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The question you will inevitably ask yourselves if you are unfortunate enough to end up at Manoel Island Yacht Yard for more than a few days is – “Is this the worst run boat yard in the Med”?  Well that’s a difficult one, (a bit like what was the worst pop record of the 70s) but MIYY is definitely a contender. 

However, when you take into account its rate for work of 140 Maltese pounds per day (about E300 at the time of writing) and that this is based on a notional working day of 6 1/2 hours (but an actual working day of closer to 5 – see below) then MIYY is pitching itself against the best yards in Europe and in that field it is very definitely bottom of the pile – and by a very long way. 

MIYY is almost a caricature of what it must have been like in a British Leyland factory in the seventies – unmotivated workforce, restrictive labour practices, ineffective management, under investment, etc, etc.  

All of this feeds through of course into the ultimate cost of any job – ie two people on a job that only requires one, the half hour after clocking on to discuss last nights big match before starting work and the same before and after the 10.30 lunch hour and before packing up at 2.30pm etc, etc, all of this time has to be allocated against some job or other.  If you’re lucky it might just be shared around pro rata, alternatively….. 

The customer service ethos is unfortunately from the same stable.  We have found the Maltese in general to be a slightly reserved, but charming people.  What a shame that most of the very few deeply unpleasant Maltese that do exist seem to have found their way into the management of MIYY.  Amongst the older workforce there are some highly skilled, knowledgeable and helpful people, but with little support from their management it must be dispiriting for them to watch others drawing the same salary for doing much less work. 

The yard must once have been a gem, but in the same way that the working practices have been allowed to deteriorate, so have the fabric of the yard and its equipment.  All of the above means that as well as being expensive, any work contracted will inevitably be delivered late and most likely executed unsatisfactorily. 

In the end we considered ourselves lucky.  The prices quoted were outrageous, but we might have been tempted to accept them and give the go ahead for the yard to do the work,  because we really wanted to take the time to see Malta.  However, our materials were delayed at customs (yes Malta is now in the EU, so there shouldn’t be any customs clearance, but that’s another story) so that we were able to watch several botched and late jobs, listen to other dissatisfied clients,  and in the end we did all of our work ourselves – a pity as we had hoped to see something more of Malta. This lead to a number of stand up rows with the yard management who “expected” to be given the work.  NB this is the first shouting argument we have ever had in any yard anywhere.


The above probably sounds too negative, but in the month or so we stayed at MIYY we were unable to find one customer with anything positive to say about the yard (and that includes the Maltese customers.  Now we all gripe about yards, but generally mostly, we can list some redeeming features.  Not many at MIYY, but the liferaft service station is first class.  I don’t know if its run as a separate business from the main yard, but it certainly feels as if it is!


Finally, to give a feel for why we found the pricing so detached from reality, a couple of examples.  You can judge for yourself:

To polish our new stainless davits, a roughly 4 metre length of steel tube with a couple of bends and some bits welded on, they quoted LM380 (that's E700) + tax.  We found a guy with a small stainless workshop in the town who did the job for LM50 all in. He did some other excellent work for us as well. Though for obvious reasons he wasn't allowed to work in the yard itself.

To drill a 2" hole in the transom for our new generator exhaust they quoted LM50 (E100) on the understanding that I did all the preparation and finishing and they just physically drilled the hole.  I did it myself.  Drilling the hole took a bit less than a minute.  Now Samarang was less than 100 metres from the main workshop, so they'd have to walk very slowly indeed to be able to justify more than 30 minutes to do the job.

2 man days to lightly abrade the hull prior to painting (with the caveat that we would have to pay more if it ended up taking longer).  They were absolutely adamant that the job couldn't be done in less time.  I did it myself, 4 hours and the paint shop foreman commented that I'd probably sanded a bit more than I actually needed to.

I could go on.  It's a long list, but I think you get the picture.




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Last updated 18th March 2018