 3414.

Below, E Ward full of furniture stripped out of 3423 and 3414, and old sinks from the wards.

Meanwhile, the nasty cupboards in the wards have been replaced with beautiful new ones (metal, I think, similar to those in the lab) that won't disintegrate in water. Below: Ward D's new sink:

S'all for now. Olly

Wednesday, 13 October 2010


Praise the Lord, the rain has come. After one of the driest winter in decades, we've experienced a week with constant low cloud cover, mist and drizzle, and today a proper (but brief) rainstorm. Things are beginning to green-up already. But I'll be very glad when the clouds leave us and the sun comes out again. Last year they only had 4 days of sunshine all October...Olly

Tuesday, 12 October 2010


Libby is going through another "terrified of all moving things" phase. She is terrified of walking past the apartment outside our dorm because 2 dogs live there; she is terrified of walking over any grass because someone saw a snake in the grass last week; she is terrified of any bug or creepy crawly, and now she is terrified of all flying birds, especially those killer swallows that are nesting all over Appelsbosch. An average journey from our dorm building to, well, just about anywhere is full of excitement and danger. Olly

More big lumps of metal

Last time I visited the Africa Mercy, the engine room was being prepared for the instalation of the new generators. Below, work is being done to reinforce the tank tops, ready for the arrival of the 10 ton bases:

Below, one of the bases shortly before it was lifted into the ship.

More photos later. Olly


South Africa's coast line is legendary for shark activity. In fact, so many are caught and die in shark nets that line the beaches, that one each day is disected at the KwaZulu Natal Shark Board in the name of science (and entertaining children). Last week, the Academy visited:


Appelsbosch JUST GOT WORSE

Can you believe it, living in Appelsbosch just got even worse. Why? Because Libby and her little friends were yesterday given recorders. Now the echoing grey corridors resonate to the sound of them practicing night and day. AAAAAHHHHHHHHHH! Olly

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Sacrificial anodes

A sacrificial anode is a big lump of metal, usually zinc, which is attached to a metal object such as a ship, to inhibit the object's corrosion. The anode is electrolytically decomposed over time while the object remains free of damage. A new anode looks like this:

After three years of electrolytic decomposition, the Africa Mercy's anodes look like this:

One of the many jobs needing to be done whilst the ship is out of the water, is the replacing of the hundreds of anodes that line the hull. Another fascinating blog entry by Olly.

More shipyard photos

I've already shown you photos of the empty harbour generator room. The following photos are of the empty Frichs generator room. Below, facing to the starboard side. That green square thing on the floor is the incinerator, waiting to be returned to its correct place.

Below, facing to the port side. You can just see the incinerator's disconnected chimney at the top of the photo, and through the hole in the side to the walls of the dry-dock in the distance.

Finally, one of the four new MAN generators waiting to be installed. The shipyard are currently making bases for them - I guess those are the 3 red things on the floor behind the generator.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Gennys come out

Here's a low-res photo (taken by someone else) of the remains of one of the harbour generators being removed from the Africa Mercy over the weekend. It was moved inch by inch onto a platform outside the hull, and lifted onto a waiting truck by the shore crane.

Coming soon: the empty generator rooms! Olly

Friday, 1 October 2010

Dry dock 30th September 2010

Enjoy these photos of the Africa Mercy in Durban's dry dock. Click on each photo to enlarge.

Below: gangway goes straight to Deck 7.

Below, a well corroded zinc sacrificial anode.

Below, one of my favourite dive sites: main engine cooling water intakes, port side, mid-ships.

Below, the ship on blocks.

Below, the hole cut in the port side to remove the old generators. Those are the Frichs generators you can see inside.

Below, another of my favourite dive sites: the six a/c cooling intakes port side forward.

Below, the old forward rudder from the days when the Dronning Ingrid was more maneuverable, now welded shut.

Below, my all time favourite dive site. The old a/c cooling intake, starboard side directly under the gangway, and right on the bottom of the ship. Used to clog up all the time in Benin with plastic bags. Almost impossible to find in poor visibility.

Below, a 180 degree view of the harbour generator room facing forward.

Below: where the starboard side harbour genny USED to be. Now its all gone, leaving only the alternators.

Below, the two harbour gennys having been transported into the ballast tank besides the harbour generator room, waiting to be removed from the ship.

Below: the Frichs gennys, still in position, and beyond the hole cut in the port side.

Great! Olly