The Arrival of Brenda (2)

Caitlyn, Amanda and Dawn were outside on the balcony, it was a pleasant morning, not too hot and with a nice cool breeze blowing. I could hear them playing, and while they were so engrossed I went and fetched yet another large mysterious parcel from the Post Office. I knew that it was Brenda inside the box and after unpacking her we quickly decided to see about fooling the Twinns once again. As usual we roped in the ever willing Alison who was going to help with introducing the Twinns to their new sister.

“All in together; dusty, dusty weather. Skip, skip, skip; we all fall down!!” The Twinns chanted as Dawn valiantly tried to master the long lost art of skipping.

“I am not good at this Caitlyn, I think my joints are too old and cranky to bear the strain,” Dawn said, trying desperately to figure out when was the best time to jump over the twirling rope. Her voluminous skirt didn’t help much either and she had made many false starts.
“Come on Dawn, this is child’s play I hear, it can’t be that difficult?” Amanda said, knowing full well that she wouldn’t be able to jump over the twirling rope either.
Caitlyn considered the problem, “You know what is wrong? Twinns don’t have knees! I don’t think we will master this too easily.”

Amanda suddenly gasped, “Look!! a snake!!!”
“A snake? I don’t like snakes!” Dawn said.

“Snakes? yikes!! snakes are not my favourite thing either. I don’t know about you two but I am going to get on that chair and never come down!!” and, having said that, Caitlyn jumped onto the chair, followed closely by Amanda.
Dawn, her self proclaimed old and cranky joints forgotten, took a flying leap and landed in the arms of the other 2 Twinns.

“What will we do now? where is the boss man when you need him? Caitlyn asked.
“Maybe Alison can help. She is good with things like that. Alisonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn!!”
“Alisssssssssssssooooooon, Help!!!” All 3 Twinns shouted.
Alison winked slyly at me then hopped off the table and ran to the balcony where the Twinns waited on the chair. “Hi guys, whats wrong? why are you standing on the chair?” Alison asked nonchalantly.
“Its a snake Alie, one of the dreaded Twinn gobbling orange rapid vipers. They are very dangerous to Twinns.” Caitlyn said knowingly.
“Yes, and it wants to eat Amanda!” Said Dawn, hoping that she wouldn’t become lunch.
“And have Dawn for pudding, ” said Amanda, determined to not go down alone.
I could hear that the Twinn’s imagination was already working overtime.
“Ach no, its not that bad, I hear that a world famous snake and croc expert from Pennsylvania is in town, she was a guest lecturer at Carlisle’s Crocodile Camp, she can help us out. I will go phone her. Don’t go away.”
Alison went inside and made as if she was on the telephone. “Can you come right now? You can? excellent. I will be waiting for you. Goodbye.”

Alison and Brenda waited for a while, then we rang the doorbell and Alison pretended to meet Brenda at the door.
“Good morning Dr Brenda, can you please help out here?” She shouted, making sure that the besieged Twinns on the balcony could hear her.
“That’s not a problem, I will see what I can do.” Brenda went outside and spotted the Twinns on the chair. “Hullo everybody, I am Dr Brenda from Pennsylvania. Alison says you have a problem here with a snake?”

“Oh thank you for coming Doctor, look, its a dreaded Twinn gobbling orange rapid viper.” Caitlyn said.
“And its hungry!!” Dawn added.
“And we make a very bad meal too!” Said Amanda.
“Let me see what I can do about this snake.” Brenda jumped on the furry object. “Take that! and that! and that too!!”

“Kapow! Wham! Splat!” Alison added, obviously enjoying herself.
“Girls”, Caitlyn said, “I am beginning to smell a rat.”
“A rat? first snakes, now rats!!! aaaaaaargh!!!!!” Dawn shrieked! “I think I am going to faint!”

Caitlyn was suspicious, “I want to take a closer look at that so called snake! Come on gang, I suspect that Alison had a finger or 10 in this somehow.”
The 3 Twinns untangled themselves and jumped down onto the floor.
Brenda held out the feather boa for them to inspect. “It’s not a real snake”, she explained.
“I knew it all along. ” said Amanda relieved.
“Me too,” said Dawn, looking around her just in case there was snake or a rat lurking nearby.

“My name is Brenda, I come from Jo in Pennsylvania.”
“Welcome to the Tumbling Twinns Brenda. we are so glad that you arrived safely. I had a sneaky suspicion that something was going on, what with all the emails and sneaking around.”
Alison chuckled, “Sorry guys, we had to do this, it’s just no fun when there is just a box to open and no story to tell.”

The Twinns laughed, they were so glad to have another new friend, “We will still get you back Alison, the day will come, you owe us 2 already.”
“Brenda, you must tell us the story about how you came to be here, I think it will make for a great way to spend the afternoon.”
“Oh yes, it’s a long story and I will tell it to you gladly. Brenda gestured for Caitlyn to come closer and whispered, “I brought knickers, I heard there was a shortage.”
“I heard that!” said Dawn, remembering her knickerless existence.
“Don’t worry Dawn, I brought you some new hair to try out as well.”
“You know,” said Dawn, “I like Brenda already. She knows the way to a Twinns heart.”
“I feel a Twinn hug coming on!” said Caitlyn, “Come on Alison, come and join us, after all, you are one of the family.”

And so it was that Brenda came to live at Tumbling Twinns. Bringing gifts and love and a small piece of a far away place with her. All of her fears were allayed and she had so much to tell. It was going to be a long afternoon, but for the Twinns it would be a happy one.

© DRW, JE Sturgis 2005-2018. Moved to blog 17/04/2015

SAA Museum

Boscombe Down Aviation Collection

Oranjemund Antarctic Adventure

Oranjemund Antarctic Adventure
By RA Young.

Returning to her homeport Durban within the next few days on completion of a remarkable record-breaking voyage is Unicorn Shipping’s smallest and oldest vessel, the 2,000 dwt mini-tanker ORANJEMUND.

The diminutive tanker was chartered to refuel and re-provision Greenpeace vessels in Antarctic waters where the environmentalists are engaged in harassing Japanese whalers shooting hundreds of whales purportedly for “research” purposes. Departing Durban on 20 December the assignment took the Durban-built ship through the “roaring forties” and “screaming fifties” to sixty degrees south – the highest latitude ever visited by a Unicorn vessel – and by few merchant ships not specifically designed and outfitted for polar operations. Her homecoming also represents the ship’s longest non-stop voyage – some 5,750 miles port-to-port and one month duration, during which the ship also celebrated her 30th anniversary.

ORANJEMUND safely negotiated probably the most severe weather and sea conditions of her long career as she twice transited the “weather factory” latitudes of the vast Southern Ocean. Force 10 gales and swells higher than the ship’s masts enduring for days thoroughly tested both ship and crew, and sub-zero wind-chill temperatures and snowstorms and dodging of icebergs were in stark contrast to the conditions normally experienced at this time of year by the ship and her long-serving Master, Capt Gaston Albergaria, his crew and ship’s cat Tommy. However, the ship and her 14-man complement were well-prepared for their adventure.

Prior to accepting this extraordinary charter, Unicorn officials and the ship’s Officers conducted a thorough risk assessment analysis. All likely hazards involved in such an undertaking were identified and counter measures and contingency plans were debated and put in place.

oranjemund02As ORANJEMUND was not built for such extended voyages her limited fuel and fresh water capacity had to be supplemented by carrying additional fuel in her cargo tanks while fresh water was loaded into her ballast tanks. Temporary pumping arrangements were provided to enable their safe transfer during the voyage. One each additional Navigating and Engineer watch keeping Officer were embarked for the voyage. For added drinking water security an evaporator was installed in the engine room to produce fresh water from the sea using waste heat from the main engines. To accommodate extra perishable provisions not only for consumption by the ship’s own larger complement but also for supply to her Customer vessels, additional chest freezer units were installed on the ship’s bridge-deck. Extra spare parts for engines and other critical machinery were stowed in the engine room. Stores, sacks of potatoes and other fresh produce were stashed in every available nook and cranny including the ship’s small office. Emergency repair materials such as quick-setting concrete, steel plate, piping, angle-iron, plywood and timber were put on board in case of need, as were portable pumps and hoses and tools.

Every member of the crew was provided with suitable polar work wear while polar-fleece sleeping bags supplemented the duvets on the beds. Everyone was issued with a survival immersion suit. Even Tommy the cat received a knitted woollen overcoat. Although portable electric heaters were supplied to the ship for the voyage, surprisingly they were unnecessary as the ship’s living areas were remarkably warm – testimony to good quality of insulation built into the ship by her Durban builders. Originally it was intended to leave the engine room internal doors open to permit the warm air to permeate the accommodation areas, however resort to even this simple expedient was not required.

Before departure the ship’s radio equipment and navigation gear were thoroughly checked. The original autopilot was renewed and an additional satellite radio communication system was temporarily provided. All safety and survival equipment was carefully checked and serviced.

Regular reporting and emergency communication procedures between the ship and Unicorn were agreed. By using the ship’s regular satellite-based security alerting system Unicorn officials were able to continuously track the ship and monitor the ship’s speed and heading from their office and home computers.

In contrast to the earlier weather mayhem and chaos, the conditions at the ship’s eventual rendezvous locations were as calm as the proverbial mill-pond and the ship-to-ship refuelling operations were conducted expeditiously without spillage or other incident, and with ORANJEMUND receiving a signal of commendation from the Greenpeace flagship ESPERANZA for a job professionally executed.

Navigation in the ice called for extra vigilance and extreme caution as low-floating “growlers”, bergy-bits and huge icebergs pose great hazard to the vessel, particularly given reduced visibility by radar as well as by eye on account of snow, sleet, fog, rough seas and high swells. On one occasion ORANJEMUND had to retreat northwards on account of advancing ice. Numerous icebergs were encountered including one estimated by Capt. Albergaria as larger than Robben Island and on the homeward passage icebergs were still being encountered as far north as 49 degrees latitude, not far from Kerguelen Island.

Originally delivered to Unicorn from Dorman Long’s Bayhead yard in January 1976, the ship spent the first 25 years of her life engaged almost exclusively on the company’s Cape Town – Port Nolloth trade for which the handy ship had been purpose-designed and built with a shallow-draught, twin screws, twin rudders and bow thruster. Following the phenomenal natural silting-up of the desert port some eight years ago and its subsequent inaccessibility to vessels any larger than fishing craft, ORANJEMUND kept Luderitz supplied with diesel oil out of Cape Town, and refuelled diamond-mining dredgers and trawlers at sea off the Cape and Namibian coasts in so-called STS (ship-to-ship) operations – the same method that was used to refuel the ships in the Antarctic. The versatile ORANJEMUND also assisted with a number of local salvage operations involving grounded ships, more recently those of the tanker NINO on the Transkei coast and the container ship SEALAND EXPRESS on Milnerton beach.


© DRW. 2006-2018. Original article is  courtesy of Rob Young of Unicorn. 16-01-2006. Special thanks to Deene Collopy. Moved to blog 16/03/2014

The Loss of the OSV Voortrekker.

Many people contributed to this page, and it is dedicated to the crew and families of the OSV Voortrekker.

The offshore oil industry in South Africa was never a very large one, most of the activity seemingly taking place off Mossel Bay. One of the participants was the anchor handling supply vessel OSV Voortrekker, which was built in 1983 in Durban by Dorbyl Marine and operated by Unicorn Lines.

Voortrekker Commemorative Envelope

Leading Particulars of OSV Voortrekker.

Length 62 m, Beam 13,33 m, Draught at deep load: 5.06 m. Deadweight 1165 tons
Cruising speed 12 Knots.

Main engines: 6000 B.H.P. Bollard pull in excess of 80 metric tons.

Combined towing and anchor handling winch: 200 tons working load. 300 tons static load.

The vessel was built for towing rigs between drilling stations, handling and running out the rigs anchoring systems, supplying and ferrying of drilling equipment and materials between the base and the rig as well as safety standby. On commencement of her service she was placed on a long term charter to Soekor for servicing the semi submersible rig “Actinia” in the PE area.

Unfortunately the extreme weather around our coastline claimed the Voortrekker on 10 September 1993 off Mossel Bay whilst she was attending to the oil rig.
The vessel remained afloat although upside down for two days before finally sinking taking her crew of 10 with her. Also lost was Lighthouse; the ship’s cat.

Voortrekker Crew
Captain – Cameron Vermeulen
Mate – Allan Sillence
Bosun – David Joseph
Able Seaman – Christopher Damon
Able Seaman – Kenneth Grewar
Able Seaman – Thulebona Gambushe
Greaser – Clement Ndaba
Greaser – Gaga Mzimela
Cook – Michael Mchunu
Steward – Gerald Mkhize
Ships cat – Lighthouse

What made this particular accident remarkable was that after being upside down for two days in really rough seas, the Chief Engineer – Paul de Barry, 2nd Engineer – Peter Tighe and Greaser – Clement Ndaba managed to escape from the capsized vessel. All 3 men were in the engine room at the time of the disaster and it was from here that they managed to escape. Although salvage attempts where made, the vessel sank after 2 days and settled into soft mud upside down making a recovery operation of the deceased impossible. Divers did make numerous attempts to gain entry into the vessel, whilst she was still afloat, but the adverse sea and strong currents made this dangerous and impossible.

Of all the crew that were lost on that fateful day only two bodies were recovered. Greaser Clement Ndaba passed away due to injuries sustained escaping, and Able Seaman Christopher Damon’s body was recovered during the initial diving operations. All the rest went down with the vessel.
Today the Voortrekker and her crew is commemorated in the garden of the port authorities of Mossel Bay, where a black granite memorial was erected in  remembrance of her. While the local SPCA has a  framed memorial for Lighthouse the ships cat in their office.

Special thanks to Deene for the information I have used here, images are from my own collection. The memorial to the Voortrekker in Mossel Bay was photographed by Robert I. Sadler of (link no longer active).

In 2012 divers erected a cross on the wreck of the Voortrekker in memory of those who died in the disaster, and those who lived. 

Update: 17/02/2016.

I received an email today from Patricia, sister of Peter Tighe, one of the two survivors off MV VOORTREKKER.

“…after spending 22 hours under the water, three men managed to extricate themselves, but only Peter and Paul du Barry, survived. Peter had another 22 years given to him and in that time did a lot of work at Jerico Mission ( a promise he made to God while under water) close to where he and his wife, Linda, lived in Port Edward.
He also went back to sea, as that was his love. He retired 5 years ago and kept busy making nautical knotting boards, doormats and swings to sell at the local Uvongo Flea Market on weekends.
Two years ago he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and Dementia, which led to Alzheimer’s, complications of his condition led to his passing on the 31st January 2016.
We, his family, mourn his loss with Linda, may he rest in peace, his ashes were scattered in the sea, where he loved to be.
Paul & Anita du Barry joined us for his Service….”

© DRW 2009-2018. Moved to blog 16/03/2014, updated 17/02/2016, 16/09/2016

Crimean War Memorial

At the time of moving this file to the blog, there are ever increasing tensions in the Crimea as politicians once again jockey for power and generals get set to flex their muscles.

The Crimean War Memorial is situated on Waterloo Place, at the junction of Lower Regent Street and Pall Mall in London, It was originally unveiled in 1859, and cast in bronze from cannons captured at the siege of Sebastopol. The sculptor was John Bell.

Like so many other wars, the Crimean War was about allegiance, expansionism and ambition, and it was widely reported on in Britain. It also highlighted the plight of the wounded and brought the work of Florence Nightingale to the fore.

Florence Nightingale
Florence Nightingale

Whether this current incident will erupt into a full scale conflict remains to be seen, but I do hope that those involved will go read their history books and step away from the triggers.

© DRW 2008-2018. Created 30/08/2008. Images replaced 20/02/2013. Moved to blog 02/03/2014

Seafarers Memorial

Technically this is the International Memorial to the World’s Seafarers, past, present and future. And when I first saw this I had to do a double take, because visually it is magnificent, it is almost as if a ship was coming out of the builidng.

Unveiled in September 2001, and sculpted in bronze by Michael Sandle, it is situated outside the IMO (International Maritime Organisation) building, 4 Albert Embankment, London.  The Google Earth Co-ordinates are   51.493458°,  -0.121207°

© DRW, 2013-2018. Created 29/09/2013. Moved to blog 02/03/2014

Garden of Remembrance, Brakpan

The Garden of Remembrance in Brakpan should rather be called “the wreckage of remembrance”. I am sure that when this memorial was built it was really impressive, but alas now it is a travesty.  At the time of writing (November 2007) it did not appear that anything had been done there in years and that the memorial had been abandoned.

In August 2008 I was informed that the name plaque which was on the memorial had been removed. At the time I suspected that it had been stolen, but fortunately I did have images of it so the names were known.

Roll of Honour
Roll of Honour

On 13 November 2011, I was contacted by Joe Borain who explained that the name plaque had been removed from the derelict memorial and a new Wall of Remembrance was erected at the Cosy Corner Moth Shellhole in Brenthurst, Brakpan, and the plaque had been installed there. I visited the Shellhole to view the new  wall in December 2011 and was able to photograph the newly built wall at the Shellhole.

The rebuilt Wall of Remembrance at Cosy Corner MOTH Shellhole
The rebuilt Wall of Remembrance at Cosy Corner MOTH Shellhole

From a derelict “garden of remembrance”, to a newly erected Wall of Remembrance. It goes to show what is possible given the right people at the right time. However, it is very sad that measures like this have to be taken to preserve the memory of those who sacrificed their lives in the two World Wars. Special thanks to Joe Borain for his assistance in this regard.

© DRW 2007 – 2018. Created 15/11/2007, Updated 24/12/2012. Moved to blog 07/02/2014.

Rand Pioneers Monument: Pioneers Park, Johannesburg.

Rand Pioneers Memorial in Pioneer Park, La Rochelle

This is not a memorial in the conventional sense of the word, but rather an enclosed “lodge” lined with plaques bearing the names of those who were considered “Rand Pioneers”. I am not quite sure what constitutes a Rand Pioneer, but there are many names there that correlate to the names of streets and suburbs in Johannesburg. I have seen it described as a political and cultural organisation in the early 1800’s. Judging by the names on the memorial a Rand Pioneer was probably somebody that helped to form the city of Johannesburg and was possibly involved with mining, engineering, city management, etc.

Pioneers Park is also home to the wonderful James Hall Museum of Transport as well as being on the shore of Wemmer Pan. I used to incorporate a live steam railway track and the musical fountain. Unfortunately it has been left to go to ruin and the area is not as safe as it should be.

Situated at the entrance to Pioneers Park and next to the James Hall Museum of Transport, it is easily overlooked and its context is vague, especially when viewed after all these years.

© DRW 2008-2018.  Moved to blog 07/02/2014