So what is it like to sail on the Africa Mercy I hear you ask? For those of you who have been on cruise, well it's absolutely nothing like that at all! We still have to go to work, the kids still go to school (on some sails) and everything needs to be secured before we leave. As our esteemed captain likes to tell us at our pre-sail briefing, "Think of your house tilting violently at a 20 degree angle". Unlike cruise ships and other larger vessels, the Africa Mercy is not equipped with stabilizers and can pick up quite a roll(side to side) and when you add in pitch (up and down) it become a bit of a vomit machine. But the very worst sensation is corkscrewing (side to side and up and down and round and round and every which way there is).
There is always an air of excited anticipation just before we sail. It is almost palpable. Either we are sailing towards our shipyard destination which means down time and holidays, for most of the crew, or towards our next host country. Both events highlights, each for different reasons. There is a certain sense of community and bonding between those of us on the sail. We are united with nowhere to go and nowhere to be. There is plenty of time for lazy conversation and getting to know one another better. There are also plenty of wonderful sailing traditions such as sock golf, Sail Olympics and worship on the bow that are quite unique to Mercy Ships. It is also a bit of fun to pick out a suitable movie to watch such as "A Perfect Storm" or Poseidon" for the journey!
We have been on very short sails and very loooonnggg sails but there is not much better way to feel close to the heart of God than standing on the bow watching a magnificent sunset, while dolphins leap alongside the bow, the air balmy with a hint of a breeze, staring out at the vastness of the ocean.
You never know what you might see when you look out your cabin window. Above, a lifeboat goes past our cabin!
Ask most of the crew and they will pretty much be in agreement that the best thing about the sail is going out on the bow and watching the sunset and the sea life. It doesn't get much better! Andrew and Jess on the bow above.
Who needs SeaWorld? These dolphins are wild and free and perform the most spectacular shows for us over and over during our recent sails. They are beautiful animals and even the most seasoned sailor is awed by their majesty!
These past few sails we were blessed with many whale sighting and a few clever and/or quick photographers captured them on film. Orcas (killer whales) were also sighted.
Almost every night we sail, God paints the sky in a myriad of stunning colours as the sun sets and rises each day.
Now I talked earlier about that rock and roll...here you can see a little hint of an angle to the portside. This is just a small glimpse of the "gentle" roll of the Africa Mercy!
During on of our recent sails we had a drone fly overhead to take photos of the ship at sea. The result was some pretty awesome stills and video, captured from a perspective that the crew will never get to see.
The Africa Mercy in all her glory headed for a week in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain for one last week of fun before the epic two week sail she took to the Congo.
A few more awesome, aerial pics of the bow, from the bridge, taken during worship on the bow, a very special sailing event.
Love the djembes and the way our West African crew play them with such skill. It is amazing to watch!
God can hear our worship even in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean! Worship on the bow is one of my favourite parts of the sails. Expect a close encounter with God!