The lanscape of Mellieha Bay is very different from that of the south of Malta. Gone are the soft, yellow cliffs and gently sloping fields to be replaced by a much more rugged and craggy terrain.
The bay is huge – which presented us with a dilemma – where to drop the hook? We’d checked out the satellite view on Google maps to see where the patches of sand were but they were scattered everywhere so that wasn’t much help. We knew we wanted to go ashore so closer to the harbour seemed a good bet but the area was coated in mooring buoys.
On our second attempt we snagged a patch of sand over on the southern side with the loftily perched church looking over us. We could always choose a different spot tomorrow.
Our journey here started off with a motor sail, then our first sail of the season which lasted for oh too short a time and was beset with windholes and random wind directions. The wind roulette dial finally stopped on a northerly F5 which was right on the nose, not forecast but we plugged on anyway as it was only an hour to go.
The next morning we moved over to the north side for a bit of peace from the tourist boats going past us. On the seabed there are raised hummocks of seagrass with patches of sand inbetween. We played hook the sand patch again; our first go had the anchor just laying on the sand snugged around a clump of grass. Second time was better, dug into the middle of the sand.
The Red Tower
The Red Tower sits up high on the ridge of land to the north of the bay, looking out across the sea, built to send warning messages down across Malta if invading marauders were sighted. The tower was built in the 17th century by the Knights of St. John. After a slog up the hill it’s welcomingly cool inside. Run by friendly staff from the Maltese National Trust, it’s well worth a visit at only €2 to watch a short video on the history of Malta and enjoy panoramic views from the top. Plus you can have a go at wearing a helmet from a suit of armour!
Did Anything Break?
Thankfully all systems were running smoothly although there were still jobs to be done. The watermaker has a small oil leak so we needed to top that up. It was also time for Emerald’s start of season bottom scrub.
The antifouling is starting to get wafer thin but we’re trying to eke another season out of it before lifting out. Colin bravely cleaned the waterline in just his swim trunks in the fresh water whilst I had the luxury of a wetsuit for my dives to clean the keel and belly of the hull. The growth wasn’t as bad as the start of last summer (no Syracuse barnacles to deal with) but there were a fair few shell creatures stubbornly clinging on along with some wafting seafans. A lot of the hull was covered with grey slime and fur; an awful lot of green fur. Spidery threads of coralworm were starting to grow back too. Hopefully the scrub will give us a bit more speed on the way to Croatia.
Mellieha was a good place for this job as the water is very clear and there is a dive centre on the south side of the bay (Sea Shell Dive Centre) that refilled my tank for the bargain price of €4.50.
What’s the Anchorage Like?
– Holding was ok once we’d found some sand. There are buoys in the best spots.
– There is a small harbour on the south side for tying up the dinghy.
– Good shelter from the north and west, a swell rolled in when the wind went south east.
– Around the harbour area there are a few small shops, the Luna supermarket had the better range.
– Mellieha is a holiday town with a long stretch of soft sand. Plenty of restaurants and bars, some jet skies and fast boats whizzing around and several dive centres.
Comino is the small island snugged inbetween its bigger sisters. On its northern shore there are a couple of anchorages and on the west the famous Blue Lagoon. We didn’t fancy anchoring amongst the hussle and bussle of the lagoon so chose San Niklaw bay, in front of the Comino hotel. It seemed most boats had the same idea as next doors Santa Marija bay was empty.
It’s a less than 10 minute walk to the Blue Lagoon, I had a swim in the crystal clear, turquiose water and was glad we anchored next door seeing all the coming and goings of the day trippers. The island also has a white tower which looks across to the red tower and an old hospital used for the isolation of plague victims. Hopefully there are no plague germs still hanging around.
How was the Anchorage?
– good shelter and great holding in sand. The water was so clear we could see the anchor easily 6m down (especially with our white painted shank). It got busy later in the afternoon with 7 boats in and when the wind died overnight there was much random bobbing going on. The hotel boat comes and goes throughout the day (starting at 6:30am and ending near midnight).
– a plethora of snack stalls by the Blue Lagoon plus bar and restaurant at the hotel. Paid for wifi also available at the hotel.
– we tied the dinghy up to one of the concrete jetties next to the small beach.
Monday 23rd May: Birzebbuga to Mellieha Bay: 19nm travelled (6nm sailed)
Anchored in position: 35 58.14’N 14 21.439’E later moved to 35 58.37’N 14 21.28’E
Weather: wind started off south west before ending up as F5 from west
Thursday 26th May: Mellieha Bay to Comino: 5nm travelled
Anchored in position: 36 01.078’N 14 19.768’E in 6m in sand