Malta and its islands are said to occupy a position in the centre of the Mediterranean. So here we are moored in the beautiful harbour of Marsamxetto looking up at the old city of Valletta with its huge fortified walls, Grand Palaces and Churches. It is so pretty at night as spot lights flood the ancient walls, the domes, spires and bell towers of the churches. On the other side of the rocky Valletta peninsula lies Grand Harbour with an equally beautiful view of Valletta and more forts churches etc. around its coastline.
We have now been here for a week – a little longer than we first planned to be. The first day we went off to visit a supermarket for the season big stock-up. This place is great for that as one finds things like Colman’s Mustard and Taco kits, plus all my Gluten Free breads and other goodies.
Next day we took the hop on hop off double-decker no roof ‘Malta sightseeing’ bus trip around the southern part of the main Island. Plenty of really interesting things to see and with a history that dates back to 4000BC. The only problem was some the sites we ( I ) wanted to visit were totally book up till the middle of June. Things like the Hypogeum, an underground area of halls and chambers with beautifully painted ceilings. Then there was the famous Sunday market in one of the coastal fishing villages, which was not on as it was the festival of the full moon. We did visit other interesting sites like Fort St. Elmo and the Falconry Centre.
Along in the price for the bus trip also came a free Harbour cruise of both Marsamxetto and Grand Harbours, so Anne and I decided to take the trip the following day to learn more of the history of the three old cities which are perched on the high cliffs overlooking the harbours, but now just melt into each other as the cities have spread and grown. Only trouble was the detailed commentary was in FRENCH as there were more French speaking people on board than English. OK we had our guide book with us so got the ‘gist’ of what we were looking at.
That morning Alec went off on another yacht to check out a boat yard to see about getting SHAMAL lifted out here. They all returned deciding against that one. Here, like in many yards around the Med, when your boat is lifted they won’t let you do your own work on it, not even polish it yourself. Also you are not allowed to live on it. They want you to go off to a hotel. Yeah right!! They also said the yard look very dodgy and with no other yachts in it gave that idea away. But he has found a Dutch guy, who’s English is good, at the Yanmar shop who seems to know a thing or two, so has decided we will have the engines overhauled here as most of the work can be done while we are sitting in the water. This will be the first major overhaul the engines have really had. Nothing is wrong, just general maintenance. Out of the water jobs can wait till be find a better yard. It is quite funny as many of the yachts that were in Ragusa are also looking for yards to do a haul out as well.
Thursday 17th May
After having the engine successfully serviced Alec decided to have the rattle in the watermaker pump, which turned into a rather unpleasant grinding sound, checked out by the Dutchman. Oh help that was a grand mistake!! He took the clutch plate off, I should say FORCED it off. We ended up with a bent clutch plate and one which does not now disengage!! Which means whenever the Starboard engine in running so is the watermaker pump. The long and short of it is we have had to email the company at home that installed it for us, to courier us out a new clutch A.S.A.P. So here we are anchored out in Marsamxetto Harbour in front of the Royal Malta Yacht Club. Our first week was spent on the moorings belonging to Sandy Yacht Marina, but at 37 euros a night on a mooring buoy without power or water we felt was a bit much. The wind is blowing and the sun is shining so we are making plenty of power. As for water, well we are OK at the moment.
Last weekend we took SHAMAL around to the Blue Lagoon off Comino Island for a night. It is between the main Island of Malta and the smaller Island of Gozo. Was just beautiful. Alec got in the water and cleaned the props. I had my first swim of the season. The wind was cool but the water was beautiful, about 25 deg. c. You could Google it and have a look for yourself. We had a beautiful sail back along the south coast of Malta with dolphins with us for a good part of the way.
Sunday 20th May
Our Dutch friend has had a couple more goes to try and get the clutch fixed for us, but to no avail. So we are just making the most of our ‘extended’ stay here. Yesterday Alec read in the local paper that the Church of St. John’s in Valletta was having a free open day. He does not agree on visiting Churches where you pay to go in. So off we set to see it. Oh help I have never been in a building so decorated in my life. Within the church there must be a least half a dozen chapels each with its own theme and set of paintings. The walls that did not have paintings on were COVERED in gilt painted things – I will include a photo so you will see what I mean. A little over the top, but it is a Church. We also visited the Ship Wreak Church of St. Pauls – not the Cathedral – and Alec says enough churches now. So two out of 300 that are on Malta is not so bad for him!!
As one reads the history of all the sieges this tiny Island has encountered, then nearly every day, and night, hears explosions, one can be forgiven if they think the Island is about to be invaded again, but with around 300 Churches on all of 316 sq. km ,each having some kind of festival, fireworks seems to be the way they are celebrated. Also weddings and parties are also celebrated with fireworks. Sitting out in the harbour we usually get something to watch each night.
Tomorrow we have another sister of Alec’s arriving. Maggi is coming down from the UK and will be sailing with us to Crete.
Now been here 3 weeks today. We are looking forward to moving on. The clutch has arrived and should be delivered today. So if all goes well we will be leaving in the morning.
We will sign out for this letter
Love to you all
The Admiral and The Commander