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Malta Cruising Club looking to stay afloat during COVID-19

In its 15th year, and during a worldwide COVID-19 crisis, the Malta Cruising Club is looking at ways to stay active.

Many of its annual events were forced to be cancelled because of restriction and safety awareness.

Commodore Wilfred Sultana says that while the club strives to be a link between its members, a pandemic such as this has “destroyed this essential element, which forms the basis of our club’s existence”.

“(COVID-19) has affected us in a way that we had to cancel mostly everything,” Sultana told The Sunday Times of Malta.

“The only thing I can remember happening recently was that a few of our members decided to go to Sicily (by boat) when there had been the opportunity to go around July or August. But they were only a few because most are afraid to do so at this time. While we helped them, it wasn’t organised by the club.”

With the club being a voluntary organisation, solely dependent on its events, this time of uncertainty has brought it close to a complete stand-still. Asked about the eventual return, Sultana was not convinced things will return to normal soon.

“It all depends on what is happening. If the restrictions remain the same, we can’t really do anything,” Sultana explained.

“We used to host lunches for our members. Now we can’t even do that because you can’t have groups greater than ten people.

“Nowadays, even next week is far away in terms of events so we can’t really make any plans or decisions.”

One of the club’s greater successes is usually its technical talks. This year however, only one was held before the pandemic.

While many organisations have turned to virtual methods online to communicate their message, Sultana lamented that in their case, he does not believe it would be successful to do so.

“I’m not really sure about our technical talks going virtual. Usually, they are so popular, we would have a full house most times,” Sultana said.

“Normally, we’d have a dinner after the talk as well so one can see this as a night out.

“At this stage, I don’t really imagine people sitting at their computer to follow the technical talks, especially when usually we make use of slides and members get the opportunity to ask questions as well.”

As with finances, while many organisations have struggled, the Malta Cruising Club may find it easier to survive.

“The fact that we don’t have our own premises helps us because we don’t really have much expenses,” Sultana explained.

“But when we host the Sette Giugno Malta – Pozzallo cruise, we usually have a sponsor. That is income which we use to help our members and even give them a night’s stay in Pozzallo. We try to help our members as much as we can.

“We lost money from events we usually host for fundraising because that’s where we get sponsors but the technical talks for example, we don’t usually have any income from that.”

Before the pandemic’s effects on the Maltese Islands, the club had managed to hold their Annual General Meeting and

their first talk on the care and maintenance of sails in the first week of March, days before the first restrictions came in to force.

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