Philippines, Subic Bay: Cruisers’ Views

Published 10 years ago, updated 5 years ago

Posted 17th June 2014

By SY “Windchimes”

We arrived in Subic Bay in late May 2013 with the idea of hauling out and having some repairs done. The only places where we could haul were Kudat and Subic Bay – we decided to head for Subic Bay. Having heard all the stories of woe and the negative comments about Subic Bay and in particular Watercraft Venture Corporation, we decided to be our own judge.

Watercraft Venture Corporation

Making contact by e-mail and asking lots of questions, it became clear that they would be up to the task of hauling us out. The yard sent a list of charges and what work that could be done, so from there on we knew what to expect.

On arrival, we spent a week at their small marina so as to ready the boat for haul out (we had to make shore arrangements for accommodation as you are not allowed to live on board whilst on the hard).

The day of haul out went very well, 2 swimmers in the water so as to position the slings, 2-yard people on board as line handlers…Time to lift…….the haulout crew did an excellent job and at no time was the boat in any danger…from the lift out point to the hard stand went smoothly and positioning the boat even all, the operation went very well.

Watercraft have the sole right to below the water line in regards to scraping and sanding and applying your brand of antifoul (they quoted on this and outlined what was to be done) so you knew before what it would cost. We had a sanding back to primer coat and as we had International as our paint system they applied a 2 pack primer/ bond coat and 20 litres of Interswift 655 antifoul and boot top cut in.

We also had problems with a very noisy shaft so I decided to modify the stern tube, have the shaft checked and add an inboard end cutlass bearing, at the same time replacing the water end cutlass bearing.

Working in conjunction with Mr Jared Leong the Technical Operation Manager and a very competent person we added an extension to the stern tube, fitted a PSS seal, new bearings in the thrust block and all went back OK (this job was quoted on for work done by the yard as I did a lot of work myself as well).

I had the topsides sanded back and primer coat and 2-3 coats of finish look good (once again job quoted).

Back again in the water, the lift and splashing were carried out with great care and as we had a berth in the small marina there were yard people on board as well as on the dock. We spent all our time at Watercrafts small marina and in the event of a typhoon or strong winds we were shifted over to the Subic Bay Yacht Club onto one of their vacant berths. Watercraft have an arrangement with SBYC for this, all you pay is for water and electricity. By the way, 220volts AC is AT  60 Hz – so be careful with your AC power usage, some things will not be happy running on 60 cycles.

My overall experience with Subic Bay, and in particular Watercraft, was a good one. Make sure you know what you are getting (Quoted work) as you would anywhere else, ask questions, be pleasant & happy, treat people with respect and the jobs go to plan…remember they have seen it all before.

Subic Bay Yacht Club Marina

Will have to agree with other reports that the marina is in a run-down state, they still have most of the pontoon in service but there is a lack of power and water on some fingers. They are doing some repairs but there is a long way to go. The marina charges are still high even though the state of the marina is below standard.. you can anchor out or pick a mooring at Blue Rock Resort. Noonsite has a listing on the Subic Bay page.

Apart from some minor incontinences about the Marina, Subic Bay / Olongapo is still a good place to visit. ATMs are everywhere, although some will only give out 10,000 Pesos a day.

On the subject of clearing in, it is best to clear in somewhere else. If coming from the south, Puerto Princessa is good …no asking for money to clear in (April 2013), whereas the clearing in at Subic Bay Yacht club will cost and the officials aren’t backward in asking for at least US$50 per service for the 3 services – no getting away from it….you just have to pay up.  Best advice is to pay up and shut up or otherwise they will tell you that you have to go to MANILA,  then you will notice how the system works against you with long delays and long distances between the various offices etc. Don’t forget you only get a 30-day visa on arrival, visas can be renewed in Olongapo at their new office. Paperwork can be filled out in the office, you will need passport copies, copies of your visa and a passport photo which has to be 2 inches square. Take cash as there is no card service.

Taxi Driver

You best friend during your stay will be your regular taxi driver (ours was Ronnie, 09087103285, has good English and has a good idea where places are). Work out a fare structure with the driver in advance.

Broadwater Marine

Broadwater Marine (Australian owns the show) can get almost any parts you want from Australia, West marine etc. You will pay a bit more but they will save you a lot of agonies. They are at 14 Magellan’s Landing, Argonaut Highway, and while you are there follow the path down to Vascos – good eats, beer and a pleasant outlook (run by another Australian, Brian).

Subic Bay Yacht Services

Dirk van Straalen of Subic Bay Yacht Services is a worthwhile contact. He will help (for a fee) with importing parts, which are subject to a 45% tax if you do it yourself. Ring Dirk and he will tell you what to do. Dirks office is in the same building as Vascos (see above).

Eastern Machinery in Olongapo can handle any machining jobs.

Francis of Francis Refrigeration is the best in town, contact him on 09399395148.

Goodyear Hardware just down the road (Gordon Street/Ave/??) from SM supermarket has most of what you need in the line of hardware.

Ador Tan will fabricate anything you want in stainless, he is hard to get on the phone 09476285649, but Ronnie the taxi driver knows where the stainless shop is.

Shore Services

There are 4 large supermarkets in town, Royal being better. Pure Gold near Royal has the best selection of wines etc. in town. There are plenty of good eats in town just go look for them. Sunday baked dinners at Palm Trees out in Berreto on all day.


Victory Liner coaches run to Manila on the hour (trip takes 4-5 hours depending on traffic). End of the line at Pasay is near the airport. A private car or taxi will cost about 5000 pesos, 3-4 hours, will also pick you up at airport and bring you back – this is a no-hassle way to do it.

The year we spent in Subic Bay was an experience and an adventure, we met some great people. Make up your own mind about places.

Greg & Janise

SY “Windchimes”


Posted 8th August 2013

By Sandra Tretick

I’ve seen a fair number of negative comments about the Subic Bay Yacht Club on various sites, including here on Noonsite. I’d like to add a

bright side. We bought our boat, M/V Moken, last year. It was already docked at the SBYC when we took ownership. We stayed. While the yacht club may not be as glamorous as it once was, it is still a safe, secure place with friendly, helpful staff. The only uninvited guests

on our boat in 9 months have been ants.

Provisioning here is relatively painless. There are numerous large grocery stores and two malls within walking distance. There are several good restaurants and a 7-11 right across the road. While a lot of this enormous complex is out of commission, the pool is lovely. If you’re staying for a while, talk to the marina manager about a discount.

Watercraft’s dock space is really limited and in poor condition. You might get a spot if you have them do a lot of work for you. You cannot stay on board when your boat is on the hard.

Our biggest complaints with the Subic Bay Yacht Club so far have been a couple of power outages, one caused by faulty equipment which they fixed, and slow internet. And the brackish water does mean more bottom cleaning is required if you don’t move much. But overall, it is a good base, safe area and undeserving of all the negativity, unless you’re looking for a social club.

Sandra Tretick


Posted 9th May 2013

By SY Janna

We had to make an unplanned emergency stopover in the Subic Bay Yacht Club.

The club berth charges are expensive (33 USD for boat <40′ LOA), but the service is terrible. Nothing is maintained, showers and toilets are dirty, timbers on pontoons are coming apart. Lights on the pontoons don’t work, so walking back to your boat at night is like walking through a graveyard.

The worst of all is the clearance.

The customs officer, very nice and kind man, asked us for 50 USD, which we refused to pay. He told us that he can see that we are students and not businessmen, so we probably don’t have much money to spend and that he won’t charge us. “We don’t actually need to charge this fee and I will call the immigration and quarantine officers and ask them not to charge you either,” he said and left.

The quarantine officer was very stern and not very friendly. He called the club and told us that we can leave the boat and that he will come and check on us later. Then he added that we will have to pay 50USD. I told him that we wouldn’t.

The immigration and quarantine officers arrived in the evening. They were very civil, friendly even. When we got all our stamps, the quarantine officer gave us a receipt for his services and asked for 50USD for himself and another 50 for the immigration lady. We refused and the quarrel started. They pointed out that we don’t really know that they are not supposed to charge us. We kept repeating that we don’t have money to spend on bribes. This was countered by the immigration officer pointing out that she might recognize us as unfit for a visa and showed us a paragraph on a copy of some regulations mentioning illegal workers and prostitutes. That got me really worked up, but not knowing if her threats were real, I tossed a 100USD bill at the quarantine officer, who quickly put it into his pocket. The immigration lady whispered: “Will we split it later?”

Then I asked for a receipt from the immigration lady. She started filling it out and when she got to the amount, she asked the quarantine officer right in front of us: “How much did they give us?”

We’ve heard that other cruisers stood their ground and got away without paying. We didn’t have the stomach for it.

It does not help to go directly to their offices. We did that to avoid claims of “extra services”, but we were sent back.

Petr and Jana

s/y Janna

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  1. February 23, 2019 at 8:33 AM
    Data Entry5 says:

    Watercraft Ventures, next to Subic Bay Yacht Club marina, has a limited number of pontoon spaces, best booked in advance, at reasonable cost. The yard is well managed by Jared Leong, and its work good and well priced. Get full quotes first.

    Jared and his engineer, Ryan, drove 4 hours up the coast to collect a raw water pump from us – it had already been ‘repaired’ at Subic through them. It was returned, properly mended, and fitted within 2 days, all under warranty. Excellent service

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