Sunday, 30 December 2012

Visiting Europe

It has been quite a year for us, with much travelling back and forth between locations in Europe, including a wonderful trip to Sweden in the northern hemisphere mid-summer   We also managed another side trip to Sicily to meet up with Marie Louise and Richard (our son’s in-laws) for a somewhat boozy week to then rush back to Malta in time to greet Marie & Steve who came all the way from Perth and also stopped over to visit us!

It has also been great catching up with all the cruisers who have stopped over in Malta on their summer cruising this year.  We did hope that keeping busy would stop us from missing our beloved MISCHIEF too much, but in the last month or two we have been wondering not if but when and where to get our next boat again!!  - By the way, to those cruisers crossing the Atlantic this year, Mischief is also crossing, but with her new owners who are a really lovely Spanish couple.

Bjorn and I have kept busy in Malta these last three months doing some courses to keep our brains occupied.  Bjorn has done an AutoCAD course whilst I have done a TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) refresher course and may consider some part time teaching whilst in Malta.

Meanwhile it has been great visiting with our families here in Malta and Sweden.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Landlubbers again!

Given our decision to spend another couple of years in the Med, and with all the berthing difficulties in Malta and the boat registration situation, we decided to test the market and list Mischief ….and to our greatest surprise, shock actually, which found us totally unprepared, we had a couple expressing interest in the first month of listing the boat.

Of course, we did not take this seriously, and were still wondering whether these people were for real when they decided to come and visit the boat in Ragusa in March this year.

We had just spent the coldest two months ever in what turned out to be a record cold year in the Med – and Malta winters and headed to Ragusa to prepare Mischief for her not really very welcome visitors…. I am sure they must have thought we were mad – or madly in love with the boat because Bjorn and I kept on exchanging looks and asking each other if this was really what we wanted!

To our dismay, the young Spanish couple totally fell in love with our beloved Mischief and upped their price, and we really could not say no!  And there starts our new saga.

Our Sicilian spring turned out to be quite different from usual.  Instead of joining our cruising friends all happy to leave this winter behind them and busily getting their boats ready for another summer cruising season, we started going through the boat and trying to work out what to leave and what – and how – to take the rest off!  We did manage a few forays to explore more of Sicily, which we have grown to really love, even ‘discovering’ the largest Roman villa we have seen so far with the most amazing mosaics!  To be honest though, many of the many very ‘happy’ (read ‘boozy) time with our friends felt almost like wakes, so shell shocked were we with the way things had turned out with Mischief.

Bjorn and Kerry (Geronimo) sailed Mischief back to Malta in mid April, while Helen (Geronimo) and I drove our car back via ferry and spent a wonderful week or so together in Malta.  Our transition to land was somewhat eased taking a number of yachting friends who called into Malta on their way around the island.

It was also time to take stock of what we wanted to do now that we would be land bound, and so Bjorn and I turned our attention to renting an apartment to have as a base in Malta for the next couple of years whilst we enjoyed our parents in Malta and in Sweden and concentrated on land travel for the next few years.  We were indeed fortunate to find a lovely airy apartment just on the seafront in a quiet part of St Paul’s Bay, with a grandstand view of the bay and St Paul’s Island (where the apostle Paul got shipwrecked on his way to Rome). 

To celebrate our joint birthdays in May, we travelled to Venice and had a glorious couple of days going around the city that had so eluded us on our cruising trip up to Croatia.  We then went on to our friend Mara in Ravenna and enjoyed a leisurely week exploring the magnificent Po delta and some of the surrounding towns, villages and cities including the incredible Florence.

Our summer is indeed proving to be a busy one with my nephew’s wedding in mid June, and two of my sisters visiting for a couple of weeks.  Our daughter Annika comes out for a visit in July and then we are off to Sweden for 5 weeks to visit Bjorn’s family and do more land travel, this time hopefully going to St. Petersburg and Moscow, before returning to Malta once more to more friends visiting.

That’s it for now from us…. We’re hoping that sv.mischief changes from ‘sailing vessel mischief’ to ‘salty veterans (of) mischief…’ which means that our email address stays the same… who knows we may yet be back again on the water and heading west once more!!!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Winter in Ragusa Sicily and Seachange

We sailed into Malta in early-mid September to catch up with family and suss out the marina situation there.  With the planned upgrade to Msida marina, berthing in Malta over winter was not an option, and so we left for Ragusa in early October, and headed into a marina with many previous friends - and acquaintances old and new…. It was great fun catching up with everyone.  The marina is really well planned and very safe, so we had no hesitation in leaving Mischief there over the winter months.

With Bjorn’s parents not well, and pressure building to visit as soon as possible, we reluctantly left the marina, headed to Malta and then on to Sweden.  We spent three weeks there and watched Bjorn’s dad deteriorate… within three days of our return to Malta, he passed away.

Back in Malta, and visiting my parents, it was becoming increasingly obvious that they also needed greater attention and that perhaps their days of living independently were coming to an end.   We were also in two minds about crossing the Atlantic anyway, and the need to stay put and help out was very much on our minds.

We watched as many of our friends just kept going across the Atlantic and then continued across the Pacific, making it an almost two year trek.  We always thought that if we cross the Atlantic we would like to spend a few years in the Americas.    

With the decision to stay in the Med for an additional couple of years to see what happens, we decided to make Malta our base for now and bought a small runabout (ie. car).

Things were brought to a head when my mum fell and broke her hip, but thank goodness the surgery went well and she is well on her way to recovery.

We had planned to spend a week or two in Ragusa in December to check on the boat, especially as the autumn had brought along the usual swag of storms, so as my sister headed to Malta for a week to help out with our parents, Bjorn and I took the opportunity to go and spend Christmas in Ragusa.  Having taken the car over with us via ferry, we took advantage of every fine day to go and explore some the very beautiful surrounding towns like Ragusa city, Modica and Scicli…

We had a very ‘merry’ Christmas, a wonderful break, a good opportunity to check up on the boat, and headed back to Malta to ‘dry out’!!!

And now the serious thinking starts:  on the one hand, we love our Mischief, but it is impractical to keep such a boat in a marina in a different country and not have its enjoyment.  Things are further complicated by constantly changing laws in Europe, making it difficult to cruise long term in the Med.  For example, Italy has just this month introduced a tax for boats cruising in Italian waters from May this year, which makes it even more prohibitive to keep the boat in Italian waters.  Space at Malta marinas are at a premium, Greece has its own raft of taxes which make it difficult to keep a boat there over 3 months and both the EU and non EU alternatives are fading fast.  It looks like we will have to reside in Malta for a short while, making it difficult to keep an Australian flagged ship in EU waters.

We are even looking into the possibility of shipping Mischief back to Australia or to some other part of the world such as Asia!!

Definitely a time of literal ‘seachange’, or is going to be ‘landchange’, for us at present, but the adventures will hopefully not stop, but rather change form.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Cruising Croatia: the trip south

It took more than a couple of glasses of wine to plan our return trip of about 1000 nautical miles back to Malta, the more so as the thunderstorms that had plagued us for the past 10 days persisted in hanging about.
Buying veggies from boat boy.

Having forsaken the northern part of Italy and unfortunately our visit to Ravenna to catch up with a dear friend there, we signed up for another month of Croatia. We took the first opportunity to cross the notorious Gulf of Kvarner to one of our favourite stops at the delightful isle of Mali Losinj where we ended up staying two days in order to replace the starter battery.

The weather was immediately better, with the thunderstorms striking the mainland and mostly missing the islands. With August upon us, we found ourselves sailing south in company with hordes of Italian power-boaters some of whom can be the scourge of the seas.
Moonscape at Dugi Otok

We opted for different anchorages on islands we had bypassed on our trip north and also decided to visit the magnificent Dugi Otok national park, which was another highlight on this leg of the journey. We anchored at the top of Luka Telascica, surrounded by the strikingly different landscape which is more like a moonscape at times.

After a couple of days there, we left the island group of Dugi Otok and sailed to a nearby island group around Murter. It is amazing how one can go from a totally barren landscape to such lush greenery in the few nautical miles that separate them. With a Bora (the notorious north easterly wind which often blows at gale force and more) forecast, we decided to ‘hide’ in the large bay outside Murter town and passed a pleasant week there, catching up again with old friends on KOZA and meeting new Ozzie friends Helve and Rick on TANGAROA.

We braved it in strong northerlies all the way down to Rogoznica, on the mainland and then crossed to Vela Luka on the island of Korcula. We checked out of Croatia from the picturesque island of Lastovo and, for once, enjoyed a magnificent sail across to Italy.

Approach to Vieste.
The contrast between Croatia and Italy could not have been greater. To begin with, the weather and water temperature were immediately a few degrees warmer, but instead of lovely turquoise waters, we were now confined to harbours, as there are hardly any anchorages on the Italian east coast. We checked into Italy at Vieste, in the Puglia region which is formerly run by the Normans and full of medieval towns. Here we where introduced to what the French may have lent the name to but the Italians absolutely have perfected: bureaucracy. Apparently, as a non EU registered yacht, we were expected to sign-in-and-out of every port, with one of the four different police forces they have.

Panneria in Monte Sant' Angelo.
Yet even this worked out in our favour. We used the Guardia Costiera, with whom we were meant to check in at every port of call, to ‘book’ us a spot on the next port’s harbour wall, so as to satisfy their requirement that we stop where we said we were heading. In fact this arrangement worked out so well, that we stopped at every harbour on the way south and had a ball running around on the local buses and trains. In this way we visited Monte Sant’ Angelo outside Manfredonia, and the famous cities of Lecce, Trani and Ostuni, also known as the white city, among others.

Amazing welcome at Molfetta.
We had an amazing stop at Molfetta, little realising that this was a sister city to Fremantle. It became obvious when Molfettese kept coming up to our boat on the harbour wall relating stories of their days in Fremantle. From them we learnt that the traditional blessing of the fleet in Freo is based on the Molfetta tradition of this annual feast day. We found ourselves taken over by friendly locals who provided fresh fish, prawns, vegetables, home made high quality olive oil and many other local produce, and wanted us to stay and celebrate the upcoming traditional feast with them – the friendliness and warmth of the people there is something we will not forget.

Our absolute favourite port going south was undoubtedly Monopoli, a most charming old town with just enough history and ruins to keep us happy between feasting on really good Italian food. The Romans where wrong, there is fish in the Mediterranean, at least the Adriatic part of it.
On the 'Wall' in Monopoli.

A month on this coast of Italy flew by, with the telltale signs of good living now starting to show up in waistlines. So with reluctance we headed out of Brindisi and straight across to Syracuse to head down to Malta for a month’s stay before we headed back to Ragusa, in Sicily, where we were to leave MISCHIEF for the winter.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Cruising Croatia: the trip north

Celebrating my 58th birthday with Andi, Lea & Georges from TE ARA
 The start to our 2011 cruising season was a very social one, as we left Malta in mid May sailing with Philip and Henriette on Waterdrincker. Our first stop in Sicily was the tiny port of Marzamemi where we caught up with old friends Te Ara. We sailed on to Syracuse and spent a glorious few days there and then went on to Taormina where our paths went different ways as we continued around the south of Italy with Waterdrincker.

We toured the areas around Crotone with Philip and Henriette (Waterdrincker) and then waved goodbye to them as we made our way the next morning towards Prevesa in Greece. We wanted to see the parts of the Ionian that we missed out on last year and also stop to do the first service on our new engine before getting to Croatia in the summer madness.

Greece is always a place of contrasts and after seeing the ‘fjord’ to the east of Prevesa with quant villages and more ruins to admire we went for some blue water again on what we were sure would be our highlight this time round in Greece, namely the lovely islands of Paxos and Corfu. We stayed a whole week in the little town of Gaios in Paxos and took bus rides and rented a scooter to explore the island. Very touristic in a nice way and most enjoyable.
Paxos Island - the northern anchorage

From Paxos we then motor-sailed (we were in the ‘Motorranean’ after all) to Corfu to anchor under the old fort in calm blue seas. From here you can see Albania across the water and listen to Greek music from the taverna on the beach. A car rental and another week later we had experienced crazy tourist drivers and a thunderstorm or two with a swell in the anchorage to match any ocean crossing.

At this point we motor-sailed to Montenegro as the storm force headwinds abated. We gave Albania a miss as we had heard that one was either welcomed with open arms and kisses on both cheeks or robbed and shot on sight if you believe other cruisers’ tales.

The old town Kotor in Montenegro takes the picturesque prize in the region and is proudly operated by the local mafia who can teach the Italian cousins a few things apparently (which is why the Italian navy is patrolling the seas here and the minefields from the WW2 are still clearly marked on the sea charts).

Magnificent Montenegro

Being the daredevils we are we did not take a shortcut through the minefields even though we had been assured no one had been blown up for a long time. We arrived in Kotor to find it a really lovely, great place and, you guessed it, stayed a week enjoying the old town, food and artsy culture.

All good things have to come to an end and as there was no wind we motored on to Croatia. By now we were really pleased with our new engine that had already clocked over 100 hours. Checking in to Croatia, we emptied our wallet in favour of the taxman for the pleasure of being in these waters. To our surprise we found ourselves anchored next to three other antipodean yachts, two of which we would meet again later in the season.

Croatia is great for sailing with many islands and anchorages to stop at, some with lots of history. We sailed via Lopud to the island of Mljet, also a national park, and waited out some strong north easterlies (the dreaded Bora winds) here and ran into more Aussies, including Gail & Alex on Stefanija, and Carola & Jim on Koza.

On the island of Hvar

We made our way slowly north visiting many towns and anchorages in Korcula, Hvar, Drvenik Veli, Murter, Pasman, Ugljan, Molat and Mali Losinj to name a few.

The reputation of turquoise waters in beautiful bays was not exaggerated, and with more leisure time to explore the surrounds than our two week cruise to Croatia some six years back had allowed, we really enjoyed rediscovering this truly magnificent archipelago which is a sailing paradise.

Our ambitious program had us in Pula at the northern end of Croatia, by the end of July for our ultimate goal of the year, Venice. Here we caught up with Gerlinde & Martin on Mojo, Austrian friends we had first met during our winter stay in Finike 2 years ago. We also ran into Koza again and met June and Pat Antares , a Kiwi boat (the Boxing Kangaroo flag has really done its work this season!!).

Roman Colesseum at Pula

Venice was not to happen however. We did attempt a crossing early one morning and were greeted with 2-3 metre breaking waves at the entrance to Pula harbour, and simply turned back. With squalls and thunderstorms forecast for the next week or so, it was with great sadness and disappointment that we decided the weather gods turned against us dishing out thunderstorms galore for two weeks.

There is the flip side to everything however, as we changed plans and decided to prolong our cruising in Croatia by another month, giving us the opportunity to visit some of the other islands that we had missed out on going north, including the stunning Dugi Otok national park.

So here we are sitting sipping a good glass of wine as we plan our next moves to take in as much of this wonderful archipelago as possible.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Wintering in Malta

Hello fellow cruisers/ dear friends, family and all.

Out with the old in with the new

This has been our first long break ashore since leaving Australia over three years ago, as we have been off our beloved Mischief for about 6 months. 

We were very lucky to have a friend with an empty house in Malta which we could move into. So everything came off Mischief, and she got a thorough scrubbing, refreshing the varnish an d airing/ cleaning bedding etc. We did the same to our friend’s house which had been closed up for a length of time.

Never knew the engine room was so cosy

The first 3 months we concentrated on changing engine, and we now have a new YANMAR 54 hp in a pristine engine room. You almost need sunnies now with the glare from the new alfoil lined insulation, and Bjorn is justifiably very proud of his handiwork! As boat work will have it we also had to change the propeller shaft and propeller offcourse. Out with the old and in with the new became a major effort.

Our new tank

Another project was a new fuel tank, made from fibreglass, using a special chemical resistant resin, to replace the old steel tank that has had a ‘temporary’ repair since the Red Sea. We should have finished all the major jobs now. Needless to say, to you boaties, you are having a quiet giggle now, as there is no such thing as no more jobs on a boat!

 We took off from Malta in mid December and flew to Perth to spend Christmas with Mark & Bridget and Annika & Jesper. Thanks to Bridget’s family, we house sat a beautiful home and garden in an idyllic setting in the bush (forest for you non Aussies) outside Margaret River, some 250 kms south of Perth, and had a terrific Xmas and New Year with the Swarbrecks (Bridget’s family), even managing to avoid the 40 degree heat wave in Perth.

Only one thing to do when there are sharks in the water
But our reprieve from the heat was short lived! Perth proved to be a hot destination this year, and a very social one too. Apart from all our friends, including those at the Fremantle Sailing Club, we managed to catch up with several cruisers (Sandpiper, Purr, Billabong, Pampero) and other friends (Mara) who were visiting in Perth.

Back in Malta in mid March, after a brief stop over in incredible Dubai, we concentrated on getting Mischief ready for this year’s cruising. The weather in this part of the Med has taken its time to settle down and even now, towards the end of May, it is still a coolish 20 – 21 degrees, and only slowly warming up.

We left Malta on the 15 May and had a leisurely motor sail – in company with Waterdrincker (Philip & Henriette and friends) to Marzamemi in Sicily, catching up with dear friends Georges, Andi and their gorgeous 9 year old Lea on Te Ara.

A feast of  food and fresh produce in Sicily

We are now back in Syracuse, enjoying the fabulous foods and feasting our eyes and bellies on the wonderful range of produce from the local market. We also celebrated our birthdays with these good friends.

Our plan for this year is very flexible, though we still intend to try and go up the Adriatic to Venice and stop over in Ravenna in August. We will be making our way towards Paxos and Corfu via the boot of Italy in the next week or so!

Until our next instalment, we wish you all best of health and a good season wherever you are!

Christina & Bjorn

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

The Corinth and the Ionian to Malta

Hello fellow cruisers/ dear friends, family and all.

Here we are, berthed at Msida marina on the breakwater, with the 600 year old bastions of Valletta and Floriana in the background, 400 metres across from us in Marsamxett Harbour, Malta.

But first to our last part of the Greek cruise.

We left Paros with very gentle winds and a good forecast for the following week and cruised up along the Peloponnese coast towards the Corinth Canal, stopping at the historic town of Epidhavros on the way. We anchored at Kalamaki overnight and in the morning left early to go up the Corinth Canal with calm winds forecast. The canal is quite narrow, with steep sides and very dramatic, and we only had a small counter current which did not worry us at all. It was interesting to see how the sides of the canal are getting eroded and the efforts being made to maintain it.

It took us about an hour and a half to go through the canal, and then we were in the Gulf of Corinth. Up went the sails as the wind started to pick up. Before long we had 20 knots plus head winds and the seas were short and becoming very choppy and wet. We gave up on our original plan to go through to Galaxidi and decided to go to the bay at Veresses. It was protected from the swell but had some very strong gusts blowing into the bay until sunset, when all died down.

In the morning, we made an early start before the wind picked up again and motored round the corner into Galaxidi, one of the prettiest little harbours we had visited to date, but also with an ominous clunking sound coming from the engine. Once in Galaxidi Bjorn, with the help of Mark, figured the drive plate was broken and needed replacing. After chasing all over Greece (by phone) for the part we ended up ordering the it from the UK (much cheaper and the proper part). Then came the hairy bit of pushing the shaft back whilst the boat is still in the water, replacing the plate and then trying to get the shaft back in again!!! Once again, my darling chief engineer (definitely in the captain's good books that time) did a tremendous job, with Mark and Peter, another Australian on the catamaran Purr, helping.

We stayed on in Galaxidi and went to visit Delphi which is by far the most stunning site we have been to in Greece. The museum is really first class! We also made some good friends in this town and spent some very pleasant evenings with Peter and Dorothy on Purr (also from Freo Sailing Club and sailed to Med) and Gina & Lenny on Feijao (eastern staters), plus our American friends Harry & Jane on Cormorant. Another of Mark & Bridget's friends joined us here, bringing more boat spares from the UK.

After some 8-9 days, we motored out of Galaxidi to the small island of Trizionia with a very pretty bay, some 15 miles to the east along the Corinth. It was approaching the end of Mark & Bridget's stay with us, and we decided to do an overnight sail before they left. So we left at 5.00pm and headed out first under the bridge at Patras and then straight on towards the Ionian island of Ithaca, where Mark and Bridget and their friend Lucy were to disembark and take the ferry to Corfu.

We arrived at Vathy Harbour in Ithaca at 7.00 am, after slowing down for the last few hours of early morning. What a stunning place this was, seemingly a very safe harbour. We decided to rest up after the overnight sail, and then go ashore in the afternoon. The cruising guide did warn about fierce gusts, and they were not wrong! We certainly got wet going ashore, and only did so because the anchor seemed to be holding very well! It seems that the wind blows 25 - 30 knots in the harbour, and yet it can be only 5 knots outside, depending on wind direction. Luckily the wind eased off at dusk and we had a drier return trip to Mischief after our last meal together ashore.

What did not work out though was the ferry to Corfu where Mark, Bridget and Lucy were headed. The direct ferry service had been cancelled and it seemed they either had to take a ferry back to Patras (a whole day) and then one out to Corfu or else island hop.... With favourable weather forecast, we upped anchor the next morning and motor sailed north to Nidri harbour in Levkas, where the 'kids' (they hate me calling them that, but 'young adults' seems too artificial, maybe I should just stick to M&B)... disembarked.

We stopped in Nidri for about a week, somewhat sad about the departure of M&B and tried to work up some enthusiasm for cruising the Ionian. In truth, after visiting some 25 islands, numerous Hora (main towns on Greek islands, sometimes also spelt Chora), churches, ruins and other sites we were somewhat exhausted from sightseeing and needed a rest. We were fortunate to bump into our friends on Cormorant once again and met up some other cruisers who gave us good tips for bays to visit in the area, where we could swim, relax and enjoy the beautiful bays. What we had not planned on was the August holidays and the invasion of yachts by Italians and northern Europeans and the crazy - and sometimes downright dangerous - manoeuvrings of some the yacht skippers and charterers.

We cruised around the island of Meganisi for a week, always making sure to get in early to find a good anchorage, and ended up having to tie up stern to in one of the bays. I guess it had to happen sooner or later, but to our horror we got a rat on board. We caught it the second night, but not after it had started to chew our new VHF coax which we had only just installed a year before! The rat must have tried to come aboard on the rope tied to shore which had a rat protection wheel.... from the droppings it seems that it must have fallen into the water, somehow swam to the front of the boat, climbed our anchor chain and made its way to the hatch where it chewed our flyscreen to get in!! Thank goodness for those gluey strips, for they trapped the very unwelcome guest before it did much more damage!!

Well... that somewhat turned me off the idyllic Ionian, but in truth, these pests exist everywhere!! We left Meganisi in disgust and tried to find another anchorage where we would not have to tie up to shore. Thanks to a tip from Cormorant, we discovered the lovely bay called Port Leoni and a few days later decided to take up another tip and visit Kioni, on Ithaca. We were told to get there early, and luckily we did as we found just about the last spot on the harbour - and right along side Georges & Andrea and daughter Lea on Te Ara whom we knew from our winter at Finike Marina. Well... a good reunion, sundowner time and a glass of wine in hand and suddenly the whole harbour came alive as boats started coming in to find berths...

Now get this... a small harbour at the head of a small bay which could accommodate perhaps 15-20 yachts. Then suddenly you have flotillas of charter yachts and other boats coming in (we counted about 70 one evening) looking to tie up. Deep water throughout, so boats would have to anchor close to shore and put a stern line out to tie up. The yelling, shouting, trying to get a place first, dangerous tactics, swearing etc certainly kept us entertained every evening, as we kept watch to ensure our anchors did not get snagged and we came unstuck!! 11,000 nautical miles from Fremantle to the Med, and this was definitely the scariest bit of boating we encountered! We saw - and helped untangle - many boats whose careless or clueless captains got anchors snagged, sometimes towing other boats behind them!!

With these antics, we gave up on trying other anchorages, as the word was that everywhere was just too crowded and crazy, so we explored Ithaca with Te Ara and then headed to Nidri to get ready for our crossing to Sicily and then to Malta for the winter. The plan was to get to the Ionian early next season and explore the beautiful isles in peace before heading up the Adriatic to Croatia and on to Venice.

We had a lovely sail for the first 36 hours and were heading straight to Malta, but some 50 miles from Syracuse we ran into an uncomfortable swell and decided to revert to our original plan and changed direction for Syracuse. We got there early morning to see once again our friends Cormorant at the anchorage. We spent close to a week there waiting for favourable winds to sail the last 80 miles to Malta, but in the meantime rediscovered the old town of Syracuse which has been transformed from a dirty, grotty city I remembered from some 40 years ago to this incredibly lovely scrubbed up and restored old town - really charming, warm and friendly with some marvellous restaurants and a good market! We fell in love and would have stayed on but for the need to get to Malta and secure a winter berth.

We had a pleasant crossing to Malta, sailing for the first part and then motoring as the wind died down overnight. I cannot describe the emotions of finally sailing into Marsamxett Harbour in Malta in our beloved MISCHIEF two and a half years after leaving Fremantle. We put down anchor and I had to go and coax a place in the marina, and a few days later managed to tie up at the guest berths.

So here we are, mum (88) and dad (94) still going strong as are all the rest of the family, MISCHIEF getting readied for the winter, and for more winter maintenance including possibly a new engine for the next legs of our voyage. We keep running into old sailing friends, Blue Marine, Moonshadow , Te Ara and others are all in Malta, some for the winter, some passing through... catching up with old sailing friends in Malta.... We even had visitors from WA (Bicton neighbours) including old acquaintances we had long lost touch with - all in all a very social start to our winter stay.

And before long, winter in Perth with our daughter and partner, and M&B, a family together again even if briefly after 4 years... We hope to catch up with as many as possible in Perth (we're there for 2-3 months).

All the very best

Christina & Bjorn