Sunday, 24 April 2011

Pantelleria to Malta

Tourist end of town
Tourist accommodation
Eye Candy Tops
Cathedral in Medina
View from Medina
Grand Harbour, Valetta
Dock Yard Creek

Stone City
  Hi from Clare,                                                                       Saturday 23rd April 2011

We arrived in Malta Wednesday 13th after a good overnight sail running downwind finishing with twenty knots on a freshening breeze.

First impression of Malta is “a stone city or a city of walls”. All the structures are made of yellow or white stone cut from the surrounding cliffs. It has a long embattled history and so many forts, old cities and castles are surrounded by high steep walls. It has had two major sieges, one in 1565 against the Turks and again in World War 11 when Malta had more bombs dropped on it than London. Some structures are centuries old and some a very modern and catering for a huge influx of tourists.  

We have taken the tourist open air bus to the north and south of the island. It is a hop on hop off system with audio. Both three hour trips took us eight hours with some stops. We also went on a two hour harbour cruise viewing the cities from the water and touring past the ancient and modern dock yards.

It is certainly a fascinating place steeped in history. However there is no such thing as rolling plains, wooded valleys or fresh water creeks.

One huge plus for Malta is that everyone speaks English. All signage and product information is written in English. The supermarkets have English products and I have had a wonderful time buying up big. The boat has never been so well stocked. Andrew commented the other day “we are not a supermarket you know” but I’ve got other ideas.

For my birthday (April 21st) we did the harbour cruise in the morning and then I suggested Andrew go back to the boat while I went girl shopping. It was wonderful to poke about the shops being able to read labels, understand sizing and ask for assistance – what a treat! That night we went to The Royal Malta Yacht Club and had a wonderful dinner including the Maltese specialty of rabbit; it was delicious.

The weather is still fairly cool with occasional rain. Some days are sunny but we have pretty well lived in jeans and long sleeve tops. Our new Eye Candy crew tops have been well used. Our blue and white stripped matching tops have made it very easy for the touts to spot us as tourists. Andrew had a bad dream where his Eye Candy cap had flown off in the open air bus and he couldn’t reach it. He was in quite a state but I guess fore-warned is fore-armed.

Tomorrow we are having a BBQ with our Kiwi mate on his boat. We have spent a bit of time together over the past week. He has been here for six months and so has helped Andrew with good ship chandlers and local knowledge.

A few boats along there is a guy who recently suffered a stroke.  He has been in bed ever since and last night he went off in an ambulance.  We have a British couple on one side of us and a French guy with an American crew on the other. There are Canadians a few boats away that we knew in Tunisia. People are very friendly and so we feel quite at home.

We are off today to the capital city of Valetta. We have now mastered the local transport system and so in the coming week we will visit museums, the botanical gardens and other points of interest.

Love Candy xx

Monday, 11 April 2011

Monastir to Pantelleria

Hi from Clare, Tunisia to Pantelleria Sunday 10th April 2011

We arrived at Monastir in Tunisia on 23rd March and departed twelve days later. Laour is cheap in Tunisia and so for the lowly price of $400 the boat was slipped, power washed, sanded and painted. All other cleaning, polishing, maintenance and provisioning jobs were completed in little over a week. Before leaving we even had time to wine and dine with other cruising friends who had spent the winter on their boats in the marina.

Life in Tunisia seems peaceful; the people are pleased the President has gone. We did not feel under threat and we saw no evidence of the fighting in Libya. We did hear that Refugee boats were leaving Tunisia and Libya and heading to the closest Italian island Lampedusa. Initially we intended an overnight stop there as it is half way between Tunisia and Malta. But as this means sailing along the Libyan coast we decided to travel north east to the Italian island of Pantelleria.

So here we are in Pantelleria waiting for favorable winds to sail to Malta. At this stage we think this will be on Tuesday. In the meantime we are having fun with English friends John and Jan on "Brigantia" and Crispin, Fi and Wes on "Revolution". We are rafted five abreast; the first two boats are under repair. We are boat number three and 'piggy in the middle' the English boats are outside of us.

Fi, Jan, John and Crispin with Andrew

Early this morning the workmen on the first boat disconnected all the stays on the mizzen in preparation for removal. The mast was so rotten at the base that it fell sideways and ended up in the water behind our boat. One of the stays hit our arch making a hell of a noise - just a little too close for comfort!
A couple of days ago a large fishing boat drifted into a little 27 foot Beneteau rafted next to us and bent this solar panel pole.

Photo taken from our cockpit

12th Century Castle in Pantelleria         View from on high, Pantelleria            Village, Pantelleria

We are spending our time touring the island, going for extended walks, shopping for Italian delicacies, chatting with the locals and sharing coffees, meals and film nights with the English. We are having a good time and we are looking forward to going to Malta.
Love Candy xx
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