For the first time in its history the Maltese traditional passenger boat or dghajsa tal-pass was represented in the mid-17 th century by the renown artist Schellinks, who was in Malta between 1664 and 1665, in one of his paintings. It was not possible to trace earlier icons of this traditional boat although in 1601 it is mentioned by Contreras as being a ferry boat in the harbour.
It should be noted that all modifications effected on the dghajsa after 1800 were all required by the harbour authorities to ensure the safety of passengers and to enhance its appearance. Very few traditional boats are built nowadays and only for the National Regattas being slightly modified to comply with the racing regulations.
The Maltese passenger boat which is an attraction in Grand Harbour and was the means of live-hood for countless boatmen is slowly declining from the local scene. At one time there were boat builders, painters, caulkers, oarsmen, sail makers and many others who earned a living by the services attached to the dghajsa.