Nicola Stalla spent the last 7 weeks on board and will stay until the beginning of January. He is from Italy.
“Moments and impressions from the AQUARIUS – One of the most beautiful and intense experiences of my life:
My first rescue: in the dark of the night, we are approaching an overloaded dinghy, one that I have seen in many pictures, but now it is incredibly real, here, very close to me.
I discover that this boat is not a real boat, but in fact a huge dinghy built in a do-it-yourself kind of way, completely unsuitable for the high seas.
I gaze into a number of lost faces that are looking in our direction. Then the touch of dozens of hands that I grab to pull aboard our rescue boat, the hands of people whose lives are in unimaginable danger at this very moment and above whose heads the fear of shipwreck hovers.
After a few days this is the first difficult rescue: the people jump out of the boat into the open sea, in just a few moments chaos breaks lose. As best as we can, we try to throw life vests to the people in the water, trying to make everyone stay afloat.
For a moment I see two bare legs under the surface of the water, before they disappear beneath the dinghy … A little later, we recover a lifeless body drifting at sea; he can be saved, and only later I learn that he is the same person, that I previously saw disappear. It is a boy, about 10 years old …
The hardest moment comes at the end: the five casualties, who did not survive after the bottom of the dinghy flooded with sea-water; To pull these dead out, place them in the white body-bags, has to be done with all the compassion that is possible at this very moment.
There are many other rescue operations and each is different. Once in safety, many of the people tell us about their terrible odyssey.
All these experiences make for intense and unforgettable moments together with the team members; these are relationships that become very close in just a short amount of time. This is something magical that can only happen between people that are all part of such intense experiences.
For a sailor like me who has seen a lot of ships, this is something infinitely special. I love the Aquarius like no other ship.
Text: Nicola Stalla
Translation: Christina Schmidt & Lea Main-Klingst
Photo: Laurin Schmid