Monday, December 6, 2010

For the past couple of days Tony has been back in Canada and I have been working on a new project . is a new blogsite which I'm using as a vehicle to help promote myself as a Charter Skipper for 'Women Only' sailing charters initially here in Malta and then who knows - if it becomes successful perhaps I'll charter boats in other locations and move around from location to location according to time of year. This is the start. I am happy with the company I have chosen to charter the boats from - Nautica, they have an excellent fleet and good reputation.

The focus of these charters is 'Cruise and Learn' at whatever level those women who come aboard want to participate.

I'm adding Saillikeagirl as a link to this website. Spread the word - the season kicks off here April or so and I'm looking forward to doing alot of sailing in 2011.

Also - any feedback on the site will be welcome and anything that I haven't covered let me know. I'll also be e-mailing everyone in my address book to spread the word.

Thank for your support.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Breakwater Party - Nov 2010

The following pictures were taken last evening - a few of us got together and shared our meal under a bright full moon. The 'cobs' which are those 'flying saucer' type barbeques on the ground are a great cooking device and our neighbours from Czech Republic, Bo and Rada cooked stuffed squid on theirs and Liz and John, alias Zee Zee John (can you guess which one he is) cooked sausages and we fired up our barbeque on the boat and added chicken and potato wedges.
As you can see we had quite a complement of furry guests too. These cats all live amongst the large rocks which make up the breakwater - the sad looking ginger/white tom cat is the daddy of many of the others. I would love to take him and look after him - he looks so sad. Unfortunately I don't think we would do very well travelling with him aboard - he's never been tame, chances are he'd rip our faces off if we tried to catch him.
We are enjoying incredible weather at present - truly and Indian Summer with bright crisp sunshine, 21 degrees and cool nights perfect for hunkering down under the duvet for a good sleep. Many of us are taking advantage of the good weather to work on our boats. The sound of power tools on the dock is the norm at present, and I'm about to get my sewing machine going again to carry on with replacing the boat canvasses which are all pretty worn out.
So far I've replaced the hatch covers - the bimini and the mainsail cover. Not too happy with the finishing on a couple of things so I'll go at them again to improve them.
Tony has been doing his favourite boat task - caulking - (definitely not his favourite). When Tony caulks his evil alter ego comes to the fore and makes the task even worse for him. Moondancer requires alot of caulking if we are to keep the water out and he's getting it done, albeit unhappily.

Breakwater Party 2010

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Breatwater Party - Nov 2010

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Breakwater Party - Nov 2010

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Breakwater Party - Nov 2010

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Video taken in Istanbul

Just getting around to organising pictures and videos taken when I was in Istanbul. I wish that the uploading didn't take so long - then I would put loads more images on the blog. It now seems like such a long time ago that I was there.

While I was staying in the basement of the Dong Yang Hostel I found a couple of books. One of them is called The Historian and its all about Vlad the Impaler, aka Dracula being buried in Istanbul, not Transylvania. Thank God it took me a couple of weeks to get to that part of the book otherwise I'd have had to sleep in a bed of garlic surrounded by crucifixes, sharpened wooden stake and hammer at the ready.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Random Pictures Taken in Istanbul

A few pictures I took while in Istanbul. I've got loads more aswell as videos. Just trying to figure out how to get them directly from the Picasa files where I can do wonderful things to improve the pictures to the blogsite. This may take awhile but I think I prefer Picasa over Webshots.

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Istanbul - Talk about Culture Shock

Though this isn't Moondancer's adventure its the best place to post my latest journey and as I'm languishing in Sultanahmet, Istanbul with weary legs from walking a few miles before noon today I've decided to take this time to post a blog. Wish I had the log for the 12 day voyage to help jog the memory.
This was a delivery aboard a 57' Jeanneau - very roomy, brand new on its way from one boat show to another and then on to its new owner. This boat had 3 cabins, and as there were 2 females aboard we shared a room with 2 beds. Had to build a heavy duty bolster down the middle to keep us from rolling onto the floor depending on the heel. Actually the heel was mostly in my room-mate's favour, not mine so the bolster was an urgently needed device, after the first 2 nights of me sleeping around trying to find somewhere to sleep - sleeeeeeeep; a most precious skill which I seem to lack in almost all circumstances unfortunately.
The trip started at the Genova boat show, we arrived very late from our different parts of Europe and had to go through all kinds of antics to actually get onto our boat. This very large boat show - billed as the biggest in Europe was shutting down as we arrived and had already removed some temporary floating dock, which actually meant that the only way we could access the boat was to swim across a 60' span of water balancing my 80lb luggage on my head. This after travelling all day and walking a couple of miles pulling said luggage didn't go over too well. So we found someone who found us a dinghy with an outboard to use as a ferry. Good.
That could get John and I over the water but we had to go back and find the rest of the crew who were arriving later, and we had to find food, so we stashed our bags on the boat and went looking for the others knowing that we now had a way back.
We met them at the entrance to the marina and all took off in search of food.
Now that I've started writing this I remember that there are too many stories in this story, so I'll try to stay on track. There was only 1 restaurant within walking distance while the other 2 members of our team, Skipper and Kat (Kadri is the other female crew and the skipper wishes to remain nameless)dragged and carried their respective 100lbs of luggage. The restaurant was a ridiculously pompous affair which made us all feel like very hungry paupers wishing for a Pizza Hut.
So we ate, got back to the marina and the impassable but for our makeshift ferry docks to find you guessed it the makeshift ferry was gone to the other side. So after walking long distances in search of another way around we gave up and nicked another dinghy without a motor and punted across ferrying crew and baggage - finally we got our heads down for a sleep.
We had 10 days to get from Genova to Istanbul in hopes of getting the boat in time for the Ist. Boat Show on the 20th Oct. and my cheap flight back to Malta - Air Malta only flies twice a week to Istanbul at a very reasonable price - the flight was on the 20th. That's why I'm here in the basement of the very cheap hostel that I'm staying in. One thing that I've learned about yacht deliveries - there is always something that will happen to cause delay so never book the return flight.

The skipper had the same idea of route as I had hoped for which really pleased me - south with a bit of east from Genova - stopping at Capri for fuel and a bottom cleaning to speed us up, through the Messina Straits, which were much nicer than the last time I went through. On up to and through the Corinth Canal which is a remarkable though primitive 6km gouge through land separating mainland Greece from the Pellaponese (probably not spelled right) then down a bit until turning the corner into the Aegean (several warnings about how rough that would be - and it was) and then through the Dardanelles into the beautiful sea of Marmar up to Istanbul and the Bosphorous.
We did get to sail a bit - but mostly motored which was to be expected considering the time constraint. We basically had to keep going at mostly 8kn to make up for fuel stops and the times when headwinds just prevented us from doing that. No crashing through waves - sometimes we actually cut the revs down to a motoring speed of under 6 knots to prevent the crashing. (I mock only because in Moondancer we would feel really chuffed to do 6 knots - and that would have to be with a following wind).
The trip was not without a couple of dramas - in the Gulf of Corinth we were repeatedly hit with 48 knots of wind, hail stones that hurt when they hit you which were all happening in conjunction with vicious lightning and thunder. Motoring into that was not desirable and it was too much for autohelm or hand steering, so we waited it our just idling around at the mouth of the gulf doing 2knots in circles keeping out of the way of fishing trawlers who still fished in spite of it.
In fact lighting and rain were pretty routine at night. Though some of the days were bright and sunny each evening the clouds moved in - all thundery towering imposing looking clouds.
We pulled into what was to be our last fuel stop before the Aegean in Greece (I'm sorry to say I've forgotten the name of the place for now), fuelled up from a funny little tanker on the back of an ancient pick-up truck, got some provisions, I picked oranges from trees that lined all of the streets in the town, bought Greek Gyros cast off our lines to find - Uh oh quick tie back up again - we called to walkers on the wall to catch thrown lines and in we came. The engine would not keep running in gear - we speculated bad fuel as we'd just refuelled, then clutch, then fouled prop. This all happened at dusk so we opted to stay the night and dive under the boat in the morning - actually Kat dove under the boat and sure enough we have a whole fishing net wrapped around the prop.
We found a couple of local divers - not pros, but guys who liked diving. One of them was a physics Professor who was working on his dive master. They cut the net off which took about half and hour with 2 of them working on it and by noon we were on our way again - with due warnings about the Aegean.
We had also been doing regular weather checks and knew what to expect.
It took us that day and night to get around the bottom of whatever that part of Greece is called and around the corner into the Aegean early next morning. For the next 2 days we rolled from side to side in a following sea in 30 - 40 knots of wind. Thank God that was not on the nose.
Coming through the Dardanelles at night in heavy traffic took all of us on watch and the skipper hand steering - in pouring rain and of course the prerequisite lighting and thunder.
Once through we were rewarded by the beautiful relative calm of the Sea of Marmar which reminded me alot of British Columbia's Desolation Sound - similar looking land and waterways. The shipping lane was predictable and hazards were well marked - so the pressure was off. We also enjoyed our second visit from a large school of Dolphins who stayed and played with us for awhile - always very uplifting.
We came into the vicinity of Istanbul after dark, no rain and thunder now - and no autohelm. It quit about 3 hours out. But that was ok we still know how to steer with our hands. We came into Marinturk about 11.30pm - they were expecting us and sent a tender out to guide us in.
We were very glad to be in, and set about putting our belongings together before we retired for much desired sleep. Sleeeeeeeeeeeeep.
We were a good crew - we all got on well together and everybody pulled their weight, even John who was really guest crew getting in a few more miles while heading home to Turkey.
Everybody but I had flights booked home for the next day from the major airport in Istanbul which is on the European side of the Bosphorous. So somehow Kat and I had to get from one side to the other in a country where not only do they not speak the same language but their alphabet isn't even readable (by us).
Lucky for us the owner of the yacht delivery company was there and was going back himself at the end of the day - we accompanied him lugging our tons of luggage through the streets (actually he was now lugging my 80lb bag - with wheels) until we found the tiny bus which took us for the next one and a half hours to the ferry to cross the Bosphorous, where we had to buy a token (all instructions in Turkish of course), run to the turnstiles, and run on the ferry just before it pulled out. Cross the Bosphorous then lug and walk another distance to this hostel called the Dong Yang. If I didn't think that Istanbul was extremely foreign before its certainly been reinforced by the fact that most of the other inhabitants of this hostel are Orientals - not sure where from - some of the young men look like Genghis Kahn or Hannibal.
I'm in a district of Istanbul called Sultanahmet and I am being very careful about where I venture because the City is enormous and I will most certainly get lost if I don't leave a crumb trail. So I've already walked a hundred miles in the last couple of days - not dragging luggage - and will do a hundred more before I head home on Monday morning.
Not sure how successful I'll be with photographs but I've got lots and will try to post them on this antique computer - if not I'll do it when I get home.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

MoondancerX Anchored in Dwerja, Gozo

I've just posted 20 odd pictures on Webshots, the link at the side - go to Malta album and scroll through.

One year later - still in Malta

Moondancer is all better now. The Manoel Island Yacht Yard did a good job of putting her back together properly - not just with spit and sawdust. She looks like she did before and so far everything seems to work ok. We've just taken her up to Gozo for a few days of 'sailing' - we actually did get a couple of hours sailing in - but mostly we were motoring. Our goal was to go diving in a place called the Blue Hole near Dwerja in Gozo. Dwerja is a small - almost totally enclosed bay guarded by Fungus Rock. We had a pretty dramatic storm on the way up to Gozo - very loud thunder and forked lightning - a 'twister' over Melieha bay and torrential rain all within about an hour. It was quite remarkable really - that we should have a few days off and head out of Marsamxett harbour in relative sunshine and head up the coast into every darkening skies. Then thunder almost as loud as the maltese fireworks, lightning which was easily better than the maltese fireworks and amazing rainfall - which we always welcome because Moondancer gets a good wash up in the rigging. Bu the time we got to Dwerja the storm had passed and we had a lovely sunny arrival, lots of swimming - unfortunately quite a bit of swell in the anchorage which is never enjoyable - but Captn. Tony assured me it was dying down and tomorrow would be a better day. So the next day after a very rolly night - where I actually dreamt that I was in a bed on a boat - but the bed had wheels on it and it kept crashing from one side of the cabin to another - not too far from the truth - we headed out of the enclosed bay in our dinghy with our little 2hp engine and went looking for the tunnel that leads in through the sheer cliff face on the outside to a hidden sea on the inside. This is called not surprisingly The Hidden Sea. The hidden sea and the blue hole are a mecca for divers and we were hoping at that time to join the throngs. We actually gave up on the idea of driving through a tunnel - which incidentally we didn't find - on a sheer rockface in swells that could quite easily plaster one or quite a few of us on the rock face above the tunnel opening. So we went back to the boat and decided to go ashore in the dinghy and walk around to the hidden sea and blue hole and check it out from land. Once again the swell got the better of us and we couldn't land the dinghy anywhere where it would not bet beaten up again the rocks during our absence - so we went back to Moondancer. We decided to put a change of clothes, shoes, camera, towel into water tight bags, swim ashore, dry off and carry our stuff with us to the inland sea. That worked very well - those water tight bags also work as floatation devices while one swims. We were impressed with the inland sea - where we paid a Maltese boatman to take us through the tunnel out to see the Azure Window which is an amazing rock formation on the outside of the cliffs. Then into a few caves, back into the tunnel. Having done this little trip in his big heavy wooden boat with a 60hp engine to combat the swell we could see that to attempt this in our dinghy in those conditions would have been bloody stupid. We saw the blue hole full of divers who can dive down to the bottom and then out through some caves into the caves surrounding the Azure Window. Most of these divers arrived in vehicles and rented equipment from dive companies. We could see doing this dive with our own equipment without bringing it around in the dinghy, so we did not dive there this time. We did however go back to the boat, by now the swell had died down quite a bit and we snorkelled into a couple of very dark caves with an underwater flashlight - a bit scary going further and further into the dark, but very cool when you turn around and come back out into the beautiful torquoise water with coral and bright sunlight showing it all off. I'm attaching some video and pictures to show these places. Unfortunately we don't have an underwater camera yet - so just above water pictures. So that was day 2. Day 3 we left Dwerja and headed for Crystal Bay on Comino Island, between Gozo and Malta where there is a wreck of a patrol boat - which has purposely been sunk there for the enjoyment of divers. We swam through the wreck which is 65' down sitting on a white sand seabed perfectly balanced on her hull - surrounded by so many different types of fish who were as curious about us as we were them - even a very large baracuda holding off in the distance - as they do - very intimidating looking. Before sinking the boat they had cut very large access holes so that divers can safely move around inside the boat. Its still a fairly new wreck - a few more years and the plantlife and coral that has already taken hold will take over. Before each dive I have undertaken so far (14 now) I am always so apprehensive - there is always something that I feel very nervous about - this time being anchored in 50' of water in an onshore wind with big swells - what if Moondancer drags up against the rocks while we are underwater? Tony is always calm and reassuring, he knows it will be alright and that when we are under the water I will forget the worry - he's right and I do. Its just so awesome that we can do this. And now we are back on our mooring, Tony is at work for the next couple of days and I have time to write this and post some pictures.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Nancy's at 'home' with family and Tony's still in Malta

Main reason for this post is so that Tony can see his parents on video saying hello. The file was too big to send via e-mail.
Being back in Canada in the summer is such a treat. Not just to be with my family and friends, which is truly what I badly needed to do at this time on our journey, but also to look at how beautiful it is here and how 'temperate' everything is. And how nice Canadians are. When talking to other Canadian travellers who have returned home we all agree that its almost impossible to 'beat' British Columbia. How fortunate those of us who can call this place home are.
And its pretty evident that most of the rest of the world knows it too - we usually enjoy very good feed-back in the countries we visit when they know we are Canadian, though in Malta not many people know British Columbia - more familiar with Toronto and its suburbs. So I'll soak it all up, replenish my store of 'green', which is sorely missed in sun-burned Malta and when I get back and Tony's work slows down he can take a turn.

Monday, July 12, 2010

MoondancerX gets Clobbered by Sandstorm

Quite the wake up call this morning - first alot of shouting, very close to us and the sound of a very large engine, very close to us - that got my heart pumping a little faster and Tony went to the companionway to see what was happening. Then the noise receded and I thought all was ok. Not so - the boat came back at us again and hit us very hard ripping off the back railing of the boat, the gunnel around the back, most of Mr. Chubbs is gone - and now we wait for a surveyor to tell us how bad it all is.
Sandstorm is about a 70' trawler style yacht, when it hit us I jumped out of bed so fast as I thought something was coming through the stern, and then the pasarrel (boarding ladder) hooked on and ripped through everything in its way as the driver was trying to pull away from us. There was alot of shouting and screaming cracking wood and tearing metal - and Tony standing, calmly watching until all was safe - then there was alot of swearing.
The skipper of Sandstorm took his boat back out into the channel and anchored, then came to us and apologised profusely - admitted full responsibility for the damage and now I'm waiting for a diver to recover the parts of Mr. Chubbs that fell in the water and a surveyor. Tony has gone to work and will drive past Moonancer which he usually does with pride as he shows us off to his students. Won't be doing that today. She looks horrible.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Eulogy to Grey Cat

Grey Cat was the youngest and oldest member of my immediate family. He was born to Fluffy, Josie's 3rd birthday present when Fluffy was about 8 months old. He was a very strange looking kitten - his head was a funny shape and I thought it best the children did not grow too fond of him as I thought he would die. So we didn't give him a proper name. How wrong was I? Grey Cat survived chickens, ducks, dogs, my marriage, Siggy the Llama. He survived a mortal mauling by racoons or coyotes in his fighting youth, and he survived several near drownings in his later years living aboard MoondancerX with us. He survived living with Johnny in an all young men's apartment and a short time with Josie living in an all young women's shared home, and he spent his last days in the peaceful family home of Mary and Elias, Mission and Mole, their new kitten, who probably helped Grey Cat remember that he was young once.
He lived 18 years - so many memories of our lives include him. I feel so sad that I will never hold Grey Cat in my arms again (whether he liked it or not). I feel sad that I will never meet him again in this life. Maybe in the next.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


I can't believe that I did not know it was Canada Day yesterday. This morning when I opened up Yahoo I realised that I had let the day go by with our big Canadian flag furled up - to protect it from wind damage - we do have a smaller one up high on one of our shrouds, slightly lower of course than the Maltese courtesy flag. I'm sure if Tony had been here we would have remembered.
Last Canada Day 2009 we were on the Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda and the Azores; we happened to 'bump into' - not literally - an English boat we had met in Bermuda and as they knew it was Canada Day - they hailed us and wished us Happy Canada Day and held up their Canadian flag for our benefit. Funny huh!
Tony's been away all week on a charter around Malta and Gozo so I have had a fairly quiet time working on the boat, swimming when I got hot, lying in the sun to dry off (something I almost never do), lugging very heavy things around, i.e. Our dive tanks, laundry, 2 24 packs of beer for Tony, 2 10 gallon water containers which we take ashore, fill up at a friendly hosepipe, bring back, 'put' on the boat and fill the water tanks up. Now there's a way to improve water conservation. 'Putting' the jerry cans on the boat from the dinghy was very, very difficult. Here's how I used to do it - stand with one foot on the dinghy seat which is rigid and the other foot on the rubber side, not rigid - bend down with knees bent, lift the 10 gallon jerry can up onto the rigid seat, bend knees again and lift jerry can up to chest height and onto the deck. Sounds simple - and if I were alot stronger it would be - not. I did this about 6 times over the last 4 days, the last lift I fell backwards under the weight and decided not to do that again.
So - what do we women do when we don't have the brawn - we use our brains. Yesterday I used the running backs blocks which have twice the lifting power that I do, so I detached the running back block from the boat, brought it down to the jerry can, climbed back on the boat and pulled it aboard without straining myself at all.
Oh my God - you think - that's the highlight of her day???? Actually those small victories really do feel great - can't wait to show Tony, so that he doesn't have to keep struggling. No doubt he'll just continue the old way, doesn't take so long and my way might seem 'gay'.
He's back later today and tomorrow we plan to take off and sail to many of the beautiful places around the islands that we have not yet seen. We have 6 days holiday and I'm really looking forward to it.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Our new neighbourhood - Lazaretto Creek

But not very far - just out of the marina. BUT - just out of the marina is so very nice. Now we have a little breeze blowing through the boat, the water is clean enough to swim in, not as clean as a bit further out into Marsamxett Harbour, but really doable. We have come around the corner of Msida Creek into Lazaretto Creek, as you see from the pictures we are in pretty good company. We are flanked by Ta'Xbiex 'wall' where there are many very large expensive yachts, and Manoel Island where again the super yachts tie to the wall of Manoel Island. We are on a mooring which we are told is available until September.
Who knows - we could just as easily be moved off here tomorrow. As I've said before there is a real problem with moorage availability in Malta. Its a very small country and everybody wants to pass through, which means the marinas have to keep some guest moorage available. That is where we have been for the past couple of months - on the guest moorage dock, so we were asked to leave, and quite honestly I hated being in there - so hot and smelly from all of the poor stray cats, and then being moored too close to our neighbours. I like neighbours alot more when I can keep them at bay - or arms length or at least boat width - that was not the case, we were packed in like sardines. Now we are on a mooring close to the channel, lots of boats pass us and make big wakes and we roll around alot, but I really like the change.
Tony is working on a charter this week which will keep him away until Thursday - overnight aswell, and I'm on my tod looking after the boat. Cleaning the hull was the first job, having been squeezed in between other boats for a couple of months with dirty fenders had made the hull filthy - now it looks almost as good as when we re-painted it last November. Can't use fresh water to wash it off though, now we have to ration water until we get back into a marina to fill up our tanks. Salt water works for scrubbing though, alot better than nothing.
So this is a bit like when we were on our way - we are now relying on solar panels and engine to power our fridge and lights, and we have to be careful with water.
Next week we have 6 days without being booked so we are going to have a holiday. We'll take Moondancer into some of the beautiful anchorages around Malta and enjoy them just for ourselves. We are really looking forward to the break from our daily routine.
So what about the World Cup - yesterday afternoon we rushed from place to place trying to find somewhere that was showing the game. We found a place alright - but it was the wrong place. We arrived at the beginning of the second half. The score was 2 - 1 to Germany. England had scored the second goal which was disallowed. When Germany scored their third goal the whole sports bar we were in errupted with glee - Oh oh, we're in the wrong bar, it got even worse when they scored again. There were quite alot of England supporters skulking out of bars before the end of the game - including us - it was just too painful to watch anymore. Poor England. I had this silly notion that because I was here in Malta when England beat Germany in 1966 that I would bring good luck to the team and it would happen again - NOT - sometimes silly notions are premonitions of fact - not that time.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Day Charter to Comino

Comino is a very small island between Malta and Gozo. As these pictures show it is beautiful all the way around, but the most popular anchorage, which I did not photograph, is called Blue Lagoon. Though the Blue Lagoon is a very beautiful place it has become the destination of hundreds of tour boats daily. So on that day we did take the charter clients into Blue Lagoon to show them what it was like, and as we suspected after they saw some of the more secluded places they preferred not to join the throngs in the lagoon.
When Tony and I first arrived in Malta we were very fortunate to anchor in the lagoon before the hoards arrived and it is absolutely gorgeous. The water is crystal clear and bright torquoise. Torquoise Lagoon would be a more accurate description. But once the visitors started to arrive we moved out.
So we are gradually finding our way around Malta and for all of her faults she definitely qualifies as a jewel in the middle of the Mediterranean.