Sunday, June 2, 2013

Africa Mercy - The Aquamarine Ace: One's Nurse's Journey

Hi . . . Another email from my friend on the Africa Mercy ship. She tells an interesting story about used Japanese cars and how they are transported to other countries. Take a look . . .

This is a running post about her work in Africa as a nurse. Click here to learn more about the nurses and doctors on board the Africa Mercy.

The Aquamarine Ace


Today, a harbor story.  Ships come and go all the time--this is a busy harbor, and no berth remains empty for long.  This morning,  a French navy ship departed from the berth right behind us.This afternoon, the Aquamarine Ace arrived.  This evening, it left again, after only four hours in port.  Who will come tomorrow?

The Aquamaine Ace is a behemoth.  I was standing on deck eight of Africa Mercy, and the Aquamarine Ace towered above me, perhaps twice our height, and surely twice our length.  It is a "ro-ro", in local parlance, short for "roll on, roll off."  It was transporting 1500 used vehicles from Japan for resale in various countries.  They stopped first in India, came here to unload some more, and now are heading to Dakar and then to South America with the remaining vehicles.  Then back to Japan to do it again.

The 'Aquamarine' cruise ship
(photo online of the Aquamarine)

Did you know that huge ships don't parallel park?  I'd never much thought about it before, but coming into port is a slow-motion ballet.

The little tiny tugboats come alongside, of course, to guide and to protect...and to push, pull, and shove as needed.  The large ship glides slowly to a stop well out from the dock, then oozes slowly, silently sideways until they reach their destination.  It can take half an hour to move a hundred feet.  They certainly don't want a lot of momentum when they do reach the dock, as heavy as they are! 

Leaving is another ballet.  That little tiny tug flings them a line and lugs them away from the dock, bit by slow-motion bit.  Then it gradually turns them 180 degrees so that they can nose out of the harbor instead of backing out.  A second tug comes alongside and does a head-butt on the side of the ship to complete the turn and get the ship into position.  Now I know why the tugboats have rubber tires on their noses!

 Finally, the ship is under its own steam and glides slowly out of sight.

I that the way we will leave port a week from now?  I suppose so!




  1. That's interesting. I've seen the big ships out on the ocean but I've never seen one coming into port.

  2. I have seen only one big ship in my was a cruise ship docked here in Montreal at the Old Port. I did not see it coming in, though, it was already there. I have never been on a big ship!


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