How does it feel to be the only female boatyard manager in Cyprus? Because even if “Marina” as a noun is also associated with the same female name, yachting has been traditionally and mainly a man’s world. Alexandra Sofocleous, boatyard manager of Ayia Napa Marina, is here to break down these barriers and set sail on a quest to attract more women to this industry. In this interview, Ms Sofocleous talks about the beginning of her career, her trajectory, and the challenges she faces as part of the industry. Furthermore, she presents the new Vessel Check service by Ayia Napa Marina and explains how her team built a name for itself as a provider of premium services not just in Cyprus but also in the wider Eastern Mediterranean region. 


Can you describe your experience in the Yachting sector and, more specifically, in yacht boatyard management? 

I’ve had the privilege and luck to have been working in the yachting industry for more than 20 years and I think I have acquired a long and valuable experience in boatyard management, which is the field where I took my first professional steps and then gradually climbed up the ladder. I learnt a lot throughout this course and I never stopped evolving as a professional. I am always on the lookout for new ways to improve and develop my skills in every role that I take on. Throughout my career, I have cultivated extensive experience in all aspects of boatyard management such as maintenance, repairs, supply chains and customer service. 


Which are the skills that you deem essential for a boatyard manager to achieve a successful overview of operations? 

I believe that good organization, effective communication with staff and providing clear instructions are crucial. A comprehensive presentation of expectations and the building of strong bonds, with staff and clients alike, are essential for any company’s smooth operation. Furthermore, organizational and problem-solving skills also play an important part in project management, resource coordination and the process of ensuring that a project will be completed on time and within its budget.  


You are the only female boatyard manager in Cyprus, working in a traditionally male-dominated sector. How do you deal with gender-related prejudice or challenges that may occur? 

While it is true that this industry is historically a male-dominated one, my gender has never proven to be an obstacle in the course of my career. I always try to be as productive as possible and this, combined with my knowledge, skills, sincerity and hard work, has helped me earn my colleagues’ respect. I focus on making the most out of my skills, to prove daily that I can excel in any professional setting. 


How do you communicate and collaborate with staff members to maintain a productive but also positive work environment? 

The creation of an environment where everyone feels comfortable to share their ideas and concerns is vital for us. This is the reason we encourage open communication amongst all staff members, which is achieved through regular meetings and constant dialogue. The door of my office is always open to everyone.  

Mutual respect is essential for a functioning and productive team. We recognize each member’s unique skills and experience and value their contributions to the team. This creates an atmosphere that makes people feel acknowledged and supported, thus leading to higher morale and productivity, which effectively strengthens customer satisfaction. Team spirit is equally important, so we promote cross-department collaboration, which creates a sense of unity and common purpose in the team, resulting in better problem-solving. 


Can you give us some examples of what makes the boatyard team of Ayia Napa Marina so unique?  

First, I need to clarify that I am not the one who established the term “unique” to describe our team, it’s our many highly satisfied clients that do so. It is a fact that the Ayia Napa Marina team is made of top professionals, each an expert in their field, who combine their technical experience and knowledge with a genuine passion for all things that are related to vessels and marine development. What makes them stand out – aside from their well-known ability to repair and maintain vessels – is their attention to detail and the pride that fills them after having completed a project. 

An example of their premium work is their ability to successfully deal with complex vessel repairs. The team brings its expertise to any type of issue, first conducting a thorough diagnosis and then applying the most effective solution. They all understand that each vessel is unique and worthy of special attention. At the same time, they ensure that all repair operations are carried through with the utmost precision and care. The same attitude also applies to maintenance and all other types of services provided to vessels, whether simple or more complex ones. 


You recently launched the Vessel Check service. What does it include and why regular check-ups and maintenance – when is deemed necessary – are important for a vessel?  

Vessel check-ups and maintenance are critical for a vessel’s smooth operation and safe cruising, especially when it is docked for cleaning or before the use of its engines. Our new Vessel Check service is offered to owners who berth their vessels at the Marina and is structured around main aspects such as engine starting, batteries, ropes and fenders. Before the start of the engines, it is necessary to carry out a thorough inspection of engine oil levels, fuel filters and other signs that may indicate possible malfunctions, such as leaks or unusual noises.  

Then, we check the batteries for any signs of corrosion, inspect electrolyte levels and ensure that electrical connectors are stable to prevent unforeseen power failures. Checking up on the condition of ropes is also vital for the vessel’s safety during anchoring and manoeuvring. Thus, we check each rope for signs of damage that could negatively impact its durability. Last, we inspect fenders for signs of wear, tear or punctures, since fenders are essential for a vessel’s protection and prevention of damage that can be caused by collisions or contact with other objects. Check-up and maintenance of the above-mentioned parts of a vessel not only ensure that it is ready to use but also minimize risks, prevent accidents and extend the vessel’s lifespan. 


Which maintenance services are being provided when a vessel is on dry dock? 

Dry dock vessel maintenance is key to ensuring its mint condition and operation along with the extension of its lifespan. At Ayia Napa Marina, we offer a full range of comprehensive services for vessels. For example, hauling and launching are conducted using a travel hoist crane – the only one of its kind in Cyprus – that can lift vessels that are up to 36 meters (LOA) and weigh up to 150 tons. Additionally, we provide Antifouling protective coating below the waterline, propeller cleaning and maintenance, Primer application for a smoother and longer-lasting finish, polishing, stainless steel parts maintenance and wood varnishing. Also available are pressure power washes, scraping and sanding, osmosis treatment and everything else that is necessary so that a vessel can remain and operate as if it were brand-new.  


What are your goals and vision as a boatyard manager? 

My main goal is to maintain a positive, safe and productive work environment that encourages collaboration and promotes further development. I believe that this is the way to ensure our boatyard’s smooth operation and the ceaseless provision of high-quality services to our clients. And if my presence in a male-dominated sector acts as a sort of model and draws more women to seek out a career in this field, that would of course be a welcoming bonus!