Our big CAT diesel has fired up and we depart as soon as spare lube oil is shipped on board. Yesterday I took a last minute visit to the local hospital to scrounge some more suture material. Golfo Azzurro is a stout old Dutch fishing boat, built like a brick shithouse.
Golfo Azzurro brought back 700 refugees on her last tour. They are taken to Sicily, at the direction of refugee coordinating authorities in Rome. By our shameful Australian standards the numbers here are quite astounding – yesterday there were some 3,000 boat people at sea and waiting for help off the Libyan Coast.
The rescue vessels – NGO ships of Open Arms, Sea Watch, MSF, MOASrefugee and Sea Eye among others – are all staffed by volunteers. Because of the current numbers a British warship has been sent down to pick up boat people, who are then transferred to ships like ours for the passage to Italy.
We have a crew of 20, mostly young, hard working and committed Spaniards. Some of them have done previous tours and they tell me there will be no sleep for any of us (especially me, they warn!) when we arrive on station in 20 hours.
We also have on board a journalist and a photographer on assignment from the Wall Street Journal.
Our hospital bay is large and well equipped. My nurse Roberto is a competent, cheerrful young bloke with oncology and ER training. They haven’t had a delivery on Golfo Azzurro yet and we are both a bit anxious about having to manage the first. Please let it not be a footling breech or a hand presentation!
There is lots to do in preparation for the arrival of 500 passengers who need to be settled, fed and watered and triaged. Crew bonhomie has forged fast and everyone is chipping in.
Pics and more news later.