12 February 2003

On leaving Malta

From John Maughan
Wednesday, February 12, 2003 11:05 AM

How often we have watched the sea raging from the cliffs at Boscastle, and I've turned to you and said, I'm glad I'm not in a boat today.
I now know better what I am talking about.
Left Valetta at 4pm yesterday after spending all day in port waiting for a World Service interview, (scheduled for 8.30am our time) which did not materialise.
I did mini-interview of David to video as we left the harbour. Immediately hit big ground sea, little wind but the result of the storms which were forecast in this area when we first entered
the Med. unfortunately at right angles to our course.
Sleep for me and John Hingley was impossible. David had good night and Stuart just seems to hibernate when things get rough.
He can sleep under any conditions. I had my bunk filled with all my belongings to try to jam myself in but with no success.
Things more calm now and got 30 mins good sleep this morning. This is the final leg of the voyage. 1,026miles without sighting land. That is a record even for John H.
We all find different things emotional and there are many ups and downs. I find tears on my cheeks whenever we raise the banners, John has suffered a couple of disturbing nightmares and David, after all his prior arrangements, is presented with more hoops to jump through. All now seems to be in order.
The ship had a surprise inspection by port authorities in Valetta. This can be very serious
and small defects in paperwork can mean you are tied up in port for several days. However, once inspected the boat cannot be re-inspected for six months. One less thing to worry about at Ashdod.

Forgot to say now at 35.21n 19.19w 10 knots bearing 104 degs. 797 miles to go. Thunderstorm and gale force 6 to 8 for tonight. ho ho .

From David Halpin
12 February 2003

It was not an easy night for some in a heavy swell. I resorted to a Zolpidem with good effect. As the ship rolls and pitches your body is kneaded into and across the bunk by giant hands acting against the soporific effect of the 'thrub; thrub' of that Deutz engine.
I have repeated my e-mail request of 7-2-03 to the shipping agent in Ashdod.
Our 'crew' enjoyed their brief stop in Malta with the two Johns taking a horse carriage around the old town. I spent some hours waiting to be interviewed by BBC world service but it seems that yet more stories about Iraq caused our unusual but peaceful story to be
shelved. No surprise - the BBC. (Instead Colin Powell twisting the phial of plutonium in the UN General Assembly). Perhaps the truism that the media 'like' war is correct. I can see that the 'crew' are focusing more sharply now on our reception at Ashdod and potential but not likely difficulties.
I keep reminding the group that what we are doing is unexceptional; ie taking much needed food and clothing to the poorest children with the complete co-operation of citizens in Gaza.