07 February 2003
Stopping in Malta"Citizens'" aid mission making headway
M V Barbara with the Dove and Dolphin team aboard is making good progress towards its destination of Ashdod in Israel.
From there its cargo of food, clothes and medical supplies will be trucked to Gaza and distributed directly to the people the mission is aiming to help.
David Halpin, who is paying the bulk of the cost of this mission from his own resources – and those of his wife Sue – is driven by the need to draw attention to suffering, especiallly amongst children.
This, he says, is a "citizen to citizen" mission and he hopes many more will follow.
The diary extract below says that M V Barbara should be stopping for a period at Malta on Monday. They will be picking up water and everyone will have a chance to stretch their legs on shore. This would be an ideal time to catch up with the team by phone or in person.
We will do everything we can to give you accurate times, phone numbers etc.
Diary extract: Dolphins greet the Barbara
The following commentary is by John Maughan, one of the Dove and Dolphin team members.
In spite of the bureaucratic and communication difficulties this has been a quite magical day. It started with a perfect dawn with no wind and the sun rising right on the bow.
Took some wonderful pictures from the wheelhouse which should be available to you all but for the demons in our communication systems.
We calculated that we would be far enough into the straits of Gibraltar by 3 pm to get a signal on
The signal started building at about 12 and the phones all sprang into life at 3.15. Everyone was phoning home or being called and the voicemail built up took a little sorting out after such a long spell out of reach.
All day the sea has become calmer, almost glassy. Soon we saw Morocco dead ahead and then Spain on the port side.
Very warm and hazy. The channel narrowed and both continents came into focus. Initially the Spanish side was the more beautiful, with small villages nestling on the hillsides, each provided with a bank of striking windmills.
Just as Gibraltar appeared we were joined by a huge school of large dolphins. Loads of discussion as to species. They stayed with us for many miles and were quite breathtaking. At times there were in the region of twenty five, each about 3 metres long right up against the bow. They seemed to take it in turns to rub their tails against the bow, rolling on their sides and even swimming upside down.
Even the crew had never seen such numbers in such a small space and there were loads more within 100 metres of the boat. We were all busy trying to get good photos and video and felt that we could not have had a more fitting introduction to Gibraltar.
All we needed were a few doves!! They might have brought news back to you faster than all our high tech gadgets.
We drew level with the rock itself and as if choreographed the dolphins started tiring and were replaced by several large pods of pilot whales. They did not come right up to the boat but many were within 50 metres. This started an argument because there was to be a bottle of gin for the first to sight a whale. Apparently a pilot whale is really a dolphin so we have decided the contest is still on.
The Moroccan side had now come into its own with a stunning skyline of mountains that could have featured in Lord of the Rings.
Evening fell just as we passed the rock and within a couple of miles we had a stunning sunset with the beautiful Moroccan skyline on the starboard stern and the rock to port. What a day.
We are also delighted by our progress. MV Barbara has a top speed of 10.5 knots but as the sea has become calm, and the wind has dropped we are now making 13.5 knots.
I'm not sure how as I was told there is not much tide in the Med. Our position is 36.02n 4.52w. Things are so calm we have put up the Dove and Dolphin flag and the shalom and salam banners.
If it is still calm tomorrow we will put up the main Brotherhood of Man banner.
There is loads of traffic here so a little free advertising might pay off.
I spent an hour this morning helping Jonas, our wonderful chef, preparing veg for the minestrone. As usual it was another first class meal with crusty garlic rolls.
We could not have happened upon a better crew. Each of them has helped in their own speciality.
Brian, one of the young deckhands, has proved to be a wiz with his own laptop, Windows 2000 Professional and a cd burner.
Here am I with a digital camera and no means to download the pictures because our Windows is too old for the camera.
In seconds he downloaded all my pictures and will burn them onto a cd for me if can buy some in Malta when we arrive on Monday.
They are all thinkers, with serious reservations about the way our world is regressing and we spend hours in the wheelhouse putting the world to rights.
I think, given half a chance, they would like to do the last leg with us.