Port Carmen Boatyards: Comments from Cruisers

Published 9 years ago, updated 4 years ago

From Eoin McEachern, SY Cape Petrel, on Zeke’s yard.

6 September 2014

I will outline here my refit in ‘Zeke’s yard’ Port Carmen.

Over one year ago I took my strong, safe but sad looking Roberts 53 into Zeke’s yard. Within a month I will sail away in a yacht, polished, painted and refitted to a beautiful standard. Yes it cost twice what I expected, yes it took twice as long as I expected, but the finish is (in my opinion) world class.

My yacht is a one-off. I am a retired fisherman and never asked for a ‘yacht finish’ to my work, but got one anyway. Overruns re. time and money can be blamed on these main factors:

1. I was mostly not there to oversee;

2. The work was a standard way above that which I expected;

3. Hardly a visit by me passed when I didn’t ask for additional work; and

4. Supply difficulties mainly caused by ‘crossed wires’ between Zeke and suppliers of equipment usually in the US.

As to the level of trust needed to allow me to be off-site for the most part. To outline this I will say I visited the site at least 15/20 times and arrived almost always unannounced and never once when I visited were the men not working their correct hours etc.

I must add though, being off-site slowed the refit when men were taken to other boats due mainly to ‘yachties’ pushing Zeke to do work by constantly being ‘in his ear’ about little jobs while I was seemingly ‘never there’.

About Zeke. Well, what can I say? Like my yacht, Zeke is a one-off. To a yachtie I would say, treat him well and with respect and he’ll do this for you.

From Judith and Peter Boardman, SV Camille, at Zeke’s yard.

8 February 2014

Camille is an early Catana catamaran that has done a lot of miles. We came into Zeke’s yard at Pt Carmen in March 2013 to investigate some persistent brown stains coming through the deck paint. In fact, our investigations opened up a whole can of worms.

To shorten a very long story, we had to remove many many layers of top coat and non-skid deck paint and filler to get to the top layer of fibre glass on our foam cored boat. Maybe 200 to 300 small cracks were ground out, epoxy filled and sanded down. The whole top of the boat was then given 2 layers of epoxy glass, faired smooth and painted with primer, top coat and non-skid. Now the boat looks better than new and we have started on the top sides and under the bridge deck. We have also had paintwork and extensive woodwork and varnishing done inside the boat and stainless steel fabrication outside.

All the above has been done to a very high standard by Zeke’s on-site workforce. We are very pleased with it and all at a cost that would be much more expensive elsewhere.

We sheltered here during the super typhoon Haiyan that devastated nearby Leyte and Samar last November. There was no damage to any of the yachts, and Zeke and some of his men were on hand to see the yachts were kept safe. The bar here is a joy to use and would not be out of place in a posh yacht club. It is a major asset in a boat yard.

A word of caution: many of the workers are highly skilled in their chosen occupations, but some are not. It is up to you to monitor your jobs and weed out any that are not performing well.

While we have been here there have been some issues over paint jobs on a couple of yachts. In my opinion, the problem could have been dealt with more sympathetically by the management here, and as a result, one of those yacht owners has been very vocal in his condemnation of the boatyard. The painter who did both those jobs now no longer works here.

You won’t get a quote for the job here – everything is material costs plus labour for the day. However, you do get weekly bills so you can monitor ongoing costs quite effectively.

In conclusion, don’t believe everything you hear. Come on in and talk to the other yachtees, look the place over and then make your decision.

From Sue and John Woods, MV Solita, at Pepe’s yard.

8 February 2014

Solita has just completed a 3 months refit at Pepe’s boatyard, Republic Drydock, Pt Carmen, Cebu, the Philippines. We have had an amazing amount of interior and some exterior work done here, and we are very pleased with the results. The workers we used are good at their job, lovely to deal with and professional in their care of the boats they work with. Pepe is also very easy to deal with, and all his bills are transparent and fair. The costs for all of our boat work, yard fees and electricity was very reasonable and probably far less than in any other country.

This is our second refit at Pepe’s – we spent 5 months here last year having a lot of exterior timber, fiberglass and paint work done. Pepe even created a shallow-draft careening grid for us so we could anti-foul here. We were so happy with last year’s experience that we knew we would return this year.

It should be acknowledged that facilities here are “third world” and that future customers should come prepared to live and work in conditions not as luxurious as those in Australian, American or British boatyards. The finished job may not always be to everyone’s very high standards. Having stated that, the comradery between cruisers, the opportunity to share a cold beer at Zeke’s bar at the end of the day and the knowledge that you are achieving great results at a reasonable cost makes it all worthwhile.

There have been some negative comments about the boatyards this past year, and while it is imperative that all opinions should be aired in the public domain, it should be remembered that these are the opinions of individuals, and that they can have serious consequences if taken generally. Unfortunately, these recent comments have created some legal and business issues for the yard owners, and this has cascaded down to the workers and other people who earn their living by providing services to the boat owners.

Our experiences here at the Pt Carmen boatyards have generally been positive ones, so we would just like to add our comments into the mix.

Editor’s Note: There are further comments about these boatyards at the bottom of the Pt. Carmen noonsite page – go to http://www.noonsite.com/Countries/Philippines/Carmen

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  1. February 23, 2019 at 6:36 AM
    Data Entry5 says:

    nice article, we have left Stella there through two typhoons seasons now and Zeke and the guys have taken great care of her, I see her sitting in the top photo. we are very grateful to have the peace of mind Zeke’s marina gives us on our trips back to New Zealand and at a reasonable price.