All the work on the new skeg was completed, and the third coat of bottom paint applied, so we were scheduled to go back in the water early the next day.
At 7:30 am we moved out of the hotel and back onboard Wildling. She was filthy dirty after being in the yacht yard for 9 days, and to make matters worse, for a few days before we re-launched, the yard workers were angle grinding a steel hulled boat right alongside, and we got showered with tiny metal filings, which instantly turned to rust, leaving red spots all over the deck. Great!
The launch went reasonably well, except that there was a problem with the slipway brakes so there were a series of high speed slides and jolting stops on the way down the ramp. My stress level was through the roof when we finally got back in the water and were floating again. I really hate these haul outs, there are too many things that can go wrong. It’s definitely one of the negatives of having a boat as wide as Wildling’s 8.6m beam. There are very few marinas equipped with a travel lift wide enough to lift us out, so we have to find either a crane or a slipway, which are much more complicated.
The Volvo guy was onboard when we went back in the water to make sure the engines started properly, and everything was OK with the fuel and water supply after the service. We had to purge the fuel pump on the starboard engine when it stopped running after 5 minutes, but no big deal (the starboard engine usually takes a few goes to fully purge after replacing the secondary fuel filter). I found out later, after a day into our passage that he had forgotten to replace the engine oil evacuation cap on the side of the engine crankcase, and 2 liters of oil emptied into the bilge. Thanks Volvo guy! On the positive side, it was a good reminder to never skip the daily engine checks when at sea!
When we started the port engine, we found a small salt water leak coming from the exhaust muffler inside the engine room. I wish I had known about that so I could have fixed it before starting a 5 day passage! The muffler will have to be replaced, so I added it to the never-ending list of “things to fix when we get to the next port”.
We quickly checked everything then motored over to the fuel dock at Marina Di Valletta. Lindsay and I filled the diesel tanks while Robin did some last-minute provisioning for our passage. Our destination is La Grande Motte to visit the Outremer factory and get some rigging maintenance done. The attachment loops that connect the shrouds and forestay to the mast have to be replaced every 2 years, and ours are due. I would rather the factory does it as they are 3 of the most important rigging components on the boat and it needs to be done right. We’ll stop off at La Grande Motte on out way over to the Canary Islands. It’s about a 950 nautical mile voyage from Malta to La Grande Motte and based on the forecast we should have light winds a lot of the way, which means we will have to motor quite a bit, so we need full tanks to be sure to make it without having to find fuel on the way.
As we say goodbye to Malta, a few thoughts on our visit here, and our experience getting work done at the yacht yard. Overall, we really like Malta. It’s relaxed, the Maltese people are very friendly, there is good food and shopping, it’s a lot cheaper than central Europe, and there’s tons of great history.
On the downside, it was incredibly hot and humid, which made everything more difficult, especially because we had to stay on land while Wildling was out of the water.
Our experience with the Manoel Island Yacht Yard was very good. The team is friendly and helpful, they kept me informed of progress and were very easy to work with. They also did excellent work at an affordable price. I highly recommend them! We’ve been in and around marinas and boatyards in many countries and they are usually pretty inhospitable places. The folks that work there are often impatient, and unreliable, but that was not the case at all in Malta. My two complaints with the Yacht Yard are that they made our boat decks completely filthy (which unfortunately is a normal occurrence during a haul out) and the guy at their main security entrance is a total jerk! Seriously, it was like an inquisition each time we entered and left the yard. Pretty much every exchange went something like this:
Security guy: “What do you want?”
Me: “I have come to work on my boat”
Security guy: “What boat?”
Me: “It’s the catamaran, WILDLING, the same one as yesterday”
Security guy: “Do you have an appointment?”
Me: “No, I just need to get access to my boat. Same as yesterday.”
Security guy: Peers at me suspiciously for about 10 long seconds and then very reluctantly presses the button to let me into the yard.
Me: “Thank you sir, have a great day!”
This process was repeated, sometimes three times a day, for the entire 8 day stay, which was so ridiculous it became comical! Once given access to the promised land of the Manoel Island Yacht Yard, everyone inside couldn’t have been more friendly and helpful. I was very thankful to be judged worthy of entry each time I heard the security lock click open!
The scooter accident
We have an electric scooter, which is really handy when traveling back and forth between the boat and town when staying in marinas. We love our scooter, and it has worked perfectly the past three years. When I was leaving the marina about 5 days before we left Malta, I was going down a hill and when I hit the electric brake, nothing happened! A complete brake failure. I pumped it a few times, but nothing. I was about to hit a boat stand and didn’t have time to go for the (pretty much useless) backup foot brake, so I had to bail out. I cartwheeled over the concrete, landing fully on my left shoulder and heard a loud popping crunch sound. Not good!
After a couple of very painful days with no use of my left arm, Robin convinced me to go see an orthopedic doctor and have it checked out. X-Rays were clear, but ultrasound showed a partially torn rotator cuff tendon. The verdict from the doctor was this will require surgery. Since no MRI was called for and I felt like there could be other damage deeper in the joint, I decided to find a specialist to give me a second opinion. The doctors in France are excellent, but the waiting times to see one can be months long. I couldn’t find any doctor that could see me until late October. I called the specialists at the Shoulder Unit in London. They were able to book me in right away, and said I definitely need an MRI before any surgery diagnosis can be made, which is reassuring. We will be flying up to London for scans and consults after we get Wildling to La Grande Motte.
But there’s still the matter of a 5 day passage ahead of us. So now I get to find out if it’s possible to sail an Outremer 5X across the Mediterranean Sea with one arm tied behind my back! Should be fun! Seriously though, I have Robin and Lindsay to help, and the weather looks pretty calm, and in the famous words of renowned sailing philosopher, Captain Ron: “The best way to find out, is get her out on the ocean!“