At 19:00 on Monday evening the AQUARIUS left the harbour of Catania. There were some big changes in our teams: SOS MEDITERRANEE got some new volunteers for the Search and Rescue team and MSF also had some changes. Even amongst the ship crew there are some new faces.
The AQUARIUS also got kind of a face lift. We constructed a new shelter area on the hind deck. A sturdy metal construction that will be covered with a strong tarpaulin. This shelter will provide more protection to the rescued people on board the AQUARIUS. The construct is necessary as we are preparing for autumn and winter time. The weather will change and so will the conditions on board.
Our rescue boats were also improved. Our RHIB one, which is the smaller rescue boat, was equipped with a new engine. Our team spent several hours over the weekend to adjust and test the new engine.
After many sunny days and heat, it was the first time that it rained in awhile. It was rainy in Catania and this was probably the first hint at what is to be expected in the next weeks on the Mediterranean Sea: more wind, more clouds, more rain.
“SOS MEDITERRANEE is a young and very effective organisation.”, says the coordinator of the Search and rescue team, Yohann Muchieri. “We are learning every day and we are improving every day. As you see, there is now a new shelter area on the AQUARIUS, we have also prepared sun protection during the last weeks. Currently we are improving our personal equipment and organising professional protective clothing for the next months.”
The AQUARIUS is one of the few rescue vessels operating in the area that is able to work also during autumn and winter times. In its previous work, our vessel has been all over the world, even in the Antarctic. The old lady AQUARIUS is prepared to continue its work even under harsh weather conditions.
We have been back at sea for 13 hours. Everybody on board had a good night’s rest and all are prepared to arrive in the rescue area north of Libya early Wednesday morning. The new journalists on board are excited and try to find their way on our 77-meter-long vessel. One team will produce a high quality movie that shall be presented on different film festivals. They have already covered the topic of “refugees” in more than 15 countries.
“We are here to shoot very long video footage. It is a high end production you can compare with a cinema movie production.” Says the cameraman Zhenwei XIE from China. He has prepared some drawings of what kind of video shots he wants to produce. “We have covered a lot of countries and spoke with lots of refugees. We already have several thousands minutes of footage. Now we are very interested what is happening on the Mediterranean and how SOS MEDITERRANEE and MSF work.”
The first morning at sea welcomes us with with what we’ve been missing: the sun. A bright sunny morning with only a few clouds and only small waves.
The rainy days of Catania are over and the AQUARIUS is only 150 miles away from our rescue area North of Libya.
Text: René Schulthoff
Photo Credits: Fabian Mondl / SOS MEDITERRANEE