Emerald must have been saving up her breakages this winter. After the leaking rudder we have had problems with old petrol for the outboard, a perished outboard fuel line and worst of all…. a blocked loo! Just a few blogs ago I wrote how Colin had had his worst day of the year – spoke too soon it turns out. When doing that job we didn’t clean the last piece of pipe and the seacock because of concerns that if it was taken apart it might leak as we didn’t have the tools for packing it with grease. Oops, mistake. So now the task was forcing itself to be done. Luckily we had a spare pipe to put in place of the blocked one and cleared out the crud from the seacock. It was a yukky job. Msida Creek has lots of chandlers and buses took us there to get the grease gun we needed.
The outboard has also been playing up – most likely our fault for using old petrol from the end of last season. It runs but not very well and we can only pootle along at slow speed.
Never let it be said that we won’t go the extra mile to save a few pounds (or euros). My dive cylinder was in need of it’s test and the wind hadn’t been kind enough to allow us to anchor in a bay near to a testing centre. We could have gone into a marina which put us a bit closer, but decided to spend the berthing fees on other things. So, we took two bus journeys, the tank hidden inside a rucksack to reach one of dive centres I’d looked up. Hopefully we can anchor off to pick it back up!
On our way back from the dive shop we walked through Sliema. The whole area felt very much like a British high street with all the brand names we know and the weather grey and windy, much like British summer weather. Visiting a supermarket our eyes were like saucers with the array of British products on display and the vegetables we’ve been missing – parsnips and sweet potatoes! We were rather over laden on our two bus journeys back, but thankfully the buses weren’t full and we could get seats for us and our heavy loads. Emerald is now sitting much lower in the water.
We’ve found the bus service to be fantastic; €1.50 for a journey where you can change buses as much as you like within a two hour period. A ten minute walk from the anchorage takes us to a stop that in under 30 minutes has us in Valletta from where you can can change to all other destinations on the island.
Valletta city itself is small but there was enough to see and do to spend a day. Having caught the Three Cities ferry across, a lift whisked us up the tall defensive walls to the upper Barakka Gardens for a panoramic view over the canons which fire daily at midday and across the harbour, we could even see Emerald and be reassured she was OK. After strolling the flag festooned streets, first stop was the archaeological museum to see the artefacts found at the 5000+ year old temples dotted around the islands. The sleeping lady was tiny but beautiful and amazing to think it was made so many years ago. After a bit of shopping ‘The Pub’ beckoned where we raised a toast to Ollie Reed (this was where he died whilst filming Gladiator). Rounding off the day was the Grand Master’s Palace with its beautifully decorated rooms and the attached armoury displaying an extensive array of scary weapons with the clothing worn to try and not die from being stabbed by said weapons.
How was the Anchorage?
Rinella Creek had its good points as an anchorage:
– a great view of Valletta and the big ships coming and going,
– a 10 minute walk to the bus for Valletta where you can change for all other destinations on the island,
– close to the Three Cities area for strolling around the beautiful old buildings and posh yachts,
– well sheltered from southerly and east winds,
– the dinghy can be landed along the wall that circles the head of the bay or on the beach. Or even around the corner in Kalkara we found a boat yard to pull the dinghy out. Those of you who have a reliable working outboard could even dinghy around to Dockyard Creek and tie up near the ferry.
– cafes, corner shops, bars all within a few minutes walk.
There were unfortunately a couple of negatives too:
– even though we were well sheltered from the winds there was a swell that snuck into Grand Harbour entrance which then bounced around and left us rolling uncomfortably at times. The swell meant leaving the dinghy tied against the rough wall wouldn’t be a good idea but we could pull it up the small sandy beach instead.
– there was also an overpowering whiff of eau d’manure from a farm at the creek head that attacked you when walking up the steep hill away from the anchorage; just where you needed to take a deep breath!
– not such great shelter from northerly winds. Wednesday evening was lit up by a storm whose edge passed over us with gusting winds from every direction; no dragging but the rocks looked uncomfortably close at one point in the limited light. After a full 360 spin around the anchor we were happy to be back in our original spot and went off to bed. A few hours later Colin was up on anchor watch as the winds changed again; he didn’t get much sleep so we headed off south next morning to Birzebbuga.
– although there were small shops for groceries, we didn’t find any larger supermarkets close by.
[osm_map_v3 map_center=”35.891,14.545″ zoom=”13″ width=”100%” height=”450″ post_markers=”1″ type=”OpenSeaMap”]