Methoni (Greece) via Malta (Valetta & Blue Lagoon)
36:48.872N 21:42.504E Sat 16th Jul 2016 634 nm 55hr25
En route to Malta we anchored for the night at Porto Palo on Sicily’s southern tip, after a 6 hour passage which included some lively sailing into a brisk winds and rough seas around Cape Pasero. We left again early the following morning and were delighted to be able to sail for 80% of the 55 mile passage to Malta, firstly goose-winged and later with conventional sails at gentle speeds but in lumpy seas. Our old B&G wind instrument gave up on us, so wind strengths were more guesswork than we Johnny-cum-lately sailors are used to. We motored the last bit into Msida Creek and relived our first time around thrill at the magnificent views of Malta’s fortifications as we approached.
We stayed almost a week in Malta and achieved our main objectives in going there. We bought a new dinghy at a good price, David found a dentist to glue his temporary bridge back in his front teeth and Lindsay had a hair cut. David also went up the mast (which is always a source of anxiety for first mate below) and removed the wind instrument for a bit of TLC before re-installing it. It did work better as a result but it still gives up downwind, so another big expense looms. We took the opportunity to visit one of Malta’s incredible Neolithic stone temples at Tarxien that we did not see last time we were here and had one excellent meal out in the evening in the “Water Polo Club” restaurant near the marina with wonderful views across to Valletta and the floodlit bastions. Water polo is Malta’s summer sport passion. We also joined the locals for a swim off the rocks around the corner from our berth, again with those unique views as backdrop. It was very hot all the time we were in the marina and we did not have the energy to do much! The Maltese seem to be a relaxed and happy lot and we enjoyed seeing them making the most of the (slightly) cooler evenings with family get-togethers and barbecues on the rocks or even on the pavement with portable picnic tables set out alongside community benches. The island rings to the booming sound of fireworks and cannon fire at all times of the day which can make you feel you are reliving the Great Siege sometimes!
Valletta from the marina:
Goldcrest from the mast-top:
Supper at the Waterpolo club:
We motored round from Valletta to St. Paul’s Bay on July 13th in order to pick up our new dinghy and then carried on to the famous Blue Lagoon on the little island of Comino (between Malta and its little sister Gozo). The lagoon is very popular for the colour of the water but is a victim of its own fame and fills up with tripper boats all day. We anchored on the edge of the chaos, had a brief swim, taking care to avoid the speed boats and took our new tender for a trial spin. One noisy party boat even stayed until after 11pm so things were not much more peaceful later, but we were glad we had at least seen the spot, especially the imposing early 17th century watch tower which does add atmosphere.
Blue Lagoon, Comino:
We set off the next morning on our 364 mile passage to the Peloponnese, having decided that we could not afford to spend high season in the western Med with its inflated prices (the devaluing pond isn’t helping either). Greece was calling and we headed for the little harbour of Methoni on the tip of the first of the 3 “fingers” of the Peloponnese. Our three days and two nights at sea were mostly very enjoyable despite some quite rough and rolly conditions and we only had to motor for 15% of the time which was a boon. Lindsay was especially happy on watch on the first night with gloriously warm winds, starry sky and bright moon for company along with music from her ipod and no audience for her deck dancing exercise!
Now we are in a little bit of heaven in this gorgeous spot and don’t intend to leave it for some time so long as our anchor holds (winds gusting to 30kts and a very tight anchorage between anxious Austrians and a local fishing boat). We rather rushed through here last time and are very happy to be back with no agenda apart from keeping away from expensive tourist resorts and the worst of the summer heat. This is where Greeks go on holiday and it almost feels like somewhere in the Caribbean (except the rum punches are replaced by “interesting” Greek wine).
Methoni, Turkish tower & Venetian fort:
Goldcrest at anchor in 20+kts: