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New boat repair business going well as boaters prepare for summer

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Ryan Rebello working on a boat engine (Photograph supplied)
Ryan Rebello working on a boat engine (Photograph supplied)

Ryan Rebello spent years saving up for his own marine repair business.

So when the pandemic happened a few months before he launched Rebello Marine Repairs, he was not going to let it stop him.

So far, he has no regrets.

“Business has been fairly consistent since the beginning of the year,” Mr Rebello said. “I have jobs booked all day, every day for the next several weeks. That has surprised me. Maybe I got lucky, or maybe it was all the years of getting a solid foundation before deciding to go out on my own.”

Mr Rebello has worked on approximately 50 boats since opening last October.

He thought the pandemic might actually have helped, in some ways.

“Business actually seems to be increasing slightly, because the weather is getting nicer and people are getting ready to use their boats this summer,” he said.

Mr Rebello thought that with all the social distancing, and restrictions on gathering size, many people are planning to use their boats more this summer.

“It is something they can do to get out of the house,” he said.

His services include boat plumbing, electrical and maintenance work.

“I do just about anything from front to back on a boat,” he said. “I have worked on everything from 45ft boats to 13ft Boston Whalers.”

So far, he has mainly been called on for basic maintenance and repair.

“Typically, things that are maintained well do not need major repairs,” he said. “I have re-powered and rewired a couple of boats, but the days where engines are pulled apart and rebuilt are going by the wayside. That is just not cost effective any more. Normally, it is replacement.”

Rebello Marine Repairs does not have a base of operation. Mr Rebello is keeping everything mobile, for the moment.

“I am keeping my eye open for a place to work out of, but right now it seems to be working out well just staying mobile,” he said. “Most people can fit a boat in their own yard, and I can work on it there. And a lot of people that use independent mechanics tend to have an arrangement with another boatyard that they may do some of their own work and they get an independent mechanic to come in and do some of the mechanical stuff for them. So far everything has been working out well where I do not physically need a boatyard. Maybe things will change in the future.”

Working without the expense of a boatyard means he can keep his overheads low.

“Bermuda is expensive, and people price shop,” he said. “I believe that I am very competitively priced considering the work that I do, and the experience and knowledge that I have. I worked at AP Marine for ten and a half years and had some in-depth training with them. At $85 an hour, I am on the lower end of marine hourly rates.”

The most challenging thing about opening a business for him has been setting up the paperwork side of things with the Government.

“The job itself I can handle no problem,” he said. “I have been doing it for 15 years. It is all the other stuff, the paperwork, the insurance, that has been a challenge. I have never had to deal with it before working for other people. That was always covered by the administration.”

He was raised in the marine repair industry.

“My stepfather, Malcolm Martin, is a marine mechanic,” Mr Rebello said. “So I have been around the business my whole life.”

At six or seven years old, Mr Rebello was handing tools to his stepfather and trying to carry buckets of oil.

“So it was kind of just the way I was directed,” Mr Rebello said. “It was always what my life was around.”

He never really considered doing anything else.

“I am not someone who can sit behind a computer all day or be in an office,” he said. “And as a mechanically inclined person, the marine industry is the better paying option in terms of mechanical jobs.”

He said thinking about going out on his own was nerve-racking, but once it was done, he felt better.

“It is much easier operating alone where I can schedule my own work and my own time to manage myself to a degree,” he said. “For me, it has been a lot easier.”

For more information see Instagram @rebellomarine, on Facebook @rebellomarinerepairs, call 707-7923, or e-mail rebellomarine@gmail.com.

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Published May 10, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated May 11, 2021 at 8:00 am)

New boat repair business going well as boaters prepare for summer

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