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Archive for the 'Gozo Island, Malta' Category

MALTA-1 of 3 … SEPTEMBER 2012

Hi Guys and Girls … Just a short report (well quite long really) from Malta.

I liked Malta; the people speak English … cars drive on the left hand side … there are businesses who fill gas bottles … Vodafone is easy to connect to … it would seem there is a business who will fix my Honda generator (have found it to cost €1200.00 to fix … not an option as a new Honda genny would cost around the same … and a `throwaway Chinese unit will cost around €250-300). 

PA140253

*** Seems this Hotel is the only business on the Island. ***

Comino Island, which is a small almost uninhabited island between Malta and Gozo islands, is where I anchored on arriving at Malta. Déjà vu’s created a record breaking sail (for DJV that is) from Marina di Ragusa marina, Sicily, Italy to Comino Island (50 nmiles in DJV 9 hours … averaging 5.6 knots in light conditions).

Next day I took DJV into Mgarr marina, Gozo, just a little over a mile from Comino island, to clear Customs into Malta (a pain-free process) and ended up paying to have DJV tied up for the day-light hours (€30.00) while I took a ferry from Gozo Island across to the ferry terminal on the southern shores of Malta (20 minute journey) then a bus to Valletta, the Capital city of Malta.  It has very ancient areas around the Grand and Marsamxett Harbours (which are wrapped around Valletta, the ancient CBD of Malta).

*** Marr’s and Christina leaving Malta on their 55′ catamaran. ***

 

48 hours later, on entering Marsamxett Harbour and nosing around the three arms of the harbour I was lucky enough to come across a 55’ cat owned by an Aussie, Marrs and his gorgeous Mauritian girlfriend Christina ( some guy once said I describe all females as `gorgeous’ … maybe that’s true) … and this guy had dropped an anchor in the most unlikely place a week earlier and nobody had worried him. I did the same alongside him with the same reaction!! A freak bit of luck.

P9290155

*** Mgarr marina, Gozo Island … rough water  and expensive. Not recommended! ***

The first day ashore was a working day and I had the generator to repair … the gas bottle to fill (near impossible to find anyone in Italy, Croatia, Greece etc.) and to connect to the Internet system of Vodafone. Supplies were also needed and my UK friend Bebe took care of these. Bebe had flown across from the UK to satisfy her love for sailing once again.

 

The following day we took an open topped tour bus (something I’ve done only once in my life, in London) to visit the highlights of inland Malta. It quickly becomes obvious the Maltese Civil Works Department has a very small budget … as many of the roads are very rough making the not-too-bad buses seem as though they have steel wheels and no suspension … a very rough ride!

Our following days were spent touring the island of Gozo, having returned to a two day booking at the Mgarr Marina … again by bus in calm conditions.

On the 7thOctober, 2012, we sail across the southern side of Malta to a harbour on the SE corner … Marsaxlokk Harbour. This is a large harbour and we attached DJV to a huge steel mooring buoy just half mile from the small town centre. Marsaxlokk was quiet and Bebe found interesting walks that kept her busy. We stayed here two nights before heading around to the north side of Malta and motoring back to Grand Harbour.

*** BEBE OUTSIDE A UNIQUE `HOME’ FOR DUCKS AND OTHER BIRD-LIFE ***

The day after Bebe left (three days early due to a lack of wind and therefore, lack of sailing) a 20 knot easterly blew in. Poseidon at work again!

ooOoo

 

posted by admin in Comino Island, Malta,Gozo Island, Malta,MALTA,THE MEDITERRANEAN and have Comments Off

MALTA-2 OF 3 … 5th November, 2012

I didn’t really feel like writing this as my head was still sore.

PC090054

*** THE OLD HONDA GENERATOR … BOUGHT IN AUSTRALIA IN 2007 … RETIRED IN MALTA IN 2012 ***

Saturday 13th October, 2012 was a down-day for me, in fact it started the day before when I took DJV off the `free’ mooring at Marsamxett Harbour, Malta and into the open sea … it was blowing a 4/5 knot southerly, straight off the island and the water was mirror calm. The plan was to allow the vessel to drift away from the coast while I ran the borrowed generator, with open exhaust (no muffler) so as not to disturb the natives with the noise! The drifting worked alright but for reasons I will never understand the generator would charge for 10/15 seconds only, then free-wheel (not charge) for 45 seconds. I put up with this for three hours and the end result was … flat batteries.

*** GENERATOR LOANED BY GOOD FRIENDS BRYCE AND MARTHA (SV SLIVER FERN … NZ) … BUT PROVED A LITTLE NOISY! ***

Overnight I made an executive decision to book into the Royal Malta Yacht Club (RMYC) again and hook-up to the mains power and therefore, charge my monster-batteries via my `smart charger’. The RMYC was just five days away from hosting the Rolex Middle Sea Yacht Race (a very big deal down here involving 80+ yachts from all around the Med and further). Having tied up DJV by myself at RMYC (the fate of a solo sailor) and with the staff being sympathetic to my woes, nothing happened, their minds were elsewhere and it quickly dawned on me I wasn’t going to get any satisfaction here … so I cast myself off. A rare 20 knot easterly wind had developed and once again I steered for the open sea, turned left, hoisting the screecher and headed for the island of Gozo and more specifically the marina of Mgarr. It was just 13 miles west. I ran the starboard motor all the way as it has an alternator/generator that dribbles just 6/7 amps of power into the batteries. On tying up and doing a deal with the marina whereby I paid for one days berthing … and split this into two half day lots of usage. The reasoning was I would recharge the batteries now … go to anchor for two days and come back for a second recharge.

Some may ask … “Why are you staying around Malta when you’re paying for a perfectly good marina berth back at Ragusa, Sicily, Italy”?The only reason I was trapped here in Malta is I was waiting for an anchor to be galvanised … something I couldn’t get done in Greece or Italy.

*** NEWLY GALVANISED KEDGING ANCHOR. ***

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*** THE WONDERFUL, ANCIENT OUTLOOK FROM THE ROYAL MALTA YACHT CLUB ***

On connecting to the mains power at the marina I found nothing happened in the battery-charging department. The charger had decided to chuck-a-wobbly … so, now I had two dead-flat batteries (not even enough power to turn the engines over and therefore, no way to power away from the marina) and no way to recharge them. I was screwed as some would say!

 

It was time for `shore-leave’ and I grabbed the bike and headed for the local mini-mart. On riding to the shop I couldn’t help noticing the massive, coal-black cloud floating in fast from the south over the high hills around Mgarr. Minutes later the sky fell in and the steep main road past the mini-mart leading down to the harbour had turned into a river. Nobody from the mart was going anywhere for quite a while. An hour later it had eased and although a drenching was assured it was time to tackle the `river’ crossing and get back to DJV. Halfway along a rough road leading to the marina it became obvious, by the back log of traffic, that another river … only deeper and faster moving, was shooting mega-tons of water down the hill and into the harbour. Cars, utilities, trucks, cement mixers were slowly fording the gravelly stained river and with it being knee deep and me with a bike now loaded with groceries, it came time to punt on somebody doing me a favour.

“Hi, can you give me a lift across the river to allow me to get back to my yacht, please”?

“No way, it’s too deep and I might break my battery (?) on the rocks” came the reply! What utter bullshit!

This is the time I decided, for the first time in my life to deliberately get pissed (some people might better know the meaning of the word … `drunk’)!  There was a Café/Restaurant just 100 metres back from the muddy river and here I took refuge and downed the first of three half litres of beer. An hour later, just on sunset the water level at the crossing was down to 400mm, just below knee level but still running fast. I shuffled my way through with the bikes mechanicals submerged and made my way back to DJV. A new disaster revealed itself … I had left the hatch above my bunk open and my sleeping slab was drenched. It was time for my second and third beer followed by three gin and tonics … being almost a non-drinker, that did the job!

P9290148

*** OUTLOOK ACROSS THE MGARR HARBOUR (GOZO ISLAND) TO THE MINI-MART (BEFORE THE CLOUD-BURST). ***

P9290155

*** MADLY EXPENSIVE AND ROUGH MGARR MARINA (GOZO ISLAND) ***

Around 20:00 hours, in a stupor … I plugged in the battery charger to the mains power again … and all things electrical sprang to life. The charger ran all night adding to the struggle to sleep. Who had it in for me … God Poseidon?

 

(Poseidon is one of the 3 top Gods in Greek mythology, brothers who divided the world among themselves. Poseidon’s lot was the sea. As sea God Poseidon is usually seen with a trident he is the God of water, horses, and earthquakes and was considered responsible for shipwrecks and drowning’s.
Borrowed from www.about.com)

ooOoo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

posted by admin in Comino Island, Malta,Gozo Island, Malta,MALTA,THE MEDITERRANEAN and have Comments Off

MALTA-3 OF 3 … 24th November 2012

So … the plan was formed to take off for Marina di Ragusa, Sicily, (just 50 nmiles north) today. The weather forecasts for both Malta and Sicily were good. But, I had to do two things before I could leave:

(1) Scrape the barnacles from DJV’S hulls. I wanted to do this in clean water as I wasn’t too flash about the idea of swimming in the water of the marina. (People tend to empty their sewage into it).

       (2) Clear from Malta with Customs and the Harbour Police. Just a piece-of-cake really.

*** HUGE ROCK ARCH AND CRYSTAL CLEAR WATER AT `AZURE WINDOW’ … GOZO ISLAND ***

 

*** WONDERFUL TRICK OF NATURE … AN ARCH CALVED OUT OF THE MAINLAND BY THE SEA ACTION. WEST COAST OF GOZO ISLAND. ***

*** SUN WORSHIPER BARING ALMOST ALL. ***

I had almost finished scraping the barnacles (a two hour job) when some swine electrocuted me with a 3000 volt charge while I was still in the water. Never had that happen before … but it turned out I hadn’t been electrocuted at all, but stung by an invisible `stinger’ jellyfish. Having made a quick exit from the water in fear of a heart seizure (some stingers can cause this) I found I had to live with and treat the welt formed, for the next three weeks … just great!Then again a short motoring leg across to the marina of Mgarr, hook up to the mains power again … and off to the Customs office. Nobody home (when I was told there should be by the officers boss) … the officer had taken an extended lunch. Therefore, it was 14:00 before getting away from Gozo. It was late and I really should have stayed for the night … but, I didn’t mind doing a late night sail.

20 nmiles from Malta and looking back you could swear the island was being invaded by a huge black space-ship from the Star Trek era. A long, low lying coal-black cloud stretched the entire length of the islands and the space-invaders were sending down high voltage shafts into the island … and it was heading my way, fast. Gulp!

 

The thunderstorm moved NE and away from DJV … but, the wind caught up with us, pivoting from NE to E to SE and gusting between 20/35 knots.

 

These winds weren’t all that strong really; however, the water seemed to think it was being whipped up by a 50 knotter. The resulting erratic wave action had me reefing the main down to `storm’ size … and then I took the big-sucker down altogether. DJV was still doing 6.5 knots under a small jib … so I turned the tough-little-vessel down-wind to make our ride smoother all-be-it a little slower. In having done this three times DJV was now off-the-rum-line to finish at Marina di Ragusa … too far west … bugger again!

 

Around 0200 in the morning we were five nmiles off the Sicilian (Italian) beach just 1.5 nmiles west of the marina … and I fired up the engines to motor that short distance.  Well … I tried to fire-up the engines … neither engine starter motor would show a skerrick of life. An absolute power black-out … zero movement.  How could that be I had been using them all the way across to furl the mainsail.

I spoke to the God Poseidon for a short time and did the only thing I could … sail in toward the beach, still under jib power only and keeping a very close watch on the `depth-sounder’. At five metres (I had to pray there were no rocks … and encouragingly the chart plotter didn’t show any) I dropped my two large, parallel anchors and they grabbed as though super-glued to the bottom. DJV swung around into the 25 knot easterly and I let out 40 metres of chain and attached the bridle.

When approaching Sicily you couldn’t help but notice lightning forming in the west … another different storm. No worries I would have to dead-unlucky to get involved in that one. Dead-unlucky we were as the storm swept east along the Sicilian coast and smacked DJV right up the backside with a 45 knot westerly, sending her into a 180⁰ pirouette … and the anchors started to drag. She was soon being pounded by a 57.4 knot severe-cyclonic-storm force wind and only Poseidon knows what was blown from the cockpit. I was dead lucky the wind was travelling parallel to the coast (I had no mechanical power to take DJV out deeper and the surf was pounding on the beach just 150 metres away on the starboard beam) … Yikes! What is the procedure when caught in this predicament? Let out more rode (anchor line/chain/rope) and this was much easier said than done. First pull in the anchor chain four metres to disconnect the bridle … it was a miracle the power/electric windless was able to do this with the huge pressure being exerted by the wind … then let out the 16mm braided nylon rope (meant to be as strong as the equivalent thickness of mild steel) … then hang onto it for dear life as the rode wanted to peel off at a huge rate. One turn around the cleat on the foredeck effectively halves the effort required by me to control the rate-of-feed of the rode and I think I let out another 50 metres of this heavy string! The anchors stopped dragging even with the wind increasing to nearly 60 knots. Whew! Back into the protection of the cockpit and in my saturated clothing I tried to start the engines again. The power was back on and both engines burst into life … Whew!

(There’s an intermittent problem there which is new and must be fixed … when some sanity is restored).

PA080250

*** FRESHLY PAINTED FISHING BOATS. ***

So, in trying to ease the pressure on the anchors I selected both forward gears and powered forward at 2,000 RPM. What happened next was a total unexpected nightmare … DJV swung into a 360⁰ pirouette and being a passenger on-board was akin to riding a fast and furious merry-go-round. It was incredible and when everything settled down (as I quickly brought the engines back to an idle) DJV was still anchored hard and fast.The worst of the storm passed within 30 minutes although it seemed an eternity. The winds slowed to 45 knots and still held in the west and I was dead-tired. Therefore, with both engines ticking over at a fast idle this skipper went to bed and died until awoken by the sun … with DJV bobbing serenely on a glassy smooth ocean … still 150 metres from the beach sands.

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*** MARINA di RAGUSA, SICILY, BEACH AFTER THE STORM THE NIGHT BEFORE. ***

I thanked God Poseidon who had spared me and my nuggetty-tough Seawind 1000, from what seemed at stages through the night, the ending of our cruising life-style.

ooOoo

 

 

 

 

 

posted by admin in Comino Island, Malta,Gozo Island, Malta,MALTA,THE MEDITERRANEAN and have Comments Off