Ah, well, yet again I appear to be ‘guilty as charged’ when it comes to failing to keep my blog up to date. Now, thats not to say that I’ve had nothing to write about, quite the reverse in fact.

As usual at this sort of times the main questions are “where do I start?” and “what do I put in?”, or even “what do I leave out?”

So if I went for the answers I’d like they be, “the last blog entry”, “everything” and “nothing”, but the reality will have to be “from the last blog entry”, “what I can remember”, and “what I’ve forgotten”!

So since my last entry, I’ve been on leave and come back to the boat. I was on leave for just under three weeks and, though generally quite busy, the biggest achievement was probably getting the plumbing installed in the well pump-house and that was finished on the last day of my leave! So now instead of having to run out over 100 feet of garden hose and plugging the electric lead for the pump into a socket, there is now a stand pipe with a faucet at the corner of the barn and all you have to do is open it. A bladder forces the water out, and when the pressure in the bladder drops, a switch turns on the pump automatically.

We had some livestock movements, exchanged a couple of goats, bought four more angora goats, two doe’s, a doe kid and a buck kid. We had someone come and shear four of the sheep and five of the goats. (That was followed with the ‘fun’ task of trying to get coats on them all!) We also sold a number of our older chickens. One aspect of that was, after we had cut the numbers down, egg production went up! Not sure if it was because of fighting between the younger and older chickens or whether we had an older chicken that was breaking and eating eggs. Net result though is that we are down to 14 chickens and re getting an average of 10 eggs a day. (of course, Dazzle wants to know who the slackers are!)

Dazzle had purchased a couple of small looms, so they were assembled for her to start weaving on them. She managed to finish her first scarf on it before I left and it looked really cool.

I did actually get a painting done, however that too, was in the last day of my leave and was done in a relative hurry, in artificial light. So I really have no idea at the moment how it turned out. I suspect I may be slightly disappointed with it when I see it again but, even if I am, it is a painting concept that I like so I’ll probably try another version of it in the future.

We, Dazzle and I, went up to Denver to see an immigration attorney on the subject of applying for my ‘green card’. It was a very informative meeting and I think that its likely that, come the New Year, we will be starting the process. A an aid to that, I went to Colorado Springs to have the medical examination that needs to be submitted with the application.

The only other trip we had was for another herding lesson, and this was the day trip that we picked up the new angoras too.

Well, then, back to the boat. The return to the boat started off badly when I discovered that American Airlines are now charging ‘excess baggage’ charges for ALL checked-in bags. That made me mump a bit, but not nearly as much as finding out, on arrival, that they’d only gone and lost it! I was cheered up slightly when I found out that I wasn’t going straight to the boat as I had thought, but would have a night in the hotel first. Anyway, the next day, I joined the ship and we were about to leave Panama City, FL for the transit to Nigeria. I did get word that the airline had found my bag, but it wouldn’t make it to the boat before we sailed. At least I had some clothes on the boat, so it would be a big deal for the transit, only when I need to travel home!

Now we have been in transit since the 24th November, and at the moment, we’re expected to arrive in Nigerian waters around the 17th December, and it looks likely that I will be traveling back to Europe on a charter flight thats tentatively penciled in for overnight on the 19th/20th December.

The big news of the trip so far, is the fact that 3 (of the 19) regular crew have just handed in their notice for various reasons. Two of them are off to work for a new competitor and were due to be joining the ship on arrival in Nigeria. If they don’t do a last trip then the big boss has decided that we will have to manage without them, as he is not going to ask any of the guys that are supposed to be home to give up their Christmas (all the guys who are at home worked Christmas last year)

So, there we are, a bit of a catch up. I’m sure I’ll manage another entry before the end of the year…

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