2 clueless day skippers with Patience

The Magnificent Islands of Malta

15 August 2019
Donna Smith
Our journey across to Malta was a breeze compared to our last trip. There was a decent moon so the night passage was a delight and for some reason not as cold and damp as the trip across to Italy from Greece. We managed to sail a few hours of the trip but unfortunately there was very little wind, so the good old donkey carried us most of the way. The bonus was we did make it in good time. It only took us 34 hours, which we considered not bad for 175miles.

Malta is not actually a single island, it is an archipelago. It is however, the name given to the largest of the three inhabited islands, the other two being Gozo and Comino. I say largest, it is not really large at all. It is only 16.8 miles long and 9 miles wide, which is smaller than the Isle of Wight, which is 23 miles long and 13 miles wide. Although when it comes to population it wins hands down. The isle of Wight 140,984 (in 2017)- Malta 409,259 (in 2013), yep
a lot of people live here on this Coralline Limestone rock.

The island is steeped in history. Due to its strategic position, since it was first inhabited in 5900 BC, it would appear many nations have wanted to invade it, claim it, own it, rule it or protect it, including us, who in 1813 made it a Crown Colony. Consequently it has a very cosmopolitan feel, with youngsters talking to each other as fluently in French, Italian and English, as their native tongue Maltese. A British ice cream van (Mr Whippy), selling 99's, meanders past venetian Town Houses on its way to the coast, playing cockney tunes, that you can 'almost' recognise. Young professionals in chique cafes, talking on mobile phones sit next to local fishermen laying out their nets to dry on the hot concrete. The stunning French architecture of Valletta, the capital, houses Mc Donalds and Marks and Spencer!

We chose to land in the sheltered industrial harbour of Marsaxlokk Bay, as the two bays we were aiming for looked a bit rolly. It was not the prettiest of bays. In fact with the cranes and huge container ships, it reminded us of Southampton Water, but it was safe and we were in Malta - Yay!

In fact the place grew on us and we ended up staying for 4 days. The actual town harbour, with it's traditional painted boats (Maltese luzzu), was delightful. These traditional fishing boats date back to the Phoenician times. Despite most now having diesel engines, instead of sails, they are still painted in the same way, with brightly coloured red, yellow, blue and green paint. The design and shape has not changed since ancient times, nor has the fact that they sport a pair of eyes on their bow, believed to 'protect the fishermen while at sea.' In fact there were so many moored, as they are quite an attraction and used as tourist tripper boats, that it took some skill to steer the dingy between them to find a place on the quay.

We are hoping to spend the rest of the sailing season here, before returning to Italy at the beginning of October. So far we love Malta, the smiley people match the fab weather and relaxed atmosphere.There is certainly lots to see and experience in these small islands, snuck in between Sicily and Tunisia. We can't wait.
Vessel Name: Patience
Vessel Make/Model: Moody376
Hailing Port: Haslar , Gosport , England
Crew: Ricky and Donna
About: 2023 Still clueless , but having fun !
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