39:12.728N 9:06.741E Thu 5th Oct 2017
We spent over a week in Malta at the Royal Malta Yacht Club and enjoyed being back there once again. We never get tired of the views of Valletta from the water and this time we had the huge bonus of at last being able to visit the famous Hypogeum. This is a World Heritage site that has recently re-opened after a major revamp and the number of daily visitors is very strictly limited. It’s an incredible underground complex on three levels hewn out of the limestone rock around 5-6000 years ago, making it probably the oldest built structure in Europe. It’s pretty awesome to think it was all created with nothing but stone tools and antler picks. Other than that, we renewed our acquaintance with the many useful chandleries near our berth and had various small repair jobs completed by the local skilled tradesmen. It is always a joy to be able to explain what is needed in your own language too! The day before we left we met up with Steve and Helena, friends from our winter in Ragusa and had a chance to compare notes about our respective summers plus the usual boat issues. Then it was time to move on and make progress westward again.
Stock images of the Hypogeum (no photography allowed there):
So, another long passage, 2 nights & 2½ days this time, but what a contrast in conditions from the Greece to Malta leg! We waited for one of the not-too-common easterly wind systems to arrive and headed out early-ish on Tuesday, expecting light but sailable south easterly winds. What we got was a rollicking good ride in easterlies (good) which were 10 knots or so stronger than forecast (not so good). Fortunately, with the wind sort-of behind us, this was fine, resulting in a full 24 hours of fast sailing (covering 160 miles). The only problem was the rain – and boy did it rain! We got out the little cuddy tent we had made in the USA and have not used much since the east-bound Atlantic crossing and it was in-service for most of this passage. With the winds behind us it also kept the watch-keeper nice and cosy overnight. The other little problem was skipper got his already-damaged right hand badly bashed by the genoa sheet (rope) under high tension, trying to free it after it got caught on a cleat. Day 2 delivered variable but light winds, forcing us to motor for a while, but the 2nd evening and night were a joy. Perfect winds on the beam (side) and relatively flat seas made for some very fast sailing. During the night we decided to change our destination for Cagliari, a course that sped us up and allowed us to take advantage of even lighter winds – we were still making good speed in only 5 knots of wind for most of the early hours of Thursday. We got to a new marina in the centre of Cagliari for midday, having averaged 6.4kts for our 330 mile passage – nice!
It’s great to be in the centre of the city this time and see if it has changed much since our last visit 7 years ago. We think it might be looking rather smarter and more cared for and are looking forward to getting to know it a bit better over the next day or two.