Ok, so I have been super slack with our blog this field service and now it is time to add a few posts before we depart Douala! To be honest, over the years it has become more and more of a challenge to find fresh ways to say the same thing. Our life on the ship follows a certain pattern, that is repeated year after year, but I will give it a go.
Most of you wouldn't know that I print a hardcover coffee table book of our blog each field service, so I am quite pedantic about posting in chronological order. My last post had us departing Benin on our way to Las Palmas, Gran Canaria so I will pick up from there.....
It had been three years since we pulled alongside at the Astican shipyard in Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain. Three years since we called out “Hola”, sipped sangrias and strolled along the promenade, our eyes bugging out of our heads at the audacious fashions and lack of clothing! Three years since we welcomed the guys from the Astican shipyard on board, three years since we marveled at fabulous vistas and trekked over black volcanic rock. Three years since tapas, Theodore playing on his trumpet and La Terrazas Outlet Mall! It was great to be back!
This is shipyard. Shipyard beats to a different drum. The halls of the hospital no longer echo with the laughter of children and joyful singing, but with the sound of electrical tools and shipyard workers boots. Deck heads are down, lights and air conditioning are off, hallways are cluttered with all manner of things, the vacuum system is intermittent, blackouts are common and dinner could be pizza ordered in or cold salad on paper plates. The ship has a new buzz.
Love it or hate it, this is shipyard. Without it, the Africa Mercy could not hope to function effectively for the next ten months in a developing nation!
As in previous years, families were required to move to land based accommodation during the dry dock phase, for the safety of the children. We stayed in hotels that very kindly donated rooms and facilities to Mercy Ships. Our family also took a small side trip to Barcelona.
There were dozens of projects on the agenda for dry dock and shipyard this year but some included:
· Survey and incline testing
· Replacement of cabin flooring (carpet to lino)
· Hull cleaning
· Portside capstone motor
· Emergency switchboard upgrades
· Cold room upgrades
· Window replacements
· Deck 3 fwd. office modifications
· Funnel corrosion repair
· Omnicell (electronic medical dispensing system) installed
…..and the list goes on!
Tug boat pulling the Africa Mercy into the dry dock berth.
AFM being pulled onto the dry dock tracks, out of the water.
All shiny and clean!
High pressure cleaning the hull
When the ship sits in a dirty port for so long, it grows a lot of barnacles!
The big picture! The Africa Mercy high and dry in dry dock!
Spraying primer on the hull.
No it's not a slide, it's the garbage chute!
Carpenter sanding floors in the cafe area.
Jess helped out in the cafe for three weeks full time, during shipyard, cementing her as a Starbucks barista!
Some nurses checking out the new Omnicell system. These automated dispensing cabinets more easily optimize inventory, minimize stocktakes, and reduce missing doses.
A project assistant hard at work installing new shelves for a hospital office renovation.
Jess was asked by the Communications Department to tour a vision trip through the Academy. She did a wonderful job!
Lovely lit up at night.
Even though the ship is not in a host nation, the goodbyes continue, unabated. Jess said goodbye three of her close girlfriends during the first two days after we arrived in Las Palmas.
Shipyard deck. engineering and projects crew, alongside our Astican colleagues.
Many people may think a port is an ugly place, but to me it will always hold it's own special beauty.
Back to Gran Canaria, a hidden jewel where the pace is unhurried and the sunsets are divine.
(P.C: Jessica Rothwell)
Looking down at Arucas, from a vista, at the stunning town centrepiece of The Church of San Juan Bautista.
Hands down my favourite town in Gran Canaria, the town of Mogan, filled with cute canals, a beautiful marina and colourful bougainvillea entwined over arches and balconies.
Alongside the waterfall are these beautiful tiled benches with frames above them, listing all the major towns and cities on the island of Gran Canaria.
The church bells of the church in San Roque Square can be heard over the whole town.
The boardwalk at the Playa del Puerto in the beachside town of La Aldea de San Nicolàs. Here we just chilled, admired the typical Canarain architecture and consumed a stellar Spanish omelette.
This shipyard we decided to tackle one of Europe's great drives, GC-200, before it is no longer. A major highway is being built that will bypass some of the spectacular cliff top sections of the road. Just a little snap from the Mirador El Paso (lookout point) Marinero, from the hair raising drive.
As we wrapped up another year of shipyard, "at sea" drills began again in ernest. Lucky Andrew has been a muster leader (name caller) for around three years now.
Shipyard over for another year, our every last shipyard. The hospitality team always bring cookies and drinks to the bridge as we prepare to sail out of a port.
Up comes the gangway, the last time we will see this familiar piece of metal go past us, after shipyard.