Back in Licata!
After about a month in Holland, we were back at EIGHT. We had to get rid of the stuff in our house which we rented out for 8 months to friends and we also decided to sell the house. So, we had to “ontspullen”.  Which means: getting rid of everything you ever collected in your life. Not easy sometimes but ok. We managed to do quite a lot! But ever so happy to leave it behind for a few months and finally go sailing again after a very long winter!

Saona 47,  Owners get together
From 19 to 25 of May we had an owners meet up in Licata. Niels arrived in Licata with Fram, hull #8, together with ‘soon to be owner’ Phillip James from Australia. And the next day Shai Tillinger was there for a day. Also, Stephane and Holly were with us a few days. And Randy and Racheal, Americans living in Italy, joined us for 2 days! All “to be Saona owners”!! It was great fun meeting so many people from the Facebook group. We had lunches, drinks, and dinners together and talked and talked and …. had great fun!

Malta here we come
When everybody left it was finally time for us to leave Licata. The season was on its way and we really needed to go out sailing. We said our goodbye’s to Femke and Erik, Nicole and Michael, Leslie and Rob, Luca and family and some other cruisers. On our way to Malta!


Some figures: May 27th, 2019 leaving Licata. Left 08.30. Started at 4947 NM. Wind S. 10-12 knots. When we started the motors the first problem occurred: the motor did not start. Of course, the well-known Volvo problem … MDI not working. No problem for the Captain he just starts the motor with the push button he made. When we were sailing Captain contacted the Volvo dealer in Malta who said he would come for repair the next morning. Check!
The sea was fairly rough and choppy when we left the Marina in Licata. First, we had to motor and only later we could put up the sails. But still using 1 engine. We had a good sail, nothing special just enjoying. There is quite some traffic around, so you have to watch out all the time. We arrived at Malta around 20.30 and wanted to anchor in a small bay. But … anchor did not work because of the MDI problem. Which we did not know! So we decided to go to Valetta, which was around the corner, as we needed fuel anyway the next day. And what a surprise when you enter the bay of Valetta. It’s STUNNING!!  The old historic buildings of the old town all around, a laser show illuminating the sky, all the lights around the entrance up to the Marina. What a stunning welcome, what a charming view! From sea-level! We ended up at Marina di Valetta at a pontoon which was great! Electricity and water and close to where the fuel car would stop. Distance done today 64 NM, including the time we were struggling with the anchor!

Malta is slowly losing its traditions …
First thing in the morning the Volvo dealer came to fix the MDI box. Talking to the Maltese gentleman he told me that the locals are not really charmed by the new developments all around this area. You could see that a lot of the old buildings were taken over by ugly new buildings, only apartments, which really is not a good thing.  A lot of traditions are gone, it’s only commercial interest nowadays. The real charm of the old town is only a fraction of what it used to be. But the tourists do not really care as they there only for a day or 2 or 3 and then leave again. A little bit sad to hear from a real Maltese local-born man. He told me a beautiful story. There is an old building in the Marina which used to be an old prison. On the other side of the water, there is a church. On Sunday the priest of the church would stand in the tower of the Chapel, which is outside of the Chapel.  This way the prisoners could listen to the prayers as well …. bless them. This town has so much history. But it looks like a lot of the beauty and traditions will be lost in the years to come which really is a shame. Beautiful town from the outside. Sadness from the inside …

Cleaning the lady!
Anyway, our MDI was solved perfectly so we were fine! Now it was time cleaning the beauty! So much salt and red sand, still from Licata Sahara rains, all over the boat. It took us about 4/5 hours to make her look pretty again. The front is packed with a lot of things. We have 2 sups, 12 fenders, the heavy duty lines for mooring in the marina, the passarelle, spare lines, sails (when not on deck while sailing), high pressure sprayer. And we will also the fronbt cuchions there when do crossings. So that is quite a lot! Check and done! We also took some acrylic windows off as well, so summertime was now really going to start! Such a rewarding job! In the afternoon we walked into town to do some provisioning as were going to stay on anchor for 2 days. When you are in the marina the best way to go to town is going by dinghy to the far end of the Marina. Than you are in mid-town instead of walking all the way around the Marina. It’s quite a walk to find a good supermarket. The town is very very busy.  There is a huge Lidl but not very close. About 20 minutes at least from the Marina. Provisioning no problem at all! That night we wanted to visit the old town when we were on anchor in the Bay. But the Bay was quite full and we could not find a good anchor place. The holding is not very good and it’s very deep as well. We tried once but decided to find another spot. We finally ended up in the next bay St. Julians. Not as pretty as Valletta but fine for us. It was a beautiful evening and we just relaxed!


Bay of St. Julians, San Gijan
The first day we woke up with sunshine!  What a great feeling! We cleaned the anchor locker today and organized everything inside. Now it’s tidy again. At lunchtime, we went to the Marina at the Hilton hotel. We were dingy-ing around when the harbormaster started shouting at us. I am sure we had done SOMETHING wrong, but no idea what! The guy was so aggressive to us that even Robbert started to shout back. I will not repeat his words. We left the Marina leaving a bad review for him on the internet. Instead, we went to town to do some last shopping for our trip to Greece tomorrow. Our first overnighter of 2 days. Exciting!

Balluta Bay is a bay on the northeast coast of Malta within St. Julian’s. It is a popular recreation spot used for swimming, diving, and water sports, with a triangular pjazza surrounded by cafés and shaded by Judas trees. Its skyline is dominated by the neo-gothic Carmelite Parish Church and the stunning art nouveau Balluta Buildings, which are apartment buildings on the eastern shore, as well as a cluster of terraced townhouses in the local variant of Georgian-style architecture. The south shore of Balluta Bay features Le Méridien St. Julian’s Hotel, built on the grounds surrounding the 18th-century Villa

The Parish Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
The present church, which is a prominent landmark in St Julians, dates from the early to the mid 20th century. The original Carmelite church was a small neo-gothic chapel which was built in 1859 on plans by Giuseppe Bonavia. The church was rebuilt in 1877 on plans by Emanuele Luigi Galizia. Afterwards it was handed over to the Carmelite friars who rebuilt it again in 1900 on plans by architect Gustavo R. Vincenti. After his death Joseph M. Spiteri took over. The church was then enlarged in 1958. In 1974, the area around the church was created into a parish, separate from the parish of St Julians, and the Carmelite church was chosen as the parish church. The church was dedicated on December 12, 1984.
St. Julians Bay is also the party part of Malta as I read on the internet. Maybe not surprisingly we had a pirate disco boat next to us with shouting music and drunk youngsters on board. It lasted till 23.00. Not too bad!