In the last few months this has been driven home to me as a few of my close friends have left and I contemplate some other possibly leaving in the next few months.
Mark was lead dentist last year and probably my closest friend onboard. He was ex-army, had three boys, one who was very similar to Jack and we just clicked as a family. I miss Mark, Tam misses Gretchen and the boys all miss Jacob, Matthew and Caleb. The good thing - I know our friendship is strong enough that we will see each other again.
|Mark and I the day they left|
|Mark with his amazing wife, Gretchen|
Steven was Fourth Engineer when I arrived and taught me more about the systems onboard than anyone else. One of the sharpest guys I have come across who is now studying at Harvard. Too talented to remain a Marine Engineer other than as a hobby.
|Steven loved the outdoors|
James, a class mate of Steven's from Kings Point and another excellent engineer. He was additional Fourth Engineer then covered Third Engineer Generators for 3 months before taking over from Steven as Fourth Engineer. Always looking for work and volunteered to come and work in the sewage treatment plants with me. I'll never forget that he also volunteered to crawl inside the HFO sludge tank to clean it out - unbelievable how dirty he got that day.
|Working in the sewage treatment plant with James|
Jeremiah from Minnesota was the radiologist onboard for the last two field services. Easy going and very popular with everyone onboard. He also had the coolest bike onboard - a blue single speed - which I replaced the forks on after it was left on the roof of a Landie driving through the low port gate.
|Jeremiah about to tuck in to Soup de Mer at Hotel Longo|
Marty and his family left the ship at the end of the Congo field service after 4 or 5 years onboard and returned to Petaluma, California. We only really got to know Marty and his wife, Catherine, towards the end of their time onboard, something I now regret as I think we could have had a lot of fun together….
|Marty and I on our last night out in Congo|
Jaël from Canada was an engineer cadet who came to serve as a motorman and kept extending. I really enjoyed working with him and sharing my knowledge and experience. A solid and reliable worker with a fantastic heart. A great guy who will do well in life. I hope to catch up again one day.
|Jaël in the Engine Control Room|
|Jaël hanging out on deck 7 with a young patient|
Frank is an orthopaedic surgeon from Colorado who comes each year for the ortho program. We really got to know him and his wife, Kathleen this year and are so looking forward to catching up with them again next field service. We had a great weekend away with them at Mahambato by the lake. And he went to extraordinary lengths looking after Jack when he fractured his wrist.
|Frank with one of his patients|
|Frank and his lovely wife, Kathleen|
|Frank examining Jack's wrist|
Sigbjørn from Norway was another engineer cadet. We watchkept together from Gran Canaria to Toamasina via Cape Town and he proved to be one of the hardest working most conscientious guys I have served with. It was a pleasure training and mentoring him. I really enjoyed seeing him grow in confidence and ability over the six months he served onboard. And he wrote to me last week to tell me he had been awarded his Engineer Officer of the Watch licence. Bravo Siggy.
|Siggy at Hotel Longo|
|Siggy and Robert - the Norwegian lads|
Burrell served onboard as day crew last field service in Congo. Of all the day crew he is the one I came to know best. This field service I have not found the like of him who wanted to learn and get involved. I stay in touch on Facebook and wonder whether we will get the chance to ever meet again.
|Burrell and I at the end of Congo field service|
Noël the master craftsman from Holland has his own business but has taken a four month break in Congo and a three month break in Madagascar to serve the poorest of the poor. An absolutely fantastic tradesman who makes the trickiest and toughest jobs look easy. Incredibly humble and gracious too. I am so pleased he has returned this field service.
|Noel, doing his thing in the workshop|
Rob is our amazing high school math teacher from Colorado. He was on our Gateway and although he hasn't left yet, he is leaving the Academy. He is looking to stay onboard in a different role but God hasn't decided which role yet. All I know is he is a great friend and has to be the most eligible bachelor onboard. Recently he arranged a secret dinner for all the other academy teachers (who all happen to be women) where he arranged the dinner, produced a slideshow, got video messages from all their families and spliced them all together, produced a photobook for each of them and had parents come in to honour them. They will have to live many years to have someone top this for them. We've already spent some great times together and I hope we can experience some more.
|Rob on the beach in Congo|
|Rob, Tam and Leanne……and photo bombing guy|
|Gotcha - fun on the beach in Congo|
|How cool when your Maths teacher comes to your birthday party |
AND gets flour all over his face
John is from New Zealand and God has prepared him over his lifetime to be the most perfect fit for the Engineering Stores Manager onboard. He has fantastic knowledge of engineering stores and the strongest work ethic in the department. On top of this he has great wisdom and patience. Married to Sue, an OR nurse, they are an awesome team. I selfishly regret that they too will move on in the next 12 months and we will lose some more friends onboard.
|John visiting the agricultural site in Congo|
|John in his kingdom|