Malta 35:53.80N 14:29.95E
Julian & Anne Whitlock
Sun 14 Sep 2008 09:08
Update 13/09/08 Valletta-Malta
Threatened NW gales have still not reached us yet but persuaded us to wait in Malta for more favourable
conditions. Meanwhile we have done various chores on 'Freewheel' to prepare her for the next leg
to Sardinia and have hired a car to explore Malta and Gozo. Once again we have been very impressed
by the welcome from the Maltese and whilst the scenery on Malta is hardly inspiring there are jewels
to discover in the architecture and museums. The amount of fortification just around Valletta is quite
astonishing - a lot of it dating back to the Napoleonic era and before. Built on or tunnelled into the cliffs
these form what must have been one of the most formidable defences anywhere. Today we visited a 19C
British fort 'Rinella' just east of Valletta where they have the only remaining example of the largest muzzle
loading cannon ever manufactured. It was built by Vickers and reminded us of the incredible hydraulically
retracting example by the same manufacturer we visited on the South Island of New Zealand.
Whilst there we joined a very impressive guided tour and demonstration by enthusiastic local volunteers
dressed in the period uniform and I volunteered to fire another unique Vickers gun - an 1850 era 9" howitzer.
For this test firing only 1kg of black powder was used (to fire the shell it required 5kgs and gave the round
a range of 3 miles). It was still the largest 'bang' I have been responsible for ! Tomorrow we are off to
explore Gozo which is supposed to have far different scenery -we are intrigued to see....
Entering Valletta with the Grand Harbour on the left behind the breakwater