Malta Diary Buddy, can you spare a dime? Super yachts in Malta
Envy and jealousy have never weighed their anchors into my personality. “Hear about so-and-so who won 35 million on the National Lottery last week?”. Well good luck to him or her. It would have done me nicely of course, but never mind. Maybe next time …
There is however one area where they have weighed into me and weighed into me strongly and securely.
Living on a small island in the Mediterranean has always meant living a stone’s throw away from the sea, a lure that put its clutches into me since I was a toddler. My late father was a keen amateur fisherman and distant memories stretch back to waking up in the early morning and walking the short distance down to the waterside. In those days, rods were single bamboo poles of different lengths which he would carry on his shoulder and he held a fishing bag which stank to high hell of mouldy cheese and rotting fish making up the ground bait and bait. I carried a little satchel with a few snacks, a bottle of water and some sandwiches for lunch.
Later, he bought a little boat and much later a full-blown 24-foot fishing luzzu (a traditional Maltese fishing boat) and opened up whole days of fishing and frequent family picnics at sea. Those were indeed glorious days and wonderful memories.
Whole summer days were spent at the sea-side and weeks spent at my aunt Annie’s summer residence at the edge of the sea at St Paul’s Bay but sadly overcast by frequent recalls that summer would have to end sometime and then back to dreary winter days and – even worse – back to school.
Well, all that was a long time ago – but the lure has remained.
The other day I took a stroll down to Valletta’s Grand Harbour waterfront and there, berthed alongside one of the quays was my concept of heavenly bliss, a mega super yacht named Vava II owned by a British lady called Kirsty Bertarelli who I am told is married to a Swiss billionaire. Cost of the Vava II – a cool 100 million pounds sterling.
And there it all was, complete with helipad, deck pools and God knows what internal luxury and yes, out came that deadly green streak as pangs of envy and jealousy worked their way around my whole being.
At a quick, resume’ calculation I reckoned that if I put all of my earthly possessions and resources together I could manage to scrape up a deposit to buy the flag pole on the yacht’s prow!
Yet, Vava II is just one mere bauble in an endless string of millionaire and billionaire super yachts that have breezed in and out of Malta’s Grand Harbour and other bays, all of which bite strongly into my psyche.
Just over 40 years ago, when the total roll call of super yachts worldwide nudged just 100 in total, Malta wisely calculated it would make an ideal haven for these marine ballerinas which led to the construction of various marinas around the islands – ideal winter berths – and complete ancillary services of overhauls and refits.
The total now numbers many hundreds but there has been no looking back and Malta gets its fair slice of registrations, provision of berthing facilities, ship chandling and all the other trappings that make up the millionaire life style.
This select community is well provided for because Malta has a lengthy history of boat building and dry docking. It boasts a number of skilled boat builders, shipyards with convenient slipways and floating docks and nowadays the islands are highly regarded as one of the best maintenance and refit centres in the Mediterranean and indeed the world. Marinas have been modernised, prices of berths are competitive, Malta is dead centre in the middle of the Mediterranean and commuting air services are frequent and convenient.
When Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were in Malta recently to complete seven weeks of shooting Angelina’s brainchild film, they lived on one such chartered luxury yacht.
As far as the world is aware, Roman Abramovich, besides owning Chelsea Football Club, also owns at least five such super luxury yachts berthed in different parts of the world. Imagine waking up one morning and thinking, where can I go to today? Maybe the Caribbean, maybe Malta, maybe Sydney, maybe California…
Well, good luck to you Roman but buddy … perhaps you could spare a dime at some time …