9:15 of birds on boats


Not that sort of thing*. Sorry.

If you have 9 minutes to spare – and let’s be honest, who doesn’t? – then take a quick look at this video

Potentially (?!?) a little less glamourous than the above alternative, but actually quite relaxing and thought-provoking, as various migratory birds take a breather on merchant ships literally hundreds of miles offshore.

Are the ships heading the right way? If so, the birds will cheat a bit. If not, they’ll catch up once they get going again. But it actually doesn’t matter, because these birds are completely knackered and just need a bit of a break from their constant flying.

How many can you identify?

* I spent four hours of searching for an appropriate image for this bit of the post. That’s dedication for you.

Your loadshedding questions answered

An occasional series in which I endeavour to provide answers to all your queries about the lack of electricity in South Africa at the moment.

Today’s question comes from Confused of Cape Town:

Do you get loadshedding on board ships?

No. You don’t.

Loadshedding is thankfully limited to things which are attached to Eskom’s national grid. Things like boats (and planes), which aren’t physically joined to the electricity system, are therefore not affected by loadshedding.

We’re still working on the technology which means that ships can be attached to land-based electricity. At the moment, all the wires keep getting tangled as soon as the vessels leave port.

This is why cruise liners and container ships rely on candles for light during their journeys.

Bourbon Clear

We met, by chance, in the Spur at the Waterfront. Me and my kids, him and (some of) his. A brief conversation ensued; the usual pleasantries, some congratulations on the latest addition to his family just 8 weeks ago. And then he asked if we had been to see the Rainbow Warrior and were we aware that we could go on board? We hadn’t, and I wasn’t.
He and I agree on many things, but we fall on very different sides of the lentil curtain.

I was aware that she was in town, but Greenpeace really isn’t my scene. He understood, but remarked (sagely, I felt):

Try to ignore the lefty, liberal agenda and just see it as a ship.

Fair enough, we were running a little late already, but the kids love ships.

We left him to his (free range?) ribs and headed down towards the Table Bay Hotel where the Rainbow Warrior is docked.

That’s when we saw it: the Bourbon Clear. (We also saw the Rainbow Warrior, but the queue for indoctrination looked a little long and I thought I might get sent for re-education if I accidentally let slip my views on whaling) (or fracking) (or nuclear power) (or hippies).

But anyway, the Bourbon Clear – what a ship! Norwegian registered and helpfully described as an “Multi-Purpose Offshore Vessel”, it has a long, low, flat stern with a MASSIVE bulbous bow section, a good five or six storeys above the water line. Weird, but ever so cool.

Once home, I popped onto marinetraffic.com (we’ve talked about them before here), and got all the facts and figures. And then I saw this photo:

When it said “Multi-Purpose”, I (foolishly) imagined it meant transport, towing, fire-fighting (those impressive water jets were evident) and the like. I never thought it meant sunbathing. But what a little (88m long) suntrap they’ve got going on there, hidden away from the rest of the world by those 6m high gunwales. And if the skipper says it’s ok, then why the hell not?

It wasn’t particularly sunny in Cape Town today, but from our position on the quayside, we couldn’t see into the back of the Bourbon Clear and I’m now left wondering what we missed behind the walls of green metal. A football match? A crazy golf course? A field full of wild horses? A clown convention?

I’d like to imagine that anything can happen on-board the Bourbon Clear.

While you were sleeping

We’re down in the Southern Cape again this weekend, so I thought it wholly appropriate to share a pic I took last weekend of some ships rounding Cape Agulhas at night.

I’ve seen the ships in Table Bay illuminated at night, but I just assumed that they were lit up since they were stationary and just outside a major port.
Now I find that ships have headlights too – big bright ones.

It was rather eerie watching these bright lights moving silently across the horizon, especially with the atmospheric reflection off the cloud base.

Bigger and on a dark background here.

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