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Cruising around Malta

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“Not really a cruising ground but useful as a wintering stop” is how the cruising guide described Malta.

Yet if you stop and speak to any of the thousands of Maltese sailors and boater they will wistfully tell you about several of their beautiful bays and beaches.

Nott wanting to go too far afield until we got back into the swing of cruising life and got to know the boat we decided to make a plan to cruise around Malta.

In truth the time on the hard had gone incredibly quickly. We started with a very long job list in a dusty boatyard in the midst of  the oppressive July heat. I would like to say everything on the list got done, but we barely made a good start on the top third and then when our Australian registration arrived we had reached the point where I declared enough and abruptly put her into the water.

While launching the boat we were fortunate that my cousin Joanne and her family had decided to spend their summer holidays in Malta with us so that we had a great group of us to ‘christen’ Blue Dancer with a bit of champagne! It was also great to catchup, use the pool in their apartment complex to cool off and to have some great dinners together.

While its a it is true that Malta is a fairly small archpilegeo, there are actually several beautiful bays and anchorages with everything from (relative) wilderness with amazing clear blue water to stunning spots to anchor in the middle of the city of Valletta.

We spent a wistful week just in San Niklaw Bay  anchored off the Comino Hotel swimming, cooking and enjoying a drink sat on the hotel deck in what can only be described as a quintessential Mediterranean postcard.

It was here however that we had our first hiccup with a faulty starter motor as well as a few electrical issues.  As we decided we were ready to sail for Sicily, instead it was back to Roland Marina in Malta for a replacement!

While frustrated by the timing and delay,  it turned out it was also a good opportunity to finish a few other jobs and to play tourist for a few days. Special mention goes to two new friends, Jacques from JDV Boat Services and Petar from Medcomm for going over and above in helping us getting moving again. Sometimes a chance meeting in an unforeseen circumstance is what makes cruising fun and oh so different from package holidays!

Eventually after much longer in Malta than we ever intended, ‘cruising’ in an area one is not mean’t to cruise……..we headed over to Gozo and then finally onward to Sicily!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ready, Set, Go!

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I arrived in Malta yesterday but it already feels like I’ve been here a month.

Jetlag and the oppressive heat of Malta in July have amplified the boatyard blues, but still can’t stifle the sheer excitement of actually being here, being onboard our Moody 425 sailboat after so much dreaming, saving and waiting.

The past few months have gone so quickly as we have tried to get as much ready as possible from afar in Sydney. Drawing up lists, packing all our sailing gear, trying to figure out what we should bring to Malta and what we can just buy over there.

Now I am here I have a couple of weeks to get her ready and back into the water before the rest of family arrive and we head to Italy. Getting to know a new boat can be overwhelming. I took the approach of starting with a simple methodical task. Open every locker and clean her front to back. You know the boat is clean, but also it gave me a chance to look in every locker and nook, figure out where spares were hiding, what was missing and to get to know the boat and gather my thoughts.

After that I spent a good couple of days staring at the engine. She is the original Thonrycroft T98 that came standard with Moody 425’s. However the engine has been well maintained by the past few owners and with just over 5000 engine hours I hesitant to sink considerable money into buying a new engine immediately. So I tightened hose clamps, replaced some coolant and read manuals and notes left by her previous owners.

Wanting to make the boat feel more like ‘home’ and give her our own personal touch we have spent the past couple of weeks before I left sewing cushion covers and pillows. It was one thing we could do in Sydney and bring to the boat to instantly lift the interior. Barry from the Moody 425 Sumer Wine through active Moody Owner’s Association forum kindly measured his cushions and was able to assist us from afar!

While not a professional job by any standards after $200 and about 20 hours sewing we are happy with the results after I spent this afternoon fitting them and making notes of a couple of small nips and tucks!

Tomorrow ……I will begin the AIS install and do a bit of restitching on our bimini!

 

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Finding our New Boat

About three years ago almost to the day we sold Iolanthe our last boat.

Since then life has been a blur of work, parenting, and collapsing on the couch with a glass of cheap wine and scouring yachtworld when we had the energy.

Looking for the next boat

As we started to look at some boats in Sydney that met a rough description of what we wanted a common theme emerged. Either ridiculously out of our budget or old and tired.

I then started to ponder our cruising plans and realised that having already cruised the East Coast of Australia the next step for us is basically in the Pacific or Asia.

EXCEPT… at the same time amongst some of the blogs I was following and sailors I knew/spoke to I saw a theme developing. Australians were buying boats in Europe and sailing them back en masse.

I could understand why. The Euro was low on the Aussie dollar. A downhill run from Europe would be the makings of a pretty swell cruising plan with plenty of scope to be flexible.

We spent a week chartering in the Med a few years ago and have fond memories. The charter we did back in those pre kids days (in Italy) far exceeded our wildest expectations and the food and warm water made for great memories. Of course to get to Europe by boat from Australia is somewhat of an ordeal. Besides given the boat market seemed far more buoyant in Europe it would also be a little bit akin to taking tea to China perhaps.

So over wine and yachtworld a rough plan was formed.

Let’s just buy a boat in the Med that we like and can actually afford and bring it back to OZ.

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So what kind of boat?

We have decided that compromise is key when it comes to selecting the right sailing boat. We have owned and sailed everything from solid, slow full keelers to modern cruisers/racers.  All have their pros and cons.

So we have firmly landed on a boat selection mantra.

Moderate everything.

We wanted a mid sized, mid priced, moderate displacement, modern, cruiser.

  • Centre Cockpit
  • GRP
  • 41-50 foot
  • Reasonable performance.
  • Ready to cruise, no refits thanks.

What kind of boats did we look at?

So then what?

We did the whirlwind shoestring tour of France, Greece and Malta.

We found in general a similar sad story in the Med. Boats sitting disused in Boatyards sometimes not sailed for a couple of years and owners who had an inflated idea of what they were worth.

“Oh the engine hasn’t been started in 3 years…..no they don’t know the engine hours and the standing rigging is 20 years old but it’s a great boat”

We put in an offer

So it was in Malta that we found a Moody 425 that spoke to us. It was the right boat at the right price. While approaching 30 years of age and a little tired around the edges it had a great inventory of cruising gear, it was in good condition and it is a design we really respected and was spot on for our needs.

 

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So we put an offer in. It was knocked back. We haggled and it was accepted.

In a month if everything works out we will travel to Malta and move onboard. The plans at the moment are super loose and will evolve as we find our cruising legs again.

But it looks like we are back on the water!

Boat Shopping in Europe

 

I have finally gotten around to putting up another video. Boat shopping in the Med. Check it out!

So these days we are enjoying trying our hand at making a couple of videos, taking quick photos as we travel and putting updates out on our socials.  Whether we stick too it or not I guess time will tell!

Anyway I will try and update our boat shopping adventures as frequently as I can over on our Instagram. www.instagram.com/slow.travelling/

And another video coming soon!

 

We sold our boat :(

After only a few weeks on the market we have sold our boat Iolanthe. We wish the new owner the best of success with her, she is a good solid boat capable of taking him wherever he may care to go.

Selling a boat, a good boat though is a bitterweet thing.

We are now searching for our next boat – which is exciting. We are also very happy we sold Iolanthe in good condition, for a price we were happy with and quite quickly.  Everything one could hope for.

Yet as we pack up boxes of boat belongings we are happy-sad. We remembered the good times we have had and the places we have been. We remember Sophie starting to take her first steps in the saloon, we remember her holding on in the cockpit as we beat into 30 knots coming into Bundaberg, we remember sunset dinners, passages spent talking to dolphins and that this wonderful boat was our only home for a year.

She is now ready for new dreams and so are we. I haven’t detailed much about what we are up to on here yet, but we are not done with sailing rest assured of that.

Portugese Bay

While we are yearning to start sailing some long miles to places far away lately we have been rediscovering the joy of gunkholing around some of Sydney’s marvellous cruising grounds. IMG_2684 As the temperature and winds drop, the waterways get real quiet this time of year, so last week we took the opportunity to spend some time cruising around Pittwater and Broken Bay. One special winter anchorage we have reacquainted ourselves with is the delightful Portuguese Bay. In Pittwater just south of Coaster’s retreat( The Basin) it is well protected from westerly winds and is a great spot with the added benefit that you will probably have the beach and bay to yourself as we did for two days. We anchored in about 7-8 metres of water and then Sophie and I swam in to the beach (yes even this time of year we can’t keep Sophie out of the water!)for a bit of beach soccer and sandcastles before back onboard for a warm shower,  sundowners in the cockpit and then dinner and Nim’s Island for movie night. IMG_2705 The benefit of sailing a few miles everyday and dropping anchor as you please in the afternoon is that it makes for some fantastic family cruising at this stage of our lives. Sammy is at his happiest and most settled on the boat. Sophie loves sailing and is becoming a bonafide, contributing crew member at the age of 4. IMG_2709 IMG_2699 Our blog has been pretty quiet lately as life circumstances have gotten in the way, also making it hard lately to steal the time to go sailing.

Rudder Maintenance

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Our boat is now 25 years old. In that time I don’t believe the rudder has ever been dropped.

Last time we were out of the water I thought about it, but we had the hull soda blasted, faired and a new barrier coat + antifoul applied. We also replaced the PSS Gland and at that point the chequebook really began to hurt.  In the back of my mind I was concerned about rudder, I knew it was ‘wet’ but figured it could wait. We were working long hours, going to have a baby and not intending on anything more than local cruising, another year wouldn’t hurt.

Ignorance is bliss right?

So out of the water again sure enough a cursory investigation made it pretty clear things were not all well with rudder.

Water had been intruding of course and there was some movement between the rudder blade and stock.

After removing the rudder it also became clear the quadrant was showing signs of fatigue and corrosion.

While these discoveries can be demoralising( and expensive), I figure it is wiser to lose your rudder in a perfectly equipped boatyard than in the middle of the
Tasman Sea. More lessons learn’t.