Palermo to Valetta

Kukri left Palermo slightly unimpressed with the city but in good spirits with excellent weather. Despite the weather, there was a lack of wind, so the motor was fired up and we aimed for the volcano islands; importantly Stromboli, for sight of an active volcano. Kukri arrived at Stromboli at about 0100, to witness a spectacular natural firework display and to see the lava flowing down the mountainside. In fact, it was so good that we about turned about and went for a second look. Once the memories had been absorbed, we headed South towards the Messina Straits.

Passage through the Straits was a lesson in avoiding small fishing vessels and large container ships in a very narrow channel, but the fun was yet to happen. Once the Messina Straits opened up, the wind was pulled through the narrow gap directly behind us. 41kts (Force 9) was measured at one point taking Kukri’s reefing to the limit. Whilst Port-Watch were up on deck putting in this third reef, a wave rudely sent Stew and Derreck flying, thankfully being held only by thier safety harnesses. Despite the sun and weather, the sea was constantly throwing testers at the crew to keep us on our toes. To our West mount Etna loomed, with her snow capped peak providing a great back drop for many picture opportunities.

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Malta became ever closer on the charts and a quick dash across the straits were made, contending with the famous choppy seas. At 0130 Mark decided to make an in optimistic enquiry about Scuba diving in Malta, as a post passage treat, but funnily enough received no immediate reply!

Entrance into the famous Valletta harbour was impressive, with all the historic bastions and forts used to guard the island for centuries. We arrived at our mooring and to finalise our final yachting skills we tried to med Moor on lines too short for Kukri. A manoeuvre made hard once our line had been caught around Kukri’s prop, queue Alice masking up and having a dip to free up this up. Kev was also on an adventure to be hoisted up the mast to free up and fix the stb’d signal burgee, which he had incorrectly hoisted the night before. He assured us the ‘wedgie’ was not worth it.

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Mark, our on board BSAC Scuba instructor, received a positive reply from the Cresta Dive Centre with a dive spot on a wreck that afternoon. Along with Matt and Kayley, both with dive experience, off the three went towards the Dive Centre in St Julien. The dive thankfully ended up being of great significance to the expedition, considering they walked around 10 km to and from the dive centre. The wreck was called a Coralita class water lighter and lay between 5 and 22m in the harbour itself. The vessel was layed down in 1915 as a motor landing craft, 1 of 200 others to be used in suppot of the Gallipoli landings to ferry supplies in behind the advancing troops. This vessel was then employed as a utility vessel in Valletta harbour during WWII working in vicinity of the famous hospital, when she was bombed in mistake for a British submarine. The wreck is now a preserved site and the only remaining barge of her class. A great history lesson and an excellent addition to the Gallipoli 15 exped.

With Friday held as an ashore day, for cultural visits; and Saturday reserved for a deep clean of the vessel, this brought to a conclusion the Int Corps leg of EX GALLIPOLI.

All Crew are most grateful to the generous support of ICA, which made this exciting trip more affordable for all.
Mike and Gerry are also thanked for their contribution as RYA Instructors, enabling four new Competent Crews to be added to the ICSA roster.

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