Valetta, the capital of Malta, occupies a heavily fortified peninsula that has two deep harbours running down each side of it. To the east is Grand Harbour, now home to an upmarket marina (we were quoted EU70 a night plus power and water for August), and the extensive dockyards still operating. To the east is Marsamxett, itself divided by Manoel Island, which is attached to the mainland by a small bridge crossing the tiny strait. All around this harbour are bouys, quays and marinas. To the eastern side, under Valetta, is the fuel dock, where we filled up with the cheapest fuel we've seen since Mellila,
at EU1.03 a litre. On the western side, on the edge of the suburb of Gzira, and facing the next town of Sliema, is the well-known Yacht Yard, primarily a haul-out yard, where we booked in for the winter.
The Yard was privatised in July, and you can see that there has been little investment for a long time. Work is just beginning under the new ownership, particularly with a major clean-up of the apparent years of stuff that's hanging around. There are about 14 staff now, but there used to be 175 people working here we were told.
They have a few spots for boats afloat, pre-hauling out, but very few ways to contact them as you arrive. We took a buoy and rang them, which worked. Then we ended up tied off to a buoy, with a web of ropes around us to the pontoons, to cope with near-gales. This winter, they are charging (for Roaring Girl) EU30 a night afloat (exc services) and EU60 a week ashore (inc services). There were no problems staying on the boat on the hard. They insist on doing all work under the water, and are not particularly cheap. For all other work there seems to be no problem with doing it yourself or bringing in other labout. Other contractors, however, must be approved by the Yard first.
The facilities ashore are ok, though the yard is very dusty. The loos and showers are clean and serviceable and the security is excellent. There are still many workshops, and it is possible to get wood cut to shape, or welding done on the site. Besides the hoist shown here, there are five big slipways. Joanne in the office is very helpful, and many buses run right past the bridge into Valetta or towards Sliema. The lift was competently done, though it's always scary seeing our home dangling around.
We spent five hard-working days sorting out our girl. All the sails have been taken off, for a long over-due valeting. Almost all the running rigging is down and we have scrubbed and cleaned all over. Our insurance company (GJW, who have been good to us over the years) insisted on a new survey, thanks to the boat's age, which was done by the lovely John Ross of Malta Yacht Surveys. All in all, we got a lot done.
It is early in the season to have hauled out, but for various family reasons, we decided to get back to the UK two or three weeks earlier than otherwise. It also means we can have good scout at the Southampton Boat Show. We need some new instruments, and want to get in ahead of the UK VAT hike, so that's going to be interesting.