Repeated notices informing members that “because of the current situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have decided to suspend all club activities until further notice”, had become the order of the day from March 2020 onwards.
Yet, although being amongst the millions of entities world-wide to comply with health authorities rigid instructions, the Malta Cruising Club managed to coordinate one of their engaging events and identify a winner.
In 2011, the Malta Cruising Club introduced the Commodore’s Award which is presented to a member in recognition of the support he gave to the Club’s activities and its members.
In February, before the COVID-19 lock-down enforcement, three members of the Malta Cruising Club, David Jones, 66, a Master Mariner & Marine Surveyor, Committee member Patrick Genovese, aged 49, an IT Company Director, and Dr Carmel Abela, 53, a doctor, sailed across the Atlantic Ocean, from Port of Mindelo on the Island of Sao Vincente, Cape Verde Islands (off the north-western coast of Africa), to Chaguaramas Bay on the Island of Trinidad, a distance of approximately 2,200 nm, which they covered in 14 days.
Dr Abela’s pleasant memories of his trans-Atlantic adventure were soon wiped out as the COVID-19 pandemic took over and he had to join his fellow colleagues on the front-line fighting disease and death.
As chairman of the Department of Anaesthesia, and Intensive Care at Mater Dei Hospital, Dr Abela has the responsibility of the department that is amongst the front-liners especially in ITU while also continuing to provide the usual anaesthetic services to the operating theatres and other areas covered by his department.
Normally Dr Abela, accompanied by his wife Michelle, participates in all the club’s sailing and social events, particularly the informative lectures, the quiz nights, the annual general meeting, and of course the Falken Pozzallo Sette Giugno weekend, that has become a favourite to Dr Abela, and the most popular sailing event of the year at the Malta Cruising Club.
For these outstanding characteristics Dr Abela was nominated winner of the Malta Cruising Club Commodore’s Award for 2020.
“My priority is that we give our patients the best possible treatment given the circumstances while ensuring the safety of our staff especially those who are coming into contact with the sick COVID patients,” Dr Abela said.
“My resilience as a sailor and a ‘hands on’ type of person, and my belief in God, is a good requirement for the position I am holding.
“Yes, sometimes dealing with this pandemic feels like sailing through a storm at sea with no safe haven in sight, yet knowing that somewhere someone is watching over you and gently leading you home.”
Wilfred Sultana, the Commodore of the Malta Cursing Club, presented Dr Carmel Abela with the Commodore’s Award for 2020 in the presence of the club’s Committee.
The Commodore’s Award Trophy was presented to the Club by Mike Mifsud, then Secretary.
Since then this recognition has been awarded on six occasions, the winners being: David Dingli (2011), Austin Calleja (2013), Pierre Aquilina (2017), Patrick & Nadine Genovese (2018), John Cini (2019) and Dr Carmel Abela (2020).