Wintering/Hauling out in Malta

Published 14 years ago, updated 6 years ago

Please find below some info that may be of use to others taken from our blog site – We spent the 2009-2010 winter in Malta, it’s a great place to winter but many people are put off as you can not book in the cheaper marinas.

Amanda Church

SY Balvenie


Malta is a popular spot for wintering over, however, there are really only 3 options for staying in the water. Grand Harbour Marina, set in a spectacular Grand Harbour and managed by Camper Nicholson comes with a high price tag. We are 14m and were quoted around 2,800 Euros for 6 months but told us in September they had nothing at all available, they later called us (end November) offering us a berth and had several empty spaces all winter. The other two marinas Msida and Manoel Island do not accept reservations – they are very full with local boats, it is a “turn up and see” situation, so we turned up to see!

We stayed the first night tied to a couple of big yellow buoys (bow and stern) outside the Manoel Island Haulout facility. We went ashore the following morning and enquired about hauling out in spring and offered to pay for the overnight mooring, they didn’t charge us but said we would need to move before 7 am the following morning as they were hauling a large boat out. We then started on our quest to find ourselves a berth for winter. Manoel Island Marina offered no hope until maybe mid-November, so we went to Msida Marina.

Success in Finding a Berth

It is the pick of the bunch, the best protection, good location and very cheap. We had been told the marina manager, Chris, was very laid back and would normally fit you in, eventually. Boats often go up to the marina at the small island Gozo north of Malta and wait until a berth becomes available, and we were considering this as an option. After about 30 minutes with Chris telling us there was nothing at all and just as we were departing without a berth he mentioned that a boat on the end of the visitor’s berth was leaving the following morning, we could have that berth, great we thought – a starting point – a foot in the door! Just why hadn’t he mentioned it when we arrived?

We went off for the day sightseeing and trying to check into the EU, way too much hard work, no one wanted to know about us but eventually, we got officially checked in to Malta at the Cruise Ship terminal. Since then we have found out the marinas will do your paperwork. On the bus back to Balvenie we noticed that the berth he mentioned was empty so we stopped in, asked the liveaboard neighbours to make sure no one took it and tore back to Balvenie, let the mooring lines go, motored around and claimed our temporary berth at the very end of the breakwater in the marina. Yippee, we were in, and there we stayed, tied to the breakwater – for 8 months right through winter. We ended up with one boat outside us that laid their own bow lines to get in and that was our berth for winter.

We spent 4 months off the boat from late November till the end of March, with our neighbours kindly keeping an eye on Balvenie and emailing us regularly which was great peace of mind. There were no really bad winds through Malta this winter, and very little rain – everything was just as we left her when we returned. Malta is in a great location, has a dry (dusty) climate, everyone speaks English, loads of chandleries, bars and restaurants, amazing history, there are several cheap flight options all around Europe direct from there, and if you take the risk and manage to secure a marina berth, it´s a great place to spend the winter.

Cruising Info for Malta


Malta has two harbours, Marsamxett Harbour and Grand Harbour. In Marsamxett Sliema Creek is full of small mooring buoys, sometimes just plastic bottles – most of the time there are no boats on them, they just take up all the room. This leaves very little, if any, room to anchor. The mooring buoy we picked up the first night was outside the Manoel Island Slips & Haulout Facility (NOT Manoel Island Marina). There is really no room to anchor anywhere else in Marsamxett as Manoel Island and Msida Marinas take up all remaining shallow space. In Grand Harbour we did see some yachts at anchor in Rinella Creek, I don’t know where a dinghy landing would be. The rest of Grand Harbour is full with the huge shipyards and Grand Harbour Marina.

Additional message received from Ted in September 2010.

No visiting yachtsman should tie up to any of the large yellow mooring buoys in Sliema Creek; these are private buoys, not available for general use.

Msida Marina:

On arrival, if there is any space on the breakwater, especially if it says “Guest Berth”, take it and keep it (squatter rights seem to apply!!!). If nothing there you can tie up on the wall between the docks (ie. side tie by car park), just watch the mooring lines coming into the middle from all the boats and have big fat fenders on the dockside and be aware of the huge mooring chain that runs down to hold all the mooring lines. Some guest berths are also on the end of O dock, it is the first one after the breakwater. Most berths have two laid lines, go bow or stern to. Our winter rate was €1488.18, this was for 7 months from 01 October to 30 April. The summer rate per month is about €420 or around €22 per day.


We purchased a Vodafone Simcard for our Italian Wind Dongle and amazingly it worked. €7 for a week, €25 a month, limited download allowance. There are various wifi signals around that you can pick up in the marina which worked well for us so we hardly used the dongle (some are locked so you will need to frequent providers´ bars to get the code!).


ATM machines and 2 banks on the seafront in Sliema, about 10 minutes walk. Banks close at 2.30pm.


Small convenience store Bridge Store opposite road to Manoel Island Marina.

Gala Supermarket is maximum 10 minutes walk depending what pontoon you are on. Free delivery if you spend over €100, it’s not huge but has everything you need. Excellent range of imported British products (Marmite, HP Sauce, frozen pork sausages, canned Steak and Kidney pies etc) all Asian, Mexican and Indian sauces.

Lidls Supermarket is about 20 minutes walk from the Breakwater, much closer if you are down the marina further. Mainly Lidls “own brand” products but everything Italian you need and cheaper for soft drinks and alcohol.

Tower Supermarket is along in Sliema shopping centre area and has a similar range to Gala but also has Antipodean Napisan (for those that like their whites – Whiter than White!)

A veg man comes round in his truck in the mornings. No fruit and veg market in the area. Produce in Malta is nearly all imported, after the outstanding markets of Italy and Turkey it is a huge disappointment.


On the seafront at Sliema/Ta’xbiex (between Msida and Manoel Island Marinas) have an excellent selection. You should be able to get anything you need here.


Nowhere near as strict anymore as indicated in the Italian and North African Cruising Guides. No Customs dock any longer at Msida Marina. Marinas will check you in if you want to.


There is a floating fuel dock in Msida Creek (over summer months), close to the big Excelsior Hotel on your left as you are coming in. No first-hand knowledge of it. Then there is a fuel truck that parks most mornings at Msida Marina. If he is not around asking the marina office to call him. His hosing came all the way down the dock to the boat, nice and easy. In May 2010 price was €1.02 per litre inc VAT, probably the cheapest in the EU (Italy around €1.30 at the same time).

Hauling Out:

Manoel Island Slipway and Haulout facility brought into practice in 2009 a policy of no private work to be done on boats below the waterline. This obviously means that to antifoul you must use their contractors. You can supply your own paint. They charge €10 per metre boat length per coat, they count light sanding/preparing as a coat. The lift/drop around €700 for 14m, €120 PW on the hard, not sure on charges for powerwash, ladders, power, water etc – plus VAT on everything. Email is [email protected], website

As we wanted to do our own work we organised to lift out at the fishing village of Marsaxlokk on the southeastern corner. The Marsaxlokk Haulout Yard primarily deals with fishing boats and has both a 50 ton and 250-ton travel lift. We were very happy with our week there, even though we were delayed a week as they had no cradle available for us. If you were on a schedule I could not recommend it here currently, but if you had plenty of time, were already in Malta and took the bus down to Marsaxlokk to organise it, then it is great. It is really the sort of place you need to organise in person. The cost for lift/drop, powerwash, 2 weeks on the hard (maybe minimum charge as we were only 1 week), power, water was €492.57 inc VAT. It is shallow getting in but at 2.4metres we made it – just. There are mooring buoys off the slipway, we picked one up for the night the day we splashed. Marsaxlokk is a cute little place and has a busy Sunday market.

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  1. October 24, 2018 at 4:01 AM
    Data Entry2 says:

    As an update to the blog, Msida & Ta’Xbiex Marina does have Customs on site, open 09:00 – 16:00. You tie up first and deal with the berthing formalities, then go round to Customs at the first opportunity. Msida & Ta’Xbiex Marina does operate a booking system for short stays in Summer and long stays in Winter, including whole winter from October to April or November to May.

    However, as Malta’s most central, sheltered and secure Marina, berths are in high demand, so advance booking is recommended. Prices are still extremely competitive. Any services required are either available on site or can be arranged by the Marina Office.