ship is the
Logos Hope, purchased by Operation Mobilization for worldwide mission.
Once in service, it will see thousands of visitors a day,
events, sell books from its famous floating bookshop and spread
Knowledge, Help and Hope across the globe.
Previously known as the Norrona, she was a car ferry from Torshaven in the Faroe Islands, and weighs in at 12,519 tonnes. At 132.5m long and 9 decks high, she cruises at 12 knots and is capable of berthing 492 passengers.
adventure began on
the 22nd January 2008 in Kiel, Germany, where the Logos Hope had
recently joined her sister-ship the Logos II. The Logos II, a
much smaller vessel, was preparing for her final ministry trip to the
Caribbean, and she left the day after I arrived.
Kiel is a hub of marine activity, and in addition to the constant traffic of u-boats, a 200 million Euro luxury yacht (in the boathouse on the right) was being built for a Russian billionaire.
put in a cabin
with a huge Californian lad and a couple of Germans, and assigned to
the carpentry team. Where, in addition to assembling and
installing furniture, we poured concrete, laid carpet and built
Pictured here taking up carpet on deck 5 with Grantley, the only crewmember to publicly mourn the loss of my beard when it deserted me in Hamburg.
accommodation sections being prepared for watch-keepers, it was our job
to grind down any proud metalwork, and use cement to smooth over
anything that, for reasons of not upsetting the plumbers, we decided
not to cut through.
Eventually the furnishings were ready, and carpet was laid. Think of me when you stub your toes on the bumpy bit of floor - if it weren't for me it would be a lot more painful.
classic beard-shot, this one. This was taken after
the daily grooming session, undertaken with the aid of a fork (The
Little Mermaid isn't the only sea-dwelling beauty who gets them
confused with combs).
I was transferred to the General Works team to help lead projects which involved lots of hitting things with hammers, using loud machinery to remove old paint and rust from dank and noisome parts of the ship, and generally getting in a glorious mess. Read my poem: NG
couple of weeks in the rust removal business, I found it hard to
distinguish between the delicate orange tawny of my beard and that of
the rust chips embedded in it. Eventually it abandoned me,
the help of no fewer than three cheap razors, while on a church team in
And after a 10-minute haircut by an efficient German barberess during my morning break, I was more shorn and more easily washable than I'd been for many months.
| At the
end of the
day we'd cart all the tools back to our workroom (since turned
variously into a TV room, a library and an AV store, I believe).
Needle-guns (see video) had to be taken apart, mended, cleaned, have needles replaced, oiled and reassembled ready for the following day. Those needle-guns were incredible - built like Canadian project workers (here featured: Tyrone and David), they just worked and worked.
|The outer decks were treacherous during icy weather before the deckies painted them with grit-paint. Due to the starboard side being, rather confusingly, the port side, as it were, the starboard lifeboats and rescue boat didn't get much use, but lifeboats were occasionally lowered from the port side (that is, the seaward side) for drills. Either the 15 foot oars were in bad repair, or some of the Russians and Vikings were frighteningly strong. I suspect a bit of both.|
|The soon-to-be baggage locker had a removable hatch, which we lifted out to needle-gun, wire-brush, treat with rust-converter and paint. It was the shiniest square of the ceiling when we put it back (see video). When it was finally replaced, we sealed the edges and had the lifting eyes grinded off. If they want to pick it up again, they say, they'll just weld them back on. See the video for a closer view.|
|A combination of well-greased chain-hoists and ungloved workers produced this delightful sight. That hatch weighed a tonne or two. We felt suitably manly afterwards.|
isn't as comfortable as it looks. The shiny mattress I'm
reclining on is fibreglass insulation around an awkwardly positioned
section of ducting, and those fibres are not pleasant.
Just to the right of me is a small gap which I slithered down to reach some fairly inaccessible areas. I almost didn't return. Later in the day, Philip dropped a bit of wood down there and had such trouble getting it back he ended up chopping it in half with an angle grinder, and setting off the fire alarm.
here was only really accessible through this tiny trap-door from the
baggage locker. In order to reach the deckhead, Philip had to
stand across the opening holding me up while I needle-gunned.
It was a special time for both of us, and I'm sure we grew
closer. Particularly as his arms got tired.
This cubby-hole of a hide-away is now closed off, so while there won't be any rust, there won't be any visitors either.
redeeming feature of this room was its porthole. The lowest,
most forward porthole of the ship, it let dust and smoke out, and fresh
air and snowballs in.
You might say this porthole kept us sane during our long hours in this tiny space. Although there is evidence to the contrary.
|The monotony of needle-gunning does strange things to people. I turned my hand to art, and my subconscious came up with this image of a sleeping project worker, dreaming about being asleep. Philip thought it was a daschund.|
|10am Philip. In our line of work, we might be needle-gunning rust or old paint or cement, wire-brushing, sanding, grinding or cutting. The unique dust-signature of the face gives away the most recent job or jobs, to the trained eye.|
project of the team, this space, below deck 3 forward, was destined to
become the baggage locker. We chipped, needle-gunned,
grinded, sanded, wire-brushed, cleaned and painted the whole thing, and
it took months. You can see a sanitised video of the process
at the bottom of the page.
Here's Ty and Ethan, hard at work.
|Checking and rechecking coats of paint as the job gradually gradually neared completion. As the guy in charge, I was responsible for saying when something was finished, or ready for the next stage. As a result, we were somewhat premature in the painting of the floor, and had to strip it all off and resand the floor when we discovered more rust patches. Also, you wouldn't believe how hard it is to paint with only one arm until you're forced to try.|
long hard Saturday grinding the floor of the bookhold on deck 3, we
were delighted to find not merely shepherd's pie for dinner, or a sunny
afternoon, but both.
Some days it's too much work to change and shower for dinner, so we are either banished to the 'dirty corner' or stay outside.
|Once, as a farewell to a member of our team, we took off at lunchtime for Subway, where we probably worried the staff with our filthy ragged clothing and faces, but if they made any comment it was in German, and the locals among us didn't see fit to translate for us.|
|Kiel boasts a healthy number of pubs, and evenings would often see a contingent or five from the ship hitting the town. The Irish pub in Kiel had the rare privilege of serving Philip, a native of Northern Ireland, his first Guinness.|
|Emily and Nikki release some pent-up singing energy - they both worked down in the engine room for at least some of their time on board, and down there nobody can hear you warble. Emily was responsible for mustering puppy-eyed young project workers from all over the ship and stuffing them down into the fuel tanks with a bucket of diesel, a rag and a headtorch to get it cleaned in readiness for welding work. She also bears the dubious honour of having had her crutch snapped by yours truly while hobbling pub-wards one evening.|
|It's nice, at the end of a tiring day, to wind down with a bit of music. Before it was converted into the mess, and then back into a lounge, the Logos Lounge was a great place to go if you wanted some peace and quiet. The ship's photographer caught me playing the guitar, too, but chose not to focus on my face in this one.|
weekends, I occasionally got roped into Sunday School - pictured here
are half of my little crew, learning the value of wearing shoes...
fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of Peace.
The Armour of God thing was a bit of a running theme - one week I brought along all my safety equipment and dressed up a small person incongruously in mask, steel-toes, gloves, helmet, goggles and so forth. Fun.
|A whisper ran through the ranks of the ships one day - I first heard it from my ship-sister, Marian the Scot (of whom more hereafter) - apparently there was a playground nearby with 40-foot high swings. The rumours were true, and many happy Sunday afternoons were spent in their pleasant company. As you can see, with Adam the Ox, Endre the Viking and Lydie the Indestructible, a staid one-person-per-swing policy was never going to be sustainable.|
|Running away to sea isn't enough to escape from some people. Due in part to my inadequate hiding techniques and in part to my persistent nagging to come and visit, Colin (of Many Previous Adventures fame) took a few days off to grace the ship with his presence. Spreading joy, chocolate and somewhat militant tea-based propaganda wherever he went, he was around for the first 'voyage' of the ship (being tugged a hundred metres down the quayside), and the opening of the dining room.|
|Paddy, one of the most linguistically inquisitive Germans I have ever had the privilege of encountering, found a guy with connections in the shady world of motorless flight, and a bunch of us selflessly spent a free day gliding to celebrate Nikki's birthday. Here she is, anxious to be up where the air is clear. And that's Becca down below, nursing a bad ankle. And to look at only a careful selection of photos, you'd think I flew the thing. And barefoot at that.|
before leaving Kiel, we put on a big event - Hopefest. Many
people dressed in their native costumes, and so naturally I donned a
suit, bowtie and the traditional bowler hat and umbrella that we
Englishmen are rarely seen without.
In addition to costumes, activities and events, each country had its own display. The pride of ours was mainly the handiwork of Bendi-bus engineer, John, who designed this glorious phone-box.
|Yes, I took a few minutes to flaunt my new-found alternative costumery (non-rust-coloured) among the Kiel flowerbeds. What a sight. And aren't the flowers lovely, too?|
|At mooring stations, the relatively new deckies start to get to grips with how a moving ship works, merely months after first arriving on board. At long last, we were leaving Kiel and heading for Landskrona, Sweden, for an intensive couple of weeks of work, including dry-dock work, replacing the generator.|
as the rest of the work, the experience deck, deck 4, began to be
prepared. We applied our tender workmanship to the rusty
extremes of deck 4 forward stores. Eventually, these stores
would become the base for AV storage, and deck 4 would see proper
flooring and all manner of exciting additions.
Sadly lacking in my photo collection is evidence of my meteoric rise from clumsy amateur to not-quite-so-clumsy amateur in the arena of swing dance. Your loss.
|Sweden was our next port of call. We lowly project workers, and much of the crew, travelled overland since the ship hadn't yet been registered as a passenger vessel. Our work continued much the same, but with considerably fewer people on board (many had left to work in small teams throughout the country during dry-dock) we had the chance to get things done in more public spaces with less disruption.|
|We didn't enter dry-dock immediately, and were blessed by a glorious view when we knocked off in the evenings. The weather was glorious around Landskrona shipyard.|
|And it wasn't all hard work, either - 492 matresses were due for replacement, and in the days that turned to weeks between stock-piling them and finding somewhere to discard them, we built forts, faux living rooms, massage parlours, wrestling arenas and more. It made for a great place to relax, scoff cereal and hear The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in the dulcet tones of fellow Victor Hugo fan, Aussie Pete.|
|When we finally did get into dry-dock, they wasted no time in cutting a hole in the side of the engine room for the new generator. Using plasma cutters, they started opening her up before the water had fully drained away, and she was all sealed up again before I had the chance to leave the ship again. 20 tonnes of new generator safely installed.|
|Hard hats were obligatory down in the dry-dock, in case a 12,500 tonne ferry fell on you. As was the classic holding-up-the-ship photo.
While in Sweden, sleeping arrangements were relaxed (ventilation maintenance made cabins indistinguishable from kilns most nights), so a bunch of us slept out on deck, or in hammocks.
|Our shirts lost their sleeves as quickly as our bodies lost moisture, hacking up old cement in the stairwells of a dozen flights of stairs across the ship. One section after another was closed as we carted rubble out of the shell-doors, prepared the bare steel surface and finally laid carpet. I spent three days cutting and laying hardboard over the steps to allow work-feet to traverse them, and weeks installing aluminium footplates along with their finger-destroying rubber grip strips.|
|The captain got around the swimming issue by authorising lifeboat drills that were permitted to include off-boat manoevres. A surprising number of us found we needed lots of practice at getting into and out of the water.|
|A beautiful view. And the glow of a Swedish sunset in the background.|
|Dry-dock was a somewhat more intense time workwise, but most injuries still occurred during the non-compulsory activities - performing flying tackles on people recognised in the street, swinging Tarzan-style across a lifeboat to land on an end of steel halyard, leaping off a pier into what turns out to be only 2 feet of water. The list goes on. To allay concerns, though, the 'bandage' around my head was just to keep sweat from my eyes.|
|The reduced crew of the ship gather around its bulbous bow, now high and dry, after a very busy few weeks' work. Due to the delay in getting into drydock, many of the land-teams managed to return in time to see her out of her native element.|
|Pete and Becca joined me in a tour of Koege, Denmark, soon after we arrived. We dropped in on an ice-cream shop, got gloriously lost and, some hours later, found the same shop. Partly for comedy value and partly because Pete was paying, we orchestrated a second visit, buying the same things, saying the same things, in the hopes that we would disconcert the hapless Danish shop-keeper. He didn't notice. He may even have been someone different. Good ice-creams, though.|
|My ship family, out on a trip to the beach, take a well-earned break on a piece of driftwood. This beach was the site of what was advertised as the biggest bonfire in Logos Hope history. Certainly it turned out to be the most illegal - there's only one day in the year when beach bonfires are allowed. We were two months too late, and had two van-loads of pallets on fire before the police asked us to stop.|
|No sooner had we arrived in Denmark than I had to leave for a wedding in Wales. Not thinking much beyond getting to Copenhagen, I must have assumed the airport would be closer than 10 miles out of town. Fortunately Copenhagen boasts City Bikes - for the equivalent of £2 you can unlock a bike to use around the city centre. My trusty wobble-saddled contraption took me all the way to the airport, where it was abandoned surreptitiously in some bushes against my return. I got the train back two weeks later, so it's probably still there.|
|Marlene asked me on Friday if I wanted to go to Sweden for the weekend. Marian, Adam, Marlene and I set out with no idea of where we were headed or how we'd get there. The things we saw and experienced make the Hunting of the Snark sound like a trip to the corner shop. All your gonna get is this teasing map and accompanied thumbnails (though a bigger version's available if you click the picture).|
|The LogOscars were a huge success, as ship-based film awards evenings go. I know I've never attended a better one. Or, indeed, won anything at another. Rust Busters and Interview with a G.A. were my contributions, and they were very positively received. However, Hadassah's film, Runner, walked away with a fistful of awards, including, for me, Best Actor. My trophy, a gold-painted construction by Phips, and bearing the marks of rapid plasma cutting, means nothing to 99% of those who visit, but it's all worth it for the 1%.|
|Becca, Pete and Adam were some of the last people to make their goodbyes to the matresses we had enjoyed for so long, as they were piled in a skip. Before long, I was making my own goodbyes, to these and more close friends, some of whom I will most likely never see again, others I may not meet again for many years. Some I intend to remain somewhat closer to than that, but I hope to remain in contact with everyone who made my time on board so special.|
After I left, I was asked to write something that would be appropriate for a Logos Hope celebration night, to mark the entry of the ship into full-time ministry at long last. My contribution was a prayer letter, in the style of that produced by most of the crew to send home to their supporters. Mine follows the life and trials of a hapless Logos Hoper sent to the Mainland as a missionary.
Baggage Locker: A short tribute to the guys who worked to make this place what it is today.
Lowering the Hatch: This is more or less how we managed to lower the hatch back into place.
Needle Gun: A quick close-up of the fabled needle-gun, being taken apart, cleaned and reassmebled.
Logos Hope in Kiel: A bunch of video clips from Kiel, giving a snap-shot of the ship's time in Germany.
Small's Birthday: Being abroad for his birthday, I thought it only fair that I send my little brother the birthday greetings of my new crew-mates.
Interview with a G.A.: Entered for the LogOscars, this film deals with some common ship questions, but with some communication issues.
Runner: Another LogOscars film, this time directed by Hadassah, but starring me and some friends.
The Rust Busters: Reminiscent to ship-folk of the fire-fighting team, this trained team tackle rust.