Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Malta For Servicing 13 - 23 May 2016.

Sailing To Malta Friday 13 May 2016.

       It was with some concern that we set off to Malta from Licata on FRIDAY 13th MAY, but is was to prove to be an excellent decision with a wonderful sail to start the season. Before that however, we had a couple of heavy sand storms accompanied with rain drop on us in Licata Marina which meant we had much cleaning to do and even now, some two weeks later and several cleans, the Sahara dust lies everywhere.

Kisti Two After The Saharan Sandstorm Rain.
       We departed at 0520 on Friday under motor but soon started sailing with a steady Westerly F4 and with a following swell and current made excellent speed clocking a high of 9.3 knots through the water. This meant that we made excellent ground and completed the 90 NM in less than 13 hours. Not bad for the first sail of the season. Everything worked correctly except for our AIS which failed to send our progress. Not surprising since the GPS cable had broken! We were however able to receive and keep an eye out for the larger ships. Although a lovely clear sunny day, the wind was cool and meant we had to wear light wind proofs!

Departing Licata.

Happy Days Again, Smile Guy!!

Speeding Along Under Sail.

Half way across, we were suddenly joined by 10 dolphins who were to remain with us for 30 minutes playing with the bow and keel of Kisti Two. For once, the Med dolphins were a little more active and even made several jumps out of the sea to show off to us. We will never tire of them. They are such majestic and fun animals.

Five Dolphins Join Kisti Two.

Three Dolphins At Play.

Four Dolphins Whizzing Past Kisti Two.

Ginny On Dolphin Watch.
  It is a wonderful experience to enter Valletta Harbour with its incredible fortifications and impressive buildings. We headed for Msida Creek where we were booked in for one week. We were put way down the Creek on C16 opposite Busy Bee (Cake Shop).

Entering Valletta, Malta.

Our Bertth, C16 In Msida Creek.

Rediscovering Malta

             We were to enjoy a busy and productive 8 days on Malta. We spent the first day getting re-acquainted with the main shopping area finishing up with a most enjoyable meal which included our first taste of oysters. Not that impressive but worth a go.

Ginny's New Boat 'Lady G'.

Guy Surveying Valletta Harbour.

Looking Out To Valletta Harbour Entrance.

Delicious Mussels In Cheese Basket.

Valletta And Grand Harbour.

        We returned to Valletta for a quick stroll before catching a bus to the area of St Angelo and Grand Harbour where we visited the Inquisitors Palace Museum and the the large Maritime Museum at Grand Harbour. We tried to get into the restored St Angelo Fort but it remains closed until August.

Valletta Saint Flags.

Is This 'Craig Artie Shore' As A Yachts Figurehead??
Model Of Old Maltese Corsair.
Model Of A Vessel Of TheKnights Of St John. 
Ginny At Grand Harbour Marina Outside The Maritime Museum.
Grand Harbour Marina. Yacht Porn!

Marsaxlokk & Marsascala Harbours.         

          We managed to meet up with our Maltese friends John & Lorraine to go and visit the beautiful harbour of Marsaxlokk with all its colourful boats and clear water. We then drove round to Marsascala where we enjoyed a wonderful lunch and a lovely cold Cisk, Maltese beer.

Marsaxlokk Harbour, South Coast Malta.
Marsaxlokk Harbour.
Salt Pans Of The Coast Of Malta.
Marsascala Harbour.
A Lovely Lunch With John & Lorraine.

Rabat, Central Malta.

        After a hearty full English breakfast (We were able to buy English sausages and bacon in the supermarkets), we caught the bus out to Rabat in the centre of Malta island. St Paul was shipwrecked on Malta and occupied a grotto in Rabat for 3 months preaching and converting the locals. We visited his grotto, WW2 shelters, catacombs and a lovely building which housed the Knights Of St John with its museum. We completed the day with a lovely Chinese meal accompanied by Dessie & Chris from Skylark II  and Dave & Anne from Serenity.

A Proper Breakfast At Last!!
English Sausages And Bacon.
Ginny House Hunting.
The Church Above St Paul's Grotto In Rabat. Central Malta.
Guy Testing His Future Resting Place In St Paul's Catacombs.
St Paul's Grotto.

St Paul's Cave After Being Shipwrecked On Malta.
The Knights Of St John Officers Mess?
Ginny In Rabat.
Guy Observing The White Horses Out To Sea.
A Day In Valletta.

       After the completion of the life raft servicing and rigging check, we had to stay in Msida Creek due to strong winds and a big swell out to sea. This meant a bonus day in Valletta during which we visited the refurbished Valletta Council buildings and the the Battery Noon Day Gun firing position. They have done a wonderful job of the restoration and was worth a second visit.

The Knights Of Malta Hotel.

Valletta Town Offices Recently Refurbished.
Ginny The Statue.
A Lovely Tall Masted Yacht In Grand Harbour.
Grand Harbour From Valletta With Turkish Shops Bedecked In Flags In The Foreground.

Valletta Civic Offices In The  Once Auberge Of The Casillian Knights Of St John.
The Narrow Streets Of Valletta.
Ginny With Valletta Horse & Cart.
The Relaxing Gardens Of Valletta Above The Saluting Battery.
Valletta Gun Battery Overlooking Grand Harbour.
Guy Looking Out To  Newly Restored Fort St Angelo.
Fort St Angelo And Grand Harbour Marina.
Ginny Enjoying Malta.
Delicious Muscles In Valletta.

Sailing To St Maria Bay. Comino Island. 22 April 2016.

                    We departed Msida Creek on 22 April at mid-day and enjoyed another wonderful 5 hour sail to Comino Island between Malta and Gozo for a wonderful anchorage in St Maria Bay. We timed it perfectly arriving as all the tourist boats departed and left us to enjoy a most peaceful evening under the full moon. The map below shows our route and evening anchorage. Guy was all smiles.

Skipper Delighted To Be On The Move Again.
Route From Valletta To St Maria Bay.
Departing Valletta.
St Paul's Church And Tower.
St Maria Bay Anchorage.
The Stern Of Kisti Two At Santa Maria Bay Anchorage.

Sailing Back To Licata 23 April 2016

         We awoke with the sunrise after a very heavy dew had covered the decking of Kisti Two. We set off back to Licata under motor. The wind picked up at about 1400 hrs, the sails were unfurled, the engine switched off and then more dolphins. The two dolphins joined us in an exceedingly calm and clear patch of water. Such is the joy of sailing. The wind became stronger and stronger as we approached Licata so we roared into the harbour with gusts of 20/22kts and tied up safely in the marina at our old winter spot at 1800hrs. It had taken us just under 11 hours. 

Gozo Island At Dawn Departure.
Overnight Dew On Kisti Two's Decks.
Dolphins Again.
Beautiful Calm Deep Blue Sea And Dolphin About 2 Metres Depth.

Repairs And Shower Completion In Licata.

         It was great to see familiar old faces in Licata. We also had to take the main sail down and complete some sail repairs on the foredeck. Sails are the engine of a yacht and like the metal engine need constant attention and servicing. Matt also completed the installation of our new stern shower so ALL jobs done, we are ready for the off. 

Sail Repairs On The Foredeck.

Where To Go Now?

          The trip to Malta has allowed us to complete 200NM, get the life raft serviced, the rigging checked and meet old friends, shop in M&S, buy English food and take time off to see even more culture. We love Malta. The decision now is do we go round Sicily or return to Malta with the cut off date of 5 June to pick Sarah and friend up in Malta? What to do? The next blog will reveal the decision. Till then 'Fair Winds' as they say.