Sailed from: Pantelleria, Italy
Distance: 145 nm
Our first impression of Valetta is that this is a heavily fortified place! When we arrived this afternoon after sailing 145 nm from the island of Pantelleria, it seemed that every landmark was a fortress. It was either that or one of the large, modern hotel or apartment complexes lining the coast, including a towering, iridescent blue Hilton Hotel. Here in the harbor, we can see a fortress wall everywhere we look. We were also impressed by the limestone formations and quarries along the coast of Malta and Gozo, the island which lies just to the north. The use of both the natural and man-made barriers provide evidence of the long history of defending this piece of rock located off the south coast of Sicily.
Today we are mostly concerned about getting some rest after a long passage from Pantelleria. We plan to spend a couple of weeks here at Msida Marina, so there’s plenty of time to explore the history later.
For the first time in almost a year, we’re in the middle of a major yachting center with many shops selling every imaginable part. This is a good thing because we were planning to do a few maintenance projects while we’re here. It is also a good thing because we have minor repair to do on our old, reliable Yanmar engine: we discovered a small leak in the mixing elbow of the exhaust pipe. This is a pretty common problem with an engine of our age (1985), and luckily, the Yanmar dealer in Malta is right across the street from our dock. The length of our stay will depend on the engine issue getting resolved.
Shopping for fresh foods was easy this morning — a guy in a well-stocked veggie truck pulled up to the marina and sold to all the boats. Lisa explained to Paul, the vendor, “I don’t need any peaches because I have some from Pantelleria.” He smiled and replied, “But my peaches are the best!” I guess this means we’ll have to do a peach taste test in the next few days.
08/13/09–We did the peach “shoot-out” a few days after our last log entry and decided that both were delicious. With a little investigative research, Lisa discovered that Paul’s peaches are in fact from Sicily, so it didn’t surprise her that they tasted just as good.
We also resolved the engine issue, but as with most boat repairs, this took longer than expected. On the bright side, it gave us time to explore the fascinating history and archeology of Malta and to visit with friends Alan and Joan of Moonstruck. We hadn’t seen them since parting ways in Lagos, Portugal, after our Atlantic crossing. They were in Malta on their way west toward home, so it was great to be able to catch-up with them again and to meet their daughter Lauren who had just joined them as crew for the trip back across the Atlantic. We had fun eating dinners out together and attending the Delicata wine festival in Valetta. They had just flown in through Paris and shared some fantastic cheeses with us one evening. Looking to lighten their load for the return trip home, they unloaded their library of the Eastern Med cruising guides, travel guides and phrasebooks, but Joan’s gift of a multi-language market shopping guide was a real treasure for Lisa who loves to shop for fresh foods at the local markets wherever we go. We sent them on their way with a few goodies from our galley, too.
Here’s a photo gallery of our visit to Malta: