We are opening a new sailing route in the Mediterranean this year – boosted by the success our latest sailing trips between Sardinia and Corsica, we double up on the idea of ‘two countries, two cultures’.
Situated at the crossroads of the Mediterranean, successively under the influence of the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Sicilians, Spanish, French, and British, Malta has evolved an absolutely unique culture. The Maltese language itself is a singular blend, a language of Semitic origin, but written in the Latin alphabet, with a huge influence of Sicilian, and a large stock of English loanwords. Besides Maltese, English is spoken very widely, although with a peculiar accent.
Malta is a country like no other, member of the European Union since 2004, and still with a very distinctive feel to the other European nations. It is a place where small corner-of-the-street shops have not yet been supplanted by chain supermarkets, where the elders still gather on a bench in the evenings, where the churches are overflowing on Sunday mornings, and where the towns rival in lavish fireworks for their traditional festa, yearly events celebrating the parish patron saint.
Everything is smaller here. The main island, Malta, is 28km by 13km, and the sister island Gozo only 14km by 7km. On these small rocks live more than 400,000 people. The first impression is one of an urban jungle, not one of modern concrete and glass and skyscrapers, but one of a jumble of flat roofs, local limestone and baroque churches, gripped in a maze of narrow streets almost constantly jammed with traffic. Yet, next to this chaotic urban sprawl, lives another Malta, made of a mosaic of miniature vegetable fields farmed by hand, dry garrigue sprinkled with carob and fig trees, and wild inaccessible sea cliffs where the only sounds are those of the waves and the cackling of the sea bird colonies.
Travelling by boat will allow us to navigate all these faces of the islands, drop anchor in remote bays, hike along the sea cliffs, or mingle in the traditional village markets and celebrations.
After 12 hours of overnight sailing, we shall be surprised by the contrast on the Sicilian coast: smooth beaches instead of rugged cliffs, wide uninhabited hills instead of terraced fields, stucco facades instead of Maltese limestone, pizzerias instead of pastizzerias, and a language definitely more familiar to many of us.
This sailing trip is for those who would like to discover the unique culture of Malta, the baroque of Sicily, experience the sweet and disorienting feeling of arriving to another country by sail, or try out night navigation and watch keeping for the first time.
Depending on the wind conditions, we will start our sailing around Malta, dropping anchor in a few more remote bays and get slowly acquainted with our crew and yacht. Our crossing to Sicily will ideally be sailed by night. This way we will keep more time at day to explore the island.
Sailing at night is always a unique experience. Leaving in the evening we shall watch the sunset out at sea, the colours change and the first stars appear while we send one of us down below to switch on the navigation lights. Eventually, as the night falls all we shall still see are the lights of Malta fading in the distance.
We will take 3 hours watches in turn in small teams, while the remaining of the crew sleeps cozily (or tries to!) in the cabins below. While the helms(wo)man keeps an eye on the compass or navigate with the stars, the crew keeps a lookout for other boats, listens to changes in the wind, and trim or reef the sails if necessary. You are guaranteed to roll around in your bed every time we tack! Finally, after a night on course, the first colours of dawn appear on the horizon. We can spot Sicily in the distance, while the first sleepy heads peak out through the companionway. It’s time for a warm cup of tea or coffee, silently watching the sun rise over the Mediterranean sea.
The crossing one way is between 50 and 60 nautical miles, which takes between 7 and 15 hours of sailing, depending on the wind. If the wind is too strong however, it is possible that the crossing can not be done, so be aware that in that case we may not be able to see Sicily at all, and instead stay the whole week around Malta. But do not worry, even in that case we have a whole panel of ideas for ‘plan Bs’.
Malta-Sicily Sailing Highlights
What you can expect to do on this route.
Malta-Sicily Sailing Itinerary
We are true to the discoverers’ spirit and plan our adventures accordingly to the winds, the weather and your wishes. This means the order as well as some of stopovers may be different than presented below. Leave planning at home! The plan showed below is only an indicative itinerary and your trip may differ. Only the mad ones sail against the wind!