Monday, October 27, 2014

Africa Mercy - Catch That Plate: One Nurse's Journey

Marilyn's incredible journey continues as they travel to west Africa. The ship is at sea, bound for Cape Town, but the seas are challenging. Sharon

(This is a running email post written by a volunteer nurse serving on the Africa Mercy, a hospital ship that travels the African coast).

"Catch That Plate"
27 Sept. 2014

We are nearing the end of the sail to Cape Town. We have had
smooth sailing and mostly clear weather until two days ago, making it quite an enjoyable interlude despite the long, exhausting days in the dining room. We have a lot of community activities during sails--you'd almost think we were a cruise ship (except, of course, we all work our shifts...). Normally the bow is closed--it's a work space and full of hazards for us non-sailor types--but on the sail, weather permitting, the bow is open for ocean-gazing. One can spend many hours watching for dolphins and enjoying the endless variety of colors in the ocean. On Sunday evenings, we hold our worship service on the bow, weather permitting--a treat that reminds me once again how special this community is, and how blessed I am to be a part of it.

Two days ago, the seas got rougher, as predicted. There is a strong head wind against us, which slows us down some and makes choppy white-capped waves. As I understand it , though, the source of the rough ride has to do with the currents and cross-currents below, and those are a factor of the geography of the ocean floor.

That's why it's always rough around Cape Town, and even worse between Cape Town and Madagascar. In the melodramatic stories of sailing ships rounding the cape, it's always storms that provide the crisis. It's rough enough without a storm...I can only imagine what a storm would be like.
As we go rocking along, we are mostly tilting ten to fifteen degrees, then the same amount the other way. That's enough to cause me to reel in a zig-zag fashion and stop abruptly when I meet the wall. Occasionally, though, we get a more dramatic roll.

Yesterday, at least one registered at twenty-one degrees tilt. Dressers fell over, cabinet doors flew open, and we quickly found out what had been adequately secured for the sail and what had not!

In the galley, food pans slid off their shelves more than once, despite all their precautions. Occasionally all the chairs in the dining room start sliding, occupied or not, not to mention the
plates and cutlery that aren't actively restrained. A few people
have fallen, but no major injuries. Sleep is difficult, with the uneven rocking, and listening to the banging and creaking of the ship. A couple of people are seasick enough to require injections, even IV fluids. I feel fortunate to have had only minor amounts of seasickness, curable with medications and gazing at the horizon for a while to give my inner ears a break. On the other hand, working in the dining room under these conditions is quite a challenge. If this were an airplane, we would be told to sit down and fasten our seat belts, and no dinner would be served...

We will reach Cape Town two days from now, assuming all goes as planned. We never did find an available berth in a dry dock, and I guess they decided that we could live with it until next summer's scheduled repair time. The current plan is to spend about two weeks in Cape Town, mostly doing promotional tours, while we wait for the advance team to work in Madagascar. I hear that Cape Town is a lovely place to visit, so it should be a lot of fun, even while we prepare for field service. Kathryn, the Eye Team Leader, has been planning several scenarios, but of course, everything is still pretty tentative, and will be, until we get there.

Well, I'm having to hang on to the desk occasionally as I type , and I hear something crashing around nearby that should be
investigated. So, enough for now. 

Blessings for all of you. Wish you were's quite an adventure!


[Click here to learn more about the nurses and doctors on board the Africa Mercy.]

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sharon and Marilyn .. fascinating to read - thanks for sharing with us .. Cape Town is beautiful .. but I need to read your next posts ... cheers Hilary


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