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The Beginning of Maltese Motoring

By Learning

The exact date of origin of Maltese motoring varies by a few years, depending on who you ask, but it ranges somewhere between 1904 and 1907, but the car which kicked it all off is something of a celebrity.

The car in question is a 1904 Siddeley, which was apparently bought by three sisters and became the very first car registered in the Maltese Islands. What’s even more interesting is that this vehicle was actually used in Gozo rather than Malta’s main island.

In use for just a short time after it was purchased, apparently because the three sisters’ brother, who was a priest, thought it drew them too much attention, the car was mothballed and placed in a barn circa 1908. It remained undiscovered for some 60 years, when a man called David Arrigo rediscovered it in 1968.

It then spent the next 44 years in the UK, before being returned to its rightful place in Gozo. It is now in a fully-restored state and is adorned with its original “1” number plate, indicative of it initiating Maltese motoring.

Public Transport

By the time buses came on the Maltese motoring scene in 1905, mechanised public transport had already been in place for some 50 years, namely through railroads and trams.

An Englishman who went by the name Mr. Spiller was the first individual to be granted permission to import buses from the UK. They initially ran between St. Andrew’s and Valletta, before further buses were imported in the interim between the initial imports and the first semblance of a bona-fide transport company being formed in 1921.

Law Enforcement

It seems quite odd to consider that, in the history of Maltese motoring, there was a 15-year gap between the first car being registered and the Malta Police Force receiving its first car. The first record of a Maltese police car dates back to 1920, when a Crossley was imported for Police Commissioner Henry Bamford and his senior staff to use. The Crossley became known as the Flag Car, only being used on special occasions.

It’s quite amusing to think of policemen chasing Maltese motorists with horses as they awaited their first vehicle to arrive!

Typical Maltese Boats

By Boat

The harbour is always full of these type of boats, ranging from the luzzu (double-ended fishing boat), dghajsa (smaller boat) and kajjik (similar to the luzzu but has a square transom).

Luzzu

The world luzzu comes from the Sicilian word guzzu, which is still used today in parts of Italy and Sicily to refer to a common fishing or transport vessel.

The luzzu design is believed to have originated in Phoenician times, surviving through the annals of time due to its sturdy design even in rough weather. Luzzus were traditionally powered by the wind, and resultantly had sails. Nowadays, however, they usually tend to have small outboard engines slung over the back, with power outputs of about 10HP.

Characterised by shades of bright yellow, red, green and blue, luzzus usually have pointed bows with a pair of eyes at the front in order to ward off evil spirits and protect fishermen while out at sea.

Luzzus are found in their largest numbers in Marsaxlokk harbour in the south of Malta. The boats are considered national symbols of the archipelago.

Dghajsa

Although the term dghajsa can refer to any kind of boat in Maltese, a real dghajsa is a type of traditional water taxi which was used to ferry passengers to and from different locations within the confines of Malta’s Grand Harbour.

A single oarsman used to row a dghajsa. While high bow and stern pieces appear to be for decorative purposes, they actually help with keeping the boat stable when passengers are boarding or disembarking. In addition, they also helped a dghajsa to handle better.

Not many dghajsas are left, with only about a dozen original ones remaining. These now feature outboard engines and are used as tourist attractions. The woodwork on dghajsas is expensive to maintain, and there are only a few carpenters left with the knowledge of how to build them.

Kajjik

Kajjiks are similar to luzzus, yet they are distinct from them as they have flat sterns and are usually smaller than luzzus are. They are believed to have been introduced to Malta by the Knights of St. John in the year 1530.

While they were previously made out of wood, kajjiks being built in the present day now tend to made out of fibreglass. When the Order of St. John presided over the islands in the Middle Ages, kajjiks were mounted with small guns in order to fire on attacking Ottoman vessels.

Kajjiks are the most prevalent kind of Maltese boat, numbering some two-and-a-half-times as many luzzus.

Gozo Boat (Dghajsa tal-Latin)

This now-extinct sailing boat ferried passengers between Malta and Gozo for centuries, with examples being built solely to fulfil that purpose. They had sails and were significantly larger than any of the other boars mentioned in this blog, allowing them to carry sizeable numbers of passengers and quantities of cargo.

They preceded the current Gozo Channel service which we all know today. Due to the onslaught of steam-powered vessels in the 1960s for the same purpose, it meant that the Gozo boat was doomed. The last one afloat in its original condition was deemed unseaworthy back in the 1970s, however it has been fully restored and is on permanent display after lying abandoned at Mgarr Harbour for the best part of three decades.

The only other known example, the Maryanne, is owned by Captain Morgan Cruises, however it does not feature sails and has added decking.

Maltese Motoring Classics

By Learning

Maltese vintage cars are heavily associated with our fathers and grandfathers, and although cars today look completely different, they’re most definitely still part of the Maltese motoring landscape. Let’s journey a few decades back.

Ford Anglia

The Ford Anglia was the predecessor to the Ford Escort, and was produced between 1939 and 1967. The shape we’re familiar with seeing on Maltese roads is the 100E, which was produced between 1953 and 1959. While it is the butt of many a Maltese motoring joke, almost 350,000 100Es were produced in its six years in production. A few local examples got “hot-rodded” over the years, much like the Mark 1 Escorts that followed it, with bigger engines, wheels, tyres and flashy paint jobs.

Ford Escort Mk1

To this day, the Mark 1 Ford Escort is synonymous with Maltese motoring. The model was unveiled at the 1967 Brussels Motor Show before being put into production in 1968. The Escort, the production of which ran for six generations until 2004, was created as a replacement for Ford’s long-running Anglia model. The two-door versions of the model are highly sought after even in the present day, with British enthusiasts paying thousands of euros to return Maltese-registered examples to the UK.

Hillman Avenger

The Hillman Avenger is a fastback-inspired small family saloon produced by the British Rootes Group between 1970 and 1976. It is noteworthy for being both the first and last model produced by Rootes following its takeover by Chrysler in 1967. The Avenger was also sold in different international markets under a variety of names, such as the Plymouth Cricket in North America and the Dodge Polara in Brazil. While there aren’t many left on Maltese roads today due to the passage of time, they were popular cars in their heyday.

Morris Minor

More than 1 million Morris Minors were produced throughout the model’s production lifetime, however it’s the Morris Minor 1000’s bubble-like shape which sticks in the Maltese motoring enthusiast’s mind. Its claim to fame is that it was designed by Alec Issigonis, the genius designer who gave the world the Austin Mini, although the Minor wasn’t nearly as good a car. There are still a few of them knocking about on Maltese roads today, and can usually be seen in the more rural areas of the island. The Minor is also the subject matter for a song performed by one Malta’s most notorious comedians.

Mini

This is a car that changed the world due to how its front engine was laid out in order to maximise passenger space. Not only was it economical, fun to drive and reliable, it also made a great rally and touring car, as evidenced by its exploits in such racing disciplines throughout the 1960s and 70s. It also had incredible longevity, being produced between 1959 and 2000. It was replaced by the BMW-developed new Mini thereafter. There are still plenty of classic Minis to be seen on Maltese roads. In fact, they are beloved to many a Maltese motoring enthusiast.

A Look at Different Yacht Types

By Boat, Yacht

Plenty of different yacht types about in the present day, with the most fundamental difference being whether they are powered by an engine, the wind or a combination of both. There are also yachts which are for private leisure use, in contrast with those used for racing. Here’s a look at different yacht types:

Modern Sailing Yachts

Modern sailing yachts usually boast the same space, comfort levels and facilities as a motor yacht, however with the added appeal of being able to open up its sails and go where the wind takes you. These yachts appeal more to genuine sailors, who would rather go about their seaward journeys in a traditional way. Rigging equipment and the sails themselves, varying from yacht to yacht, can be operated manually or electronically.

Classing Sailing Yachts

While modern sailing yachts can of course allow for exciting sailing and an unforgettable experience, those with a strong passion for sailing tend to prefer classic sailing yachts, because they allow for something much more authentic to be experienced. These yacht capture the romance and thrill of yachting. They tend to compromise on on board space, luxury and comfort when compared to both modern sailing yachts and motor yachts.

Superyachts

A superyacht is a superyacht because of two distinct things, namely its size and having a full-time crew. Any vessel which is less than 24 metres in length cannot be considered a superyacht, simply because it is too small. A superyacht is also usually associated with very high purchase and maintenance costs and can boast any number of features, from swimming pools to cinemas. Distinctions between sail and power are not usually made when defining a superyacht, with The Maltese Falcon being an example of a sail superyacht, and the Eclipse being one of a power superyacht.

Large Motor Yachts

Large motor yachts measure less than, but not much less than, 24 metres and are ideal for families and large groups. As a general rule, they have more on-board space than a similarly-sized sailing yacht has, which also makes them suitable for entertaining. As their name suggests, they have an engine or engines and they are usually equipped with things such as Jacuzzis, entertainment facilities and water sports equipment.

Performance Motor Yachts

This kind of yacht is of a similar size to a large motor yacht, however with one key difference – they are designed to go fast. This means that their engines are large and their shapes very aerodynamic relative to their less performance-oriented counterparts. These yachts are for thrills out at sea, combining luxury with a bona-fide adrenaline rush. Noticeable for their distinctive style, they are the distinctive, expensive luxury sports cars of the sea.

Catamarans

Catamarans are an interesting alternative to all of the above, because their flat centres make them ideal for getting plenty of people on board for a party! They are also great for accessing remote areas, as they tend to be highly manoeuvrable. Powered by a combination of sail and motor, they glide through the waves with ease.

Garage Storage Benefits

By Cleaning, Exterior, important, Learning, Maintenance, Tips, Winter

Having garage storage is luxury for some, and an absolute necessity for others. Storing a car in a garage has numerous benefits, not least prolonging its longevity and protecting it from the elements. Here are some more reasons to look at investing in garage storage:

Avoid bird droppings

Bird droppings are acidic and will damage paintwork if left unattended to over a number of days. Storing your car in a garage means that it’ll be indoors for half of its life, so your dearest avian friends won’t be able to come and… relieve themselves on your pride and joy as often.

Halve the risk of break-ins or theft

If your car is kept in a garage overnight, there’s much less risk of a cheeky little so-and-so, who has a penchant for pinching things such as whole cars or the contents of said cars, giving it wholly unwanted attention.

Slow down the rusting process

In a hot country such as the one we live in, rusting isn’t as much of an issue as it is in colder places where roads are salted during autumn and winter to dissipate ice build-up on the roads. With that being said, if you live close to or along one of Malta’s many seafronts and just park your car on the street, you’re leaving it exposed to sea salt. A garage will help you avoid this problem. Garage storage also means that your car stays cooler for longer. Lots of heat means increased oxidation and in turn, rust.

Cheaper Insurance Premiums

Your insurer will rejoice if you have a garage in which to store your car, and this is because it is at less risk of being damaged or stolen than it would be if it was parked continuously on the street. Less risk means a cheaper premium, which means more money in your pocket, so you can buy more stuff you don’t need.

Keep Paintwork Sparkling

The Mediterranean sun shines incredibly strongly here in Malta, especially during the summer months. While you may enjoy basking in it yourself, making your skin all nice and brown, your car doesn’t as much. Using your garage storage for your car  for as long as possible means its bodywork will look newer for longer.

 

If your car is kept in garage storage it must mean a lot to you, let Briiz make it the best it can be with a car clean. Book online today.

Briiz Cleaning Malta

Teak Deck Cleaning

By Boat, Cleaning, Exterior, Maintenance, Tips, Yacht

Even though you may have a sparkling clean boat or yacht, if you have teak decking which hasn’t been cleaned properly, it can let the whole look down. Teak cleaning isn’t too difficult to get right, however there are some basic steps you must take to get the best finish possible.

First off, it’s time to consider the material you’re working with. Although teak doesn’t rot, it can warp and begin to look dull if not properly maintained. It is however an extremely durable and resilient wood which can be returned to its best in the event that it has been left to the elements for an extended period of time.

A chemical cleaning on a teak surface should suffice to get it looking its best again, unlike other woods used on boat or yacht exteriors which require sanding and scraping. The thing is that you need to be careful with chemical cleaners, because they usually rely on acid to clean teak deeply, which can lead to bleaching on the surface of the wood as well as erosion.

The best thing to do to avoid resorting to using a chemical cleaner altogether is to never allow your teak decking to get into a state where it needs it in the first place.

The First Step

The level of discolouration to your teak will determine how much elbow grease it’s going to need to get it looking right again. Try a mild teak cleaner if the discolouration isn’t so bad – it should do the trick. Give the teak a good scrub with a semi-abrasive pad, ensuring you scrub evenly across the grain.

Once you’ve done this, wet down the area with water, clean with a detergent solution and rinse. If the wood comes out in the right shade, then it’s job done. If it’s still not looking right, then it’s time to go to a more powerful cleaner.

One-Part Cleaners

A one-part cleaner should be the next step you try. These normally come in powdered or liquid forms and contain one abrasive acid and one mild acid. Due to these ingredients, they have increased effectiveness over a detergent solution. Be sure to take care when handling – wear rubber gloves and eye protection due to the one-part cleaner’s acidity.

To use the one-part cleaner, simply wet down your teak deck, sprinkle or brush the cleaner onto it, scrub it down

Two-Part Cleaners

If the above still doesn’t produce satisfactory results, the next thing to do is get hold of a two-part liquid cleaner and use that. These contain powerful caustics and acids, therefore they need to be handled with extra care. They do a great job of brightening even the dullest teak deck, however you should ensure such a cleaner doesn’t end up on your skin or damaging adjacent surfaces.

In order to avoid the latter, wash down continuously with water. It is an absolute essential to wear rubber gloves when wearing a two-part cleaner, as it is to wear eye protection.

To use, wet down your teak deck, apply the caustic part of the cleaner by scrubbing the deck lightly with a bristle brush. Once the surface is a muddy brown colour, apply the second part of the cleaner, namely the acid. Use a bristle brush for this also, however use a new or clean one. Ensure that it is spread evenly. Once the colour starts looking right, it’s time to rinse off and allow it to dry.

Powerboats vs Sailing Yachts

By Boat, Yacht

If you’re lucky enough to be at a point in your life where you’ve decided you want to head out onto the open water, the likelihood is that you’re mulling over choosing between a powerboat and a sailing yacht.

The advent of outboard engines became a cause for heated rivalries between those who like horsepower and those who advocate the power of the wind.

An Issue of Stereotyping

For starters, true sailors seem to look down upon powerboaters somewhat, as powerboats are usually associated with noise, the (real or imagined) nouveau-riche social standing of the guys who pilot them, and a general lack of consideration for anyone else.

On the other side of the fence, powerboaters tend to perceive sailors as self-important, know-it-all sorts at one extreme, and scruffy hippies at the other. These are, of course, the unfortunate stereotypes that some people tend to perpetuate, as the truth is always somewhere in the middle.

Regardless of other people’s perceptions, you still need to choose which type of vessel is going to be best-suited to you, for instance powerboat may be more suitable if you’re planning to sleep aboard a lot due to the extra space afforded when compared to a similarly-sized sailing yacht.

Powerboat Pros and Cons

Further advantages of powerboat ownership include how fast they can go relative to sailing yachts, their ability to change and head in any direction on a whim, having shallower drafts when compared to sailing yachts, no winching and no hauling. There are also the flashy looks and plenty of noise, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Noise can be a downside, however. Powerboats are known to be enjoyable to whoever’s aboard them, but rather annoying to everyone else in the vicinity. In addition, big, powerful engines are expensive to run and maintain. Strong winds can also have an adverse effect on powerboats as they have a higher centre of gravity than sailing yachts.

Sailing Yacht Pros and Cons

Sailing yachts are more environmentally friendly than powerboats as they are primarily powered by the wind. They are also not entirely dependent on fuel and are quieter than powerboats. Further advantages of harnessing the wind are the ability to cross oceans and the amount of money you save when not burning fuel.

Some downsides to sailing yachts are that you are at the mercy of the wind, sails and rigging are expensive to maintain and having a deeper draft means that shallow waters are a no-go. You should also have plenty of time on your hands and be quite physically fit to be able to handle the demands of a sailing yacht.

A Guide to Car Detailing

By Cleaning, Exterior, Interior, Maintenance, Uncategorized

While to some people car detailing means can mean a mere wax and wash, to others means a full cleaning and protection service inclusive of an interior shampoo and steam clean.

Start car detailing by evaluating your car’s paint. If its paint is smooth and contaminant-free, then there’s no need to do any other maintenance work than washing it thoroughly once a week. Spend a good 30 or 45 minutes to get a really good finish.

On the other hand, if you find that your car’s paint is stained and rough, then you’re going to need a lot more elbow grease than it takes to get a good finish when simply washing. Think about investing some 30 minutes to three hours of your time to achieve the best result.

Use a paint pre-wax cleaner next, as this will help eliminate any contaminants that are still present on your car’s paint surface. After you’ve gone over it using this kind of product, the next step is to evaluate the paint bit by bit in order to check for scratches and the depth of those scratches, if any. Most scratches will disappear using a good polish. Take one to five minutes on each scratch to ensure that it disappears.

Once you’ve polished your car’s entire surface sufficiently, the next car detailing step is to move on to waxing. Waxing your car should take you about 45 minutes to an hour. Repeat the process four times per year. A deep cleaning and polish needs to be undertaken just twice a year to ensure that your car’s paint looks just as it did when it left the showroom floor many years later.

Last but not least when it comes to exterior car detailing, pay good attention to your car’s wheels. Dull-looking, dirty and brake dust-covered wheels really age a car, so invest in a tyre and wheel cleaner. Have a big bucket of soapy water handy, together with a brush, and prepare to scrub them for 15 minutes apiece for the best finish.

Turning attention to your car’s interior, the first interior car detailing step to take is to evaluate how much effort you’re going to need to get it looking its best. If you’re a businessman who wears suits all day long, then it’s highly likely that you’re going to require less cleaning time than if you’re a mum driving about with two young kids in tow.

Start by vaccuuming regularly. We recommend vaccuuming twice each month for 10-15 minutes at a time. If you clean your car’s exterior regularly, doing so shouldn’t take you long. However, if you clean your car infrequently, then this job might take one to two hours to getting the interior fresh again. Pay special attention to the products you use – use a good interior shampoo for the seats in particular.

So there you have it!

 

If you care for your car to give it this much love and attention with car detailing, let Briiz give you a helping hand with the one of our many car cleaning services.

Vintage Car Cleaning

By Cleaning, Exterior, important, Maintenance

Owning a vintage car requires that you take extra care while cleaning it due to the added fragility that come with age, wear and tear.

Products

The first thing you need to consider is which products you are using and whether they are suitable for your particular car. Secondly, if you do have a vintage car, you need to devote more time to care and maintenance in order to keep it in tip-top shape.

No Car Washes!

An automatic car wash is never really a good idea when you have an older car, and this is because it could have a detrimental impact to older paint. In addition, if you happen to have a convertible vintage car, then it’s likely that it came out of the factory with a roof that is prone to leakages. Automation is best avoided and traded in with tender, loving care in your garage or other covered workspace.

Gently Does It

If you can’t get a professional detailer to do it, then washing bodywork by hand is always recommended when it comes to a vintage car. All you need is a very soft sponge and a smidgen of gentle, detergent-free soap, together with plenty of time to get the finish right. If you come across any stubborn marks or stains, don’t fret – all you need to do is use a soft chamois leather cloth and rub the affected area as you’re drying the car.

Dry, Wax and Polish

A chamois leather is always advisable for drying because it will prevent any drip or watermarks from remaining on the paintwork. Dry in a circular motion with the chamois loose in your hands.
Next up, a wax and polish on a vintage car never go amiss. Make sure the wax you’re using is both appropriate for the kind of paint on your car, as well as the colour of that paint. Once you’ve done that, start by waxing areas that appear marked or stained. Wax may help loosen such stubborn stains, giving your car a refreshed look. A T-Cut may also be worth considering to restore the top layer of paint at this point.

Finishing Touches

Finally, polish your car with a dry lint-free cloth in a circular motion. Doing so will guarantee you the best finish. Make sure you go over the entire body surface of your vintage car, checking each panel for omissions before you move on to the next bit.

So there you have it!

Rigid Inflatable Boat Manufacturers

By Boat, Learning

Many of us happen to have a Rigid Inflatable Boat, otherwise known as a RIB or dinghy, which we pootle around on for pleasure purposes or use as tenders for bigger craft, but there are some extreme rigid inflatable boat manufacturers out there who make RIBs for the most highly specialised of activity, both legitimate and illicit. Here’s a selection:

Tornado

Tornado was started in 1975 by David Haygreen, who wanted a boat suitable for his marine survey company. He didn’t find anything on the market to satisfy his needs, and thus went about building his own rigid inflatable boat. His 5.5-metre creation, powered by a 50 horsepower outboard engine, which was unusually potent for that era, drew so much attention that he eventually decided to go into production. The result was Tornado Boats – a world pioneer in RIB manufacturing, design and construction.

Damel

This specialised Dutch shipyard provides boats and ships of all shapes and sizes, ranging from expedition ships, to fire-fighting and police vessels. The rigid inflatable boats it produces are used by police forces and armies, and are slightly unusual in that they are a fair bit larger than your standard RIB and can be configured in multiple configurations depending on usage – think cabins, rows of seats and different-shaped hulls.

Ocean Craft Marine

Headquartered in Annapolis, Maryland, USA, Ocean Craft Marine’s rigid inflatable boats have genuine racing pedigree to back them up. These fast RIBs are produced for both commercial and military purposes, notably for US Navy SEAL use and other specialised work. Ocean Craft Marine’s creations are sold in no less than 80 countries around the world.

Crompton Marine

This company reached notoriety in 2007 when its owners were charged with supplying drug smuggling boats to transport drugs between the north African coast and southern Spain. One of the rigid inflatable boats it produced, which was seized by Spanish authorities, was powered by no less than eight 250 horsepower outboard engines. It has now ceased trading and it is not known what happened to the owners.