Maltese fishermen come from a long line of seafarers. I watch them moving about in the early morning of Msida Harbour, readying their traditional boats for another day on the water. Brightly painted luzzus and handcrafted rowing dories are loaded with nets and provisions. I am preparing for another day on the water, too. I will leave in a few hours on a 320-mile passage from Malta to Sardinia. I have a long to-do list this morning in Msida, but my attention is diverted by the scent of fresh-from-the-oven Maltese kannoli coming from the Busy Bee Bakery. Hmmm, I think as I turn toward the bakery. A sailor can’t go to sea without proper provisions…
The images of Malta’s traditional boats (not to mention the island’s kannoli) created memories I will carry on departure from this unique island. I arrived in Malta at a difficult time. The island was still in pandemic lockdown. Bars, restaurants, churches (even bakeries!) were closed indefinitely. Life was at a standstill, except at the waterfront. Each day, the sea came alive with fishermen in their traditional multicolored boats. Not even the worst virus in a century could stop the Maltese from going to sea.
It is interesting which images of a place etch into the grey matter and which fade away. I will sail from Malta with a little bit melancholy–there is never enough time–but also with a debt of gratitude. And, if things get rough, I have a sack of fresh-from-the-oven Maltese kannoli to help me along my way.
Sailing is not just about the wind and the sea; equally important are the places to which this boat takes me.
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Text and Photography © Jeffrey Cardenas 2021
Let this be a time of grace and peace in our lives –Fr. John Baker