Under Construction!

M Y Southern Flight Extracts from Log 2002

2002 Extracts: Fun with family & fiends but disappointment in Malta

GUERNSEY 01 January to 04th April


31st Dec 01 - 02nd Jan 02

New years eve should have been spent with friends Chris & Pauline. While out for lunch Pauline ate some dodgy crab (was ill by evening). She insisted the three of us go out. We had a great night at a local hotel but missed Pauline. She was feeling a little better next day, only really well when it was time to go home!


Daughter Caroline brings grandson Jake to Guernsey. After staying two nights, she leaves for UK & Jake stayed with us another week. He was as good as gold & we had some nice days out. He loved walking around Sausmarez Manor, feeding the ducks, playing in the children's area & looking at sculptures in the grounds.

Took him for swimming lessons at Beau Sejour & he passed his first stage certificate.

Tony & I travelled with Jake back to UK & we stayed for 3 days.


Another trip to UK early this month. Tony had Hernia operation, Returned to Guernsey on 6th March (the day after operation). Hellish taxi ride to the airport for Tony, the driver took country lane route part of the way (lots of bumpy roads & braking). At the airport, we asked for a wheelchair & seats with leg room, Tony not capable of moving quickly at that time and he was more comfortable if he could stretch his legs a little. Hellish plane journey also (given cramped seating). We were told the seats with leg room (emergency exit) not allowed for passengers with any disability (fair enough). Noticed man at the front of the plane had more leg room (& a crutch?). Pity Tony not allowed to sit next to him (or opposite aisle). The problem of course is with Manchester Airport (Aurigny airline check in staff).

The rest of the month spent in Guernsey. Tony quickly recuperates. Again, we get to enjoy visits from UK friends, John Adams first, Chris & Pauline later.


07th April, returned to the boat (Kantaoui – Tunisia). Found the yacht thick with red sand, there's a nice job to start off with! Our favourite wild cat had given birth to kittens in the boat tender while we were away. She's friendly but were not allowed near her kittens, could lose a lump of flesh trying.

After a shopping trip in Hammam Sousse, I wait to return by louage (cheap taxi). Chat with local young man at taxi rank, he ends up saying he loves me (would love a ticket to UK more like!). I may be a grandmother, but it wouldn't be unusual for a Tunisian (who's used to tourists) to try & marry mature (or young) European in order to live outside of Tunisia. If not marriage, then maybe just to see how a friendship may benefit him? I made a polite joke of it & he didn't join me in the louage.

Most Tunisian young people however are respectful, friendly & genuinely helpful (it's how they are brought up).

Tony had his moments also, female tourists swapping books from our box on the quay would sometimes chat with him & look most disappointed when they realised he wasn't travelling alone!

Our Tunisian friend Fathi sometimes brought us family produced olive oil & red peppers.

FUEL UP, 2000 Litre x .415 (830Td) say £415 (approx 20p litre)


03rd May

The cat seems to understand that we are preparing to leave & removes her kittens from the yacht by the scruff of their necks. In her efforts to take them where she's found a hide-out, some tourists think she's molesting them and interfere. She gets the job done in the end but looks exhausted.

Local mechanic (speaks no English) helps Tony with engine problem. Amongst other things, a pulley requires attention. Tony worried at first the guy isn't up to the work. Mechanic takes away engine books to study (we were pleasantly surprised by his determination to do a good job). It takes a week but the work is done to Tony's satisfaction.

13th - 14th May Kantaoui (Tunisia) - Malta

depart 0716 / Distance 196M / Time 27hrs

Monday 14th

Arrive Malta, check in at Customs Quay, agents to the boat touting for business, telling us they can control & supervise work done at Manoel Island.


Move to Manoel Island Yacht Yard, they were expecting us but we didn't manage to get them on the radio. We tie up at the quay (stern to) with the help of a yachtsman. Bow rope to a buoy.

Our intentions were to have the boat out of the water for anti-fouling, service engines & stabilizers. Small works regarding the topsides & deck. Service sea-cocks, new stainless steel capping's for fair leads. Re-chrome bright work, service life raft & misc works. Renew stern sign writing, paint the dory,

Request a quote for a change of propellers (Tony thinks he could get better manoeuvring ability).

Quote also required for a canopy tent at the bow (removable).

Time schedule for all, maximum 6-8 weeks, even if new propellers & shafts prove hard to come by.

Painting bilges & various other jobs we were doing ourselves.

While waiting our turn to go up the slip we chat to David & Betty (MV Kytra, reg: Douglas) they've been here months waiting for completion of works. They complain about the standard of work & wasting of time. We thought, maybe it's just winging & sour grapes.

How wrong we were, we didn't know our nightmare here was waiting to begin.

Up slip 28th May – down slip 12th June.

When slipping, it took at least 10 men, 6 on the boat, 2 in the water, 2 in yard boat.

Invited into the yard managers office. He was friendly but we thought it odd when he made a point of saying that if problems occur, he won't listen to customers who shout at him.


Our cutlass bearings inspected (in our absence), we were told they didn't need changing. Tony disagreed & asks for a second inspection (he'd noticed a water bottle near the hull, concludes this was used on “first thorough inspection?”). Tony informed the guys present (manager & chief mechanic) that the bearings were installed in 1997, they rapidly changed their minds & said they should be changed. When the shafts were taken out it proved the bearings were well ready for changing (how dangerous was that if we had listened to their EXPERT first opinion?).

We struggled to get the yard to supply the anti foul we wanted & have it applied correctly.

Endless time wasting & failure to complete even simple jobs regarding the engines.

While up the slip we noticed a boat nearby being prepared for grit blasting. Asked to go back into the water & come back later, request refused. We put in a complaint (in writing). Covering on our boat not brilliant & we ended up with some pock marks.

The standard of work (in & out of the water) was so bad that most jobs turned into a nightmare.

For ex:- The one decent painter we had aboard would prepare some areas for painting then be taken off our job. He would be followed by a guy who made such a mess that the area of work increased & it was necessary to correct his work. Turning a touch up job into something major, this was typical.

Time wasted waiting for men to work on our boat (sometimes days or weeks on end), no continuity.

The hours worked in a day were minimal, when taking off breaks & early knocking off time (given so the workmen can take showers before going home). 5hrs a day worked (maybe).

We started off with high hopes, it didn't last & our sailing season was swallowed up in our efforts to fight for:-

a/ A decent standard of work,

b/ Repairs regarding bad workmanship

c/ Trying to speed up the work (impossible).

A worker we were friendly with informs us that to speed up his work would annoy his mates, they are happy with things the way they are.

Also ( in order to try and break the hold of the unions), major voluntary redundancies were offered last year & it was most of the skilled men who took it (plenty of work outside the yard for them).

Rumours going around about the company being bought out (or bought into?).

We gave up on the new propellers, pricing took too long & we didn't trust the yard anyway.

Gave up on the canopy, overpriced (pipe work 1756 ML £2809, canvas 605 ML £968).

Meetings with yard manager not much help, he was always on the defensive & not prepared to listen.

Later in the year he mellowed & he really wanted to assist but the his job was dragging him down.

It would be November before we left this yard (see Nov notes)

About other yachts at the yard

We found the only yachtsmen happy with the work at the yard were owners of small vessels They came in for minimal work (mostly lifting & ant-foul). On the hard, they very often did their own painting.

Many vessels bigger than us (some with professional skippers) also suffered major frustrations. Some organized sub-contract labour & seemed to fair better (still struggled though).

Mariners beware regarding the quality of goods purchased in Malta. Ex: screws etc. sometimes sold sub standard (304 instead of 316 & liable to rust, suggest you test with a magnet).

Attitudes to work spread further than the marine business. Spoke to a foreigner who owned a factory, he was tired & frustrated in his efforts to motivate his employees (good workmanship, time keeping etc.) & was thinking of selling up.

DIARY while we were at the yard


Manoel Island, a day of strong winds (5 to gusting 7), very bouncy sea. We add extra line to port side buoy (2 lines on starboard buoy already). A British yacht (concrete hull) towed in by navel vessel (engine problem maybe?), yacht attempts to tie to a buoy, a man falls overboard. Naval vessel turns & holes the yacht, yacht towed to Manoel Island by the work boat.

We meet up with old friends from Kantaoui Ian & Joe (SY Zephyrus), Dennis and Dorothy Noble (cat Courtship), they were staying for a short while in a marina close by.


Interesting guy arrives at the yard, lone sailor John Freeman (SY Geordie Lass). Took only 2 days to sail from Falmouth – Gibraltar. He's a friendly & thoroughly decent bloke.

B-B-Q outside SF with Roland & Marit (SY Sylphe 1940, they like to join classic yacht rallies), Melanie Morgan-Busher with her children George & Clare (SY Amazon). Melanie & husband Ted made their home in Malta (Ted away at that time). The children enjoyed being aboard SF & watching Jakes Cinderella Video (it very often comes in handy). Melanie became a good friend, she kindly allowed me to ride her horses sometimes.

World cup matches closely followed by Maltese. Frenzied support given to England & Italy mainly.

If England playing, they drive with horns blaring & UK flags flying.

Watch men at the nearby bridge putting their heads in the water, they do it to search for mud worms which grow big & long (good for fish bait).


Celebrate American Independence Day (04th) with Americans Ken & Margaret (SY Tomorrow), Jim & Francie Tankersley (SY Gladriel). Does that make us traitors?

Other nationalities were Ken & Judith (British) SY Badger Set. Rita (Australian) Catamaran? & Charlie Kirby (Malta) SY Starlight. He & his family became good friends.

14 - 20th Chris & Pauline join us

Thank goodness for good friends who cheer you up, we enjoy their company and take our mind off problems at the yard with a little fun & sightseeing. While still keeping an eye on boat works!

30 July - 06th August, daughter Annette & partner Olly to Malta

A short but enjoyable holiday, B-B-Q's & beaches the order of the day. Olly determined to go home with a good tan. They brought with them a bottle of Yorkshire Relish, talk about Brits abroad! We were busy on the boat so didn't stay with them every day (nice to have some time on their own anyway).


Close shave with SY trying to moor near us, lost propulsion, came VERY close.. Competent New Zealand skipper, pregnant wife & complete novice mother-in-law We help them out & all was well

13th - 20th Caroline & Jake to Malta

The boat yard is not a good place for a child's holiday, Caroline & I take him out & about. Tony busy on the boat a lot of the time but at least all our evenings were together.

A trip to UK for me, to attend an 18th birthday celebration (my lovely niece Ruth).


05th - 14th Bruce & Petra to Malta

They spend some time with us & also have a few days on the island of Gozo by themselves. Tony & I busy on the boat most days. A good holiday for them I think & we enjoyed the company.

21st Saturday. It's hot & humid (no wind), not my sort of weather!

Swiss guy & wife carefully renovate a concrete boat. Temporarily they put in a cheap plasterboard diving platform. Dry dock man falls through it & hurts his delicate bits (not a happy man!).

Naval vessel replaces engines with wrong size (what a farce).


12th - 22nd Caroline, Dave & Jake to Malta.

This holiday Tony & I spend two days on the Island of Gozo with Jake, stayed at St Patrick's Hotel (Xlendi Bay). A nice hotel in a pleasant setting. Caroline & Dave boat sitting.

The rest of the time went quickly. Some days Tony & I were busy on the boat & the others went off on their own.. Dave completes a diving course. Lots of wind & rain before they came, but the weather was kind to them, it was sunny throughout (some days 26- 28 C), a good holiday.

Notes / Restaurants / etc.

3 restaurants close by become favourites. A French Bistro, good food although small menu (owner likes to sit & chat with his customers), an Indian Restaurant (Tai Mahal), the lads friendly & best lamb curry ever. A hotel we christened Faulty Towers, 17 floors up to the restaurant (I hate lifts & walked up). Slow service, variable standard of food, the staff were a strange bunch & we found the place amusing. Good views from it's balcony. Black Pearl Bar & Restaurant (Ta'Xbiex marina) was excellent until it changed hands, disappointing after that.

Local boat owner bought our surplus anti- foul. His boat moored at the yard & his boat alarm drove us crazy. A larger than life cha rector, we grew to like him, he sometimes hinted at being able to sort people out if required? (not us I may add). Bit of an island hard man maybe?

Fireworks very popular in Malta, there are factories to make them. Various parts of the Island have their own celebration days & compete with each other for the best display. We are told it's not unusual for home made fireworks to cause accidents. Saw some great displays (very noisy too!).


23rd October - 08th November Tony & I to Guernsey

Our good friend Roy Taylor was very ill (cancer). He was doing his best to be cheerful, we even got to take him & his wife Isobel out for lunch one day. Roy really enjoyed that and it was so good to see him laughing again. Knowing he's terminally ill was very sad. Isobel doing her best to stay strong for him.

On return trip to Malta we stayed overnight in London with our son Bruce (nice flat).

23rd November, Move the boat out of the yard to Ta'Xbiex quay (mooring fees to Msida Marina).

While here we notice people make a regular routine of coming to rummage through the large rubbish bins, we are told it's perfectly normal practice (the people look ordinary, not poor). Old habits die hard?

Suspect some dodgy substances being sold from vehicles in nearby car park. Tony & I saw a syringe & needle in a drivers hand once. Hand quickly lowered as we passed, driver asleep later in his car.

Malta has a fascinating history & lots to see regarding that. We didn't think it a pretty island, very dry & scrubby land in the summer, not that much better in the winter. People seem to love it or hate it. We met some nice people & made some good friends. Our overall experiences put us in the hate bracket.

01 – 31st DECEMBER

02nd, Tony & I to Guernsey.

We were glad to be off the boat and away from Malta. It must be the first time that Tony felt happy to leave the boat for an extended period. Charlie (SY Starlight) was taking care of the boat & took on some plumbing work (change pipe on bath), change manual toilet to electric.

When shopping at large local supermarket we bought a packet of cereal (good sell by date) opened it on the boat & found some tiny cockroaches inside. also wriggly things in flour & a sealed bottle of bleach which turned out to be diluted. It's the sort of thing we came to expect from a life on the island.

CHRISTMAS IN GUERNSEY, time to enjoy friends & family (and put Malta out of our minds).


See new year in at the Jerbourge Hotel, Isobel Taylor with us & we had a good evening/morning.

When we took Isobel home, I went inside and shouted happy new year in every room (Isobel's first new year without Roy, the house was too quiet & I wanted to cheer her up). She could have stayed with us but it wasn't what she wanted.