Log #21b Canada Day in Gozo

July 16, 2001 in Log Series 20 - 29, Logs by Series, Series 21 Malta, The Logs

Log #21b Canada Day in Gozo

Mgarr, Gozo
July 2, 2001

Thank you, people of Gozo, from Judy and Aubrey Millard on board our Canadian sailing vessel, Veleda IV, for the hospitality and friendship unreservedly extended to us on our visit to your fair domain. Thanks to the office of Louis Bugeja, the Assistant Honorary Consul for Canada in Valetta, we had the opportunity to attend your Maltese Canadian Association, Gozo Branch, 6th annual Canada Day Celebration at the gracious, picturesque Hotel Ta’ Cenc in Sannat on July 1st. We were greeted by the Branch President Joe Zammit and his wife shortly after we arrived at Mgarr Marina. It was difficult to miss our boat, Veleda IV, as we had dressed ship with over 100 flags and burgees, topped with a large Canadian flag.

Joe made arrangements with Louis Vassallo, a very friendly and co-operative taxi driver, to pick us up and take us to the hotel. Louis went out of his way to help us with an important errand en route. Thanks Louis! The Hotel Ta’ Cenc, an impressive venue for the banquet, was a manor house, Palazzo Palina, built between 1697 and 1720 under the authority of Grand Master Ramon Perellos Y Rocaful, and a residence for the noble family Testaferatta. Low sandstone buildings; stone walled gardens with lush semitropical vegetation of hibiscus, azaleas, oleander, pine trees, and cacti; ancient arched passageways with indirectly illuminated niches; Kalkra tal-Gir tower, the former limekiln near the entrance; stone terraced walkways; and a lovely moonlit night; all made for a serene comfortable luxurious setting. The hotel staff efficiently served sparkling fruit flavoured wines with hors-d’ oeuvres, followed by a multi-course Italian feast accompanied by enjoyable background and dance music provided by “The Broadcasters”.

We were particularly interested in the short but poignant presentations of the two main speakers, Jason Zammit, a local radio personality, and Malcolm McKechnie, a Minister Councillor for Political and Public Affairs from the Canadian Embassy in Rome. Jason, born and raised in Canada of Maltese parents, immigrated to Gozo ten years ago and has taken out Maltese citizenship. He talked of the transition and that his heart and home are in Gozo, but he is a product of Canada, retaining an affection for it too. Mr. McKechnie astutely identified the maturing equality of Maltese Canadian relationships in that there is immigration both ways, as typified by Jason, enhancing family, cultural, business and tourist links between our countries.

The committee who put this enjoyable evening together are to be congratulated, and the Bank of Valetta for its support and sponsorship. Judy and I count ourselves fortunate to have been able to attend this celebration of Canada Day in Gozo, and to meet so many Maltese, Brits, and fellow Canadians with an affection for our country, Canada. Thank you, the Gozo Branch of the Maltese Canadian Association!

Our Trip So Far

Judy and I are retired Canadians who are celebrating our third anniversary of sailing, cruising and living on board Veleda IV on July 3rd with a delightful tour of Gozo with Joe Zammit and his wife Rose. We left Toronto on July 3rd, 1998 after selling our house in the “Beaches” area of Toronto, and set sail in Veleda for an indefinite period and indefinite destinations.

We wanted to spend the summer doing all the Great Lakes, and so headed for the Welland Canal across Lake Ontario, into Lake Erie, up Lake Huron to our old sailing area in the North Channel between Manitoulin Island and the north shore of Lake Huron, where we used to live. From there we went into Lake Superior up to Thunder Bay, then back down Lake Michigan to Chicago. We lowered our mast to go through a canal into the Illinois River which entered the Mississippi River just above St. Louis, Missouri. We put our mast back up there and continued down the Mississippi and into a parallel waterway, the Ten-Tom, to Mobile Bay. From there we went across the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway to Florida, to the Everglades and the Florida Keys, down to Key West for Christmas and the New Year.

From Key West we went to Cuba, then up to the Bahamas for the rest of the winter. In May we set off for Bermuda, an 8 day sail, then across the Atlantic to the Azores, a 21 day sail. Another 13 days took us to Falmouth in Cornwall, England. We spent the summer on the south coast and the east coast rivers, the winter in London.

In April 2000, we left for Holland and the Dutch canals, going up to Amsterdam, out the Ijselmere past the Frisian Islands and in through the Kiel Canal to the Baltic. We enjoyed the Danish islands and Copenhagen before touching Sweden and the south coast of Norway. From there we crossed the North Sea in force 8 gales over to Inverness in Scotland. After going through the Caledonian Canal, including the famed Loch Ness (no monsters), we went up the western Highlands and over to the Hebrides, It was a cold summer for us. Only 5 days that summer were we able to wear shorts, and no swimming!

After returning to the Glasgow area, we went across to Northern Ireland, down the Irish Sea to the Isle of Man, then over to Anglessey in Wales. From Milford Haven we went to the Scilly Isles off the south west tip of England, the into the English Channel to the Channel Islands of Guernsey, Jersey, Sark and Alderney by September.

At the beginning of October we went to Le Havre and up the Seine River to Paris. From there we went up the Marne River and Marne Canals, to the Saone and the Rhone Rivers, down to Avignon and Arles, and into the Mediterranean at Sete. This river and canal trip was in cold fall weather and we were delayed by lock closures, flooded into a marina and unable to get out under a bridge because of high water levels, delayed again by a lock-keepers’ strike, and yet again in Sete as the bridges were closed for the Christmas holidays. So we were unable to enter the Med until December 27!

We went directly to Barcelona, where we were again detained, awaiting repairs to a radio, before we crossed to the Balearic Islands, hit en route by a storm losing our foresail. We were two months in Mallorca before all repairs were completed, and another month while my son was with us. However we got to Tunisia for a few weeks and started to enjoy really warm weather for the first time in two years. After stopping at Lampedusa, we finally made our way to Malta and Gozo.

From here we will touch Sicily and the southern tip of Italy, on our way to Dubrovnic and the rest of the summer in Croatia. We will get up to Venice before heading down to Greece, and then to Turkey for the winter. However, our fondest memories are of Gozo because of the friendship shown to us, the Canada Day banquet, a barbecue at the Zammits’ and the enjoyable tour of Gozo that Joe and Rose gave us on our third live-aboard anniversary, July 3rd.

Tour of Gozo

Joe and Rose picked us up at Mgarr Marina about 9:00 am and gave us a wonderful conducted tour of many of the sights of Gozo until mid-afternoon, when we had to depart for Malta to rendezvous with some cruising friends we have not seen since January in Barcelona. We had a panoramic view of the Blue Lagoon, across the North Comino Channel, where we anchored a couple of nights earlier between Comino and Cominotto islands. Then, of particular interest to Judy and me, we stopped at the prehistoric Ggantija Temples dating back to about 3600 BC, and marveled at the construction techniques that must have been used to erect such immense stones as are used in the North and South Temples and particularly in the massive boundary wall, with some of the stone slabs over 5 metres in length and weighing over 50 tons.

We then enjoyed the visit to Ta’Kola Windmill, seeing a bit of Gozo’s history from the 1700s and 1800s. We were also greeted by Mr. Alfred Camilleri and his wife who live nearby. As I like caves, we visited Calypso’s Cave and Xerri’s Grotto, then headed along the north road enjoying the vistas of Marsalforn Bay and the Salt Pans before crossing over to the west coast and the dramatic Fungus Rock and the stone arch of the Azure Window, as well as the intriguing Inland Sea and its craggy cavern into the open water.

We were enchanted by the Citadel in Victoria! We went through the Archeology, the Natural Science, and the Crafts Museums, enjoying not only the contents and displays, but especially the ancient architecture of the stone walls, staircases, arched cellars, rooftop gardens, and narrow passageways in which they were housed. After an enjoyable lunch in the Rabat, of salad, olive oil, and bread, we visited the Gozo Cathedral. It was a fine example of Roman Baroque with small domes above the side aisles, and an intriguing trompe l’oeil painting over the main altar giving the depth perspective of a tall dome as one gazes up at the flat ceiling.

Upon our return to Veleda we said our goodbyes, with promises to keep in contact via E-mail, and took down the more than 100 flags we had flying from Veleda for the two celebrations of Canada Day and our 3rd anniversary of live-aboard sailing. As we motored out of Mgarr harbour we felt a twinge of regret at having to leave such an enjoyable island and new friends so soon. If we can return to Gozo before departing Malta for Sicily, we will, but for sure we will put Gozo on our itinerary when we are returning westward through the Mediterranean towards the Atlantic, perhaps back to Canada, or the Caribbean, or the Panama Canal and the Pacific Ocean, or wherever our travels take us.

Thank you Gozo for a most enjoyable and memorable time.

Aubrey and Judy Millard
On board VELEDA IV