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As part of our regular maintenance schedule, the S/Y Maltese Falcon was placed on top a floating dry dock in Limassol harbour in early June.
The elegant yacht pairs with the industrial behemoth in a well-coordinated dance. Many thanks to everyone aboard both ships and in the harbour for the flawless execution of this operation.
Crossing the Atlantic is no small feat. A typical crossing is almost three thousand miles. For the Maltese Falcon however, due to the design, hull size and stability produced from the Dynarig masts and built in water ballast system, an Atlantic crossing is but a small “jump of the pond”. The weather, at the beginning of our journey, gave us wind over twenty knots and very high waves. We chose a course that kept us further south than normal to avoid the blunt of a low pressure system. As we hoisted our sails and caught the wind, we barely utilized the boat’s engines and clipped along at an average speed of fifteen knots! At night time we were blessed with clear skies.
As any sailor can attest, the clarity of the night sky, and the ability to see all the constellations, is second to none floating in the middle of the Ocean and we were fortunate to experience the night sky with such a distinct lack of light and air pollution. Our younger crew members benefitted from the vast astrological knowledge of some of our more experienced Officers, who pointed out and taught the constellations of the Northern Hemisphere such as Orion’s belt, Ursa minor and the ever important North Star!
Before we knew it, we were at the half-way point of the Ocean.
We had one crew member aboard who hadn’t crossed before. He had a date with King Neptune and needed to be initiated in customary British Navy Tradition!
Meanwhile another crew tradition took place, the mid Atlantic swim! After many days at Sea and some rough weather, the Ocean flattened out and the sun was shining. We hauled in the sails and came to gentle rolling stand still. All the crew adorned their most stylish beach attire and jumped overboard into the surprisingly warm deep blue waters of the Atlantic. Staring into the limitless depths below the sun’s rays sparkled producing the most pure and awe inspiring shades of blue!
Another Maltese Falcon crew tradition, to keep morale high and monotony low, is to put on a “captains dinner”. Stewardess Erika pulled out all the stops and elaborately decorated the upper crew area to standards fit for a Michelin Starred restaurant. All the crew turned up, dressed in their Sunday best, and gathering on the aft deck for mocktails at Sunset. The Chef crafted a menu to match Erika’s décor beginning with delicate canapés of tuna tartare with avocado salsa and cucumber cups filled with miso whipped goats cheese. For the starter, baked brie with a Friseé salad of heirloom tomatoes, green beans, julienned apples and champagne cream. The main course was a choice of either Duck Confit or braised Sea Bass. For dessert, a goji berry white chocolate parfait with black berry coulis rounded out the evening’s feast. It was a very special experience for everyone involved to be able to sit down together and eat such a civilized meal; thousands of miles from any fine restaurant… or any civilization for that matter!
Meanwhile we were soon to find out just how lucky we were to be floating on a boat in the middle of the Atlantic…
Horta, Gibraltar & into the Med; COVID-19
As the days ticked by crossing the Ocean, news reports poured in about the “Corona Virus” pandemic. At first, we debated with each other as to the reality of it, baffled that a virus could affect the world to such an extreme. Entire countries were shutting their borders. People were dying. Emails were being received from the crew’s family members from all corners of the world stating that their communities were on lock down and self-isolation was the new normal. With plenty of food (and toilet paper) and aboard a state of the art self-sufficient Superyacht far away from land, we all were feeling very lucky for our set of circumstances. We did however need to figure out where we would be able to dock next… We began working as a team to conserve fuel and resources where possible.
The race sails were hoisted and a course was charted for the Atlantic archipelago known as the Azores; a lush volcanic group of islands located about 1000 miles off the coast of Portugal. The island of Horta welcomed the Maltese Falcon with open arms, and permitted us to drop anchor in their waters. After two days at anchor, we were graciously permitted to bunker fuel and take on fresh supplies. When we came onto the section of dock in what was dubbed “the quarantine zone”, none of the crew had any local human contact. The fuel line was attached to a rope and carefully passed to the engineer at the stern to begin bunkering. The provisions were already waiting to be delivered promptly on the dock in neatly stacked crates. We formed a supply chain, hands gloved, washing station ready, and passed all the supplies to the interior of the boat. Being that close to land we could see the lush green hills spotted with dairy cows and beautiful farms. Across the way looking out to sea we had a beautiful view of the towering volcano of Pico, the ever present cloud cover for the first time blowing off to reveal its summit. After casting off our lines and saying goodbye to the Azores, we continued our journey West to the Mediterranean.
We made another pit-stop in Gibraltar, this ever friendly British Colony ready and willing to welcome the Maltese Falcon and assist with bunkering more fuel.
Normally, when the Falcon sails into port a crowd gathers on the pier to take photographs. It felt odd sailing in this time as only a solitary port worker stood atop a cement block at the end of the dock to snap a few pictures with his phone. Just like the Azores, strict quarantine regulations were in play here as well.
The Rock of Gibraltar stood proud, guarding the entrance into the Mediterranean Sea, silent with not a hint of human traffic around the high rise buildings huddled below.
Waving goodbye to Gibraltar we continued on with our journey into the Mediterranean now surrounded by Africa to our South and the Europe to our North. The weather was magnificent and we made good progress all the way as far as the home port of the Maltese Falcon, none other than the island of Malta!
(pictures by Super Yacht Gibraltar)
Alas we were not to visit Valetta this time, and we sailed onwards... eventually to the beautiful shores of Cyprus. We now have dropped anchor just off the beachside city of Limassol. It is here that we remain, serving out a necessary quarantine period and keeping busy with our many duties. We are healthy and very happy to be aboard the Falcon during this strange time in the world’s history.
Deck the Rigs with Rum & Palm Trees
It’s Christmas time aboard The Maltese Falcon. While some folks may prefer a yule time log crackling with snowy weather outside, the crew of the Maltese Falcon rock Christmas in a much different way! We found ourselves in sublime weather exploring the chain of islands known as St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Sparkling waves lapped upon the hull as we floated off the coast of Mustique in the magical turquoise blue of the Caribbean Sea. Activities and entertainment were in good supply. A special performance of the twelve days of Christmas was put on by all crew and sung (somewhat in key) and posted on our Instagram! @symaltesefalcon
We took the path less travelled and surprised more than a few islanders as we anchored off the white sand beaches and lush remote surroundings of Mayreu island. It was here that we put together a Beach BBQ of epic proportions for our charter guests. Chef sourced ingredients including fresh lobster, plantains, pineapple, rum and coconuts. A huge spread was put together and the setting couldn’t have been better! The weather co-operated and as the sun set the tiki torches were lit up and a steel band, famous throughout the Grenadine’s, graced us with a performance.
The rum cocktails and the Caribbean Soca music were in good supply; smiles were large and bellies were full. It was tough to top off this evening, but there were more islands to visit and adventures yet to be had. We finished off our Christmas experience in Antigua where we dropped anchor and prepared for our next charters…
Sailing from Antigua to St.Maarten we had smooth seas and some fresh faces in the crew eager and ready for action. We picked up our new amazing group of guests (who we already miss having aboard) and headed for the exclusive island of St.Barth’s.
The interior team came up with an ingenious James Bond themed party, complete with top secret missions for the guests to complete and a black tie dinner party.
After this very elegant evening, La Paloma tender whisked the guests ashore for some St.Barth’s night life. The port of Gustavia and its dazzling clubs did not disappoint, with many a celebrity spotted and lifelong memories made.
Rounding off the trip in St.Maarten where an International airport is but a quick and easy tender ride away.
We were surprised to become a party of St.Maarten history, as unwittingly we had become a part of the prestigious Heineken Sailing Regatta’s course. Carbon-fibre Spars and Kevlar hulls rounded our bow in unison as legs dangled as railmeat, dozens of eager crew pulling at the lines and fighting for position. Multi hulls, mono-hulls and even a couple of racing trimarans adorned the course. Conditions were perfect and a steady wind blew all the racers around. The Maltese Falcon must have looked the most impressive boat of the regatta, at eighty eight metres in length and with the triple masted Dynarig system, we dwarfed even the largest maxi-racing yacht by at least thirty meters
The regatta marked a perfect end to a glorious Caribbean charter season. As the sun set on St.Maarten we weighed anchor and set our sights on the next chapter of our adventure…the Atlantic Ocean…
On its way from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, the
Maltese Falcon encountered a migrants' boat in urgent need of assistance.
A true human journey for the crew who rescued them.
On 27th of October 2019, en route to Athens, at 5.00 am in the morning,
the Captain of the Maltese Falcon was called to assist a small sailing
yacht in distress. There was nobody in command. As time passed the
weather worsened, the waves became larger, and together with the
number of passengers which exceeded any safety limit for the size
of the vessel, there was a serious risk of sinking.
On a small boat, there were 56 refugees, including 5 women and 6 children.
This rescue mission was not an easy one. The Captain reports "We towed their
sinking sailboat from 5am to approximately 11am at only 2 knots, in big seas.
The swinging mast on their sailboat prevented us from getting close safely.
We made one transfer attempt, but seas and wind were deemed too dangerous due
to the rolling. None had life jackets and one would assume most couldn't swim.
Women clutched their children, weeping. Further decisions were made to board
them in a bay in the lee of an island...". They were first transferred to a
local fishing boat, and then the crew managed to take them on board to safety.
"They very quickly calmed once on board." ... "Under instructions of the Coast Guard,
we made a three-hour passage to Kos, where they were transferred to nearby land"
Upon the vessel moving away, the entire group waved and cheered
back to us with smiles of thanks. A most beautiful and enriching reward.
An extraordinary epic for the crew, who will keep their memories of this
Sand, Suez and Sunshine
A remarkable yacht requires a remarkable journey, not to hide in the cozy marinas of the south of France but to take on the sea, to take on challenges, to take on discovery, and be part of new endeavors.
We saw such opportunity in October, to take Maltese Falcon to Egypt and Saudi Arabia. To places yachts have never been before, to islands and beaches people have not stepped on for 100 years. This is true adventure…
Sailing the last 120nm from Cyprus we leave the Mediterranean.
Passing through the Suez Canal immediately transcends you into middle eastern culture. The Suez linesmen, electricians and pilots step aboard and help prepare for the journey ahead.
The suspense builds at 04:00 when all the available slots are filled and the single line order is announced over the radio, all deck crew are up and ready. I feel like we are on the trading floor of Wall Street, the hustle is intense, every one of the 60 ships must fall in line at the right time, the right speed, the right distance.. one yacht ahead slows too much and every-one behind jumps to do the same.
The effort has its rewards as we exit the canal into the silence of the Red Sea.
Onward bound to Hughada for world class diving in the Ras Mohamed National park and a privileged swim with whale sharks.
Barcelona Yacht Show
It couldn’t have started better!
The Greek courtesy flag comes down from the foremast and the Spanish flag sits in waiting. Log entry 0600 shows 27knots abaft the beam, moderate seas and good visibility. The Sparmaster is on the foredeck making fine adjustments as we steer a full complement of 15 sails hitting 18.2knots towards our new horizon.
Safely on the dock the deck crew’s smartly ensemble and stand to unanimously hoist the ships ensigns in Barcelona. It’s the MYBA yacht show, the docks are full and the hustle of last-minute preparations and ever building que of visitors add to the excitement onboard.
With a yoga class peacefully taking place on the top deck the wonderful service team glide into action with welcome drinks and serve a ‘Strawberries and Champaign’ themed breakfast. An introduction from the captain sets the guests off with their guides.
The tours bring an explanation of the Falcon experience through expressive blend of presenting its history, style, art, creativity, sporting success, technological accomplishments and above all else vision of sailing innovation!
Finishing in the bridge with the Captain and the race team, everybody wants to sit in the hot seat. Guests receive a full tutorial on operating this extraordinary sailing machine and re-living some of her highlights from past seasons and races. As the sun goes down the aft deck takes on Italian style, uniforms change to white and red as our ‘Cocktails in Capri’ event steals the attention from the famous Bourn.
An official high end stylish event was hosted on board the Falcon for the elite clientele of the emblematic Luxury Italian Jeweller BVLGARI, during the LYBRA Yacht Show.
The clinks of glasses are replaced by the sound of hi fives as the last guests depart and we wrap up the show. The roaring red and white banners come down and the dock is quiet once again.
This was more than a tour it was an experience; this is more than a yacht this is the Maltese Falcon!
Maltese Falcon turns concert hall
Dr Elena Ambrosiadou is a Trustee of the Oxford Philarmonic Orchestra and was very proud to participate in the events to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra with friends and the esteemed conductor Marios Papadopoulos.
The Orchestra was in Athens to celebrate this important milestone. On the Maltese Falcon we hosted a once in a lifetime piano, cello and trumpet ensemble followed by traditional opera by soprano Vasiliki Karagianni. 100 guests comfortably relaxed in the sunshine on deck, with views of Athens, Flisvos Marina and the spectacular neighboring yachts all around comprising the big auditorium for the performances, whilst our service team took take care of them.
Presenting the finest Greek cuisine at various buffet stations we proudly give our guests a taste of local cuisine before the DJ sets the tone for the evening with a sun set background…Magical!