The early start to catch our flight last Friday was all but forgotten when we arrived in Malta to brilliant sunshine and 22 degrees! We had already decided that we would use the long weekend away (well 48 hours) to explore Valletta as well as check Nimmie was okay.
Peter, our caretaker, had already done a marvellous job sorting out various jobs for us. He noticed that the rigging was not as tight as it should be at the back so the mast wasn’t completely upright. This had impacted the furling gear at the front as the tension wasn’t right. We think it actually stems from when the back stays were removed to hoist her out in Brest in June 2012. The guys that did this were mechanics rather than riggers so they didn’t tension her properly, which is why it has been getting progressively harder to furl in the genoa (front sail). This may also help us when sailing upwind as we should now be able to sail her closer to the wind. The sails and stack pack (the cover for the main sail) have all been repaired and cleaned, engine serviced and even the fuel pipe repaired. Again, some of you will remember that when they fitted the new engine one of the fuel lines to the engine had a very small leak and we couldn’t get it repaired in Brest as the dimensions of our pipes are imperial rather than metric. Consequently, we had created a drip tray to catch the odd drip. It had served us well but it’s nice that it has finally been repaired.
The rest of Friday was spent checking Nimmie out as well as shopping as we hadn’t done any serious provisioning since Naples and we were very low on beer, wine or water! About the only job we managed to complete was to put a new outboard bracket on the back of the boat. The previous one was disintegrating and proving a pain to get the motor off so we bought a plank of wood, made it the right size and then varnished it before fixing it to the back of the boat. Before we knew it, it was getting dark (around 5.30pm) so we ate on board but vowed to spend most of Saturday playing tourists and getting to know our new home a bit more.
Saturday was another gorgeous day although it does get a bit chilly in the evening. You would think it was the dead of winter with the coats and boots the local people are wearing. A slight contrast to our shorts and t shirts!
The first thing we did was to go and watch the Malta Experience at the far end of Valletta overlooking Grand Harbour (see left). It’s a 45 minute film on the history of the islands. Very informative and puts things into context when you then see the sights. We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the battlements.
Overlooking the entrance to Grand Harbour was the Bell Tower that commemorated their ordeal during the Second World War and the award of the George Cross to the whole island. The bell is rung at midday every day. It was fascinating to see just how tall the battlements were and how they have played such a huge part in Malta’s history.
We then had a very late lunch overlooking Manoel Island, which is on our side of Valletta. Suffice to say the seafood was local, fresh and delicious! We finally got back to the boat after dark so we changed and went back into the old town for dinner. We had bought a bus ticket for €1.50 that we can use all day over the whole island. All too soon it was time to make our way back to the airport. Still, we will be back in 4 weeks to spend New Year on Nimrod and to explore much more of these wonderful islands.