Friday, January 8, 2021

All At Sea

I have very little concept of what has been going on in the US over the last few days, but it’s safe to say that the eyes of the world were on Capitol Hill, with thoughts that ‘Well that could never happen here.’ But of course it could, it can happen anywhere where a leader takes a course of action to be deliberately divisive rather than cohesive. And in these times, surely we should all be pulling together.

The blog I was going to do illustrates that fact quite well.

As you know Glasgow sits right on the Clyde and the river has city centre docks, most of them unused but they are there- right behind the garden centre and ikea on the south side. The one with enough dredged depth to be  commercial is called the King George 5th docks, locally known as the KG5. If you look out the window of Glasgow’s superhospital, you look right down onto the docks.

For months now,  driving past the garden centre or on the city centre motorway, there’s the rather bizarre sight of the brightly coloured and patterned funnels of cruise ships peering over the city scape.

Cruise ships parking up as with covid, they have nowhere to go.

The headline said that the captain of one of the cruise ships stranded here had called Glasgow the 'friendliest city' he's ever been to. I think that’s probably true as we tend to headbutt anybody who says otherwise.


However a few months earlier, the same story had a different take.

The ship in question had been banned from docking in South America  because of Covid fears and somebody- the company that takes the berthing fee I’d presume allowed them to berth here.

She was called the Azamara Pursuit and she sailed into the King George V Dock in Govan  carrying a huge dispute between the port authority and Inverclyde Council. But the boat was stuck, as she had no where else to go.


The Council chiefs had opposed the plan, understandably as the boat was parked right next to  the biggest hospital in Scotland, in the worst Covid hit region and frontline workers at the hospital were already struggling. The local councillor said  at the time that it would not be  “appropriate to put a significant number of people into one location which has the potential to put strain on our public health services”.

The response was an accusation of being “unwilling to support” the cruise industry sector. And even on a humanitarian level,  the response has a good point.

So the Azamara Pursuit ( she’s small as cruise ships go, only 700 passengers ) berthed at the docks in Glasgow with a minimum crew of 40. She had been banned from Argentina and Chile in March  because of unfounded rumours of Covid 19 on board.

The director of the  port gave some reassurance that the vessel had been deep-cleaned, was free from Covid and, of course, they had been out at sea looking for a place to park for the last two weeks. So the ship was allowed to berth, followed by many more as long as all guidance had been followed.

The Captain, Gianmario Sanguineti spent six months effectively stuck in Glasgow, keeping aboard his ship, the Azamara Journey because of the restrictions on cruises and global travel. He finally returned home to Peru in December and made the comment about how friendly the Glaswegians were.

The Azamara Pursuit, Azamara Quest and the Azamara Journey had all been berthed  at the KG5 since July and they are likely to still be there in March.

What I found interesting  was  Captain Sanguineti "eternal gratitude" to the devoted care of global seafarers’ charity Stella Maris for all the assistance they gave to him and his crew.


The captain was quoted when he spoke to the charity. He said: "I would say Glasgow is the friendliest city I’ve ever been to. I come from a small town in Italy called Chiavari – near Genoa – where there is a real sense of community. I would say Glasgow and the Stella Maris team in this city are exactly the same – God bless them all.”

I had never heard of the charity Stella Maris, so a bit of googling shows that it was  set up in Glasgow  in 1920, an event honoured  by the Vatican with specially commissioned stamps. It is the  largest charitable network in the world for visiting ships. Centres in  300 ports in 55 countries. They offer seafarers and fishermen  'a home away from home'  when they are far away from  their home countries.

Here’s a quote from the website;

When the Malaviya Seven ship was detained in Scotland, the crew were abandoned without wages and unable to return home for nearly 18 months.

"Although we were stranded and away from home for a long time, there was always a surety that we were not alone. There was an implied assurance that as long the Stella Maris was present, justice would be served."

– Captain Ashish, Malaviya Seven

I suppose in a big world, we are each  still in a small community of some sort.

Caro Ramsay


  1. Lovely! Confirms my own impression of Glaswegians! Stella Maris is Latin for Star of the Sea, one of the veneration titles of the Blessed Virgin. It had a religious foundation, and it seems to have continued to act charitably. I wish we could say the same of all religious organizations. Small communities! Hurrah for them!

  2. Your post warmed my heart, rekindling thoughts of my son (pyrotechnically speaking, I guess the rekindling part came first). He's a volunteer chaplain in Houston for a seafaring organization that cares for the many sailors who sail America's rivers, away from their homes for extended periods of time. As for the captain's observation on Glasgow, "Aye, aye."