Rob and Jacky Black
Sat 20 Sep 2014 12:14
36 01.5 N 14 18.0 E
Mgarr Marina Gozo 15th 21st September
We left the small port of Marzamemi at first light and set off for what we hoped would be a straight forward passage to Gozo some 55 miles to the SW. The sea was flat and we had a slight head wind so we motored with the main up and were at one point able to set the jib and turn off the engine. This didn’t last and for several hours we were almost windless. We had dolphins visit us several times and as we got closer to Gozo we started to see turtles – there dark shalls reflecting the sun was the first clue that there was one on the surface. Jacky counted more than 15 and one in particular which was very large even had a sea bird sitting on its back until we got quite close when it flew away and the turtle lifted its head before diving away!
We had several crossings with large ships all heading towards the south east but saw very few yachts on our passage. The wind increased around mid- day and we were soon motoring into a south westerly with small waves beginning to slow us down. However we were soon in the chanel between Gozo and Comino and took note of the 3 bays on the latter island which are mentioned as suitable anchorages. The last one known as Blue Lagoon was packed the other two only had small motor boats anchored in them. Having already booked a berth in the marina at Mgarr we were able to proceed almost directly into the marina where the mariner was awaiting us with mooring lines. The entrance is quite small and has to be negotiated in between ferries and trip boats making frequent arrivals and departures! Once tied up we booked in at the office, did the customs check in and collapsed with a nice long drink as it was very hot and humid. We had a good quiet night and on Tuesday had a bit of an explore around the harbour. We found the nearest supermarket, the ferry terminal which is air conditioned (and where I go to write blogs and use their free wifi) has an ATM, a tourist information point and a bar! We decided to take a private taxi trip around the island on Wednesday and booked with a friendly driver Maria (+35699429274 or +35679956850) to take us to the various places of interest.
She collected us from the marina office at 0930 and we returned around 1700 via LIDL with a large shop! We visited the main town of Victoria and went to the citadel and the cathedral both lovely – the former is undergoing huge renovations so parts were not open but what we did see was impressive. Next stop was a lovely church the 4th largest in Europe called the Rotunda. It was built using locally collected funds by local workers and volunteers over a period of 20 years. Traditional methods of construction were used and the end result is truly amazing. The inside is so light with beautiful stone carvings sculptures paintings and marble floors. The original church had been dismantled and re-built as a side chapel with all the original carved items having been numbered reconstructed as before. There is a lift which takes you to the roof top where views of the whole of Gozo are before you! The style of the church is old but in fact it was only completed in 1974.
Next we went to the small village of Dwerja on the west coast where there are some remarkable rock outcrops and cliffs and excellent diving sites. It was packed with coach loads of tourists but we still enjoyed seeing the various places and the famous rock formations. Lunch called so we headed around to the north coast to the former fishing village of Marsalforn which is now a popular holiday resort. We enjoyed a brief walk along the prom and then had a pasta lunch sitting in the shade beside the tiny harbour. Following this we headed for the ancient Neolithic Ggantija temples right in the centre of the island. There is an excellent visitors centre newly built which gave us plenty of good information before we set off to walk around and into the remains of the two temples. They date from some 3000BC. After this it was back to the mundane – a shop at Lidl! Our trip was great and cost 60 Euros which we felt was very reasonable. (The open top bus fare was 20 E each and wouldn’t have taken us to some of the places or been so flexible!)
The following day we decided to take the ferry to Valetta for the day. We caught this at 0915 – arrived into Valetta at 1030 and then walked from the ferry port in Marsamxett Bay up the hill into the old city. We found the tourist information office and collected a map and some brochures and then took the mini train for a trip right around the old city. This gave us an idea of where things were and also a chance to see some of the lovely old buildings and lanes which abound in the city. On our return from this we had a beer before going around the Cathedral. This is huge and very ornate inside with various different chapels dedicated to the orders of St John from several countries. There is a very famous painting here ‘the beheading of St John the Baptist’ but I can’t remember the artists name at the moment! Lunch called and we found a very nice restaurant beside the old market where we had fish soup (with white fish and mussels) and a bottle of Rose wine – 40 E so a bit expensive!
We then set off to walk to the ‘Malta Experience’ a film show outlining the history of the island – this was down on the grand harbour side of the city and we walked past 2 huge cruise ships moored alongside. This was an interesting show and we were pleased to be sitting down out of the sun in the air conditioned theatre. Then we continued our walk around the harbour to the Second WW museum. Here we were able to see many artefacts from the war, with many pictures of how the inhabitants had to live under the constant axis bombardment. We then headed for the bus station to get back to the ferry port at Cirkewwa for the short crossing back to Gozo. This latter part was very tedious as it was Malta rush hour. Having got to the bus station at 1715 we didn’t get to the port until 1925 just in time to catch the 1930 ferry. We were pretty exhausted by the time we got back to the boat! We felt that Malta was not for - us too built up and crowded so decided not to move the boat there for the weekend but to just stay put in Gozo.
The weather is looking good for a departure back to Sicily on Sunday 21st so we intend to go straight to Ragusa Marina where we will be leaving the boat for the winter.