Anchored at Valletta West Harbor
(Click on photo to enlarge waterspout forming)
This morning I feel like I have been riding ‘Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride’ for the past four days. If you have ever experienced this Walt Disney World attraction, than you know the whiplash can last for days after just one go. Our trip from Greece to Malta may have been the roughest, toughest, and most enduring passage in our last three years.
We started last Wednesday hoisting up our two stern anchors and cutting loose all the lines tied to the quay. While steering us out of the harbor I could see the white caps on the somewhat sizable swell that we would be bashing our way in to. After a brief ‘family meeting’ we decided those swells looked a bit much for us and we turned around and headed back to the harbor. This time we dropped the hook in the middle of the harbor hoping the winds would lighten up Wednesday night. If not, then we could try to make an early exit Thursday morning. We had triple checked the weather and knew a low pressure system was coming our way and we wanted to try to get out there sooner than later.
Thursday morning we hoisted the anchor and off we went. We still had white caps, just not as many as yesterday. The swell was big, but not stacked up, so we went for it. Once we stuck our nose out there, got on our track line, and of course the wind is coming straight from the west and it’s blowing pretty well. We thought maybe once we got away from land things may lighten up a bit. But that just wasn’t the case. So we powered through, making less than 2 knots, and bashing through the swells coming at us from all directions. The next time you do a load of laundry, watch the beginning of the agitate cycle. Then picture yourself in a small boat trying to make any sort of head way. Good times.
Some of you may be saying ‘Why not turn around?’ But if we turned around, then we would loose this weather window before the low pressure system arrived. So we stuck with it, and after a very uncomfortable first day the wind started to swing to the northwest. We were able to shut down the engine and sail. Not a comfortable sail, but at least we weren’t sucking up the exhaust fumes anymore.
Speaking of motoring... before we left Greece Tom stared at the engine pump one last time. he changed an impeller, sanded something down, put it all back together, sprinkled it with some magic dust, and we didn’t leak one drop of water the entire trip!
Saturday afternoon dark clouds start rolling in and I said to Tom "Hey! Look up there. Isn’t that a water spout (tornado) forming?" Sure enough in about one hours time we saw several water spouts forming all around us. Soon the winds were back up and out of the west again, so on came the engine. The seas had really picked up now too, and the waves we were taking over the bow were so full of water it was like a fire hose being sprayed directly on the dodger. Thank heavens for the dodger.
One of the waves we took even had a sizeable fish in it. When it came smacking on the dodger windows he left his scales all over the glass and deck. The winds were ripping at this point, and that new American flag we got in Turkey is now in need of repair.
Of course when there is wind and dark clouds then rain is sure to follow. And to add more excitement... lighting too. Lighting scares me at sea. Especially when you can see it hitting the water all around you, coming down in pitch forks. At this point we aren’t sleeping much and just trying to hold on.
Once morning came around the storm had cleared and took with it all the wind. We ended up motoring on and off the rest of the way to Malta and arrived yesterday (Monday) afternoon. We dropped the hook, had a celebration drink, a grilled cheese sandwich and hit the pillows. As of now it looks like we will stay a few days before our big trip to Spain.
Love to all,
Amy and Tom
23 September 2008
Anchored at Valletta West Harbor