Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Catching up in St. Paul's Bay

Installing new bimini and clear side panels
while at boatyard pontoon

BeBe was lowered back into the water late Monday afternoon, 11 May 2015.  It was very windy and late in the day so we opted to move to the boatyard pontoon and dock, thinking we would depart the following morning after the surveyor delivered his hard copy of the survey report.  Ah...but then we decided to make good use of this full-service boatyard.

Just part of the stuff we removed from ONE-HALF of
the cockpit lazarette. It is huge! 
The aluminum frame of our swim ladder, which doubles as the frame for the passarelle when docked, was bent slightly back in 2006 when a go-fast motor boat caused a big wake in Puerto la Cruz, Venezuela, and whacked the passarelle against a large dock bollard.  The resulting warping was not a big deal and we have continued to use this frame for both swim ladder and passarelle without problem.  But the piece of wood that sits atop the frame when used as a passarelle has been a little loose since the frame bent.  The wooden piece would bend a bit when one stepped near the dock edge end because of the bent frame.  This bothered Bill much more than it bothered me.  
Removed that stuff to get to these.
Expired flares to dispose of at
the Maltese MMA
Since Manoel Island Yacht Yard has a metal workshop and a wood workshop on site, we figured this was the perfect opportunity to have this remedied.  Besides, our quote for this haul-out included 10 days in the boatyard and we had been in the yard for only 7 days.  We could stay at their dock for a few days for no additional cost except for electricity and water used.  A win-win for both yard and for us.  They get more work and we could shelter from the wind and enjoy the town for a few more days.  And get to wash the boatyard dust off the boat before departing.

All that stuff (plus more stacked on the mizzen deck)
came out of that section of the lazarette.  It goes all the

way to the hull. I love the storage capacity on this boat.

A couple more boats that had been docked over winter at Marina di Ragusa arrived in the following days and hauled out.  All 3 boats were some of the nice people who had wintered in MdR (not the 2 unpleasant people I hope never to see again) and it was a pleasure meeting up with them again.  Hope their experiences with this boatyard are as good as we have enjoyed.

Balancing act.
Doesn't this look safe!
Reattaching the SSB
antenna after haulout.
It might have been fortuitous that we decided to have the swim ladder/passarelle frame straightened here because it turned out to be cracked at a corner join that we had not noticed.  That required welding.  Eventually that crack could have caused someone to fall if it had broken loose while someone was walking on it.  I insisted that we also get a new piece of wood fabricated for the walkway part.  The old piece was 12-years old and that teak-laminated piece of plywood looked awful.  I told the guy in the woodworking shop that the new piece did not need to be laminated with teak.  Just marine plywood with the teak cross-strips would work fine.  However, the finished piece appears to also have the teak veneer on both sides.  Maybe the shop just happened to have a small piece of that type wood on hand.  It does not matter to me; as long as the wood is strong that is the only thing I care about.  Bill cares more about aesthetics; I care about utility.  

Anne and Keith of S/V Guma and Bill at Royal
Maltese Yacht Club with Old Valletta in background
Keith and Anne Carter on sistership Amel S/V Guma invited us to meet them for drinks and lunch at the Royal Maltese Yacht Club.  That was a fun few hours.  Drinks were unbelievably inexpensive (only 1.50 euro for vodka and soda!); lunch was good; and the view spectacular.  They are off to Greece so not likely we will see one another again.  We had ordered a new bimini from Amel and installed it that morning, so we gave our old bimini and clear side panels to Keith and Anne.  Theirs is in worse condition than the one we replaced.  This should tide them over for a year or two or more before having to buy a new one.

We walked from the yacht club back to the boatyard and
passed several of these.  Old cannons placed in
concrete and used as bollards today.

Yep.  Get fatter every year.
Another view of part of Valletta
Several days later as we motored from Valletta towards St. Paul's Bay I heard a beeping sound while at the helm and looked down to see the message "No Pilot" displayed on our autopilot screen.  Uh-oh!  That is really bad!  So I hand-steered the remaining 7 miles to the bay.  
View of Valletta as we motored out
Once anchored, Bill removed the course computer and installed our spare.  Fixed that problem easily!  Now we either will have this old course computer repaired and use it for a spare or will buy a new course computer and use the one currently installed as a spare.  This boat left the Amel factory yard on 23 January 2013 so it is not surprising that the course computer failed after more than 12 years use.  Bill had purchased a rebuilt one off Ebay to have as a spare.  Glad he had thought to do this.  Always carry spares for things you cannot do without when cruising.

Kids learning how to sail and getting in the way as
Airstream attempted to anchor.  Winds were ~18 kts
and these kids handled those tiny boats quite well
While anchored in St. Paul's Bay for a few days we met up with fellow Americans, Bill and Janet Wickham on S/V Airstream.  What a joy!  They had arrived in Gozo several days earlier from Greece.  It was great to see them again and to catch up.  We last met in the Hai'Pai group of Tonga in October 2008.   Shortly after we anchored in Tonga one day Bill (Airstream) showed up next to our boat asking if we like tuna.  He had caught a huge tuna as they approached that island, way too much for them to refrigerate.  So he went through the anchorage and shared tuna with the other boats.  This was our introduction...along with the gift of a large quantity of the largest tuna we have ever seen.  Had to weigh well over 100 lbs. Bill (BeBe) kidded with them asking if they had brought fresh tuna this time too.   It was great fun catching up with them.  The next morning they left, moving on to Msida Creek Marina for a few days and to see Valletta.

Happy to see them again!!
Bill at the helm and Janet setting the anchor.
We stayed on anchor at St. Paul's Bay.  Winds were forecast to be extremely light (4 knots) from the SE for 2 hours and then backing to N and then NW and building to about 15 knots; then in 2 days changing to S at 20 knots.  We planned to stay in St. Paul's another day and then move to a small bay on the southern side of Melleiha Bay to shelter from the predicted higher winds from the S.  Well...that did not happen!  All day the wind continued to build from the SE to E. Bringing the sea rolling right into St. Paul's Bay.  Bill and I both began to feel a tiny bit queasy from all the motion and were worried that if conditions built any stronger overnight that this could be a bad location.  We called Msida Creek Marina and asked if they had room for us; got a positive response; upped anchor and motored out.  

We were making only 2.5 to 3 knots boat speed motoring at 2,000 rpm into the choppy waves and 20-knot winds right on the bow.  Water splashing all over the boat.  So much for having a clean boat fresh from that haulout. Things were tossed all over the inside of the boat because it was so rough.  Things that have never moved before when sailing. It was not pleasant.  After nearly an hour of motoring out of the bay we were able to turn and put out the sails.  We sailed close-hauled and double reefed at over 7 knots boat speed, much more comfortable than motoring straight into it.  The narrow entry next to the old walled city of Valletta was quite rolly but once inside that cut conditions smoothed out to flat seas and light winds.  We docked and will remain berthed here until our granddaughter arrives next week.  We are near the end of G dock so are berthed as far as one can possibly be from the marina office.  The office is a long walk completely around the bay from here.  But the MMA office to clear out of Malta is only a few hundred meters from us and there is a bus stop right at the end of our dock, very convenient.  
New wooden piece on straightened frame.
Makes for a nice passarelle.

Bill discovered a brace in the engine room that had broken loose and needs to be welded.  He removed it and was off first thing this morning taking it to the boatyard to have the welding repaired.  All fixed (at no charge!) and soon we will wash all the salt crystals off this boat and then figure out what sightseeing there is to occupy our days for the next week or so.  This evening we will meet up once again with Bill and Janet on Airstream for drinks at the Royal Maltese Yacht Club.  Guests at Msida Creek Marina are given a card (for 20 euro deposit) for admittance to the club.

Regardless of what the sailing guide books or pilot books state about anchoring here, Malta does not have any bays or coves that offer any protection from the winds and seas.  It is not just what is happening AT Malta that affects Malta.  Since this is a small archipelago situated in the center of the Mediterranean Sea, anything that happens anywhere in the Med affects local conditions here in Malta.  Winds here might be only 10 knots but the seas would be rolling in large waves because of stronger winds a few hundred miles from here in any direction.  And the land shapes provide no real protection from either wind or sea conditions.  So, if you plan to sail to Malta, also plan to spend the vast majority of your time in a marina.  And remember that any calm day in any anchorage here can rather quickly turn into untenable conditions that will force you to flee that anchorage seeking the safety and shelter of a marina.  

Cost be damned.  

In the marina now and darned glad to be here!  

1 comment:

  1. Hey Bill, we were right behind you when the winds kicked up. I saw you for a little bit on our AIS and then you were gone. We anchored in Rinella Bay to ride out the storm then headed back to San Pawl.


Your comment will be posted after we confirm that you are not a cyber stalker.