view from the beach across to the anchorage and Valletta
As soon as we left St Julian's we were head on into rather lumpy seas and with very little wind to speak of despite the forecast. Instead of pushing on towards Marsaxlokk (which is just shy of 12 nautical miles away) we decided to pull in to 'Grand Harbour', also known as the Port of Valletta and wait a couple of days for the seas to calm. Grand Harbour is a natural harbour and the backdrop to Malta's long history with extensive docks, wharfes and fortifications. There are a number of inlets and headlands to meander into and around, a Captain Morgan Harbour cruise
in conjunction with a 45 minute video with
The Malta Experience provided a great insight into the 7,000 years of history given the islands strategic location in the Mediterranean.
Valletta city, cruise ship in Grand Harbour, a dry dock with lookalike 'giraffe' painted cranes
a small selection of some beautiful architecture
Historically, Maltese people are descendants of the ancient Phoenicians and Carthaginians who colonized the island between 800-200BC. Saint Paul was shipwrecked here and during his brief stay converted many of the locals to Christianity. The Romans, Arabs, Normans and Spanish have all left their mark on Malta and on the Maltese language (which in our view sounds quite Arabic but English is widely spoken), but perhaps the most famous inhabitants of the island were the Knights of St. John, who arrived in the 16th Century. The Knights built the stunning city of Valetta. It was so well fortified that a Turkish force of 48,000 was unable to defeat roughly 6000 Maltese during the Great Siege of 1565. The Knights of St. John were a military and religious order who, during the crusades, played dual roles of fighting and caring for injured and the ill. The hospitals and medical techniques of the Knights of St. John were supposedly leading -edge. The order comprised of eight nationalities or 'langues', based on the various language spoken. Each langue had it own chapel and consequently, Valletta is a treasure trove of baroque palaces and churches and its impossible to avoid the distinctively symmetrical Maltese Cross, four identical arrowheads meeting at their points, which served as the Knights badge of identity. The Knights remained in Mata until Napoleon ousted them in the 19th century. Napoleon's stay was short but he managed to leave with a ship weighted down with silver, gold, paintings and tapestries looted from the churches which were subsequently lost at sea when Nelson destroyed Napoleon's fleet. During World War II, Malta was again under siege suffering 154 consecutive days of bombing in 1942. King George VI awarded the George Cross, Britain's highest award for civilian bravery to the entire population of Malta. A representation of the George Cross is carried, edged in red, in the flag of Malta - our courtesy flag.
After trying desperately hard to digest all the history it was then easy for us to spend a few lazy days anchored in Rinella Creek with Flirtie pivoting around our anchor providing us with an ever changing view of Grand Harbour and Valletta whilst we watched the arrivals and departures of cruise liners and daily visits from the various tourist boats. The anchorage was very busy by day (with the occasional whiff of diesel/oil fumes from the nearby plantation when the wind was blowing in the wrong direction) but by nightfall just a few of us remained at anchor to really enjoy the setting. The weekend was slightly spoiled unfortunately with the arrival of a schooner (party boat) that blasted out music across the whole of Grand Harbour until about midnight.
Total distance this season: 100.7 nautical miles