Saturday, 20 July 2013

Random Shipwatch. THV Patricia

This is one ship I have always taken a fancy to, possibly because of the interesting work that she does, but also because she is one of those unique vessels that are often overlooked by people in favour of the latest floating blocks of flats with a pointy end. 

I was out on Friday 19 June when she arrived, and when I got home discovered that she was in Southampton at 104, and was due to sail at 14H00. I quickly gathered my stuff and hurtled down to Town Quay to see the situation. She was this seemingly small dot sitting in the space between AIDAstella and Adonia, and I really regret not going down to Mayflower Park to have a look from there. But, she was supposed to sail almost as I arrived and I didn't want to be caught in the middle. Adonia is considered a small ship, but even she dwarfed Patricia. 

Her usual stomping grounds are the Coast of England and Wales as well as the Channel Islands. Her duties include the repair and maintenance of navigational aids as well as the positioning and deployment of marine equipment. She is multi-tasker, and one of those ships that performs a vital role in keeping sea lanes safe and marked. She came into service in 1982 and is operated by Trinity House

14H00 came and went, and still she did not move. I rechecked my data and her sailing had been moved to 14H30. As usual I spent that time photographing odd things and muttering about tardiness and being late. 14H30 came, and she still did not move. By now I was almost ready to head down to Mayflower Park and urge her on a bit. At roughly 14H45 she started to move, and being so small it was hard to pick her out amongst the clutter.

It was round about this time when I was having a minor war with a bee that was not amused by me being at Town Quay and I ended up being half stung. I suspect that somewhere at Town Quay there is a half dead bee flying around with his sting still attached to his body. 

Make no mistake about it, she is a working ship, and has all the bits and bobs of a vessel that performs an essential service. She has accommodation for 12 passengers, and these used to be amongst the most sought after berths for people who prefer real ships to cruise ships. She also carries a helicopter on her helipad, but between when she arrived and when she sailed she seemed to have change from a red helicopter to a yellow one.  For some reason she reminds me of another small working vessel: the RMS St Helena

Then she was past me and I  could chalk her off on my list while I watched her sail past QEII terminal. I know I would sail on her like a shot because of her interesting voyages, but also because she is a working vessel of the old school of ship design. She is already over 30 years old and I have not heard of a replacement being built. But Trinity House does operate two other vessels: THV Galatea and THV Alert, and Galatea is probably her replacement. 

And that was the Patrica, yet another favourite of mine. Definitely a good looking vessel, and I was so glad to see her before she too became redundant or surplus tonnage. Long may she be with us. 

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Rietfontein just wont go away.

Last year I was fortunate enough to do a lot of grave hunting in the Rietfontein area, and blogged about it on a number of occasions. For those that are not aware of it, this small piece of Johannesburg is the site of at least 4 cemeteries associated with the Rietfontein Infectious Diseases Hospital.

It is a very pristine and unchanged environment which is only really marred by people who use it as a dump site. There are also in excess of 7000 people buried on the site. I was able to catalogue 3 individual burial areas with headstones, but was unable to really know the extent of the burial areas, or where the other burial areas were situated. From what I read there was a Jewish Cemetery, a Plague Cemetery and a burial area where diseased animals were buried.  My last visit was in late November last year, and I recall that I did feel that all it really took was the wrong person at the wrong time with the wrong motive. 

The irony is that squatters will not even settle on this piece of land, so it must have something to hide? 

However, I did receive a link today that pointed to somebody who was going to develop on this site. There was mention of two schools, a community and youth centre, low cost housing, a police station and so forth. All, at no cost to the government. Assuming the link doesn't go down you can read about it here and here . I can hear myself saying "I told you so" all the way in the UK!

I won't comment further, except to say that when they turn the soil I want to be very far away. I don't know what the life of pathogens is like in soil, but I don't think I would like to find out, because the people who are buried at Rietfontein did not die of old age, and it wasn't called an infectious diseases hospital because they didn't have another name for it. 

Let us see how far this goes. I bet that quite a few people are smiling all the way to the bank already.