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of Malta comprises the islands of Malta,
Gozo and Comino. These low,
arid, densely-populated islands situated midway between Europe
and Africa are still of great strategic importance, as
they have been over the centuries, and their history is both colourful and
is a convenient staging point for yachtsmen on passage in the central Mediterranean
and a popular destination for those wishing to over-winter afloat or lay-up
their yacht ashore. It has extensive facilities for yachts, easy communications
and is an interesting, though small, cruising ground in its own right with
picturesque harbours and attractive anchorages. There is a good live-aboard
community around Marsamxett
Harbour with regular quizzes,
book-swaps and other social events. English is one of two official languages
and is widely spoken.
The principal yachting port is Marsamxett Harbour
on the north side of Valletta. (To
see a map of the harbour, Click
here) The harbour is divided into three main creeks, Sliema,
Lazaretto and Msida. There are yacht berths in Msida Marina and on both the north and south sides of
Lazaretto Creek. The outer entrance to the harbour is open to the north-east
and strong winds from this direction, known locally as a gregale,
send a swell rolling in. The berths in Msida Marina
are reasonably well protected but those in Lazaretto Creek can be badly
affected and a yacht moored there should not be left unattended while a gregale is blowing. There are no berths for yachts
in Sliema Creek which can be dangerous in a gregale.
The berths in Msida
Marina and on Ta’Xbiex Quay on the south-west side of
Lazaretto Creek are administered by the ‘Malta Maritime Authority’. Their
offices, known as the ‘Yachting Centre’, are situated on Msida
Point at the entrance to Msida Marina. Berths are
allocated as they become available on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. They
cannot be booked in advance either personally or through an agent. The greatest
pressure is during September and October when visitors start to arrive for the
winter whilst the permanent berth-holders still have their boats in the water.
During these months berths for visitors may be unavailable or restricted to a
few days but when the permanent berth-holders start to lift out in November,
space becomes available and there is usually plenty of room for those who wish
to over-winter afloat.
Malta Maritime Authority does not
provide pick-up lines on Ta’Xbiex Quay though some
berths do have lines left behind by previous occupants. If staying for a few
weeks or longer many yachtsmen employ a diver to attach a line to the heavy
ground-chain that runs parallel with the shore. Those not doing so lie to their
The facilities on the Manoel Island
shore of Lazaretto
Creek have recently been taken over by a new company known as ‘Manoel Island Marina’.
They have already built two pontoons running out from the shore and
three more are planned for the near future. The company intends to build a
breakwater to shelter their berths from the gregale
but no time-scale has been stated.
There is a small marina at Mgarr on the island
and an interesting harbour at Marsaxlokk in the south
of Malta. A new
marina known as ‘PortiMaso’ with approximately 100
berths has been built in St Julian’s Bay as part of the expansion of the Hilton
Extensive facilities for
laying-up ashore are available on Manoel
Island. The principal facility, ‘Manoel Island Yacht Yard’, is very popular and advance
booking is recommended. It has two travel hoists, a crane and seven slipways
for vessels up to 500 tons. Security in the yard is good. ‘Manoel
Island Marina’ has its own lay-up facilities. It currently lifts boats with a
mobile crane but a travel hoist is planned.
There have been plans for some
time to build a ‘Super-Yacht’ Marina
in Grand Harbour
but work has not yet been started.
Maltese telephone numbers now have
8 digits. Add ‘21’ in front of old 6-figure numbers.
Telephone code from the UK:
00 356 (no area code is required within Malta).
Telephone code to the UK:
00 44 Overseas Operator: 194
Police: 191 Ambulance: 196 Fire Brigade: 199
The unit of currency is the
Maltese lira (Lm) which is divided into 100 cents. Cash Machines are widely
available. There is no limit to the amount of foreign currency visitors may
bring into Malta,
providing it is declared upon arrival. However, the maximum amount of Maltese
currency that may be brought into Malta
is Lm 50. Visitors may not take out of Malta
more than Lm 25 in Maltese currency.
Electricity is 240v single phase, 50Hz. Sockets are the same as in the UK.
Vehicles drive on the left-hand side
of the road. There is a speed limit of 64 kph (40mph) on highways and 40kph
(23mph) in urban areas. Public transport is cheap and efficient.
A reciprocal health agreement
citizens free medical and hospital care for visitors staying less than one
month. Yachtsman staying for a longer period have to pay some of the costs of
treatment so may wish to take out suitable insurance.
keeps Central European Time (GMT +1). Daylight Saving Time (GMT + 2) is kept
from the last Sunday in March until the last Sunday in October.
ENTRY BY SEA
PORTS OF ENTRY
The principal port of entry for
yachts is Marsamxett
Harbour but, between 16th
June and 30th September, clearance in and out can also be made at Mgarr on Gozo.
Yachts arriving from abroad should contact Valletta Port
Control on VHF Channel 12 when within range for entry instructions. Yachts
arriving during office hours [0800 to 1200 and 1300 to 1700 (1900 during the
summer)] are usually directed to the customs office at the Yachting Centre at
the entrance to Msida Marina. A short section of the
quay behind the marina wall is reserved for yachts seeking clearance. The
formalities are simple and usually take no more than 10 minutes.
Yachts arriving outside office hours are directed to clear inwards
in Grand Harbour. This is a commercial harbour with no
provision for yachts and mooring near the customs office can be difficult.
Yachtsmen are strongly advised to time their arrival to enable them to clear
inwards at the Yachting Centre.
Yachts and pleasure craft may be
kept in Malta
without liability for tax if their registered owners are non-resident
foreigners, if the boats are exclusively intended for use by the owners or
their authorised representatives (who must also be non-resident foreigners) and
provided that the boats are not chartered out. Tax-free yachts and pleasure
craft are entitled to tax-free spares.
Yachts with cats or dogs on board
that have Certificates and Ear-Chips are allowed to berth alongside after the
animals have been inspected by the Health Department Vet. However, yachts with uncertificated animals on board may not berth alongside at
any time. Further information can be obtained from the Port Health
Department. Telephone: +356 2122 4810.
The Department of Customs
requires only a Certificate of Boat Registry for the vessel and valid Passports
for every member of the crew. A number of forms have to be completed when
clearing in but these are simple and normally present no problems. UK
citizens do not need Entry or Transit Visas. There are no restrictions on crew
changes. The master of a departing vessel must present a receipt from the Malta
Maritime Authority showing that all dues have been paid.
Before departure from Malta,
whether by sea or by air, crew members must present themselves to the Customs
and Immigration officials at the Yachting Centre where their passports will be
stamped. It is particularly important to remember to do this before going to
the airport. If and when the crew fly back to Malta,
their passports with be ‘date-stamped’ at the airport. This procedure
grants entry for three months, after which time they have to go to the Port
Police in Floriana to have their passports
re-stamped. This does not apply to crew who remain on the island having entered
by yacht since their passports will not have been ‘date-stamped’ on entry.
Duty-free stores and fuel can be
obtained by making arrangements with one of several agencies for completion of the
necessary forms. 24 hours notice is required for fuel and up to 48 hours should
be allowed for stores, which will be delivered under Customs supervision.
Customs require yachts to leave within 24 hours of embarking duty-free stores,
which may not be consumed within territorial waters.
Details can be obtained from the
Valletta Yacht Club. Telephone: +356
There are many Yacht Agents
operating in Malta,
one of the largest being S & D Yachts Ltd. For a fee they will act on your
behalf in locating goods and services but use of them is not compulsory.
FUEL, STORES AND REPAIRS
Fuel is available from an
anchored barge near the entrance to Msida Marina and
a small road tanker tours the berths in Msida Marina
and Lazaretto Creek. Camping Gaz and Calor Gas bottles can be re-filled at one of the chandlers.
There are many small shops and
two large supermarkets within walking distance of Lazaretto Creek. The
supermarkets stock many imported goods from the UK
that are not normally obtainable in the Mediterranean
and they deliver to the quayside free of charge. There are numerous chandlers
and spares of all types are readily obtainable. There are several Internet
Cafes and a Launderette along the seafront between Manoel Island
Bridge and Sliema.
Vans selling vegetables and/or fish can be found parked in strategic points
around the towns on Malta.
A few such vans visit the quays each day.
Drinking water is produced on Malta
by de-salination. Though it is said to be of good
quality when it leaves the plant, it is often contaminated at the point of
delivery as it passes through old rusty iron pipes. Water and electricity at
the yacht berths on Ta’Xbiex Quay are metered and
charged for and new connections cannot be made there either during the evenings
or weekends. However, water and electricity in Msida
Marina are included in the price for berths, and can be used at any time.
There are many services available
for yachts in Malta
that can be difficult to obtain elsewhere in the Mediterranean
with the added advantage of communication in English. Manoel
Island Yacht Yard has extensive workshops for engineering and repairs of all
Malta Radio transmits daily
weather forecasts in English at 0803, 1203, 1803 and 2303 local time on 2625
kHz and VHF 04 after preliminary calls on VHF 12. A Navtex
transmitter gives forecasts for Malta
and the surrounding waters within a 50 mile radius.
BA Chart 194 covers Malta
and there are also harbour charts.
Admiralty Sailing Directions
Mediterranean Pilot Vol 1
Ports and Anchorages Handbook
(Royal Malta YC)
Italian Waters Pilot Heikell (Imray)
Mediterranean Almanac Heikell (Imray)
North African Pilot RCC (Imray)
Malta High Commission, Malta
House, 36-38 Piccadilly, London W1J 0LE.
Tel: 020 7292 4800 Fax:
020 7734 1831
Tourist Office, Unit C, Park House, 14 Northfields, London SW18 1DD.
Tel: 020 8877 6990 Fax:
020 8874 9416
Website: www.visitmalta.com. E-mail:
Maritime Authority, Yachting Centre, Msida Marina,
Ta’ Xbiex, MSD 011.
Tel: +356 2133 2800 Fax: +356 2133 2141
E-mail: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Yachting Centre, Msida Marina, Ta’ Xbiex, MSD 011.
Tel: +356 2133 5691 Fax: +356 2133 9187
Manoel Island Marina, Manoel Island, Gzira, GZR
Tel: +356 2133 8589
Fax: +356 2134 1714
Yacht Yard, Manoel
Tel: +356 2133 4453/4454 Fax: +356 2134 3900
E-mail: email@example.com or
State Hospitals: Malta:
+356 2124 1251 Gozo:
+356 2156 1600
S & D
Yachts Ltd, 57 Gzira Road, Gzira, Malta. Tel: +356 2133
9908 Fax +356 2133 2259.
The address for mail for yachts
berthed in Marsamxett
Harbour should take the form:
Marina (or Ta’Xbiex Quay), The
Yachting Centre, Ta’ Xbiex Seafront, MSD 11, Malta.
I wrote this report in December 2000
for inclusion in the CA/RYA Publication C2 Foreign
Cruising. It was updated in December 2002 with the kind help of Claire &
Jimmy James who were over-wintering in Malta
at the time.