John and Eva on the M/Y 'Destiny'.
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DESTINY DIARY 2016 - A Sabbatical Year based in Malta.

Eva's Photo Gallery - 2106.
We left La Clayette on April 7th hoping to have an early start to our cruise this year; our plan was to visit the Balearics, Spain and winter in Morocco.
We booked an apartment hotel room in Bayview, opposite to Manoel Island Boat Yard. Destiny was there in the same place and looking pretty dirty on the outside. The first thing we noticed was that Daniel had not done any of the work on the hull and the bathing platform that we had arranged, but it was only the beginning of our disappointment. The varnish work was such a big fiasco, Daniel had really let us down and we regretted not coming down to check the work over Christmas!

I won't go into the details of our meeting with Daniel, but in the end it was agreed that the varnish had to be totally redone! The question for us was whether to go back home or stay and watch. We re-booked the hotel until April 28th, hoping that Destiny would be ready to go back in the water by that time.
We had plenty to do, repaint the hull, paint a new water line, polish the top sides, dismount and repaint the bathing platform, re-mark the anchor chains and all of the normal spring maintenance.
But the varnish saga wasn't over, it was obvious that Daniel's guys were not competent, furthermore we couldn't communicate with them as they didn’t speak English. The situation was going from bad to worse! I was so depressed over the whole thing as it became evident that we had made the biggest mistake ever trusting Daniel, furthermore we had no other option but to insist that the work be done properly however long it would take.

Fortunately we found time for some diversions; we went see 'Madame Butterfly' by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the 'new Jungle book' movie. There was a Boy Scouts parade in Valletta and we met up again with our friends Vince and Debbie.
Grand Masters House
The Auberge Castille, now houses the Prime Ministers office.
Since we had done all the work we could on Destiny we decided to go back home until the varnish work was completed. So we arranged with the Hotel to modify our booking and on 1st of May we flew back to La Clayette for two weeks, which gave us the opportunity to meet with our Canadian friends Dick and Debbie who were getting delivery of a collection 2CV from France to take back to Canada.
After 2 weeks we spoke to Daniel and work wasn't going to be finished so we stayed in France another week which allow us to join a family reunion in Arcachon.

Manoel Island Ready to be Launched
Manoel island boat yard from the air. All cleaned up and ready to go.
On May 23rd we were back in Malta. The varnish work was still not finished! So we helped! I also took the opportunity to repaint the galley and the fridge. Then the hotel informed us that they didn't have an apartment available and we had to leave by June 2nd - two months since our first arrival! So we had to prepare Destiny to go in the water, I did the antifouling whilst John sorted the engine room and we told Paul who was doing the varnish that he had to be out of the boat by 31st May finished or not.

We found a mooring place in Msida Marina, on the sea wall next to the 'Black Pearl' and on Thursday June 2nd we went back in the water - it was nice except that the ‘Gremlins' were back! In the autumn you leave a perfectly functional boat and come back in the spring and things aren’t working for no apparent reason. T the first failure was the forward shower pump, the automatic switch had failed and needed replacement, it gave us the opportunity to upgrade it with a much better system! Next was the aft toilet, another switch failure, once this one was repaired the forward WC failed, this time it was a broken hose which fortunately we had a spare for. We also had to put the boat back together after the varnish work which, in the end, was never completed to our satisfaction.

Whilst in Msida we met with Claes from Sweden who had bought 'Dora Mac' a bigger sister ship to Destiny which we had last seen in Cyprus. Of course we were both eager to check out each others boat. Although 'Dora Mac' has the same fixture and fittings she is very different from Destiny. We invited Claes for dinner on board and had a very entertaining evening exchanging our experiences and it was 2 a.m. when we finally went to bed!

The following day it was hard to get up but the Maltese know how to wake you with fireworks all day long! It is a kind of a war zone noise sometimes and we wondered what the poor refugees thought when they arrived on the Island!

Boom Siege Bell War Memorial
And they're off - The noon day gun in Valletta. The Valletta war memorial bell.
Just after Claes left for a work commitment 'Maňana' a Nordhavn 46 registered in Spain, moored along side us for few days. We met Andreas and Monica who keep their boat in Majorca. On their way to Malta they had caught two good sized Tunas which were too much for them; Monica gave us two big pieces of meat. - it is really delicious eating such a fresh fish, it can't compare to anything you buy at a fishmonger!

For some unknown reason Andrea thought that John was the 'as' and he asked him to take ‘Maňana’ for a sea-trial to check some vibration problems - but basically it was just a question of parking the boat, Andrea never moored stern-too and thought it impossible - however… once the boat was moored stern-too John was then asked to turn the boat around again because everything was set up for the other way around.
Sometimes you can’t win. I took Monica shopping in Valletta and she told me she was from Mexico and explained how different Europe was for her. We had a nice happy-hour together before they left Malta; They insisted that we visit them in Majorca when we get there.

. By now we were planning to go to Sardinia and Corsica and around the south of France and from there down Spain to finish in Morocco rather than a crossing directly from Sardinia to the Balearics.
But Destiny was not ready yet to leave, we still had some work to do, I repainted the aft deck, remounted the wind indicator on top of the mast until we realized that the bearing for the wind speed was faulty, so I spent some more time on the top of the mast changing over the parts. And John still had to finish the wood work on the bridge deck, cursing Daniel's incompetent workers.

We invited Matthew from Med yacht Service and his girl friend Helen for dinner on board Destiny, first to thank Matthew for all of his help and support with our problems with Daniel and also an opportunity to meet Helen. It was a pleasant dinner for us - I don't know how much they enjoyed the evening with two oldies but they seemed OK or least very polite!

Fireworks No comments
Fireworks - the national sport of Malta. No comment necessary.
We had done a short sea trial when we re-launched and noticed an unusual sound coming from somewhere at the back of the boat. We decided it was time to call in the engineers. At 8 a.m. the following day Simon the mechanic from Melita Power arrived, after a lot of investigation it turned out that the top rudder bearing was worn and had to be replaced and the gearbox/prop shaft coupling was not aligned properly, this was due to a fabrication problem dating back to when we were in Turkey. We decided to upgrade the coupling to a 21st century part rather than the 1920’s arrangement. This wasn't good news, not only it would be another big expense, but it was already mid June.

We were now thinking about staying in Malta for the rest of the year and take a 'sabbatical' in our cruising life! It would also be an opportunity to find out if Malta would be the right place for us to retire!!! We extended our stay in Msida Marina, and paid for a month rather than a week! But if we stayed for the season I would prefer to be in Grand Harbour rather than Msida so we asked again the help of our friends in Med yachts and luckily they had a mooring in the marina we could rent from them at a reasonable price.

The replacement of the rudder bearing was straight forward, once Melita power had obtained one John changed it himself but coming back on board from shopping I heard the bilge pump run a few times which was odd. After checking I found that water was coming in at the back of the boat. When John had dismounted the steering to check the rudder bearing he hadn’t realised that the rudder was floating up and releasing the rudder seal and therefore we were slowly sinking! After half an hour of battle we finally secured the rudder in place! But Simon was as good as his word in getting the new coupling made up and fitted quickly.

The Gremlins were still working - our original two solar panels failed and we had to replace them, luckily we found two of the same size so it was a straight forward swap. Next problem came from the water maker pump, we had to order the parts from the USA. Meanwhile I painted the foredeck white - it looks beautiful.
The other bad news was the ‘Brexit' vote by the British people! N.B. We were not allowed to vote!!
Grand Harbour Marina Gate D in Grand Harbour.jpg
The Grand Harbour Marina entrance - Ex R.N. with cows head. Destiny parked up at night.
So on July 2nd we left Msida Marina and planned to go for a two day mini cruise to Gozo and visit our friends Vince and Debs and see their new house. Unfortunately the harbour master told us he was fully booked, so instead, we anchored on the south side of Comino. The weather worsened so we returned back to Malta and moved to our new mooring in Grand Harbour Marina.

Fortunately the following day was better weather and we went out and spent the night on anchor in St Thomas Bay, and I had my first swim of the year, it was refreshing.
So we settled to our new life in Grand Harbour, but it wasn't as quiet as I had hoped, fireworks from mooning to evening, and the church bells in between and in the evening football world cup on the restaurant terrace!

We were invited by the capitainerie to the prize giving of the Trophée Bailly de Sufren, a classic yacht race from St Tropez to Malta. Unfortunately only four boats came all the way. We met the crew of Trinakria a 'vieux gréement Epoque de 1927’ they were planning a cruise in the Adriatic, we told them of the places we liked such as south Croatia and Kotor in Montenegro.

Being on the Three Cities side of the Island we could meet with Vince and Debbie who have their boat 'Yala' moored in Kalcara bay just over the back of us. They were motorised and kindly offered to take us around for a major shopping trip to a big supermarket. In return we organised F1 race day lunches on Destiny, where we put up a TV screen in the cockpit and sat there to watch the race with beer in hand.

We had also some long discussion of the future of UK, if they exit the EU what would happen to the English living in various European countries? Is Theresa May the right person to negotiate? Many questions and very few answers (still none as I write).
For a break Vince and Debbie invited us to their house in Gozo for a couple of days - They have a lovely house not far from the harbour. We drove around the island and finished with a BBQ on their roof-terrace.

St Thomas Anchorage Resto in Gozo Famous Blue Lagoon
Our regular swim spot in St Thomas's bay. Lunch with Vince and Debby. Comino's famous 'Blue Lagoon'.
On one of our swimming jaunts to St Thomas's we decided to go on since it was such a fine day and circumnavigated the island of Malta. It's very different on the south side with high cliffs up to 200 meters dropping straight down into the sea. They are so steep that fishermen cast their rods from the top into the waters below. hauling in their catch must be quite a feat with a wriggling monster at the end of the line.

It's a long way up Dingly Cliffs Ducky
Can you see the fisherman on the top? A calm day off Dingly cliffs. 'Ducky' leads the way.
We planned a trip together to Sicily so on Saturday July 30th we left Grand Harbour at 7a.m. the weather was perfect with just a slight breeze. We caught up with Yala who had left earlier and dropped anchor in Porto Palo on the south eastern corner of Sicily, a first for Yala, a convenient stop before going on to Syracuse. The water was warmer than in Malta, around 25°C.

The following morning, 31st of July at 9:30, we upped anchor and continued north to Syracuse. The weather was nice but the wind was on the nose with some swell that slowed and bounced us around. We arrived at 2:00 p.m. All the boats were moored a long way from the town and we dropped anchor behind everybody, so well away from the town. We later found out that the rules are changing in Syracuse the harbour authorities are restricting the mooring areas for cruising boats, and you're supposed to contact them on entering the bay. 'Yala' arrived few hours later and anchored near to us. Since it was Sunday we stayed onboard all day and I went for a swim even though the green water was not very inviting!

Technical Discussion Yala en Route to Syracuse BBQ on Yala
The technical staff. Yala rushing to Sicily. BBQ on Yala.
Monday morning we dinghy’d ashore and met up with Vince and Debbie. The 'boys' went to the ship chandler's and the 'girls' to the market. It’s so nice to have nice fresh fruit and vegetables after the poor choice in Malta. We bought some fish for the evening BBQ. We were having a quiet afternoon on-board reading, when suddenly we hear Debbie shouting at us from ‘Yala’ that we were dragging onto them, (‘dragging’ is when your anchor isn’t holding and the wind is pushing you along). The minor fact that Yala was in front of us and therefore she was dragging had eluded Debbie but she was convinced that it was our fault. (She still hasn’t lived that one down and I have pleasure in reminding her regularly - Ed) Fortunately their dinghy came between Destiny and Yala so there was only some damaged pride! Vince re-anchored and we finished the day having a delicious BBQ on Yala - John had some good time teasing Debbie.

Tuesday night the breeze came up we had to re-secure the dinghy and fight a mosquito invasion at 2a.m., it wasn't a quiet night.
In the morning we met in town with V and D, they had also had an uncomfortable night. Fortunately we found a very nice little restaurant (I Bottai) to console ourselves and discussed if we would stay or go back to Malta as the weather forecast for the next few days wasn't ideal with lot of wind from the south. Yala being a sailing boat wanted some wind, we did not. In the end we left at 6a.m. the following morning and arrived in Grand Harbour at 6p.m., beautiful sunny day and very little wind - just as I like it. Yala arrived the following day, very happy as they had some wind to sail and very grateful that we had taken them to Syracuse which was a first for them.

Full Moon Syracusa Storm over Syracuse
A quiet night - spot the mosquitoes. Storm warning - time to move.
So back to Malta we continued our 'harbour bound life’. We went to the cinema about once a week and saw some very good movies ‘Money Monster’ with G. Cluny et Julia Roberts, ‘Me before you’, ‘Independence Day II’ en 3D, the new ‘Tarzan’ in 3D, ‘Now you see me 2’ and ‘Star Trek Beyond’. We also went to some museums that we hadn’t seen before - the Fortification Interpretation Centre was very instructive and so was the natural history museum. Destiny being moored in Front of the Maritime Museum gave John the opportunity to meet the curator and had earned free entrance! He even showed Vince around.

Claus on Dora Mac came back to Malta with his wife Bertha and moved to Grand Harbour, which gave us opportunity to get to know them better.
St Lawrance Procession St Lawrence Church
Maltese town festivals in Birgu. This is St Lawrence church.
Birgu Festival 1 St Lawrence Festival
Plenty of noise, lights, flags, food and beer. Essentials of a Maltese good time.
On August 19th it was getting very hot staying in harbour so we decided to go again for a cruise to the Aeolians Island, north of Sicily. We left at 7.30a.m and arrived in Porto Palo at 4p.m. spent a quiet evening on anchor and under full moon. After an early swim around the boat we left for Syracuse arrived at 1p.m. as soon as the anchor was set we went ashore to top up the telephone. There were about 20 boats moored in the bay of all nationalities - French, Dutch, American and English.

A strong north wind was forecast so we decided to stay put until it cleared. A strong swell was coming into the bay so we had to put the floppers out to reduce the rolling. Then we had torrential rain. The forecast stayed bad so we hung around because we couldn’t get north up the Messina channel because of continuous wind and rain from the north. Eventually we decided we might as well go back to the comfort of Grand Harbour - we were really not meant to go cruising this year! The news of the earthquake in northern Italy wasn't cheering either.

Wild Life in Syracuse Floppers out Flamingo in Syracuse
Cormorant looking for lunch. It was rolly so the floppers were out. Flamingos in Syracuse bay.
In the end we stayed a week in Syracuse, we had to be back for early September because my nephew was coming to Malta and we wanted to spend time with him. We left on 27th for Porto Palo with fine weather again, sunny and no wind. There were two other American boats on anchor we had seen in Syracuse. First we meet Mary and Vic on 'Ocean Dream' who came swimming to the boat in the afternoon and we agreed to have drinks on board that evening. When they arrived we asked them about the other American boat who it turned out they knew, so John and Vic hoped in the dinghy and went across to ask them to join us, that's how we met Vincent and Barbie from ‘Horizons’. We drank and nibbled until about 10.P.M. The conversation as always was very interesting. Talk of cruising of course, who, what and where but also politics with Brexit and US elections at the fore. We also decided to do some serious movie and TV program swapping which is always a must for us cruisers.

We were 3 days in Porto Palo, we walked with Barbie to the town, and were very surprised to find a pretty town that we hadn’t suspected, because the bay we anchor in is just a fishing port and not very salubrious. We bought fresh milk and bread, found a very unusual souvenir shop and of course, got a T-shirt!

Ocean Dream and Horizons are planning to winter in Sicily, we hope to meet them again next year as we enjoyed their company.
On August 30th we left with sunrise, it was a nice crossing, no wind a swell from the north, I saw some turtles - the Med is not all dead yet! We arrived in Valletta at 3p.m. - and reunited with the heat, noise of the bells and fireworks.

Porto Palo Anchorage2.jpg Porto Palo Anchorage
Porto Palo anchorage with friends. Porto Palo sunset.
The rudder bearing and the new coupling had improved things a lot but we were still getting some noise from the transmission. John spent the following day in the engine room trying to find out the reason and finally pinned it down to the prop shaft bearing, probably damaged when the shaft was mis-aligned. Once dismounted, we had to find a supplier. The engineers at Melita Marine couldn't source what we needed and they suggested a store in Mosta (famous for its Duomo church). John and the owner of the shop spent a long time discussing the problems without finding a solution. The following day John went back to the engineers at Melita marine and it was decided that because the bearing was worn on one side, they would remount the bearing reversed. We went out for a sea trial, it worked, the noise had gone but the bearing was getting hot. It wasn’t a long term solution, so we bit the bullet and ordered a new one from the Seahorse Marine the original builders of Destiny in China who had one in stock.

The next encounter with the gremlins was in the galley. John was puzzled because the water tank was going down faster than normal. It turned out that the fresh water cooling tank for the fridge and sprung a leak, one of the joints had failed and all the water in the tank was being pumped into the bilge! Well it needed a wash. We managed to pump all the water out and seal the system. But the plumbing jobs were not finished because the hot water tank decided it was too old and gave up the ghost! Luckily we found a replacement that fitted perfectly!

On September 6th my nephew Gilly came on board for lunch and we had the honour to be the first to meet his girl friend Momo, from Japan, a charming little lady, a bit shy but very cheerful! I was very happy to have the opportunity to spend time with Gilly for the first time as we don’t normally have the chance to see him. Unfortunately the weather forecast wasn't great, but we managed to have a day out on the boat and a picnic in our favourite spot in St Thomas bay.

Coucou Gilly et Momo Gilly et sa Tanta
A mixing of cultures. Momo and Gilly on board. Gilly with his Aunt.
We spent the rest of September trying to keep cool and away from the noise of bells and fireworks. We went with Vince and Debbie to the Malta air show near the Airport. We tried to go to the static display but it was too crowded and the weather was a bit iffy so ended up at the aircraft museum near Rabat which was a lot more interesting and sheltered from the rain that came through. We went for lunch at a little place we knew in Rabat and finished the day at Smart City to see the air show, which is performed over the sea. We had originally planned to take the boat out, to see it from the sea side but the weather was against us yet again! Anyway, at the back of the air show was a cat show which we’d have otherwise missed and you know how much we like cats - Not. It was a great entertaining day.

Airshow2 Museum Airshow1
A The Malta air display. In the Aircraft museum. More air display.
We also meet Jane and Neil, they have an elderly Nauticat at the end of our pontoon in Grand Harbour and Neil is undertaking major maintenance works in order to take the boat back to the UK. John has been helping a little bit.

October 1st was 'nuit blanche' in Valletta, which means that all the public places and museums were open all night with free admission including public transport. We had to queue for the ferry to get to Valletta where hundreds of people had invaded the streets. It was a unique opportunity for us to visit the Auberge de Castille, which is now the office of the Prime Minister and normally closed to the public. The Auberge was originally built in the 1570s to house knights of the Order of Saint John from the Langue de Castile, León and Portugal. The present building dates back to the 1740s and has been restored between 2009 and 2014. The Auberge situated on the top of Valletta and overlooks Floriana and Grand Harbour, it’s an impressive building with it ornate façade, the steps leading to the doorway and the two old canon are all designed to be imposing, the visit was fairly quick as lot of people were queuing and the interior was not as impressive as I had expected but all the same we got to see the Prime Ministers office - a bit ordinary really.

Auberge Castille Supreme Council Hall.jpg Small Knight
The Auberge Castille. The Supreme Council of Malta hall. It was a short night.
We also visited 'Our Lady of Victories' Church which is also normally closed to the public. It is the first church built by the Grand Master Jean Parisot de La Vallette on the spot where a religious ceremony was held to inaugurate the laying of the foundation stone of the new city of Valletta on 28th March 1566. It also commemorates the victory over the Turks during the ‘Great Siege’ of 1565. The church is dedicated to the Nativity of the Virgin and is not open to the public to preserve the magnificent vault painted by Alessio Erardi depicting episodes from the Life of the Virgin. The Titular Painting behind the main altar depicts the birth of the Blessed Virgin and is said to be original to the first church.

Opposite was The Church of St Catherine of Alexandria, the church of the Italian Knights. I admired the beautiful vault with painted stucco decorations and ornamental patterns in grey and gold. The real masterpiece is the altarpiece with the grandiose tableaux of The Martyrdom of St Catherine, executed in 1659.
Afterwards we made our way through the crowd down Republic Street to The Grandmaster's Palace. It was built between the 16th and 18th centuries and is now home to the House of Representatives of Malta (Parliament) and the office of the President of the Republic of Malta. The Council Chamber exhibits a rare collection of Gobelin tapestries depicting hunting scenes from different continents. In the State Dining Room are portraits of the Presidents of Malta and one painting of Queen Elizabeth II as Queen of Malta. The Supreme Council Hall is decorated with a cycle of twelve frescoes by Mattia Perez d’Aleccio depicting the Great Siege of 1565 and the original coffered ceiling and the late 18th century-style chandeliers are also a pleasure to the eyes.

We skipped the armoury museum for another day. It was late and time to find a place for dinner. Valletta was too busy so we took the ferry back to Senglea and found a table at a restaurant overlooking Grand Harbour and enjoyed a spaghetti vongole.

WhiteNight Our Lady of Victories Grand Masters Palace
The crowds for 'White Night'. 'Our Lady of Victories' chapel. Inside the Grand Masters Palace.
The following day was back to work. John decided to clean out the water tanks!! It was much better and easier that we thought, the tanks were not really dirty and of course me being the smaller more delicate one, I got the job done. John made a new seal for the hatches we filled them and there was no leak - ouf!

In October the Malta Boat Show is in Grand harbour, just up the quay from us so we dutifully visited the stands but with little intention of buying.
On October 6th Fort Saint Angelo was exceptionally open to the public. It is a large bastioned at the entrance of Grand Harbour; it was rebuilt by the Order of Saint John between the 1530s and the 1690s, and had an important role during the Great Siege of Malta of 1565.
On 5 March 2012, the E.U. allocated €13.4 million for its the restoration, to be opened as a major visitor attraction highlighting its history and roles through the ages. Although it was completed in September 2015 it is only open for special cultural events. More recently, the Government granted the Order of the Knights of St. John the upper part of the fort, comprising the magisterial palace and St. Anne's Chapel. It was wonderful walking around these old walls and admiring the view across Valletta and the Upper Barakka Gardens and down Kalcara and Vittoriosa at night.

Grand Harbour from St Angelo Barrakka Kalkara from St Angelo
Grand harbour marina from St Angelo. Fort Barraka at Senglia. Night time kalkara.
Now it was time to decided where we would winter, either in Malta or Ragusa in Sicily ? In the end we decided to stay in Malta and leave Destiny on the hard in Manoel Island boatyard. Although it was more expensive, it would be more convenient. So we prepare the boat for the winter which means winterising the outboard, the water maker, the generator, the engine, cleaning all the water filters; clean and cover the dinghy, empty the black tanks and clean, clean, clean. Remove and stow away the sails, + 1000 other little jobs.

On October 17th we left Grand Harbour for Msida. There was a bit of a sea left from the previous day storm but we made our way out of Grand Harbour and into Marsamxett Canal and reached the boatyard safely. The lifting basin is very narrow and awkward to access, but John impressed me and manoeuvred the boat beautifully in the lock. Destiny was back on the hard, her bottom wasn't very dirty except around the anodes where some weird growth had appeared. We took the anchors and chains out, I cleaned inside the locker, we stowed away the fenders, bicycles, table and chairs, flags. I prepared the hull ready for antifouling in the spring.

Canon Race
Me and my Cannon - Gun rights - Ha. The Boat race, Malta style
Fort Ricasoli Crewship Leaving Queue for St Angelo
Fort Ricasoli at the entrance to Valletta. A cruise ship leaving Malta. Queuing for St Angelo.
We had booked a room back at the hotel again. Vince and Debbie joined us for a last dinner together at the 'Fumia' restaurant located in the old P & O terminal at Sa Maison bay before we left Malta on October 20th, leaving Destiny cleaned and tidy for the winter all protective covers on.

We don't know yet what the plans are for next season, maybe Crete, maybe south Greece, maybe Sardinia,maybe.........but we will keep you informed, Watch this space……. Cheers for now John & Eva.

Anodes Growth
Bottom growth as an art form.
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