12 March 2018

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Sliema Creek

Our home for the winter.  It had been a very good education but we were ready to head back across the Med.
After almost five months in Monastir, we left with a fair weather window and are now moored, bow and stern, in a busy harbour near Valletta.  Very happy to be back in the EU.

We sailed 182 NM in 26 hours at a close reach the whole way.  No motoring!  It was so great to be back on the water.  Peter was supremely happy, even when the depth sounder refused to work.

Although an easy and pretty effortless sail, there were two events that we had not experienced before.  First, when I woke up Peter for his second watch of the night, I heard an unfamiliar and strange hum which could only audible in the aft berths, louder on port.  It was still pitch dark but as it became light and Peter gazed about him about 500 m behind us was a white ploughing wave which looked like a submarine.  It was on our path and moving at exactly our rate of speed.  When Peter slowed us down - which woke me up - it slowed down and no longer looked submarine-ish.  It was a fishing buoy.  I glimpsed the line and thought it was caught around the rudder.  While Peter kept Milly motionless, with a boat hook, I was able to reach and pull up the line to cut it with a rigging knife.  Poof!  Away it went, luckily.  Friends have had lines wrapped around props - we were lucky.
Valletta in sight.

After clearing in at Valletta, we saw our friends from Tunisia on their boat in a nearby harbour.  We had been told by a Maltese sailor who we'd met in Tunisia, that we could grab two mooring balls in this harbour that belonged to a friend of his.  There are hundreds of balls, making it impossible to anchor.  I really don't like mooring, and this field required a stern and bow buoy to keep all boats aligned and allow more to moor in the small space, making it all a bit more awkward.  We estimated which balls were the ones we could take and then worked out a strategy to grab them in a pretty fair wind.  Both balls had one very long, thick, mossy line attached but with no eye at the end.  On a catamaran we need two lines and an eye on the end makes it simple to just plop over the cleat.  Long and short of it - I had to get in the dinghy while Peter kept Milly on the spot.  A few expletives later from me.  And then a major one from Peter which is extremely rare.  He had run over one of the long, ugly and useless mooring lines, it had wound around the prop and stalled the engine.  I volunteered to jump in the 18 degree water with shorty wet suit.  After a little bit of hyper ventilating from the cold and several trips under the hull, I was able to unwind and then cut the line and unwind it some more.  A bit more finagling with lines and we were done.  All lined up and ready for a beer with our friends and then a long, post passage sleep.
Milly safely moored with Valletta in the background.

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