Thursday, 31 May 2012

Touchdown Qatar


Its not often I am near tragedy but there was a massive one here on Sunday night. A local shopping mall had a terrible fire which enveloped a creche. 19 people died including three triplets from New Zealand. All of our crew had visited the shopping mall in the previous days and my flatmate was barred entry on the night of the disaster when he tried to get a puncture repaired. This is a first of the kind for Qatar and my thoughts are with the families of the victims.

We arrived in Qatar on Saturday afternoon. My more persistant readers will know I have been to the middle east before but never Qatar. A rule of thumb is that Qatar is a few years behind Dubai with its westernization but coming from the Seychelles it feels like another planet. Everything is done on a grand scale and one only needs to get in a car to feel like you are in an asteroid belt. The heat is blistering and we are still a couple of months away from the real hot season.

We have been lucky enough to get apartments to live in whilst we are based here. Coming from our probably quite large for a yacht crew accommodation the apartments feel positively palatial. My flatmate and I have been busy decorating and our substantial efforts have left the place looking like a cyber rave post modern bat cave. We are not finished yet and a laser will be arriving next week to supplement the chin up bar, Bose q10 sound dock, PS3, Egyptian papyrus and trimmings.

You would think I would be not reminded of home much here but there have been a couple of moments that have made me feel right at home. The first was being allocated a crew car with one of the Australian Engineers. We have earned the one and only Toyota Hilux. Hilux's are a bit of an institution in New Zealand and it looks like they have a fan base here. I only wish ours had bull bars and an air conditioned dog on the back.

I thought of dogs with my second experience. I left the boat and was struck with a very familiar smell. The smell of a wool shed on a hot summers day. I could not see any shearers and showing ones shoulders through a black singlet is not allowed here so I Sherlocked  the situation. There was a large sheep carrier upwind.

For now much of Qatar remains a mystery but its nice to know small parts of home are abound. I shall be taking some photos over the next week and will share these with you soon.


Sunday, 27 May 2012

Pirate Attack

Exactly three years ago to the day I was busily day working at the Monaco Grand Prix. My jaw was bouncing off the deck in between saying wow every other minute. In a moment of relative coherence I asked one of the crew does one ever become used to this life. The South African replied with a smug look "yes you will get used to it"

This all came flooding back to me last night when we had a couple of pirate skiffs circle us at high speed and were consequently seen off by our heavily armed security force. When the call came over the radio for us to muster in the crew mess I was sure it was a drill. Why we would be running a drill coming out of the pirate zone escaped me at the time.

I reassured the crew around me that it was a drill. It became evident it was not a drill when we saw our Grunts tooling up and manning strategic sniper stations. I still did not really click, and I watched bemused as everyone seemed to receive and amplify each others excitement. Not me, I watched bemused. The Grunts as I affectionally call them would take care of any danger. They are huge impressive beings, who previously turned up to our fire drill underway strapped locked and loaded. I have a new definition of irony. Watching a walking weapon, watch The Expendables.

The Pirates were seen off. It was perfect conditions for an attack, the heavy sand fog had lowered visibility. The weather conditions were calm allowing the pirate skiffs to circle us at high speed. Thankfully we had security and had prepared as well as we could. We subsequently learned a ship had been attacked by 21 skiffs a couple of days earlier in the same waters.

This is all normal for me. Is this normal?

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Goodbye Seychelles

Sorry to be a bit slow with the blog updates. I hope this movie makes up for it. Its been put together by a very talented crew member. There are couple of my photos in there and I play a small part in the proceedings. Sadly there was no suitable footage of my two DJ outings. This is probably a good thing.

 In other news, we have left the Seychelles for a yet to be disclosed location. It should be a nice jolt to the senses and should prove to arrest the cardiac functions of my brain and fingers. More blog updates on the way.