Andrew and Clare Payne are back on their sailing yacht Eye Candy in the Mediterranean, and have sailed from Tunisia to Malta, where they are berthed in the Msida Marina, finding many other cruising couples there to share experiences.
Queen Victoria monument - Clare and Andrew Payne
We have a barbecue on the New Zealand boat Wired for Sound with a Kiwi (New Zealander) mate as well as Canadian couple Mike and Grace from 'Two Moons'. We all contribute to the meal, eat like Kings and after some lubrication sing along to Kiwi’s favourite tunes from yester-year.
The following morning we catch the bus to the Capital city Valetta. The Knights of St John occupied the area from the early 1500 to late1700 and are mostly responsible for the building of the walled city and fortifications.
We spend a few hours walking around looking at the architecture, housing conditions, monuments and parks and gardens. It is very impressive with stunning views over Grand Harbour to the
Housing in the gracious old capital of Valetta - Clare and Andrew Payne
south and Marsamxett Harbour to the north.
We also go to a museum style presentation capturing scenes from the life and times of the Crusading Knights. Plenty of dummies in manacles being tortured, blood dripping off them and arrows and spears dug into them – all pretty gory!
After that we decide not to go to the World War II museum and go to the Maritime and the Aviation museums which prove very interesting.
The Aviation museum, although small, is particularly good because we are able to get close to things and have a good look. There are restored World War II Spitfire and Hurricane fighters and Andrew gets to sit in the cockpit of a fighter jet designed for the EU
Fighter Ace Andrew - some sky fantasizing - Clare and Andrew Payne
– it’s a wonder I ever got him out of there!
Another day we catch the local bus to the old city of Vittoriosa. This area pre dates the Knights and some of the buildings although renovated are still in use today. We walk up narrow streets and come across the home of the executioner of the times. This is depicted by two axes carved in the stone work above the front window. I can't help but wonder if he had small children and what it would be like to come home to that reminder.
So then we leave Malta at 7.00am to sail the 85 miles to Siracusa in Sicily.
Andrew takes a photo of our chart plotter showing the AIS targets around Malta. Eye Candy is the boat in the photo
Busy sailing - AIS ’targets around Malta - Clare and Andrew Payne
with the red and green line running off the bow. All the other grey triangles are large ships, the largest being 1200 feet long, and another was a large drilling platform. The cruise liner Queen Victoria is there too, but she is less than a 1000 feet long so not a problem. Later in the day we find a large ship on a collision course with us and only 1.2 miles away. Andrew calls him on the radio and tells him where we are and asks what he is doing – fortunately he changes course.
It turns out to be a good sail, albeit slow at times. We have to motor the last twenty miles and arrive at 2.00am Saturday morning. We listen to the Royal Wedding on the BBC via HF radio along the way. The reception isn’t brilliant but we can gauge the excitement and
Streets of Vitoriosa - Clare and Andrew Payne
we hear Kate and Wills exchange vows. Some friends are coming to Eye Candy within the next fortnight and bless them for they are bringing glossy magazines. So I will catch up on all the gos then.
So, we are here in Sicily, but since arriving we haven’t been off the boat. The wind comes up every day and going ashore pretty well means getting wet on the return trip.
Tomorrow morning we will definitely head in and get a data plan for the sim card we got here last year so we will have internet access on the boat. We will stay here until the wind can carry us north through the Messina strait to the coast of Italy. We spent time here in Sicily last year, so we will probably fast track up to the coastline of the mainland, areas we haven't yet seen. Such is cruising! To follow Eye Candy's website, click here?nid=83704.