To the Atlantic we go

January 30, 2010

Once a ferry used to shuttle trains across northern European seas, the Africa Mercy is now outfitted to meet the needs of a ~450 person crew and the onboard hospital.

Day 5 on the ship, and what a bizarre state of things! We are docked in Tenerife (in the Canary Islands) where the ship has been docked for the past month getting her engines tuned and her machinery inspected. A small¬†Advance Team is setting up clinics in Togo, and 3/4 of the remaining crew (total ~450) is currently onboard. Since our patients are thousands of miles away, not much medical work can be done for now, so the days have been spent walking through this resort town’s cobblestone streets, picking up last minute necessities at the supermarket and going for runs along the pier. Training thus far has been much less about how to perform my job in the field clinics in Togo and much more about how to live on a ship.

But today the real journey begins! In 1 hour, we are scheduled to set sail from our comfortable pier and into the wide open seas. The trip to Togo will take between 10 and 12 days.The weather forecast provides both dread and excitement: We have been aware of a low pressure front barreling towards us, and it finally made contact this morning. This will be a rough ride. Every shelf has been cleared, flip flops have been banned due to their lack of traction, the coke machine is tied to the stair frame, and top bunk mattresses will be moved to the floor. Dramamine is passed out like candy. Please pray for us!

Loading the last of the Land Rovers

Teachers attempt to squeeze out every last drop of energy from the school kids before the sail