The Malta Independent 15 November 2018, Thursday

Id-Dgħajsa Tal-Latini to dominate Mġarr Harbour again

Malta Independent Monday, 8 August 2011, 00:00 Last update: about 5 years ago

The Żewwieq Waterfront €5 million project will include a space allocated to house and permanently exhibit the last remaining original Dgħajsa tal-Latini, the traditional boat which was used by commuters to travel between Malta and Gozo.

The Gozo Boat exhibit will be part of the Żewwieqa Waterfront project which is unfolding on the right hand side of the Gozo Channel terminal at Mġarr. The area, which covers 18,000 square metres of land, offers breathtaking views of the channel between the two islands. The infrastructural work aims to enhance the area and offers an alternative attraction to tourists.

Gozo Channel Company Limited committed itself to restore the only specimen of its predecessor, the Dgħajsa tal-Latini, christened Sacra Famiglia, under the supervision of the NGO Wirt Ghawdex.

The Gozo Boat will prominently feature in the Żewwieqa Waterfront project as the boat will be strategically placed to overlook Mġarr Harbour. Visitors will be able to freely appreciate the beauty of this boat every day of the year. It will be a monument to a service on which Gozo depended to carry both cargo and passengers between the two islands.

What was just a beached hulk of a long abandoned lateen boat which was considered unseaworthy in the 1970’s and was blocking a slipway at Mġarr, was eventually bought by an entrepreneur who wanted to sell it to the Gozo Ministry.  Wirt Ghawdex intervened and thanks to Gozo Channel, the boat was purchased and restored.

Coming from a family with a legacy of boat building, brothers Peter and Karmenu Caruana, whose father Guzeppi and uncle Eugenio were boat builders, were commissioned to carry out the restoration work. The Caruanas were considered the best boat builders in Kalkara before the war.

According to an article by Steve Borg, three Ghajnsielem cargo handlers, Vitor Bajada, Pawlu Scicluna and Guzeppi Galea had commissioned the boat at a cost of Lm450 in 1933. The boat was built within 11 months at Kalkara Creek.

Powered by oars and sails, the boat could take on board up to 30 passengers and it was also used to transport agricultural products and livestock to Malta.

The Sacra Famiglia represents a significant part of the history of transportation between Malta and Gozo.

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