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9th June, 2015

Valletta, Malta

To arrive by sea into Grand Harbour is one of those special moments that I always remember, and of course look forward to. Yesterday was no exception and the weather was just perfect for the occasion, bright blue sky and just a light wind. Pilot ‘Jimmy’, a chap I have known for many years, boarded a mile or so before the lighthouse of St. Elmo on the outer breakwater and we chatted easily as we made the approach, monitoring our progress through the strong cross current as we did so. The folks had been advised to be on deck in time to see, and hear, the welcome salute from the canons lined up below the lookout. They boomed out as we carried out a 180 degree turn under the ramparts of Fort San Angleou in order to back down to our designated berth. Perhaps not such a welcome wake up call for local residents living nearby, great theatre for us though.

Operationally our day was very full as local Flag State control Inspectors came down to complete their annual safety inspection, it is the third inspection the ship has had to carry out in less than a month and I’m pleased to report that there was no adverse comment in the final report, a great tribute to the officers and crew who work diligently to ensure our standards cannot be criticised.

Passengers, quite naturally, were quite unaware of our endeavours and were all off on tour, or up into town. These days the new Barraka Lift is in place, making the journey from the water line in Grand Harbour up into the city centre far less arduous, but it was a very warm day and many were glad to come back into the cool of their floating ‘home’.

I watched with interest as a large oil production platform was brought into the harbour and gently manoeuvred into the shipyard, with pilot Jimmy standing out on a platform alone, instructing the four guiding tugs, one off each corner, over his radio. Despite the mammoth structure taking up much of the available water, other more nimble craft were still dodging around the operation, busy on some water borne activity. A tiny typical local gondola style boat came passed looking totally insignificant against the backdrop, its driver seemingly quite unperturbed by all the activity.

Captain Philip Rentell

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