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.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tony and his flock out for Nautical License Training

Got this shot this morning as Tony was heading out the of marina with a group of students taking their 'Nautical License' training. The Maltese government has legislated that by 2011 all boaters sailing vessels with engines over 30hp must have a nautical license. The Malta Sailing Academy got a contract to teach this course and are already booking classes. Tony teaches the practical part of the course on the water in this R.I.D, which goes very fast. Tony took me for a spin in it today and when he opened up the 110hp engine I screamed and said nooooooooooooo. Didn't like it at all. I felt like a pea on a drum being bounced around with nothing to hold on to.
I don't think that's what he does with his students, quite the opposite, he is not teaching them to scare their wives and create a fist shaking wake around marinas, he's teaching them responsible boat handling, knowledge of buoyage systems, man overboard and general boat etiquette. They also have a classroom component to the course which deals with alot more theory.
Well I've finally skippered my first charter on a 43' Beneteau. My clients were a group of German insurance agents who were on an all paid for incentive reward holiday with the company they work for in Germany. There were 5 charter boats altogether. The others all had 6 insurance agents and I had 5. We staged a 'race', and as there was a bit of breeze we did actually do quite a bit of tacking. Half of my group were pretty enthusiastic about helping me - and because they're gentlemen, probably felt obliged to do that anyway. But I think they had a nice day. We sailed up to a small (very small) bay on the north west side of Comino, looking through a gap in the rocks to the famous 'Blue Lagoon'. We anchored there and had a nice lunch which was provided by the hotel. A couple of the men drank quite alot, but the others hardly at all.
We motored back to their hotel in about an hour and a half. The drinkers predictably fell asleep, draped in various places on the deck. The other 2 and I, one of whom had very good English and diligently translated for the other, talked about the history of Malta - and how it was here during WWII. How my dad met my mum. We talked about our children and how the world is so different for them than it was for us. About the Pope being here recently - which really surprised them. I suppose its quite something that the Pope came to a country of only 400,000 people.

All in all it was a good day - they all thanked me profusely, congratulated me on my first day on the job, and after a very ugly but safe docking I came home very pleased with myself. I hope they book me for more.

I'm coming home to Canada July 22nd for about a month, really looking forward to seeing my children, my new grandson and my friends. I'll fly to Victoria as Mary and Josie are there, have to go to Parksville to check up on the house and then over to the mainland. Taking in Capitain Pedro and Michelle's wedding and maybe I'll get down to San Fran to see my other daughter for the opening of her salon/studio.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Back home from Turkey

Its great to be home. Got home on Sunday morning quite early. We came into Malta in a strong North Easterly which we had been racing ahead of the previous day and night, pushing Gaffer's Girl to get us home before the winds really picked up. Thank God that we were not facing those seas head on. When we were within the last half hour of the harbour entrance our skipper and first mate were at both wheels working quite hard to keep her on course.
We got in, docked (unfortunately in the wrong slip) which meant moving her in a deluge with wind which made for a sloppy mooring (my final attempt with her), but no harm done. I got what I went for which was to be out on the water again for a few days (750 odd miles from Gocek to Malta) and familiarisation and manoevering practice on a 50' Beneteau.
The gentleman from the yacht brokerage who took delivery of the yacht very kindly drove me back to Msida and into the arms of my lovely husband Tony, who said it was about time I got home. It certainly felt like it to me.
Here's a few pictures of what I saw in Gocek, which I was reminded by a seasoned Turkey traveller here 'is not turkey', funny I thought it was. Whatever it is its nice and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to charter a yacht for a sailing holiday.
Go to Webshots for more pictures.