Malta 2018

Setting off and slightly ‘hanging’.

We left the comfort of our winter home base of the Porto Turistico di Marina di Ragusa, sad to say goodbye but pleased to be off adventuring once again.

I can now vouch for the fact that setting sail after a big night out is not the best preparation for a wallowy crossing from Sicily to Malta.

Mind you, we had had the best time!  Thanks to Jacqueline and Peter on Dolce Farr Niente for great chat, nosh and ‘Farr’ too much wine, and to Gwen and Glen on Pardella for a tremendous sing-a-long!   Ian, although tempted to try his own ‘party piece’ rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody, settled for the no less dramatic and perplexing ditty (for the foreigners in the party) of Ilkley Moor Bah T’at!  It was stunning!  You can see how the evening had progressed!  Such fun!

We completed the last minute jobs of charging all electrical items, filling up with water, raising the dinghy on to the davits and changing the lines to slips.  By 0900h we were ready to depart.  We glided out of the Marina just as the daily Marina Radio Net was in full swing and waved to the few of our friends who were up out of their duvets at that time.

We look forward to drinking, chatting and singing with them all again in future.

We had a fairly uneventful crossing although, of course, we did manage to break something.  The block attaching the main sheet from boom to deck came asunder so a quick fix had to be arranged.  It’s only been on for six months so there will be investigations in order.

Later, we were met by a pod of five common dolphins as we approached Gozo.

High up at the citadel in Vittoria.
Colourful fishing boats in Mgarr, Gozo.

We decided that the southern anchorages would be best so we headed for Mgarr and anchored off the breakwater.  It was a bit rolly in there but we were fine.  We were able to leave the boat the next day and go off to Vittoria the capital town on Gozo and see a little more of the island.

The views from the citadel were incredible and the town was bursting with cultural possibilities.  The most intriguing of which (for me) was the showing of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society film.

 

There had been performances of Jesus Christ Superstar earlier in the month a show produced by Hugh Wooldridge, the very same man who produced the Night of 1000 Voices at the Royal Albert Hall, which I was lucky enough to be involved with in 1997.  Small world!  On Malta itself this week there is a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Violin concerto and a recital by a brilliant pianist.

Life is busy on Malta.

Ian firing up our latest purchase, a Lotus barbecue. Cooking up a storm.

We spent a nice couple of days in anchorages on Comino Island and had a lovely time exploring the caves and arches nearby.

We even had our first barbecue.

 

We said a quick ‘Hello’ to friends from MDR, Karen, Patrick, AJ and Esme on Laurin and gave a jaunty wave to Lynita and family on Dizzie. I am sure that we will meet up with more of our fellow live-aboards as the season continues.

Phone box in Vittoria, Gozo.

So, we are heading into the marina near Valetta, Msida Marina, for a few nights so that we can pick up crew (David Heane and Chris Plumb) and get organised for a long crossing to Cephalonia.  This is likely to take place on Monday as that seems to be when there is the best weather window.

Spring in Sicily 2018

“Oh look, there’s ‘Cheesus’ over looking the cheeses.” exclaimed Steve from Amalia.

Its mid-April and I am sitting here in the Porto Turistico di Marina Di Ragusa whilst the wind howls around us at about 50knots.  The boat (A 1992 Bavaria Lagoon 430) is rocking in the wind so much that the cutlery drawer keeps flying open, as if it has been magically enchanted by Mary Poppins!

It’s best to keep busy and distracted so that I don’t find myself worrying about every squeak, creak and crunch.

The music of the marina is clanging halyards, windblown rigging singing and whistling, whipping sail covers and flapping flags that shred themselves sacrificially.

Picking our way along the limestone escarpments near Ragusa, Sicily with the Kalura Walking group.

Tonight, there is a proper musical interlude in the Marina Lounge Bar.  The music being provided by very talented musical sailors within the marina community together with some locals.

Tomorrow, the wind will have dropped back to more acceptable levels and a few of us are off to join the Kalura Walking group again for a walk in the Sicilian hills nearby.

For the last six weeks Ian has been working his way down his spreadsheet list of 180 boat jobs.  He was able to complete some jobs despite recovering from his hernia operation and is now in a position to say that there are only three remaining pre-departure jobs to complete and they are all in hand!

 

Cleaning the head in the heads!!

Needless to say, fixing the heads (toilet) is a top priority – again. I had the dubious pleasure of cleaning the whole toilet pan.  This involves chipping off the crystals that develop when wee mixes with the salt water that is used to flush the loo! Nice.  The joys of sailing.

Buffalo mozzarella, buffalo cheese, buffalo steak, buffalo meat stew, buffalo mozzarella fritters, buffalo mozzarella pizza, buffalo tomatoes and finally, oranges!!! Washed down with plenty of red wine!!!

After arriving back at the boat in mid-March I immediately got on with the job of social secretary; catching up with marina friends and fellow sailors.  We had an enormous lunch at the Azienda Magazze buffalo farm with a jolly group and waddled back to the marina full as eggs!  Also managed a good few ‘Happy Hours’ at the Stella Marina Bar, a visit to the ricotta farm and a fiendish Bonus Whist session.  Its been all go.

 

Emma, Charlotte, Laura, Jack, Sophie, Adam, Tim, Keira and Erin. Cousin power!
Sarah, Keira, Ian, June and Erin

We had a lovely week back home with Ian’s mum in late March for the wedding of our eldest niece Sophie and her fiancé Adam.  It was a wonderful day and so nice to spend time with all the family.  Keira, Erin and Josh were all up north, so it was extra special to be them too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since arriving back at the boat, we have completed adjustments to the forepeak guest cabin to make it a little more spacious.  (Well, there is room to just about swing a cat!)  We have also come up with an improved storage solution for all the boat tools, spares and equipment.  It means that it is easier to access everything and there is still room for the bunk room to accommodate one (small) person.

Enio of Olimpic Sails, Syracuse, helping to fit the new lazy bag that he made for the main sail.

We now have comfortable and hardwearing cockpit cushions and a lovely new sail bag to protect the main sail.  A new outboard motor cover, (From Krina on Spray, life raft cover, from Beatrice on Barracuda, and winch covers.  I have made new covers for the guard rail pads and handy pockets for sun glasses etc. I also have made mattress covers for the forepeak and some storage solutions for the duvets.

 

 

I have covered everything that stood still long enough, in polka dot sticky-backed plastic to jazz u the galley.

 

 

Beautiful, strong and well-made cover for the outboard made by Krina of Spray.
Linea Limoncello 2018

I have also had my first attempt at making limoncello. (See the pages part of the blog for the recipe.  It was very easy to make and tastes delicious.)

 

 

 

 

 

Carcioffi – artichokes.

I have had a couple of journeys up to Ragusa with Helena  (Amalia)  and Aylin for the early morning market there.  There’s all sorts available from; bags of ridiculously cheap vegetables; fish, meat, shoes, handbags, clothes, material, even woven palm frond ornaments for Palm Sunday.

I have continued to practise my Italian.  Our neighbour Catherine has encouraged me to join her conversation group on a Thursday and I have made bad attempts to chat.

 

 

 

It has been a very pleasant time indeed, made even more so by the delivery of one hundred  litres of Frattelli Mazza boxed wine. We have stowed it away.  Now, we just have to try not to drink it all before we set sail!