Entry to Malta
20 August 2010
By Thursday we were hot and had seen enough so we decided to get ahead of some predicted unhelpful winds and head to Malta. In fact we got no wind at all and motored nearly the whole d-n way, covering the 82 miles in about 19 hours.
It's a very simple journey, though there are huge numbers of large ships travelling very fast along the south coast of Sicily, far enough off not to have troubled our previous trip, but certainly making the passage south more interesting. It was a very bright night, and we have radar, but it kept us on our toes.
Entry formalities into Malta are enormously annoying in their mystery. Everything we read - pilots, almanacs, marina and government websites, cruiser websites - emphasised the importance of arriving off Valetta during office hours (or risking overtime charges), of radioing in on entering Maltese waters at 12nm off, and then again when 1nm off. (This is why we were in busy shipping areas in the dark!) This is emphasised even today when Malta is in the EU and a signatory to the Schengen treaty; this means we should be able to just turn up and anchor with no formalities at all.
So at 12nM, at 0800, we start calling on 12 and 16 and get absolutely no response. We hoist our Q flag and check the radio is working. At 1nM we finally get a response and say we'd like to go straight to anchor at St Julien's Bay. We confirm we haven't come direct from Tunisia. No problem, we're told. Anchored in the unpleasant little bay under the Hilton, we call the yard where we will be hauling Roaring Girl out for the winter. Do we need to do anything else to clear in? No, is the answer.
So for EU yachts, with only EU nationals aboard, coming from a Schengen country - it seems you can choose your timing a bit better, and go straight to a nice anchorage. We wish that all the various sources would now update their websites; after we have confirmed this situation in Valetta we will be strongly encouraging them to do so.