Malta – Birzebbuga


Birzebbuga

Could this be our new favourite anchorage? Well almost…..

We had a mostly uneventful motor down the rocky coastline from Rinella Creek. The swell picked up as we rounded the south of the island and had us doing a nodding dog but the distance wasn’t too far before we would be within the sheltered harbour. If we made it that far!

Our AIS has been broken (a faulty fuse holder which is now fixed) so it’s been all eyeball navigation on other ships’ movements. As we approached the harbour entrance a huge container ship was making its way out. We slowed down and hung around off to the starboard side to keep well out of its way. Behind it was a tanker ship and we assumed it would keep in line behind the container monster. Wrong! The tanker was going much faster and began to overtake then made a beeline right for us. We got a hurry on and moved out of its way sharpish. So much for rules of the road.

Emerald and Cassiopee at anchor in Birzebbuga

Emerald and Cassiopee at anchor in Birzebbuga

There were no more incidents as we continued on, passing the massive docks to port with several more monsters having containers loaded and unloaded. We kept to the western side of the two pronged bay, passing a fish farm and some moored big ships then finding a place to drop the hook outside of the locals’ mooring buoys.

We’ve had a couple of days aboard during strong winds but otherwise from here we have been able to visit other places on the island by foot and by bus.

Walks

Delimara penisula walk

Delimara peninsula walk

Old packhorse tracks and narrow, windy lanes lead us between dry stone walls and dusty, parched fields. The Da Ta’Pulta Trail took us to the ruined Casa Ippolita where we clambered over the rubble looking for a geocache. After that we didn’t have a destination in mind just see where we ended up. It looks like the harvest season comes early here with most hay and wheat fields chopped back to stubble. A vineyard stood out for its greenness but otherwise the countryside is looking very brown but for a few splashes of colourful wild flowers.

A couple of horses nodded their heads at us along the way but we didn’t see any other livestock.┬áLadies were out collecting capers from the bushes which grew out of walls and on roadsides. We were very lucky to see two Western Whipsnakes doing the writhing fandango and a chameleon doing some kind of shaky dance as it clambered ever so slowly over the rocks in its path.

Sights of Birzebbuga

Sights of Birzebbuga

Out on the Delimara peninsula, if we looked in the opposite direction away from the ugly power station our eyes were treated to golden, curving bays cut by sea and weather into the sandstone rock. It being a Sunday, locals were out jumping into the aquamarine water; sadly we hadn’t brought our swimming stuff but secretly I was glad, its possibly still a bit too chilly for us neshies (for those not from the north of England, this means those especially susceptible to the cold).

Wildlife

Wildlife

Marsaxlockk

Bobbing luzzu

Bobbing luzzu

On the eastern side of the bay, about 20 minutes walk away, is the fishing village of Marsaxlockk with it’s hundreds of brightly painted blue, red, green and blue luzzu fishing boats resting at their moorings, their protecting Eyes of Horus keeping a good watch on whats going on. The sturdy, double ended boats are a tradition of Malta and Marsaxlockk has the largest concentration of them making the harbour a beautiful bobbing kaleidoscope of colour.

Fishermen work on their nets at Marsaxlokk harbour

Fishermen work on their nets at Marsaxlokk harbour

Fish restaurants line the keyside sharing space with a daily market selling clothes, souvenirs and general tat. On Sundays the market expands all the way around the harbour and includes fish and vegetable stands. When we visited it was busy leaving us squeezing amongst the crowds in the narrow walkways between the stalls.

Marsaxlokk market

Marsaxlokk market

Mdina

On our bus journey to collect my dive tank from its test we detoured to visit Mdina, the ancient capital of Malta. Perched high up in the centre of the island and surrounded with huge stone walls built by the Arabs during their occupation of the island in the 11th century, it has remained walled off to this day with only limited traffic allowed into its tiny streets. A huge slice of cake and a cuppa at the Fontenella tea rooms provided the energy for wandering amongst the narrow streets lined by the tall walls of the grand palaces of Malta’s ancient families.

Mdina

Mdina

It was a grey day when we visited but still we had good views around the island – to the south we could see the cranes of the docks behind where we are anchored and all the way up the east coast.

And Some More Things to Fix…..

Colin had to clean out the outboard carburettor twice but since then it (touch wood, cross fingers) has been running as it should do.

The toilet again! But this time was a different kind of failure – the bronze spring that controls the flap in the bottom of the bowl had snapped, resulting in an indoor fountain feature when flushing – luckily it was a liquid deposit rather than solid. Our second piece of luck was that we had a spare. I have now been banned from using the loo.

How About the Anchorage?

What did we like?

Emerald with the docks behind

Emerald with the docks behind

– excellent holding in sand,
– loads of space,
– a sheltered small boat harbour to leave the dinghy,
– buses to the rest of the island,
– watching the container ships come and go,
– lots of provisioning options nearby including a Carrefour supermarket, corner shops and fuel,
– walks and history to see in the area.

 

 

 

What didn’t we like?

– it’s not the best place to be for southerly winds. They weren’t strong while we were there but there was a swell that came straight in the entrance. As the wind died we were left side on rolling like a pig in mud. Surprisingly I did fall asleep but it was a restless night. Probably better around in Pretty Bay in any southerly winds.

Sailing Info

12th May 2015: Rinella Creek to Birzebbuga: 11nm travelled (0nm sailed)
Anchor position: anchored in sand in 7m at 35 49.86’N 14 32.21’E