|Bobby Velasquez started Bobby’s Marina back in 1971. It began as
Bobby’s Yacht Service. He leased the land and on it, built a small
building. He then worked on the breakwater, personally manhandling many
of the heavy rocks into place. It was hot, tiring and difficult work.
Finally, in 1974 he began work on the massive railway. “We had to improvise, because we didn’t have any of the proper heavy equipment back then. I built the main supports for tracks of the railway out of reinforced concrete and then pushed them into the water with a front-loader. We only broke one, and that one we quickly patched. We’d constantly run into construction problems, but we’d just figure out a way around them, we’d just keep at it until it was done”.
After the shipyard was up and running, Bobby turned his attention to the marina. At that point there was a barge, crane, and pile driver from Holland here in St. Maarten to work on the cruise ship pier. “I desperately needed a large pile driver to build my docks. So I offered them a deal, I’d allow them to use my yard as a staging area if they’d allow me to use their heavy equipment for a single 24-hour period”.
It was a classic "Bobby the builder" story-- another instant engineering marvel. “We worked like dogs to get everything ready. Remember, we only had 24 hours to set all those pilings. All of our materials were pre-set, pre-measured, pre-cut, pre-marked and pre-stacked. The crane showed up and we all worked around the clock both in and out of the water. By the following day, we had all the piles, almost 30 of them, driven for the dock. It took a lot of time to eventually finish the project, but the most important, most difficult part took place on a single day using equipment I could never have afforded to hire…”
The railway hauled boats until 1982 and repaid its modest investment many times over. Then Bobby purchased a 50-ton Travel Lift– another first in the Caribbean. Today the yard features a 90-ton Travel Lift, easily the largest in this area of the Caribbean. It can handle a boat up to 22 feet wide. For the growing number of Sint Maarten multi hulls, which are beamier than 22 feet, Bobby has a large crane to effortlessly pluck them ashore.
“ I’ve always aimed for a full service operation,” said Bobby. " We can do just about anything here such as engine rebuilds, welding, custom metal work shipwright service, osmosis work, electrical repair, fiberglass work, sail repair, electronic service…We’ve got a good restaurant, and convenience store”.
Although his staff of 68 is primarily made up of locals, he employs workers from around the world. “I’m very fussy about the quality of work we do. You can’t succeed in business without repeat customers. You have to do good work at reasonable prices."
“ I’ve got a good operation here, a good team and I want it to stay that way. I’ve got repeat customers that come from down-island and from Puerto Rico year after year…because they know they’ll be treated well. I’m always available; always ready to help my customers. If something isn’t right, we make it right. I want my customers to leave happy and come back next time.”
Bobby’s customers are as diverse as his employees. A frugal sea gypsy might find his modest boat propped up between an expensive 65-foot gold plated ocean racer from Monaco and a broken down local fishing boat from Carriacou. Everyone gets treated the same at Bobby’s; everyone enjoys the same level of service.
Bobby knows that a satisfied customer is his best advertisement in the boating community and so servicing each and every customer with the same high level of quality and satisfaction is Bobby's Marina golden rule.
Bobby's Marina PO Box 383 Philipsburg, St. Maarten N.A.
Telephone: 599-542-2366 - VHF: 16
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