Saturday, September 30, 2006

All play

Whoa! Its been quite a while since my last post! I've started my new job and haven't had much time to do anything else. I'm now 2 weeks into my job and ..... so far its been pretty overwhelming. On my first day of work, I was given a pile of books to study and was told that I would be having an exam some time next horrific. Plus my job has highlighted how much catching up I've got to do (loads!). I've already forgotten so much stuff which I've learnt at University. But still, I find it pretty exciting and fast moving. My group is involved in the demolition/refurbishment/upgrading of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon. And on my second day, I was sent to Covent Gardens in London for a backstage tour of the Royal Opera House as there were some designs there which might help towards the planning and design of the new theatre. It was a tour of epic proportions....literally! The Royal Opera House was huge! And very complex! As for my 2nd week, we had a day out at CentreParcs at Longleat where we tried archery, crazy golf, some team games, and an amazing water theme park. It was for some sort of team bonding day, which happens only once a year. Not too bad for a start eh? My boss and some of my colleagues have been telling me that I've been lucky and shouldn't expect to have a day out every week :-)

Anyways, skipping over the small details, I'm now starting to settle down a bit. I'm getting into some sort of in...wake up, go to work, come home, dinner, sleep...of course with a bit of time squeezed in between for fun. I'm currently looking to sort out some sort of transport for commuting to work as I find the train too expensive. Just yesterday, I went for a bike assesment the rain. I think I did pretty well and the instructor recommended me for an intermediate course. But I'll have to think about its not very comfortable to ride a bike especially with winter round the corner. The thing with cars is that you're sheltered from the elements, but parking will probably be horrendous in Bath and Bristol. Well, who knows? We'll have to wait and see......

Monday, September 11, 2006


Right, I'm now back in Bristol, safe and sound. I've been back since Wednesday, and that makes it 5 days ago. Apart from having really rough and calloused hands (unavoidable when you're working on a boat), all my limbs are twitching and functional. No sharks got a piece of me. Well, I did cut my finger on a shark's tooth when I put my hand in its mouth. It was a really deep cut and there was blood everywhere, but the shark was dead anyway.


Everything in Bristol is still as it is when I left 2 months ago. Although the weather has gotten pleasantly cooler, the sights, the smell, and the people are thankfully still the same. It feels surreal to return back to the familiarity. And why not? For that, I'm grateful. The familiarity reminds me of what I was and what I'll be soon. I shall enter the life of employment in a week's time. To tell the truth, I can't really remember much of what I've learnt at university anymore. All I know about are sharks and how to work on a boat. Time to hit the books again eh? ;-)

Table Mountain Dreams

My time in South Africa now feels like a dream that happend a life time ago. Soon my hands will become soft and smooth again and all that will be left of will be memories. Despite feeling afraid and excited about my impending start of work, it still feels good to be back. Good friends here brighten my time and hold me to this place. That is why I treasure my friends, both here and abroad. They make my time worth it. So for the next few care free days left, I shall try to prepare myself for work and catch up with all my old friends.

Best friend

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Shark Tales

My placement in Gansbaai is coming to an end. I shall be leaving soon for good ol' bristol. But before I do that, pull up a stool, get yerself a glass of whiskey and let me regale you of my tales of a seasoned shiphand ;-) Arrgggrrh!

Sunrise @ the harbour

A working day starts with me being awakened at 6am by a flock of bloody geese living in my backyard. I have my breakfast and make my way to the harbour (20 mins away) by 7am. Me and Mandla (one of the crew) prep the boat for launch by 9am. This involves tying the bouys and fenders on the side of the boat, getting the bait and the chum ready, checking and warming up the props and engines, sorting out the wetsuits, and giving the boat a wipe down. Meanwhile, the skippers (Gerald and Grant) give their briefing to the clients about the sharks, safety, and how we operate.

Gerald Grant Mandla

We launch the boat by 9am and make our way to Dyer Island. The trip takes about 30 mins and the seas are very choppy. At full capacity, the boat carries 18 passengers and 4 crew. Most of the time(about 80% of the time) there will be someone getting seasick on board (not the crew of course). And they start puking out their breakfast over the side of the boat.

Boat & me

We anchor the boat just off the island (close to the seals) and start chumming the area and throwing the bait into the water. The chum is made up of fish heads (mainly butterfish and tuna) and liver of another shark (soupfin shark). The chum stinks like hell and is very oily. The bait is made up of pieces of tuna tied to a rope. The chum attracts the sharks to the boat and the bait gives the sharks a target to aim for. Once we get a good shark (inquisitive and not aggressive) around the boat, we get the clients into their wetsuits and into the cage. The sharks will try all sorts of tricks to get the bait. You have to see it to believe it. Some of them will rush from below and jump straight out of the water (called breaching). Others peek out of the water at the bait. Its simply amazing to see them try.

Once everyone has a go in the cage, we pack up and go back. When we reach dry land, we wash the wetsuits and the boat and go back home tired. Usually, its just one trip per day. However, on somedays we have two trips, depending on the number of people. I usually reach back home by 6pm and crash out by 8pm. This is what I've been doing for the past 5 weeks, 7 days a week. Its hardwork, especially when lifting the anchor and trying to keep your eyes off some babe changing into her wetsuit ;-) But seriously, its gruelling physical work. And I enjoy every minute of it.

Going home

Soon, this will all come to an end and I'll miss it. I've made many friends and learnt many lessons. And now.... the tale's almost over. Got any more whisky left?