After a long winter in Licata it was time to leave. The bottom was scrubbed (Hoppetossa’s of course), the course planned and the mindset was to go. On the 30th of April we left early in the morning with a good forecast, even though the summer has not started yet, in the direction of Malta. After 3 hours of motoring we set full sail, activated the wind vane and were sailing. The wind was coming from a perfect direction and the vane was performing well. On our way we saw the first bunch of dolphins swimming around the boat, that was a good omen. So after 13 hours we arrived in Gozo. It was a relaxed sail but we were very tired. First we tried to anchor but there was too many rocks and the anchor was scraping and jumping over the bottom of the bay. We decided to use the Marina in Mgar (Ghawdex in Maltese) on Gozo. It was a bit different than Licata (to start with, the cars were on the wrong side of the road) and the harbour was a bit wavy from the ferry’s going in and out.
We stayed for 2 days so we had 1 day to explore (and rest). In the harbour we saw a big flock of fish going in circles. I didn’t recognize them and when I asked the marinero he told me it was Barracuda. It was at least 100 of them.
We left to go for an anchorage on Malta and of course a ferry came in when we unmoored and the current dragged the rope straight into our propeller. SHIT! After asking for help from the marinero he first got angry, so we did the same to him. Then he became calmer and helped us. We ordered a diver (I am not going to swim with that current in the water) and 2 hours later we were on our way again.
We went to Melienna bay in the north of Malta. There we saw a lot of people from Licata for anchor. We changed our anchor place in the evening because the wind was changing and slept our first night in the season behind our anchor.
The next day, it was the 3rd of May, we sailed to Valletta. We sailed against the wind so we had to use our Iron sail. Luckily it was not that far and soon we arrived in Valletta. On our way we heard shooting and fireworks. How little did we know, this was only the beginning. We went into the Msida marina because the predictions promised us a lot of wind.
It’s such a wonderful and funny mix of people, architecture and food!
Arabic, Italian, Sicilian,British, French….
We even found a “Svensk Kebabpizza”! and I have to confess that we have visited a shop called “Little Sweden” because I(Jill)really wanted Knäckebröd😋
There’s something for everybody here and even if it is a very small island compared to Sicily, it’s so much to see.
Valletta is the capital city, named after Jean de Vallette, the Grand Master of the Order of Saint John(The Knights of Malta) in the year 1566.
And what a city it is, filled with baroque palaces, bastions and fortifications, Gothic cathedrals, Mosques and churches side by side !
We specifically like the typical wooden balconies that you see everywhere, often in vibrant green, blue and red shades and with the front door in the same colour.
We have not seen any stray dogs but there are a lot of cats!
It’s nice to see that they are well fed and seem to be treated in a good way.
We have seen many “Cat Hotels”, special feeding places with small houses for them to sleep in.
We came here primarily to visit our friend Antolina who lives here now.
If it wasn’t for her we might have missed this lovely place! So happy we didn’t!💛
The architecture here is wonderful!
The Baroque, Gothic and Modern buildings side by side. The wonderful balconies..
Have I mentioned them before?🙄
Another nice thing is that a lot of the apartmentbuildings in Valletta have their own names!
It can be flowers, birds or animals but also funny names like on the picture below -Big Family or China Girl
We stayed for a week but then the forecast was good so we left for Porto Palo on the south west point of Sicily. We had to sail and use our engine every now and then to arrive in daylight. Just before we arrived we saw some military ships maneuvering and of course after a while the VHF was calling ‘Hoppetossa, this is NATO war ship’. After a short, clear but friendly conversation we were told to stay away for at least 1 mile because they were maneuvering. And yes we saw a helicopter landing on the ship. Soon we arrived and enjoyed a nice night for anchor again.
Next day off to Syracussa. No wind and a lot of diesel fumes later we arrived. I noticed there was a lot of water coming into the boat which was not usual (Hoppetossa is a very ‘dry’ ship) so I was surprised. After investigating it seems the exhaust hose had a hole, so part of the cooling water came into the boat. That meant, finding new hose, breaking up half of the kitchen and replace the hose. But first we had to take the dinghy to go ashore. It was the first time for the season and the outboard was not performing as it should. So after cleaning out the carburator (why didn’t I do that last winter) the outboard was performing as it should but the day was gone. Time to deal with the exhaust.
Problem 1: finding the hose. We went to several specialized stores but nobody had them, even the big warehouses were empty. So no new hose! Then a new option was to patch the hose and for that we needed a piece of pipe mmmmm.
Problem 2: finding a piece of pipe. Again we walked from shop to shop. No luck. We almost gave up but when we went back to our dinghy we saw a water pipe as scrap on a construction site. It was made of good material (HDPE) and after measuring it was exactly the right size. So we cut a piece of both hose clamps and went back.
Back on the boat we started fixing. Breaking up the kitchen. Finding myself in the strangest positions to get on places and taking the old hose off. After a few hours the old hose was off. With a piece of new hose, old hose and the pipe we made a patched hose and the next day the patched hose was on again, the kitchen repaired and the engine was running without spitting gases and water into the boat. You see, if you are a sailor, not rich and think you are young enough and inventive enough, you can fix everything. It is a pity that the body needs a few days to fix itself again (not young enough). After some other small repairs we were good to go. The repairs were interfered with thunderstorms. During those thunderstorms I wanted the engine to be able to start so that meant only a broken up exhaust when the weather was predictable.
Meanwhile we were exploring the town and saying hello to friends from Licata. It is not strange that in the beginning of the season everybody is close by. So saying hello is good fun but we have to say goodbye again. Well that is the life we have chosen.
After Syracuse we wanted to go for anchor in Nexus close to Taormina. When we anchored there was an annoying swell and we decided to continue our journey. We had seen Taormina last year and there was a good weather window to continue.
Next day we left with a soft breeze from the south but we knew it would change to the north and get a bit more. When we proceeded the waves were getting more and more confused. It was not only the current but it predicted also that it was blowing further out. After a while we saw the white caps on the waves on the horizon and as soon we came in the influence of the Messina strait the wind changed to north and soon we were going fast with a northerly wind. With full mainsail and a little furled in Genua we were making 7 to 8 knots in not the most comfortable way. But Hoppetossa liked it. She was jumping up and down and keeping her passengers save. Yes, this is a good ship even though Jill gets some salted water over her. After Messina the wind slowly died out and since we were not really in a hurry we let it be. During the night there was a bit of wind, some more wind but nothing furious. While we were sailing a big freighter changed its course and pointed his bow toward us. Now the AIS system showed its money. We saw his name and we could call him directly on the VHF. After our question if he had seen us the operator mumbled something and changed its course. After a beautiful night sail we arrived the next day in Crotone. We went to the fuel station and the owner of the fuel station offered us a berth at the dock for a reasonable price. So we stayed there for a couple of nights. Next to the fuel dock there was the dock for coastguard. On one evening the commander of a coastguard boat couldn’t resist giving gas and making a lot of waves. The waves were so big that our neighbor’s boat experienced some damage. His cleats were ripped out and sunk to the bottom. Since he was sponsored and the Austrian television was waiting for him in the Baleares he was in despair. When I went to the boat I talked to the decks man who excused himself and I told him that the commander should talk to the Austrian. After an hour nobody had talked to him and we went back to the coastguard quay. There everybody was busy ignoring us, something that makes me very angry. One of the decks man even managed to give my neighbor ‘the finger’. So I yelled very hard ‘HEY COMMANDORE, WE HAVE TO TALK, NOW’. Sorry, I am from Amsterdam and I don’t acknowledge authorities, something that will give me trouble in the future, I know. So a pretty commander came to us and started to turn things around and wanted to send us away. We didn’t and when we told him to drive slowly he didn’t want to listen. And then we told him about ‘the finger’. Then they were going to investigate. We went away and later, when we were drinking beer with our neighbor, we heard they were coming to him and the owner of ‘the finger’ had to apologize. The next day the neighbor managed to get some people to fix his boat and he could continue his journey. Goodbye Jürgen, we hope you finish it and get the money for the children.
The water here has a fantastic turquoise-green-blue colour that we have named “Ionian blue” after the Ionan sea outside.
We are staying on the fuel pontoon in the Porto Nouvo(the New harbour)
and the very nice and friendly owner is treating us with fresh croissants every morning!Can it be better?
We like this city💙
The old, historical part is charming and genuine, and the new very modern part with it’s many beautiful facades and a wonderful promenade along the beach is really lovely.
You can see that a lot of work has been done and is continually going on to repair, restore and enhance the city!
It’s well worth a visit and the whole of Calabria has a lot of nature, historical places and culture to offer.
Pythagoras, the famous mathematician and philosopher, started a school here around 530 BC.
The pupils had VERY strict rules about diet, clothing and behaviour. For some reason they were forbidden to eat or even touch any kind of bean or legume!
Some kind of reversed vegetarianism?🙄
After catching up, exploring Crotone, bunkering and feeling harbor rot coming we decided to leave. Looking at our option we decided to go directly to Albania. A 150 mile trip with not too much but favorable wind. The trip was very Mediterranean. No wind, nice wind, direction change of the wind etc. After 30 hours uneventful sailing we arrived in Sarande. The touristic place of Albania.
We were out of the EU so we had to get clearance from the customs. After reporting us with the VHF by the harbour master he gave us a warm welcome and told us immediate to call our agent. So we did. We moored at the quay side welcomed by our agent. We went to the office and the paperwork was quickly done. With the papers we went to customs and then I realized why we needed an agent. This way the custom people didn’t have to deal with foreigners like us. They didn’t have to talk to us and everything went much smoother. Later on we found out that an agent does much more than just paperwork. When I came back on the boat I noticed that Hoppetossa was kissing the bottom, aj. We left and anchored in the bay. We were tired but could enjoy the sounds of the city which were a bit special. The sound of Church bells, Mosq singing, Arabic sounding orchestra were coming in the night towards us. How wonderful it sounded. We really felt like we were out of EU (which we were of course)