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.