Sailing to Malta
We left Tunisia last week after almost exactly 1 year in Port Yasmine, Hammamet. A big thanks to Duncan and Kais at Yacht Services, Tunisia for taking great care of Wildling for us while we were away during the winter. It took us a few days to get the headsails re-rigged and everything ready to leave, including two trips up the mast for me, which I really hate!
Our first port of call after Tunisia was Valetta, Malta. This is a 196 NM passage which the PredictWind weather routing software said would take us 26 hours with winds starting at 8 knots, building to 20 knots during the night, then dropping to 2 knots as we approached Malta.
We cleared out of Tunisia at 10am on Tuesday, after a somewhat confusing customs process which included a detailed discussion about the size of our diesel tanks (I have no idea why), then we raised the mainsail and genoa and set our course due east towards Malta. This is the first time I’ve used the PredictWind model since we loaded WILDLING’s polar data, and the software turned out to be pretty much spot on. We began the passage with light winds, but spent most of the first 12-15 hours with 18 to 22 knots (true wind speed) on the beam. This translated to 20 to 24 knots apparent at about 60 degrees. We put the first reef in the main as soon as we saw 20 knots apparent and switched down to the staysail from the genoa, and were doing a very comfortable 10-11 knots boat speed all night, and we didn’t need to touch the sails at all. The wind died early the next morning so we had to motor the last 8 hours of the trip (typical Med sailing).
Overall the passage took us 29 hours, but we had 1 knot of current against us the entire way which the weather model didn’t account for. It turns out the Professional weather package gives you current data, but I don’t think it’s really that important for non-race boats.
Our main objective in Malta is to haul out to get some maintenance done. New antifouling paint on the bottom, engine and saildrive service, two through-hull fittings replaced and some minor gelcoat repairs. We were booked in at Manoel Island Yacht Yard for the haul out, and because we are too wide for their travel-lift, we had to use the slipway, which consists of a huge sled on rails that the boat sits on and gets dragged up out of the water.
The people at Manoel Island Yacht Yard are friendly, helpful and professional. We reviewed the locations for the lifting blocks and they configured the slipway sled to fit our hulls. The process of getting the boat onto the sled was pretty smooth. They had 4 line handlers on our boat while I positioned us over to the top of the submerged sled, then they tied the boat in place, and sent scuba divers down to line everything up underneath.
The scariest part was dragging the boat out of the water on the sled, but it was much easier than I expected, and the whole process took less than two hours. There were a couple of surprises when we got the boat out, but I’ll talk about that in the next post.
We rented an apartment not far from the boat yard, so we have a place to stay and escape the incredibly hot and humid Malta weather while the guys are working on the boat.