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27th April, 2013


Lifeboat drill

I made my way up to the bridge when I was
told preparations for sailing from Venice
were complete.

“Where’s the pilot?” I asked. The chaps gesticulated, somewhat embarrassingly, to a casually dressed figure who I had not noticed, filling in some paperwork. She turned around and smiled. Quick double take and then a swift ‘Buona Sera’ from me. It isn’t often one has the pleasure of taking ‘pilot’s advice’ from a lady.

Our journey south to Corfu was not without adventure, as the doctor yet again felt the health of one of our senior ladies would be better cared for ashore. After some negotiation and a not so subtle alteration of course toward the Italian side of the Adriatic, we were offered the services of an Italian coast guard boat, which came out at great speed with blue lights flashing, some twenty miles from the coast.

I stopped the ship and the transfer was made. The boat shot off, but then returned for our doctor. A certain degree of, shall I say, ‘officialdom’ had been exchanged with a higher authority. So we then set off after the boat and finally retrieved him an hour later after the lady had been handed over to local medics.

We came through the Straits of Corfu in the early daylight - the narrow passage calm with only a few fishermen to avoid and a couple of fast Greek ferries racing past. Albania, a mile or so to port, still looked just a little less appealing than the view to starboard. The pilot, a ‘relaxed’ gentleman, was quite happy not to accept any stress so we berthed without incident and sent our folks off into town fairly promptly.

We had a drill to complete, which included a lifeboat capacity test. One hundred and thirty Philippine crew were assembled into boat number four. Cramped one might think, but interestingly there was room to spare.

A plaque exchange with the port director finished my working morning, except for scowling at the large Costa job that came in on the other side of the pier and blocked our view over the bay.

When it came time for us to sail, two great ‘snakes’ of passengers were getting ever longer, as they waited to board. I rest my case.

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The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.