Our last day at the harbor had arrived! Franco meant we didn’t have to rush. Since his flight to Sicily would not leave before eight o’clock in the evening. Since he had holiday now. He wanted to visit his girlfriend there. Stay for a few days and then travel further to Tuscany, where he has his house.
Our flight home was scheduled for tomorrow, Sunday afternoon, and the hotel rooms for tonight were already booked – in St. Julians. So after our last visit at “Fifteen 37 Cafe” we booked a taxi, which should pick us up from our pontoon at eleven o’clock and drive us to the hotel. Our plan was to visit Valletta after the check-in and show M&M’s a bit around. Since it was the third time on Malta (and Gozo) for Patrik and me, we thought we could act as tourist guides J
Soon everything was packed and our bags were sitting at the pontoon. The mood was a little gloomy when we waited for the taxi, so it was actually good it came a bit too early. After saying goodbye to “our Felicity”, Franco accompanied us to the taxi and gave us a big hug by saying his farewells.
Gosh, who likes “Good Byes”…?!
After a racy 20 minutes drive (if you ever went to Malta, you know what I mean), we arrived at our hotel and were welcomed with a huge “sorry, we had to book you into another hotel, which is close-by, since we had a serious boiler damage yesterday evening. Soooo sorryyyyy!”.
Well, what could we do? Our bags were driven to the new hotel, while we walked the ten or so minutes. It looked nice, although, much bigger than the one we had originally booked (we don’t like these huge “palaces”). Only Patrik’s and my room was ready yet, so we all took our bags in order to deposit them there. It was kind of a shock to be in this huge hotel, with so many floors and rooms – or maybe it just seemed a bit scary to us, after a week living so close together on “Felicity”…. In any case, we were a bit disappointed that our rooms weren’t side by side.
Soon we were ready and strolled to Spinola Bay, where we wanted to eat a light lunch. There are so many nice restaurants and bars there, so it was not easy to choose one, but in the end we found a lovely place and ordered some bruschetta and a bottle of white wine. It tasted heavenly and we were more than pleased – and soon ready to take the bus to Valletta! On our last visits, Patrik and I were lucky to experience the old busses on Malta, which were famous for their unique make-up (and their “insane” drivers, if I may say so), because back then, the vehicles were owned by families and they decorated them after their – more or less good – tastes. Nowadays, the busses are modern and they even close the doors while driving, probably because they have built-in air-con’s these days ?.
After about 40 minutes we arrived at the big bus stop in Valletta – which is a bit more organized than years ago. It didn’t take long and we played our “roles as tourists” as expected: A lot of window shopping, real shopping and many “wow!”, “amazing!” and “beautiful!”, because of the awesome architecture, which really IS fascinating – at least that didn’t change! With so many impressions, one gets thirsty and it was time for an aperitif. Again we found a cozy restaurant, with a beautiful view over the ”Grand Harbour” and it even had its obligatory cat, a charming, longhaired, ginger-colored feline who greeted us. Thinking of Franco, we ordered a bottle of Sicilian white wine, then raised our glasses in a toast to him and agreed (for the 268th time) what an amazing week we’ve had!
The afternoon went quick and soon it was time to catch the bus back to Spinola Bay – having a last drink at the “Dubliners Pub”, before heading to the hotel.
Back there, M&M’s got their room key, fetched their luggage and we agreed to meet at eight in the lobby. WOW, what a big shower we had and all for ourselves – not to mention the huge bed! Funny, what you suddenly appreciate, if you didn’t have it for a while, right?! Anyway, feeling refreshed we all were hungry and ready for dinner. Since Spinola Bay had so many lovely restaurants. We tried there first and soon got lucky – catching a table on a nice patio.
We enjoyed a really nice dinner and naturally had a lot to talk about – mixed with a couple of good laughs. Time just flew by and on the way back to the hotel, we decided to pay a visit at the exclusive Portomaso Marina, with its costly apartments. Even in the low-lit area we were able to admire the fancy yachts who lay there and we could just guess what they were worth…. Back at our hotel we ended the evening on our balcony, enjoying a beer/cider and decided, we would meet at nine o’clock the next morning for breakfast. Our flight would not leave before half three in the afternoon, so we had plenty of time.
Sleeping in a real bed again felt divine and finally, even I was able to relax and sleep tight.
Day 8 (Sunday)
Missing out, what Franco says….
The next morning a cloudy and rainy day greeted us. Which suited us in a way, since we had to fly home anyway.
After breakfast, we went to the reception and booked a taxi to the airport, picking us up at one o’clock. Until then we could deposit our baggage at the hotels storage room and we went outside, hoping to find a last tourist shop, which maybe was open.
Well, it was Sunday after all and the shops were closed. We went to a nearby coffee shop and ordered espresso. Although, it had started to rain, it was still warm enough to sit outside under the roof, looking at the few cars and people with their colorful umbrellas. The mood was still high, but we all conformed that “heaven was crying”, because we had to leave “our” beautiful Malta. We also imagined, how it would have been, with this kind of weather a week ago…..not much fun, that was clear, so we all thanked the Weather Gods for our incredible luck we’ve had!
Even killing time went quick – by doing silly selfies for example – and so we were back at the hotel. Our taxi came on schedule and after about half an hour drive through the – meanwhile heavy – rain, we arrived at the airport. Check-in went quick, also the security and passport control and then we were inside, in the Duty Free Zone. I purchased a last present for Cony, our cat sitter, and then we settled at the bar of the Hard Rock Café and ordered our drinks.
Soon it was time for boarding and without delay. We rolled from the gate and when lifting in the air we said good bye to the islands. The sun was shining above the clouds and the skippers captain weather forecast for Zurich was promising. Sunny and around 24 deg. C. Perfect – again a journey from the rain into the sun!
For a few of us the lack of last night’s sleep took its toll…..Sorry guys, I simply couldn’t resist…. J
At half past four we landed in Zurich, fetched our luggage and checked the train time table. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time for many hugs and long goodbye’s. (which was maybe better). Soon Patrik and I sat in our train, towards Frauenfeld. Cony, our sweet neighbor and cat sitter offered – before we left – to pick us up from the train station. So we thankfully took her offer and called her from the train. After hearty hugs she said that everything went fine and Odin is safe and sound – thank God!
Ten minutes later we were home-sweet-home with the sun still shining. We opened the windows (and a bottle of prosecco) and were amazed about the SPACE we had.
Only Odin was missing…..we were sure though, that he heard us, but played his cat-like part of being mortally offended. (He came home later that evening – overjoyed =^.^= )
Well, all in all we absolutely agreed that we’ve had a fantastic week – not only earning our certificates. Also spending a week on a sailing yacht, together with our dear friends Michaela and Michael. Last but not least met Franco. So, thank you all for an awesome and unforgettable time !
Franco says (shouts): “Ready for gyyyyyyyyyybe !!”
Sunny Thursday morning had arrived and we had some instant coffee, at least (M&M’s bought some, before we left Valletta! Well done, guys!!). Since our fridge was almost empty. We decided that, after breakfast and our daily briefing, it was time for some grocery shopping.
While Patrik and I did the passage plan for our way back to Valletta, the other three went shopping and did a bit of sightseeing (M&M’s particularly).
At about eleven, everyone was back and ready to leave Gozo. On the way out, Franco started a wordplay for us: Everyone had to know an expression about boats and/or sailing, starting with the letter A. For example, A as for anchor, B as for bow, C as for cleat, etc., etc. We had a few good laughs and when Comino came in sight, Franco asked if anyone wanted to go for a swim – well, of course! So he brought us first to a nice bay, which unfortunately, was a bit too crowded. Therefore, we turned around and went back again – passing the also crowded, but so beautiful “Blue Lagoon” – to another little bay, which suited us perfectly. After cooling down in the water and relaxing for a while we headed for Mellieha Bay, using Patrik’s and mine passage plan, where we planned to have lunch.
Everything went perfect and although it was more windy than we thought, we found a lovely spot to anchor and prepare our lunch, which Franco had organized this morning, with a lot of tasty Maltese specialties. Mmhh, yummy!
While doing the dishes, Franco suggested that he would cook dinner tonight, if it was OK for us.
He wanted to try the vegetable “meat”, which I brought with me from Switzerland. Sorry, I forgot to mention that Franco also is a vegetarian, like me – although, he does eat fish and seafood. So yes, of course it was a great idea and we looked forward to Franco’s cooking skills!
But first we had to get back to Msida Creek Harbor, so as soon we were outside Mellieha Bay, we set sail. Patrik was the helmsman and commanded us to set the mainsail and then the jib, which he did very competently. Franco was more or less just watching and correcting us – if necessary. He ordered us to take turns at the helm and also do some gybe’s, one after another and soon, it seemed, he got highly enthusiastic about it! Of course it was great exercise for us and we were sure, he thought about tomorrow – a windless day – where maneuvering and practicing would be almost impossible! So Franco continued shouting his “readyyyy for gyyyybe!” and we gave everything and followed his orders as best as we could!
His good advice of the day was, that the jib is your best friend. When the jib starts collapsing (too little wind in the sail), you need to turn the boat into the direction the boom is pointing to (to the mast), in order to fill up the sails again. Otherwise, the risk for an uncontrolled gybe is most certain…..Which is dangerous for both, the crew and the boat, so it certainly shall be avoided!
At this point I must explain that it was impossible to take pictures while we were sailing – sadly! Everybody was working hard and there was no time, goofing around…
After a couple of hours it became apparent that it was too much for me: My eyes we sore and swollen and I almost couldn’t see anymore (probably because of the saltwater, the sun, wind and the sun cream). I realized I had exceeded my limits (for the first time in my life) and I felt absolutely exhausted (and ashamed and angry with myself).
At least we were close to Valletta and the harbor was in sight. Franco let us calm down and after a short while we were back at our mooring, I had my eyes washed out with water and Michaela had some eye drops for me *thanx Michi*. While sipping a beer / some white wine and nibbling some crisps, Franco explained that he indeed stressed us a “little”, because of tomorrows boring weather forecast and he almost apologized to us, explaining that what we did this afternoon, is usually done at the very last day of a training week! Anyway, he made sure that we understood, how happy he was with us and that we did well!
It was shower time and Franco did – as promised – his “Franco’s Special” for dinner (you can find it among our recipes – thanks for sharing, Franco J). Needless to say, that we were hungry like a pack of wolfs and enjoyed our last dinner on board “our Felicity”. Tomorrow, we would have dinner together at the restaurant “Bella Venezia”, near the harbor.
Day 6 (Friday)
Franco says: “Man over board !”
When we woke up, the sun greeted us as each morning so far – and, as promised, no wind!
After our visit at the “Fifteen 37 Café”, Franco said that we would have an easy day today, leaving when we are ready, practicing some parking (with no wind this time – hehe), chugging over to “Spinola Bay” for swimming and lunch and maybe some sailing, in case we get some winds. Then, since it was our last day, we would clean the boat roughly and tidy up as much as possible. He also booked a table for us at the “Bella Venezia” at eight o’clock. Sounded like a good plan to us and soon we were ready, glad to leave the harbor, which became already quite humid…
Of course, Franco thought about something special for us, when it came to “parking-the-boat-lessons”. This time we had to approach the whole channel to the pontoon backwards, passing a 56 foot Lagoon catamaran which lay alongside the pontoon. We had to imagine that there were many other yachts moored and we had to squeeze in, without stressing our insurance company….
Nevertheless, we managed quite good and even Franco was delighted (which meant the world to us!).
Then we left for “Spinola Bay”, which was just a stone’s throw away.
On the way there we suddenly had another sailing boat tailing after us and crossing like mad….They must have been drunk or never been on a boat before – bloody lunatics! They even followed us into “Spinola Bay” and anchored as well (luckily not beside us).
It was really cool there, surprisingly not too many yachts for such a famous bay and we enjoyed the nice views around us. M&M’s jumped into the water and fed the fishes with some old bread. Since Patrik and I didn’t feel for swimming, Franco took us aside and wanted to talk, about the week and how it went.
It was no surprise that Patrik got his RYA “Day Skipper” award – he did exceptionally well and truly deserved the certificate. So, sincere congrats from Franco – and from me, of course!
When it came to me, he hesitated a bit, but happily informed me that I also receive the “Day Skipper” cert! WOW, that was a bit of a surprise for me! Since we told Franco about our future plans, he knew that Patrik and I would act as a team on a boat and, therefore, would complement one another perfectly! So I did it as well ?
Soon we enjoyed a tasty lunch, with leftovers from yesterday and – as usual – some fruits! Then we were entertained by our “friends” in the other boat: They seriously hoisted their sail in the (quite small) bay and did…..well….. WE had no clue what they tried to do! But it was pretty entertaining – better than TV, that’s for sure!
Slowly they left the bay and we decided we’d better wait, until they disappeared from our sight and even give them some extra time, just to be sure! When everything was ready and settled, we also left and in spite of the light wind, were able to set our mainsail and the jib – once outside “Spinola Bay”.
Suddenly, something was wrong with the jib and when trying to furl it in, it got stuck when tacking . Franco remembered that yesterday “something black” flew away from the mast, when one of the jib sheet lines got almost entangled (could have been a plastic step). Maybe it damaged the furling somehow?
Well, whatever it was, we could not fix it now and had to look at it in the evening. At least we could still sail and while doing so, Franco prepared an orange buoy by concatenate its rope to a plastic bucket. When finished he rose again, smiled and threw the whole lot over board! “Man over board !”, he shouted and we looked a bit astonished. Then he taught us the very important manoeuvre, called “heave-to” (or “stop-tack” in Franco’s words). That means stopping the boat – under sail – at once. How does that work? Here comes an understandable explanation I hope:
Turn the rudder so that the boat tack, without releasing the jib sheet (unlike in normal tacking).
Once on the new tack, the wind will blow on the wrong side of the jib. The wind in the backed jib will attempt to blow the bow further away from the wind.
Turn the rudder to the other direction and lock it. This to keep the boat toward the wind on your new tack. The force of the mainsail will try to move the boat toward the wind just as the force in the jib tries to push it away.” Now one starts the engine and begins rescuing the person in the water.
With this maneuver the boat will not move anymore, it’s like a full brake with a car. Have a look at the speed indicator, it will amazingly show “zero” at once! Especially helpful, if there are just two people sailing and one falls over board. You always stay close to the M.O.B., since he and the boat are only floating after the stop and you are able to rescue him/her without being more stressed out, than you surely already are in such a situation!
It’s by the way also a perfect technique, when waiting out bad weather conditions, want to cook some food in peace, even if you want to go for a swim or you need a rest for some reason.
Anyhow, we practiced this for a while. Soon agreed that this truly was one of the most useful and clever things we have learned this week. Besides – of course – of all the other “stuff”. Like points of sail, tack, gybe, the correct terms of the (many) different parts on a boat. With its sails and ropes, and last but not least, simply living on board with its limited space.
Soon the fun was over and it was time for us to return “home” . We took down the sails, started the engine and slowly entered the – by now – well known Msida Creek Harbor. For the last time we admired the views and other yachts and for the last time. Patrik was at the helm, proudly steering the boat to our pontoon.
Once there Franco wrote an SMS to Anna Maria. About the jib and asked if he/we should try to fix it. Luckily, the answer came soon. While we enjoyed a beer/white wine – that he doesn’t have to worry. A new jib and mainsail has been ordered and already delivered. “Felicity” would go to Sicily next week, to receive an all-around service. Before going further to the Canary Islands for the winter season. So far, so good and everyone was happy again J
After our short aperitif we started cleaning – the “boys” on deck, the “girls” under deck…..the classic arrangement….
Then we packed our bags, as much as already possible and went across the road, for a shower. Everyone was ready in time and at eight we were at the “Bella Venezia”, ordering our dinner. We had such a good evening together. Talking much of course about the great and successful week we’ve had. How lucky we were, we’ve had Franco as our instructor! Email addresses were exchanged and Patrik and Franco promised to keep in touch. If nothing else, because of Patrik’s next aim, which would be the “Yacht Master” certificate. For that he needs a couple of thousand sea miles, plus a lot of theoretical stuff to learn! So Franco told him, that he might have to deliver a new yacht. From Italy to the Canary Islands next year in October….well, who knows, might be an opportunity?!
Back at the “Felicity”, Michaela opened a bottle of prosecco, in order to celebrate our last night on the boat! We clinked our glasses….well, plastic cups…and thanked one another for this awesome and unforgettable week we’ve had together! Then we went to bed, each with his own thoughts and dreams. Nighty night everyone !
Franco says: “Kids Make Trouble” (= when preparing to hoist the mainsail, it means: Kids = open the Kicker/vang / Make = adjust the Main sheet / Trouble = check the Topping lift)
Off to Gozo today! After breakfast (at the “Fifteen 37”) Patrik and I had the task to do the passage plan for the route to that neighboring isle – passing Comino on the way there. New stuff to me, but Patrik knew how to do, since he did the theoretical day skipper course earlier this year. So I assisted him and found it (unexpectedly) very interesting!
The weather forecast was ok: Sunny and warm – although, some rough gusts of wind could be possible. Which became true, once we left the safety of the harbor. Therefore, Franco decided to travel by engine for a while and see how the winds are developing.
Suddenly, Michaela got all excited and shouted, “dolphins, dolphins!” Since I was the helms(wo-)man, I couldn’t see much until Franco came and started the autopilot. Thanks, Franco!!
Oh, and there they were! About three or four animals were darting from one side to the other under the boat. Everyone got really excited and happy! Well, Franco took it coolly, of course, he had seen many dolphins before. Sadly, after a few minutes they were gone and we wouldn’t meet any of these wonderful creatures for the rest of the week again….We didn’t even have the time to take a picture *sigh*
Well, just around the “corner”, the next surprise was awaiting us! Patrik and I were downstairs in the salon to correct our passage plan (we could not reach our starting point…) and it took us a while to realize what Michael was shouting outside: “Smoke, there is smoke coming from inside!!”
Patrik and I looked up and saw that there WAS smoke coming out the engine room, slipping outside through a gap just beside the stairs! GREAT!! Of course we went outside as quick as possible and Franco turned off the engine, then he went carefully downstairs to see what happened. After a minute he came up again and announced there was no fire – lucky us! But he asked, who the mechanic was on board. It was Patrik, so both disappeared downstairs again.
After a while they came up to the cockpit again and said, that apparently the engine got too hot. Somehow it didn’t get enough cooling water and got overheated. Maybe the lid wasn’t properly screwed on, after the “WOBBLE” this morning? *gulp*…it was me, who did the check this morning….
Anyway, we decided to wait for a while, let the engine cool down and see what will happen, when starting it again. Meanwhile, discussions got hot, how that happened – at least there were some other possibilities, than just me being guilty…. Patrik was sure he checked the cooling water lid after me, so the chance was high, it was something else. Maybe the high waves, which lifted “Felicity” half the time out of the water and, therefore, she couldn’t get cooling water? After considering that possibility and seen air bubbles in the raw water cooling hoses, we all agreed, it seemed the most logical explanation! What a relieve for me, I didn’t become fish bait!!
About an hour later Franco tried the engine again and we continued heading for Gozo (apparently there was a mechanic near the harbor, who Franco knew, in case we needed one. The only problem was, that the next day was Malta’s National Holiday and most shops were closed).
It seemed that the engine was working again, after filling up the cooling water. No leaks, no cooking anymore…everything worked just fine. Yiipiiieeeee !! So we sat sail now, since the winds were on our side – perfect!
Before the little island Comino we started the engine again to check, if it was still ok – it seemed to work as it should. Luckily, we still were in time and Franco told us about the beautiful and famous “Blue Lagoon” at Comino and we could go for a swim there! Yes, course – what an excellent idea. But when we arrived there the bay was crowded with other boats, jet-skis, bigger boats who came and went with loads of tourists. So being in the water was quite a challenge, trying not to get run over by someone. Therefore, we didn’t stay too long and soon hoist the anchor. Mgarr – the central harbor of Gozo was in viewing distance and after about 15 minutes we arrived there. It’s quite a busy harbor, with the big ferries from “Gozo Channel Line” leaving and arriving almost non-stop.
Franco called the harbor in order to register us and to get a mooring spot. That was the last challenge of the day: Our spot was too tight and hardly long enough, so all in all it was not an easy maneuver and to top it, the guy, working at the harbor and who was supposed to help us, was in a terrible mood and we suspected, he must have had a real crappy day today.….anyway, finally, we did it and slowly started joking again – of course we deserved a drink first, before doing much else!
Then it was shower time and we decided to eat in a restaurant tonight. We forgot the National Holiday the next day, though, which meant the restaurants were pretty busy and we were lucky, to find a table. But we managed and finally enjoyed a delicious meal, talking about the exciting day we’ve had!
Everyone was tired so after we came back, we soon went to bed – tomorrow we would sail around the whole island and the weather promised to be perfect again! Sweet dreams everyone J
Day 4 (Wednesday)
Franco says: “Remember, the jib is your best friend when sailing dead run”
The sun woke us the next morning, as promised and soon everyone was ready for a new adventurous day! Briefing first and off we went, leaving the harbor behind us quickly and exploring Gozo from the coastal side! We were surprised that almost no one was sailing, so it seemed we had the whole sea for ourselves and our sailing practice!
And it really was fun – we took turns with steering our “Felicity” and were thrilled about the fantastic view at the coast with its fascinating colors of blues, turquoise and the almost orange sandstone.
Before lunch Franco told us about a beautiful place called “Id-Dwejra Bay”. So he took over the helm and steered us safely through the narrow passage into the circular bay. Well, it didn’t look that narrow, but apparently there is only a small passage in, which is deep enough for a boat with keel, the sides are dangerous riffs and hard to see.
Once inside – we even were the only yacht – we were overwhelmed about the beauty and we admired he mighty “Fungus Rock” with its hole. Unfortunately, the sea wasn’t calm enough to anchor or to swim. So after taking lots of pictures we left “Id-Dwerja Bay”. Just around the corner we met the famous “Azure Window” and decided then to sail to “Ramla Bay”, anchor there and eat some lunch. So we did, but the sea there wasn’t any calmer, so no swimming again….
After cleaning up and some theory lessons with Franco. We left the red colored beach and its visitors and continued our journey around Gozo. The sea was lovely and it seemed, we did good. Franco looked pleased. Soon Mgarr came in sight and this time we got a much better mooring place. Which Franco requested by radio, early in the afternoon (the super grumpy guy from yesterday wasn’t working today – lucky us!!)
Everyone was very happy with the day. We treated ourselves with some Guinness and cocktails at the “Gleneagles Bar” in Mgarr. Went for a shower at the marina and soon started our cooking. A Tomato sauce and penne with some green salad – it tasted LOVELY !
After tidying up the galley, we talked for a while, enjoyed a Whisky and looked forward to the remaining days. Franco said that – according to the weather forecast – tomorrow would be the last day with some fair winds. Friday supposed to be very calm with hardly 5 knots of wind….definitely not enough to go sailing. So tomorrow would be a packed day for us!
Suddenly, we realized how fast time went by and that we only had two days left. On Saturday morning we would be leaving Franco and “Felicity”….too soon, we all agreed….Good night, everyone!
As promised in our last post, here we are again, with a report, decorated with some pictures!
We hope, you enjoy reading it – cheers ?
On Saturday, 17 September we flew from a rainy Zurich to a dry and warm Malta and landed – a wee bit too late – just after eight o’clock in the evening. Luckily, we arranged earlier with Anna Maria from Salana Sailing that a taxi would pick us up and drive us to the Msida Creek Harbor, Valletta.
Half an hour later we finally arrived at our destination – tired but thrilled. We were warmly greeted by Anna Maria at the gate to the pontoon H and a few minutes later we stood in front of the lovely “Felicity”, our home for the coming week. Gareth – Anna Maria’s husband -, their fluffy dog (sorry, I can’t remember the name…) and Franco – our instructor and skipper, originally from Rome – were onboard and welcomed us. After introducing oneself and a little talk, Anna Maria and Gareth wished us a wonderful and successful week and said their “Good Byes”.
While we enjoyed our “welcoming packet”- some beer and wine – Franco explained us how everything worked at the marina, for example one could only leave/enter the pontoon’s with a batch and it was the same with the facilities, which were in a building, just across the road. Unfortunately, there were not many toilets and just one shower (one was out of order…..since March, as we found out a few days later), but VERY clean.
The three cabins on board were quickly allocated, Michaela and Michael took the one on the bow, with their own toilet/shower. Patrik and I took one of the two stern cabins. Since we were only five people, Franco was happy to get his own private cabin as well, which usually isn’t the case, with six guests on board. We also had a toilet/shower, to share with Franco and he explained that we use the toilet only in “emergency cases”, otherwise showers and toilets should kindly be used at the marina. Well, no problem for us, of course!
Time went quick and soon everyone was tired and ready for bed! We agreed with Franco that breakfast will be at eight o’clock, briefing at nine and then we would be ready for our first sailing lesson! “Wo-hoooo, how exciting!!
Day 1 (Sunday)
Franco says: “WOBBLE” (daily engine check, meaning: Water / Oil / Belt / Bilge / Look around / Exhaust)
The next morning, everyone was up and ready in good time. Apparently, everyone slept very well, except for me. I guess it was the excitement, the unknown and too many thoughts. Annoyingly, it didn’t get better during the week….
Unfortunately, the promised coffee machine was missing, so we had some tea instead. Anyway, Franco told us about an Italian coffee shop nearby, so that would be our destination for the next morning!
Soon we were ready and left the harbor for the first time. How exciting!!
Our first lesson was parking the boat (backwards) nicely, which looked incredibly easy when watching Franco, but we quickly learned how wrong we were, especially with a mean wind coming from the side. After that we definitely left the harbor and learned how to steer “our” yacht – with the motor, not under sail. Franco showed us quickly Valletta’s Grand Harbour on the way out, with its impressive visitors: Two or three huge cruising vessels were moored there! Very impressive!
Outside again, the wind was still there of course, but now it was accompanied by waves. Well, in my opinion we managed quite good and enjoyed the fine weather and each other’s company!
Next thing to learn was how to anchor, since we became a little hungry. Again, everything went smooth, thanks to Franco’s patience and calmness. It was also the first time I saw a hand-bearing compass, what it’s for and how to use it. Funny little “thing” J. After swimming, eating and tidying up, it was Patrik’s and my turn for some theory lessons with our instructor. And then it was already time to hoist the anchor (learning by doing, of course) and we were heading back to our harbor again.
After a successful mooring, we allowed us a drink and talked excitedly about our first day at sea! Then we showered and Michaela and I inspected the galley and its fridge in order to cook some dinner. In the end we managed to do some kind of ratatouille with pasta – it tasted surprisingly good and apparently, everyone was happy with it.
Unfortunately, Michael didn’t feel too well, after we came back and his slight headache developed to a terrible migraine. It might have been the sun, the warmth, being outside all day long…or a combination of everything! In any case, while we were eating, he was “ten and out”, sleeping in the cabin – poor him! Later on, while everyone else was already in bed, he luckily felt better and even became hungry – we heard him, eating the rest of the dinner! So that was good news!
Day 2 (Monday)
Franco says: “A flappy sail is an unhappy sail”
A sunny morning again and breakfast at eight o’clock, only with the slight difference that this time we went to the Italian coffee shop, called “Fifteen 37 Cafe”, and enjoyed fresh orange juice, smoothies, and lovely, lovely coffee! Fabulous!!
After the briefing at nine, we were ready and headed for the sea. The waves were a bit bigger than yesterday and the winds a bit stronger and Franco announced that we would be sailing today!
And so we did, with the jib first and practicing to gybe a few times – which went OK – and then trying with the mainsail, until the halyard got stuck somehow. Nevertheless, it was lunchtime and we anchored in a lovely bay called “Il-Ħofra l-Kbira”. There, we relaxed a little, went swimming and snorkeling (M&M’s), eating (all), fixing the halyard and had some sailing theory (Patrik and me with Franco). Too soon it was over and time to head slowly home again.
We used a partly reefed-in mainsail and the jib for a while. Until the wind became much stronger and the waves higher than expected. Finally, Franco took over the helm and ordered us to take down the mainsail, then Patrik was in charge again. A few miles from the inlet to the harbor the jib was furled in. Which was just in time, because the waves washed now over our brave “Felicity”. Within a very short time, we all were soaked – and soon shivering (me at least). It seemed the harbor never came closer and I think – meanwhile – everyone longed to be in the safe harbor again….
Later than planned we finally arrived at our pontoon. Mercifully, the sun was shining again (or still?) and warmed us up! Now we really deserved our beer/wine. Before we went for a shower and decided to have dinner at the close-by pizzeria “Bella Venezia”. Franco stayed at the boat, probably wanted to talk to his girlfriend in Sicily in peace. Before we left and wished him a nice evening. He promised that we would sail to Gozo tomorrow and stay there for two days! *Jiiihhaaaa* , that sounded fantastic!!
Dinner was great, we all enjoyed our meal with a bottle of Italian red wine. Talked about our adventurous day and what to expect in Gozo. Needless to say, that everyone slept sound….except me…
Last Sunday afternoon we came back from Malta, after an awesome week sailing around these small, but stunning islands!
All of us – Michaela, Michael, Patrik and me – agree. We truly had a fantastic week on “our” Bavaria 39’ cruiser, called S/V “Felicity”! Not least because of Franco, our Italian skipper and instructor, who patiently taught us how to sail safely in theory and practice and gave us lots of precious tips! We really enjoyed each other’s company, also in the evenings, when we had a drink, discussed the day, cooked dinner and ate together. In my opinion we all fitted together perfectly!
Everyone had its tasks on the yacht! So no, M&M’s haven’t done “bugger all” during the week, but “worked” as much and hard as Patrik and I have (except the swotting for our practical education).
The weather was just perfect: Warm and sunny with nice winds, which suited us just fine, as “greenhorns”
Last but not least, we proudly announce that. Patrik and even myself received the “Day Skipper” (practical) certificate by the end of the week! It was clear that Patrik would make it – Franco was more than happy with his skills. For me it was a big surprise. Since my aim was the “Competent Crew” + benefit as much as possible from Patrik’s day skipper education. So, I’m overjoyed!
That’s a quick overview. To keep you entertained and get you to look forward for more!
Soon we will meet M&M’s to sort out the 400+ photos and a couple of films, which will be displayed on our blog. So, stay tuned !
Here below are the routes day by day that we did during the week. Are not the exact course or routes but close to it.