Retracing Steps

 Up Malta

For some time our plan had been to leave the Med at the end of the 2005 season, sail down the Moroccan coast and cross to the Canaries in preparation for sailing to Brazil via the Cape Verdes over the winter. Whilst in Crotone we realised that if we were to carry this through, we would have to abandon our trip up the Adriatic to Venezia/Croatia and start heading west now.  Well we'd already bought a Teach Yourself Brazilian Portuguese course so we really didn't have a choice.

This time we decided to sail round the coast of the Golfo Squillace.  There were no anchorages or harbours shown, but we now knew that all of the strong wind blew off the coast and this appeared to be one long sandy beach so were pretty confident that we'd be able to find somewhere to anchor.  It might just be a bit rolly.  In fact it was fine and yet again we found sleepy seaside towns where local people went for their holidays, which had not yet been discovered by Northern Europeans.

And then we left the gulf and headed back towards Sicilia.  It felt strange to be "going back", we hadn't done that before.  Our destination was Siracusa.  It was a tough old trip, beating into a headwind overnight that was gusting up into the high thirty knots.  We took the decision to come off the wind a bit to make the going easier.  We eased out onto a close reach and all of a sudden what had been horrible was now fantastic sailing.  I went below to see where this course would ultimately take us if the wind didn't change - Libya in a couple of days - Oh well.  Of course the wind eased and became more helpful in the morning so we ended up safe and sound in Siracusa and I missed the opportunity to revisit Tripoli - on reflection something probably best done with a visa!

Siracusa sits on a huge natural bay 2 miles long by a mile wide.  This amongst other things lead to it once being the most powerful city in the Greek empire after Athens.  The picture above is from our anchorage, and you can see it remains a stunning city to this day.  Amazingly the town quay, which is where the boats are moored in the picture remains free, but we preferred to stay at anchor, where it was cooler and where we had the benefit of this view.

We ended up staying in Siracusa for a month.  It's a lovely place.  The old town has narrow streets, a church that has been built around an old Greek temple - the Doric columns now form part of the structure of the church, great restaurants and the best market we had yet found in the Med - Truly Siracusa = Swordfish.  Also the new town is big enough to be able to find anything you need, and the people are charming.

All of this would have been reason enough to stay, but we had two more.  Our watermaker had failed again!  It was August and everything was closing down.  We were able to get the faulty unit back to Schenker and returned, but it was touch and go.  Worse - our brand new antifouling had failed catastrophically.  We had 2cm of coral over the entire hull.  We immediately contacted Richard Foster the proprietor of Permanent Coatings who manufactured the product and they agreed to replace it and bear the costs of replacement.  That doesn't sound too bad does it, but this is not a story with a happy ending! 

Siracusa was now pretty much closed for the August holiday and there was in any case no yard locally that could lift us or do the work.  Richard proposed Malta - he'd shipped paint there before.  We got a quote, sent it to Richard and agreed to sail to Malta the day he shipped the paint so as to arrive in Malta to meet it.  And this was the first problem.  Richard had omitted to mention that shipped was the operative word.  The stuff couldn't go by air, it was normally sent by road, but Malta is of course an island.  Added to this, for reasons that now seem scarcely credible a month had passed and the paint still hadn't left the factory.  Finally, with an assurance from Richard that the paint would "ship" the following day, we sailed for Malta.

And now a small quiz.  One of the boats in the picture above belongs to Michael Dell of Dell computing and one doesn't.

Coming Soon - The Malta Saga, Tunisia, Sardegna (again) and Menorca (again).

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Last updated 18th March 2018