Back with the Refugees

Shunned by Malta, Italy and the Libyan coast guard, the NGO Proactiva is now based in Motril on the south coast of Spain. Sadly Golfo Azurro is no longer operative but Proactiva still has 2 vessels active – the Rhodes designed ketch Astral and Open Arms. I am working in the latter, a tough ocean going tug targetting refugee boats crossing the Alboran Sea from Morocco. 40 years old, Open Arms has been thoroughly rejuvenated and is well-suited for rescue work, unlike her ship’s medico.

We have been in Motril for a week waiting for clearance to go to sea. I am not sure why there has been this delay but it seems that Spain’s administrative wheels are turning slowly. The weather has been pretty vile – fresh westerly winds, with heavy rain here in port and snow on the surrounding mountains, so we doubt there have been refugee boats setting out from Morocco. A good opportunity to continue RIB exercises and the endless routine maintenance.

Open Arms’ enthusiastic and very professional crew start maintenance work before dawn and just don’t let up. A mix of cheerful and committed Spaniards, Argentinians, Canariads and Italians, they work hard but as as you’d expect there is much singing, joking and endless noise. I feel a bit otiose, although my nurse Eva and I have at least finished the pharmacy stocktake and checked all our medical equipment.

Now finally the weather has improved and we set sail on Tuesday, I think. Meanwhile, there’s plenty to look at:

2nd engineer, nurse and chef

Sunday lunch

 

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