Tag Archives: Malta

Malta to Cephalonia, Greece

Having analysed the weather yet again, no amount of re-looking could make it show what we wanted to see.  There was just no chance that we could set off for Cephalonia with the predicted low pressure system steaming in to give us a proper beating.

We decided to change the plan in the hope that the low would move out of our way.

So, we headed for Porto Palo on the south coast of Sicily.  We had a fairly good sail north and arrived in good time.  We anchored in the bay in among many of our friends from MdR who had recently left the marina, it being close to the end of the month and the start of May prices!

The next day we headed in the direction of Syracuse.  At least if the weather forecast didn’t change Chris would be able to return home from Catania.

We had a very pleasant sail up the coast and arrived late afternoon.  Despite their being heaps of space on Quay 11 – the Town Quay, we were not given permission to go there.  We were told to anchor off.

David and Chris went ashore and Ian invited Gwen and Glen from Pardella over for drinks.   It was good to catch up.

Glen and his new book.
Our favourite restaurant in the market area of Ortigia.

The next day the wind was due to really pick up from the South West in the afternoon.  We decided to go ashore and have lunch near the market with the two Gees.  It was such fun and ended up being quite lengthy!  Needless to say, by the time we returned to the marina pontoon, the wind was whipping the waves across the bay and not only would it have been wet to go across the bay to the boat, it would have been dangerous.

Luckily, kind people on the pontoon offered to put us all up.  We stayed on Pardella and David and Chris on  on their neighbours’ (Diane and Fred) boat.  It was a noisy night with waves smacking the bow and lines creaking as the pontoon bucked!  We had to leave Linea all alone out there and just hope that the anchor was well dug in.

Waves crash over the pontoon of the marina, Syracuse.
Dismal weather in Syracuse.

Next morning, the wind was still lashing the pontoon.  All the boats that had been moored on the Town Quay had left in the night to anchor off.   Linea was still out there.

It continued to be wild.  Finally, at about 1800hrs we managed to get the dinghy engine started and Ian and Chris went back to the boat to retrieve Chris’ things so he could fly home the next day.

David, Ian and I made it back soon after saying goodbye to Chris, had a quick supper and retired to bed.

We decided on an early departure in the morning so that we would have some chance of arriving in Cephalonia before Angela and Lizzie had to go home!!

Me, Ian and David.

We put the sails up in Syracuse Harbour and sailed for 50 hours.  The sea was unpleasantly swelly for the first 36 hours but gradually began to calm down as we approached Cephalonia.

Some miles off shore, we could smell Cephalonia’s unique flora.  The heady combination of wild  sage, juniper, pine and cypress trees and flowering jamine.  It is the most fragrant isle.

We lowered the sails once we were inside the dog leg to Argostoli having made a record Ionian crossing time for Linea.   (We had trawled a fishing line the entire way, however, and managed only to catch a bit of seaweed!)

Ang, Ian, David and Lizzie.

We moored stern to the town quay and put the boat to bed.

 

 

 

Nothing beats and gyros and Mythos! One happy man!

 

By 1200hrs we were having a well earned chicken gyros and a Mythos beer in town with Angela and Lizzie.

 

 

 

 

 

Tired Capitan!

But we were all very tired.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barbecue on board. Fresh tuna (not ours!!!) prawns and mackerel.

So good to be back in Greece.

 

 

 

 

More of Malta

Our first view of the impressive silhouette of Valetta.

After leaving Comino Island and Gozo we headed into the northern section of Valetta’s harbours, Sliema Bay, and attached to an enormous mooring buoy.

One of the many vintage items around Valetta.
Beautiful fountain.

Once settled, we took the ferry across to Valetta peninsula and walked through the charming streets, with gorgeous sights unfolding around every corner.

Our destination was the Mediterranean Conference Centre where we were hoping to be able to obtain tickets for a sold out performance of Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto – which we love!

Bocci players in action.

Meanwhile, we watched a match of Bocci – a kind of Boule, only more vicious! – being played down the water front.  The players were highly skilled.

Once back at the concert hall,  we were asked to wait in the foyer of the incredible St John’s Knights Hospital building and once all ticket holders had taken their seats we were ushered into the stalls and enjoyed the performance for FREE!

War memorial. The Peace Bell overlooking Grand Harbour. The people of Malta were jointly awarded the George Cross for their valour and bravery during the Second World War.

After that special treat we were on a high.

The next day we walked around to the Marina to check the position of our berth and had a bit of an explore.  We then met up with David Mather, a pal from MdR,  (who had kindly brought a parcel from Sicily for us) for a coffee in Marks and Spencer’s.

The view from Ta’x Biex across towards the Valetta Isthmus.

Later, we motored into Msida Marina and parked up with the able assistance of the delightful marineros. Lovely.

Next day, we hired a car and after refilling the dive tanks we set off to explore the island.  We drove south to Marsaxlokk and enjoyed a coffee on the sea front.  We popped into visit the brother in law of my friend Jane Blanshard at his restaurant in Birzebuggia.

The bridge and gate across to Mdina.

After consulting our Malta expert, Paul Brennan we headed up to Mdina.

The view from the roof terrace of the Xara Palace hotel.

What a beautiful town with outstanding views across Malta and far out to sea.

 

 

We found the Xara Palace Hotel, as instructed, and stayed for a bite to eat and a glass of wine.

Soon it was time to head back via Lidl to stock up for our crew.

The stalwart Crew.

They duly arrived and by noon we were in the Mamma Mia restaurant tucking into a fabulous pile of pasta.

On the Sunday after preparing meals for the crossing and completing other prep,  we explored the walls and turrets of Valetta and gazed out at the Grand Harbour and the cruise ships moored in there.

One of the many beautiful villas along the Slima harbour front. Most of them are embassies.

We had hoped to see a game of Bocci  but there was no game on, so we had to settle for a beer in the Bocci Club Bar instead!

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.