Tuesday, 26 July 2011

BBQ in the country side

Anil had been invited to a BBQ in the Maltese country side and he asked me taggle along. On the menu was rabbit stew and other stuff to eat. We met up with Anil's friend and we drove off to the hills and soon enough we arrived to a country house that was rather rugged. The surroundings were quite rocky too, not difficult to understand how the stonewalls on the Island have come about when clearing land for farming. Food was good although the stew was not that great but I did not have anything to complain about.

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Thursday, 21 July 2011

Anchor swivel project

Today we had a bit of a project to replace the swivel on the port side anchor. As we were alongside but our bow was overlapping the end of the jetty by some 25m we could not simply lower it down and hoist it onto the pier. 

New swivel

We used two underwater balloons with 1t lifting capacity and 2 divers with gear, I was one of them and our rescue boat. The anchor was lowered into the water and we attached the underwater balloons and inflated them. After that we gave more slack on the chain and the rescue boat towed the anchor closer to the jetty. There we had a truck with a crane, lent from our agents Melita Marine. 

New swivel

We attached the end of the hook to the chain and the anchor was lifted onto dry land. There we separated the anchor from the chain by opening the schackle that had been used to replace the old swivel that had broken. After that we started installing the swivel which looked easier than it was done. The pin was harder to hit into place and ended up grinding off some material off the end. 

Locking pins

It took some hard black-smithing to hit the pin into place so that we could hit the locking pins in as well. The locking pins were not that tight so in the end we welded them into position to prevent anything dropping out. When all was done it was another job to do the anchor lifting in reverse. Eventually it all went well and the anchor was hoisted into the pocket without any hitches. Job completed.

Welded locking pins

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Sunday, 17 July 2011

Maltese festa

Rockets in skyline

In the evening I was seriously sunburned from the jetski trip but I went out as I was invited by Diaz and Jasmond to go and see the festa at the Msida church. I have never seen anywhere people being so obsessed by fireworks as during the days I had been to Malta I could see firework displays taking place at different locations over the Island. The festa is arranged for the local saint that the church is dedicated for. I was also told that the people doing the firework displays tinker with these all year long for this day. I think the video I shot shows it pretty well...

Msida church

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Saturday, 16 July 2011

Jetski to Gozo

As we had new jetski's onboard we needed to run them in a bit to reach the 10h service mark and me and George decided to take a sight seeing trip to Gozo while getting two flies in one blow. We set off and the seas were rather calm and we could keep up good speed. While getting to the NE corner of Malta Island the seas coming in through the sound between Malta and Gozo became quite high. The view of Comino Island and Gozo were breathtakingly beautiful with their rugged cliffs. We stopped on the way to Baia beach lounge as some crew was there spending a Saturday in sunshine.

Mgarr ix-Xim

Mgarr ix-Xim

We tied up the jetski's on mooring buoys and chatted for awhile. Then we were off again as we felt hungry and wanted to have some seafood on Gozo we swam out and hopped on the jetski's to carry on our trip. It was not long before we came to the long inlet of Mgarr ix-Xim and we slowly puttered in there as it was full of visiting sailboats and swimmers. 

Entrance to Mgarr ix-Xim

Entrance to Mgarr ix-Xim

Again we tied the jetski's at buoys and we clambered ashore. We did not need to walk far and we sat at the one and only fish restaurant at the beach and we ordered calamari and rockfish with salad. The food was delicious and we enjoyed it very much. We sat a while digesting the meal and contemplated the view. Then it was time to start head back before it became dark so we paid the bill and ambled along the beach to the jetski's. 

George giving it his best

Gozo and Comino

On the way back we stopped again at Baia and Bethany and Liz there took a spin but we had to interrupt their fun as the fuel gauges showed almost empty. We could not find anywhere anyone selling gasoline so we started towards Manoel Island on "economic" speed, i.e. not pedal to the metal and expecting the engine to die anytime soon. As we came closer and closer to Manoel Island the engines kept running without any problems and eventually we arrived safely back to the ship. It turned out the gauges were not very accurate and we had had an unnecessary scare.
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Friday, 15 July 2011

Diving HMS Maori

HMS Maori is probably Malta’s most famous wreck, although she is far from the best dive in Malta, a visit to this ship is a significant brush with the island’s history.

HMS Maori

Launched in 1937, HMS Maori saw action in the Mediterranean, Norwegian campaign, Atlantic convoys and North Sea duties prior to returning back to the Mediterranean in order to attack and Rommel’s supply lines and assist in the defence of Malta. In fact it was the HMS Maori that established radar contact with the Bismarck and brought about the ultimate destruction of that ship in early 1941.

On the morning of February 12th at 02:00AM when she was moored at the entrance to the dockyard Creek she received a direct hit as a bomb exploded in her engine room.

From the exit point we head out across rock strewn seabed for approximately 120 metres until we come across a very small drop off down to a sandy seabed at 9 metres, almost immediately we notice that the entire port side has been engulfed by a sandy slope and is, therefore lost to view. What remains of the bows and part of the starboard side are, however, available for close inspection.

We then discover what is left of the windlass and a certain amount of anchor chain. Astern of this, at deck level, are twin bollards, on both side of the vessel, and then some form of splash guard stretches right across the deck. Close to this is a hatch and the framework on which the forward gun was mounted.
The sides of the wreck are well rusted through enabling us to swim in and out. For more info click here

Very nice dive but as I was used to diving in the tropics I was thinking that I could go with my shorts and usual rashvest but I was at times literally freezing my gonads off as the temperature went down to 24 degrees Celsius from the ambient surface temperature of 35. There was not much life in the wreck and no corals either and as you can see from the pics above the visibility was not great as well.

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Thursday, 14 July 2011

Job offer on m/y Serene

I had been a few days ago offered a job on m/y Serene (134m) through Russel Stockil from YCO and had been having some careful consultation and deliberation. The position offered was as Chief Officer cum Relief Captain with the Captain having no rotation.

m/y Serene at Capri

Salary was more or less the same, the yacht was new and bigger but probably had all the teething problems to deal with. I also learned from an acquaintance that the deck crew was insufficient with all the tenders that had been installed onboard, at least if they all would be in water and used. I was told that the previous C/O had left due to that the contract had been changed twice during the build period. 

m/y Serene at Capri

So, realizing that the Russian Owner was unknown to me and I had no knowledge of the intended operation compared to my current employment. Also the no rotational position was a good recipe for burning out people.

At least on IE I was known and I also knew the people in the Organisation the decision finally became obvious. I decided to decline the offer as it was not furthering my career in any way, not in position, not in leave nor in salary. I wrote to the skipper, Captain Elliot Bibby and politely explained my position that I was in.

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Sunday, 10 July 2011

BBQ in Sliema

Went in teh eevning to Sliema to meet Diaz and Jasmond and they had whipped together a Vietnamese and Maltese BBQ with Rose' to flush down the good food.

I met several of their friends and had an interesting chat with a guy called John-Paul who was a fisherman. He told me about the relationships of the Italian and Maltese fishermen. There was not much love lost in between them judging of the horror stories he told me about gunfights and murder on the high seas, whether true or not.

After the BBQ we had some ice cream at the local Gelateria.

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Saturday, 9 July 2011

Sightseeing Malta

As it was Saturday I go out to meet my friend Diaz in Valletta at the Triton fountain, the meeting is happy and we had lunch in the Old city while catching up. I ate a Maltese dish that was rabbit stew. Although the restaurant was impressive with 15m high rooms I think the food left much wanting.

One of the many staircases in Malta

Msida church

Saint on top of church

The Triton fountain in Valletta

After lunch Diaz took me to see the Tarxien temples nearby (outside of Valletta though). The temple is a prehistoric ruin dating back 2800BC. It was not much than just stones and rubble but I was impressed how the stone walls had lasted so long thorough time and all kind of upheaval. I also tried to visit two other venues but one was closed for visitors and the other required pre-booking about a month in advance due to queues. 

Tarxien temple, in those days they apparently believed in feeding their women

Tarxien temple

Tarxien temple

Tarxien temple, well

Malta is also a place for old cars...

This site was closed to the public but I managed to have a peek

As I was done with my cultural education for this day we headed for Marsascala where Jasmond, Diaz husband, was at the time and I had a few beers while chatting and soon we headed back and I was dropped off at the Marina with an invitation for a beach BBQ the next day. 

Maltese flora

Maltese flora

In the evening I have dinner with Anil as it was his birthday and we celebrate it with all Indian crew at the Taj Mahal restaurant in Gzira. After dinner I head with Nick for Muddy Waters in Sliema to listen to some good music and a few drinks.

Birthday dinner with Anil & Co

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Arrival Valletta

We arrived in front of Valletta around noon and we took onboard a compass adjuster before going alongside. After the swing we made ready to go alongside and started our approach.


The walls of the Capital are still impressive, one can only imagine the thoughts of would be conquerors in olden times when they approached the Island in wooden sailing boats with cutlasses, muskets, cannons and their faith as their weapons. As we approached it appeared that the wall is solid but when you got even closer an aperture appeared and the extent of the port becomes evident. We did not go into the Grand Harbor but just next to it, to Manoel Island Marina. Slowly we glide in with engines doing a kick ahead to keep the speed at about 2-3 knots. At the jetty we do a port about turn and go astern while dropping the starboard anchor to put port side alongside the old hospital. The jetty is pretty much rudimentary with no frills. We can get freshwater but thats about it. The old hospital (as it was during WW II) is pretty worn down and cordoned off probably due to risk of collapsing walls etc.

View towards Valletta and T'ax'biex

Opposite us it T'ax'biex with its fancy villas and then Valletta with the imposing fortification walls. Not a bad place to stay in terms of the view. I went ashore and gor a SIM card and called an old friend I had met in Vietnam, my friend is now married and living with a Maltese but we'd kept in touch via social networks. It is a small world...
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