Sunday, August 17, 2014

Thoughts of sunnier days - Comino

Another weekend with a less than favourable forecast, force 6 westerlies blowing through frequent rain showers is not an encouraging scenario on a Sunday morning.  It does allow time to reflect though on some of the paddles that I have been fortunate enough to undertake this year.
One destination which has been particularly memorable is the small island of Comino, situated midway between Gozo and Malta.  Only covering about 3.5 square kilometres in area it is a relatively straightforward paddle from Gozo, the crossing from Hondoq is less than 1 nautical mile.
Many people head to, and probably stay around the Blue Lagoon, but if that is all they do they are missing out on some interesting kayaking and exploration.
During the summer months it isn't possible to kayak through the Blue Lagoon so it is necessary to approach that section of coast from the west which does  allow the opportunity to explore the numerous caves and inlets in that area.  There is a cave running through the small island of Cominotto, which does give access to the Blue Lagoon.  On one occasion we moored the kayaks outside the cave and swam in to the small sandy beach.
In the area around the Blue Lagoon there are numerous caves, arches and stacks waiting to be explored but you are going to have to share the experience with the numerous other watercraft particularly during the warmer summer months.  There is some superb diving in this area including on the wreck of P31, a former East German  patrol boat, which also saw service with the Maltese armed services.  It was sunk on the 25th August 2009, it's location makes by yellow buoys in the centre of the bay
The most obvious building on the island is probably Santa Maria (St Mary's) Tower, in the south west of the Island.  Built in in 1618 it overlooks the channel towards Malta.  The walls are 6 metres thick and 12 metres high, it is a very substantial structure.  The south west of Comino is marked by a low narrow peninsula, the end of which is marked by a small lighthouse.
The south coast has limited landing places but increasingly high cliffs until the south east corner is reached, close to the Redoubt.  This was built in 1716 to help protect the South Comino Channel.  It was allowed to fall into really poor condition but was restored in 1996.
The east coast of Comino consists of high cliffs, with one area in particular looking like an elephant, the north east corner is marked by some great caves and narrow channels, many of which are only accessible by kayak.
Santa Marija Bay is normally a convenient place for lunch, pleasant swimming off the sandy beach just to the west of the slip or the opportunity to wander off to the east coast where there are some jumping spots and good caves to explore.
During the winter months Comino has an official population of 4, which is swelled considerably during the summer months as the visitors arrive from both Malta and Gozo.  Generally though, it is possible to miss the crowds when paddling, by avoiding the area around the Blue Lagoon and exploring the rest of the coastline of this delightful Mediterranean Island.
 Preparing to leave Hondoq, in common with so many slipways in the area it was incredibly slippy.
 Some of the many caves in the area just to the south of Blue Lagoon

Looking down on P31 with air bubbles from divers rising to the surface.  The location of the wreck is marked by a yellow buoy.
 Rounding the south west corner.  Hardly a memorable lighthouse.
One of the few places on the south coast where it is easy to land.  The group are busy doing a navigation exercise on a BCU course.
Some delightful rock architecture on the south coast.
Just about to round the south east corner of Comino.  The Redoubt is just visible above the kayakers. 
A narrow passage on the north coast, just prior to crossing back to Gozo.
If you want to avoid the crowds, it is probably best not to visit the Blue Lagoon during to tourist season.

No comments: