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Boat

A Look at Maltese Marinas

By Boat, Learning, Yacht

There are numerous marinas around the Maltese Islands which are ideal for berthing your yacht, providing it with plenty of shelter and ample facilities. Here is a look at Maltese marinas.

Grand Harbour Marina

The Grand Harbour Marina is located in one of the creeks of Malta’s Grand Harbour, which is purported to be one of the world’s most beautiful natural harbours. It was set up some 15 years ago and plays host to many a fabulous yacht, featuring berths of up to 100 metres in length. If you have a yacht which is particularly large, then this is the ideal place to berth it. Some of the famous yachts which berth or have been berthed here in the past include The Maltese Falcon and the Pelorus, which is currently owned by record producer David Geffen. It is definitely one of the most famous of the Maltese marinas.

Manoel Island Marina

Manoel Island Marina is on the other side of the Sciberras Peninsula to the Grand Harbour Marina on which Malta’s capital city, Valletta, is constructed. It is also located in a creek, known as Marsamxett Creek, and the marina is located on the south side of Manoel Island, which is connected to mainland Malta by means of a road bridge. The marina is close to Malta’s commercial hub, namely the Gzira, Sliema and St. Julian’s areas, and provides all the standard facilities one would come to expect from a yacht marina which allows for the berthing of yachts up to 80 metres in length. Bowlines are provided, however stern lines must be provided by the yacht owner.

Mgarr Marina

Mgarra Marina is situated on Malta’s smaller sister island, Gozo. It is not capable of berthing yachts the size of the previous two marinas in this blog entry, consisting of 208 berths. The Gozo Channel ferry, which links the islands of Malta and Gozo by sea, can be observed entering and exiting the area adjacent to the Mgarr breakwater. It is an ideal stopover marina for anyone who is in the Maltese Islands on a short stay aboard a yacht.

Msida Marina

The Msida Marina is both substantially large, featuring some 720 berths, and very well-sheltered following the construction of a breakwater across its entrance. It features floating pontoons unlike other Maltese marinas there are 15 of them, which provide berths for boats or yachts up to 22 metres in length. Water and electricity is provided to berthing yachts, together with service modules. It is a very well-established marina, being full to the brim with yachts and boats throughout the year.

Portomaso Marina

Portomaso Marina is arguably the most glamorous of the Maltese marinas and a wonderful place to berth a yacht in Malta, having the five-star Hilton Malta Hotel as a backdrop, together with many luxurious facilities close by which can be accessed by yacht owners. It is situated to the North of the Malta’s Grand Harbour area, with the marina’s entrance located next to St. Julian’s Bay. In operation since 1999, it has some 110 berths, which allow yachts or boats of up to 16 metres to berth.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Middle Sea Yacht Race

By Boat, important, Learning, Uncategorized, Yacht

The Rolex Middle Sea Race has run for 35 editions as of last year, and is considered a “must-do” race for competitive sailors from around the world. Competing boats head northeast towards Messina then head northwest to Stromboli before heading southwest to Favignana, Pantelleria, Lampedusa and back to Malta. High winds, strong currents and fierce competition typify this race.

Co-founded in 1968 by the Royal Malta Yacht Club and the Royal Ocean Racing Club, the Middle Sea Race is no less than 977 kilometres long, starting and finishing in Malta. The competing fleet travels in an anti-clockwise direction and races over a duration of two to three full days.

The race has attracts between 25 and 30 yachts annually, with the largest-ever fleet being recorded last year. Over 120 yachts took part. The Middle Sea Race is often mentioned in the same breath as the Rolex Sydney-Hobart, Newport-Bermuda and Fastnet races as a competition that must be entered into if one considers him or herself a true sailor.

Changeable Conditions

It is notorious for changeable conditions which really challenge skippers are crew, pushing man and machine to breaking point. They do get a small piece of respite from the stunning scenery, seeing as they pass by various islands. Some even go as far as calling it the most beautiful yacht race in the world.

Between 1984 and 1995, there was no racing, however luckily things kicked off again in 1996 and the race is arguably in as good health as it has ever been, down in no small part to the backing of international luxury watch manufacturer, Rolex.

Course Record

The course record is held by the USA’s George David, who skippered “Rambler” to victory back in 2007, with a time of 2007 – 47 hours 55 minutes and 3 seconds. This year’s race will start on Saturday 17th October – earlier than usual. Entries from countries as far-flung as Australia and Canada have already been submitted. It promises to be another exciting race!

Foreign Vessels Visiting Malta

By Boat, important, Learning, Yacht

There are plenty of boats and yachts moored in the various bays and marinas around Malta and Gozo, but have you ever wondered about how many foreign vessels visit the Maltese Islands and ask for clearance by maritime authorities each year?

The last set of available statistics, issued at the end of last year, detail figures for the year 2013. Just over 11,000 vessels visited the Islands, with the vast majority of vessels entering classified by the National Statistics Office as “Other”. These numbered 7,106 vessels, with a total tonnage of 56.5 million tons.

Classifications

Dry cargo vessels were the next largest category, accounting for 2,645 vessels of the grand total. These types of vessel are used to carry solid dry goods that have a higher tolerance to heat and cold, such as metal ores, coal, steel products, forest products. Their combined tonnage was over 36.9 million tons.

Tankers ranked third in terms of numbers, with 478 coming to Malta in 2013, weighing in at over 3.9 million tons combined.

The Maltese Islands are also home to a booming cruise terminal in the Grand Harbour, where some of the world’s finest cruise ships can be seen berthed at the quayside almost on a daily basis. Of the 302 passenger vessels which requested clearance from Maltese maritime authorities in 2013, some 286 were cruise ships, bringing a total of over 430,000 cruise passengers to Maltese shores during that year.

Smaller Vessels

Interesting to note were the smaller categories, most notably yachts and motor fishing vessels. The figure for the former was remarkably small, with just 38 yachts requesting clearance from Maltese maritime authorities during 2013, representing just 18,908 tons of the total of over 56 million for the year.

Relatively few motor fishing vessels in comparison with other seafaring vessel types also visited, numbering 442. The likelihood for the skewed figures, taking into account that the most significant portion of vessels included in the statistics were classified as “Other”, is that many yachts or boats which are here for leisure purposes do not have the requirement to declare their presence due to being domiciled in Europe. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to know what’s moving in and out of the Maltese Islands on the high seas.

Maltese Nautical Licence

By Boat, Learning, Tips, Yacht

Many of us dream of owning our own boat or yacht, but we may not be aware of the certification we need to have in order to operate one in Malta.

Who Should Obtain a Maltese Nautical Licence?

The Maltese government requires that a boat or yacht operator with an engine or engines having a combined output of 30hp or more has a nautical licence, which is issued by the Transport Authority. The same holds true should the operator wish to operate a boat with the intention of towing people behind it for water skiing.

Training and Courses

Before you’re even allowed to begin the Nautical Licence syllabus in view of sitting the exam, the Transport Authority requires attendance to a First Aid course. Once a pass is obtained in this regard, the next step is to attend practical and theory courses to familiarise yourself with everything you need to know in order to be able to operate a boat or yacht successfully.

Exam and Documentation

The Malta Sailing Academy is the organisation which is responsible for processing and validating the successful completion of the components of the Nautical Licence course. In turn, certification is issued and is to be submitted at the MCAST main office in Paola, together with an examination entry form and front-and-back photocopies of your Maltese identity card.

Once processing is complete, the Transport Authority will contact you with an exam date. Nautical Licence exams are held between 5pm and 8pm at the Nautical Institute in Kalkara. You’ll be informed of your success, or lack thereof, upon completion of the exam.

If successful, it’s then just a matter of taking the document which the Transport Authority posts to you to the Small Crafts department. You’ll need two passport-sized photos, together with having to pay a fee of €23.18, in order to apply for your Nautical Licence.

RIB vs Boat

By Boat, Learning, Maintenance

When looking at purchasing a small watercraft, many people face the same dilemma – whether to go for a rigid inflatable boat, or RIB, or a solid-hulled boat, such as a boat with a fibreglass hull. At this stage, weighing up the pros and cons of the RIB vs. boat debate is highly important, as this will ultimately determine which is the right choice for you.

The primary difference between the two types of vessel is the weight. A RIB will always be much lighter than a solid-hulled boat of the same size, so if you’re intent on carrying either aboard a larger vessel, this is an important consideration to make.

Important Considerations

One problem which you’ll likely encounter with a RIB which doesn’t occur with a solid-hulled boat is leaking inflatable tubes, which make up the RIB’s structure. Usually tubes start to leak after five years or so, with re-tubing being performed at the seven-year mark. Although modern RIBs are much better than those being sold new just a few years ago, it’s still an important consideration to make. Naturally tubes aren’t an issue on a solid-hulled boat, but that doesn’t mean to say that they don’t need maintaining either.

People who have owned both RIBs and solid-hulled boats say that RIBs offer various advantages, such as stability when stepping on and off them, their equivalent performance to solid-hulled boat in rough seas, better seating arrangement for travelling with a number of people on board, and, as aforementioned, their lightness.

RIB Drawbacks and Conclusion

A drawback of a RIB over a similarly-sized solid-hulled boat is that they are designed for continuous movement – they’re not really vessels for laying anchor and doing a spot of fishing on. So while a RIB can be practical in a wide variety of scenarios, there are certain things which they’re not ideal for.

In addition, you’re also more exposed to the elements in a RIB than you are aboard a solid-hulled boat. To conclude, it’s probably best to consider a RIB as a craft you’ll go out on for a bit of fun in good weather, whereas a solid-hulled boat is for those seeking a craft that’s a bit more of an all-rounder.