Category

Yacht

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.

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.

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.

The Importance of Boat Insurance

By Boat, Exterior, important, Interior, Learning, Tips, Winter, Yacht

Have you ever thought of the consequences of something unexpected happening on your boat?

Whether you’ve just bought your boat or have something that has seen its fair share of life already, we know that, either way, you’re likely to have invested plenty of time and money in it.

As much as we’d like to believe that everything will be plain sailing (pun intended) when we’re on our boat, the reality is that anything can happen. Your boat could be damaged in rough sea, have equipment stolen out of it, or it could be even stolen itself.

Worse still, imagine if you or one of your passengers got injured or, and this is really something none of us would like to think about, you were liable for loss of life. What would you do?

Get Insured

That’s why having boat insurance is paramount – to cover yourself for such eventualities. It doesn’t matter how small or large your vessel is, it’s something that’s really worth having just in case.

Many an insurer now creates tailor-made boat insurance policies for boat owners, regardless of type, value, age and other characteristics. They can cover you from things such as theft, weather damage, fires or explosions.

GasanMamo Insurance – Recommended by Briiz

GasanMamo Insurance, one of Malta’s leading insurance companies, has a boat insurance package to suit you. In addition to covering you for the eventualities as listed above, you’ll also be covered for loss or damage to equipment, stranding or sinking, and malicious acts or vandalism, among many other scenarios which could leave you out of pocket.

Additional benefits include cover for sighting costs, replacement of fire safety equipment in the event of a fire, emergency and salvage charges, among others.

Should you wish to find out more about GasanMamo’s fantastic boat insurance offerings together with further details about what the company can offer you specifically, contact Ms. Anneliese Busuttil via email on abusuttil@gasanmamo.com or call 2349 0206.

Our Effort Cleaning up Kristu tal-Bahhara

By Boat, Cleaning, important, Learning, Yacht

The Kristu tal-Bahhara statue is somewhat of a landmark, having been in place for a full 25 years. It was our pleasure to get involved with the clean-up of this statue, which was the only one of its kind to have been blessed by Pope John Paul II during his Papacy.

The statue, which is intended to ward off the perils which Maltese sailors may face, was fashioned out of concrete and fibreglass by Maltese sculptor Alfred Camilleri Cauchi in order to keep its form in cold, salty and deep water over a lengthy period of time.

Marking Pope John Paul II’s Visit

It was laid on the seabed by a team of divers led by Raniero Borg off St. Paul’s Islands to mark the occasion of Pope John Paul II’s visit to Malta in 1990.

In the time since then, Kristu tal-Bahhara was moved to a location some two kilometres off Qawra Point. This is because the underwater visibility off St. Paul’s Islands deteriorated markedly in ensuing years, as did the volume of divers visiting the site to view the statue. The decision to relocate it was taken and executed in 2000.

It now lies in 35 metres of water, just a short distance away from the MV Imperial Eagle, an old ferry which was used to transport passengers between Malta and Gozo from 1958 through to 1968. The scuttled ship, together with the statue, makes the site very popular with divers in the present day.

Briiz Corporate Social Responsibility

We were honoured to have been involved in the recent clean-up of the statue as part of our corporate social responsibility effort and can state unreservedly that the statue was returned to its former glory.

Archbishop of Malta, Mgr. Charles Scicluna, will be leading a ceremony on 31st May to mark 25 years since the statue was laid at sea. He will bless a plaque to mark the occasion. This plaque will then be fixed in place by a team of divers who have been hand-picked for the task.

Those who have their own boats are invited to join in the ceremony, which will also serve as an unofficial inauguration of the summer season. Time permitting, Archbishop Scicluna might bless private boats in attendance. It promises to be a wonderful occasion.

Ensuring Your Boat is Secure

By Boat, important, Learning, Uncategorized, Yacht

Ensuring your boat is secure is just as important as ensuring the security in your own home. Thieves could be tempted to steal all kinds of things on your boat, from your outboard engine, to safety and marine equipment.

The above is without mentioning the possibility of your radio, tools or personal items being stolen. In the worst case scenario, it could be your boat itself which is taken. In light of the fact that you’ve probably spent plenty of money purchasing and maintaining your boat, as well as filling it with all the right tools and equipment, this would be nothing short of a disaster.

What you Can Do

There are certain things you can do in order to ensure your boat is secure, with the guiding principle being to make your boat as unattractive to thieves as possible. First off, don’t ever leave anything valuable where it can be seen, no matter how small the item is. Secondly, make sure that you’ve always got your ignition key with you – don’t ever leave it in the ignition, because that’s just asking for it.

Good Locks

Padlocks and rimlocks are an important consideration also. Make sure they are top-quality, strong and will stand up to any attempts to damage or break them. Use them on all hatches, entry points and lockers.

Alarm

Install an alarm, and let any would-be intruders know that one is installed by placing stickers to indicate so in visible places. Check your main and fore-hatches for strength, and ensure they can stand up to tampering. Consider investing in a strongbox (portable safe) to keep down below to further protect any valuables you may store on your boat.

Security Check

Before you leave your boat, make sure you do a security check and see to anything which may attract thieves to it. Keep its curtains closed. If you have a life raft or use an outboard motor, make sure they are secure and cannot be stolen.