The next two weeks.

20 May 2013

We sail in two weeks.  This is kind of a big deal.  But I realize to anyone who doesn’t live on a ship, it doesn’t really mean much to you – so I decided to try to come up with a list of things that need to be accomplished in the next two weeks. And I know I’m missing some things… But here you go.

- Friday was supposed to be our last day of surgeries. As it turns out, there was one small one for today. Most of the anesthetists, surgeons, and some of the OR staff left last weekend.

- Friday they closed the HOPE Center - (outpatient center where pre- and post- surgical patients can stay when they don't require full hospitalization) - most patients were discharged, a few re-admitted to the hospital here on the ship.

-Friday was the last day of care at the Dental field clinic.

-This week will be pack up of the HOPE center and Dental clinic, along with the eye clinic site that I think finished up a week or so ago.

-This Friday our own hospital closes. All remaining patients will be referred to a local hospital for follow up care, and if any of them are still requiring hospitalization, they will be transferred and their care paid for. Pray that we don't actually have to transfer any patients, that they would heal quickly!

-This week the OR staff will be deep cleaning and packing up our OR's. Everything needs to be organized and secured, tied down well, taped, strapped, and locked up. This ship really rolls on open ocean!

-This Friday is our day worker thank you event and the last day of work for (most of) our 200 day workers.

-Next week pack-up continues in the ORs and then in the Wards and the rest of the hospital. Our time in shipyard in July they will be repairing the floor of the Wards side of the hospital, so everything in those rooms, all the beds, equipment, etc, will need to be organized, packed, stored, and secured in the OR side.

-Along with the Hospital, the entire rest of the ship needs to be secured. The IS guys are running around securing computers, monitors, projectors, and TV's so nothing gets damaged on the sail. All the art is either removed from the walls or double-triple secured on to the walls; anything that can fall over or out needs to be moved or strapped down. All the plates in the Dining room get placed in big plastic bins, anything that goes on a tabletop is either removed or velcroed down. Everything in the ship shop gets taken off the shelves and put into laundry baskets on the floor. Everything in the galley, refrigerators, and food stores needs to be secured or there will be a serious mess. Everything that is on shelves or desktops needs to be placed in boxes or drawers or on the floor. It's kind of a big deal.

-Our Deck and Engineering crew are working all hours to get the engines, lifeboats, and all other important sailing-type things ready.

-We will start having at-sea fire drills this week, and will likely have several in the next two weeks. Instead of gathering on the dock, we need to get our lifejackets and gather at our lifeboats! It will take a few tries to get everyone doing what they are meant to do quickly.

-Next week begins the mass exodus of crew - approximately a hundred people leave in the next two weeks, and then the first week we're in shipyard, another hundred and fifty people leave, either for good or on vacation.

- All Guinea Francs need to be turned in to the bank by next Monday, or you're stuck with them forever. New country = new currency.

-The tents down on the dock - Physiotherapy, Outpatients, and Admissions - will be dismantled, cleaned, packed up, and placed somewhere up on deck 8, tied down securely.

- Our entire fleet of LandRovers will be lifted up on to deck 8, fit together like a giant Tetris puzzle, and secured.

-The pool will be drained and the huge tarp-like roof over the pool will be taken down and stored.

- Reception will print out new badges for everyone who is sailing, instead of the flag of Guinea and the port of Conakry stamped on them, as they are now, they will have the Spanish flag and the shipyard in Las Palmas.

- There will be stowaway checks throughout the ship. Every potential hiding place needs to be checked and then secured. There will probably be a drill of some kind related to this, too.

- We'll have various sailing briefings and safety briefings, instructions on pirate watches, etc. The Lifeboat Assignment lists will get posted.

-The crew physician will hand out little bags of anti-nausea drugs to prevent sea sickness. Everyone is encouraged to take them for at least the first few days; in the past I know the Dining Room and Galley staff were required to take them. They'll also put out ginger cookies in the Dining Room, to help with upset stomachs...

-We'll donate unused and extra medical supplies to local hospitals.

-Many people will try to find wedge pillows to put under their mattresses so they don't roll out of bed at night while sailing. Top-bunk sleepers especially, or they might just find a piece of carpet somewhere to put their mattress.

- There will be many 'last things', many goodbyes, and likely, many tears.

So as you can see, it's a busy two weeks here on the Africa Mercy - and I've probably forgotten many, many things that happen that I don't even see or know about!


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