Day 9, West Africa Cruise – At Sea, Off the Coast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Posted: April 16, 2014    Categories: Africa

Latitude: 6° 32.6948’ S
Longitude: 11° 50.4849’ E

At a certain level, a ship has to be self sustaining. When you are at sea, you can’t run to the home depot to fix a problem. You need the tools and talent on board to solve whatever problems might arise.

I have been incredibly impressed with the problem solving abilities of the crew on the Expedition.

Case 1: If you are a MacBook owner, you are probably aware of the problem with the power cords. The incredible thin cables have a tendency to fray and eventually break at the point where they are connected to the power brick. For the 4th time since I’ve owned a MacBook mine died, and I had the great timing of doing it while I was on a ship in West Africa. Getting a new power cord wasn’t an option.

I contacted a member of the crew who put me in touch with the ship’s electrician who managed, not only to fix it, but made it better than it was. He shored up each end of the wire so it wouldn’t bend. The best part, is that he managed to do this is 30 minutes!

Case 2: The Expedition was originally built as a Norwegian ferry. It was later reconfigured as an expedition class vessel for exploring polar waters. So for the entire life of the ship it was intended to be in cold waters. As we sailed north and left the cold Benguela current, the water temperature went from 14C to 29C. The problem on the ship was excess heat, the exact opposite of what ship normally has to deal with.

The interior of the ship was getting hot and the conditions we were sailing under didn’t allow for easy cooling. The chief engineer spent several days on the problem and eventually got the air conditioning running great. The rooms were comfortable and the ship had basically adapted (at least for a few weeks) to life in a tropical climate. It was sort of like Scotty on Star Trek reconfiguring one system for another totally different purpose.

Life on a ship is interesting and very different from what most landlubbers are used to. I’ll have more about the workings and operations of the ship over the next few weeks.

Next Stop: Point Noire, Republic of Congo

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