We booked two nights in a marina to deal with our “issues” and had the technicians booked in to visit. We docked at 07:30 and they were on the boat by 09:00 and even more thrilling was that by 11:00 our power issues had been resolved. The problem was a broken earth connection from the alternator and a failed heat sensor diode. They were also agents for Victron which is the make of our solar power controller which since new has intermittently emitted a buzzing sound. The technician took the details and contacted Victron who sent a replacement unit under warranty.
We didn’t have quite such a quick win with the wind instrument. The Raymarine technician was super busy even though we had previous contact with him and he was expecting us. He bench tested our wind wand (anemometer, the whirly gig at the top of the mast) on the second day and reported back that it tested fine. He then gave us instructions on how to self test the wiring between the wand at the top of the mast and the wind instrument display panel at the cockpit. They also tested ok and within parameters. His conclusion was that the instrument display unit was faulty and needed replacing. Of course they no longer make the model we have and he didn’t have the new model in stock but he told us where we could order it from – for a mere €500. Being the budget conscious cruisers that we are (without income) we managed to find out via the grapevine that a boat in the marina had recently upgraded his instruments and might, just might have a working spare the same model as the one we have. We followed this up as a priority and met Axel who was very generous in lending us both his old wind wand and display unit to see if they fixed our problems. Thanks Axel – we hope you and the family get to head off sailing on your own adventure soon. Whilst we didn’t need the wand, we replaced our display unit with his and initially upon install it seemed to have worked, however once calibrated it was displaying the same negative figures as our faulty unit – oh well it was worth a try.
The end result was a week later we had to fork out the big bucks for the new updated model display unit, but of course that’s not all. It wasn’t as easy as plug and play, the cabling was different and required a €110 conversion cable set to make it work. It was luck that the local dealer had just received the model we required. We attempted to get the parts tax free (as we are not European citizens and would be exporting them) however it was too hard for the company and they came back with a no. However funnily enough when we handed over the cash they gave us a great discount of roughly the same amount as the tax we paid.
We left the marina and on advice from friends made in Tunisia ended up the following 5 nights on a vacant mooring inside Sliema Creek – thanks Blitz! – also a big thanks to whomever owned the mooring, we really appreciated it whilst we sorted our issues. It also allowed us to explore the nearby Valletta, the capital of Malta.
We had a super day with our Canadian friends Jean and Yolene (Caffe Latte) in Valletta. This is despite the two must see’s on our list St Johns Cathedral and the Theatre both being closed. Valetta is just 1 km x 630 metres in size, sits on a small peninsula with a population of 5,700 residents and was built as a fortress city by the Knights of St John in the 16th & 17th century making it a very small capital city and very very charming.
The streets and most buildings are sandstone gold in colouring and the small hilly streets make for charming views down to the water on three sides of the city. We walked the coastline, the city streets, visited the two gardens which had magnificent views of Valetta’s Grand Harbour.
We also saw preparations for a wedding reception which was without doubt being held at the best location I have ever seen, at the gun battery overlooking Valetta Harbour, at night with the lights it would be spectacular. Almost makes one feel a little romantic – almost!!
The following day we set out to explore the three cities on the other side of the
Grand Harbour from Valletta. The cities being Birgu (Vittoriosa), Senglea (Isla) and Cospicua (Bormla) but we only ended up seeing the one – Birgu, it was so lovely that time didn’t allow us to get around to the other two. I have always said I would’t live in a city and apartment style living wouldn’t suit me, but I stand corrected as these tiny streets with apartment style houses were so beautiful, I think it really helped that cars are not permitted in the streets.
The other reason we only had time for one city as small (measuring only 800 metres long and 400 metres wide) is because we spent so long exploring Fort St Angelo at the point of the Birgu peninsula. We spent time learning about this 9th century stronghold for Valetta Grand Harbour, the invasion and war history of the city and islands. It originated as a medieval fort and in the year 1530 it was taken over by the Knights and rebuilt and strengthened. It was the home of the Grand Master for years and was the headquarters during the Great Siege in 1565. The British took over the fort in the 19th century from 1912 – 1979 during which time it was the headquarters of the Mediterranean Fleet.
We then moved Red Roo from the mooring in Sliema around onto anchor in Rinella Creek (In Valletta Grand Harbour). This allowed us to take the dinghy across to Valletta especially to see St Johns Cathedral which was closed when we first attempted to visit.
St Johns Cathedral has to be one of the most impressive churches I have ever had the privilege to visit. I have to admit at first I was a little put off by the entrance fee of €15 per person but now having visited I can first hand say it was well worth it. The plain facade on the outside of the cathedral renders the interior a real surprise. The nave (main hall) is surrounded by six bays on each side which are each dedicated to the various lunges (or Knights divisions based on nationality) of the orders of St John and dedicated to their patron saints. I will let the pictures tell the story of the beauty inside the walls. We completed the self guided audio tour which took around 90 minutes and learnt a lot about this magnificent building (built between 1573 & 1578) as well as the Grand Masters and Knights of St Johns, religion, martyrs, art, paintings, beheadings and history. Most impressive for myself is the floor which is entirely covered in intricate inlayed coloured marble tombs, which are the resting places of the knights who fell during the great siege, (high heels are banned from entering the building in order to protect the floor).
Malta just keeps on impressing us, it has many fantastic well protected good holding anchorages and each adventure on shore shows us so much more than we expected.