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Old 03-03-2009, 07:24   #1
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Question Best Combo of Licenses to Make a Living at Sea?

I've been reading the merits of a USCG 6 pack license. What other certs and licenses would be a good package to make money while cruising? I'd like to cruise and then stay in a location for 3-4 months and make some cash before pulling anchor.

I have the time for the 6pack Inshore license, I have ASA keel boat, coastal cruising, and coastal nav. I have inland time on small outboards, ample time on small sailboats (>26') and we've been sailing our 33' CSY for the last 4 years as a weekender, recently living aboard full time for the last 3 months. The biggest vessel I've operated was a 50' sailboat in the BVI (lot's of water out there)

ASA Instructors?
Dive cert?
Delivery cert?
Towing cert?
Welding cert?

Obviously due to time and money one would want to start with the basics and work up from there.

The catch-22 can be compared to flying. I have a private pilots license. To get the necessary certifications to be a commercial pilot would cost me about the same amount of money that I could make per year for the 1st five years and it would take a full year or more to get the certs and time required.

What combo of licenses would give you the best opportunity to start making money and building experience while still being mobile?
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Old 03-03-2009, 09:03   #2
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Would this be on your boat or someone elses? Would it be for more than six passengers? Would it be just for carrying passengers or for vessels that carry cargo? Would it be coastal or oceans as well?

There are quite a number of licenses and endorsements. So its helpful to know more what you are considering doing so the license can be matched to the tonnage of the vessel, waters etc.

You may want to start with what is commonly called a "six-pack" license. A hundred ton license would be next, and possibly getting endorsements such as sail, towing and radar.

Here is the USCG's licensing website: http://www.uscg.mil/nmc/
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Old 03-03-2009, 09:40   #3
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Originally Posted by jcmcdowell
...What other certs and licenses would be a good package to make money while cruising? I'd like to cruise and then stay in a location for 3-4 months and make some cash before pulling anchor...
Certs & licences are issued by governments; so (for intance) the USCG 6-Pac would be honoured in the U.S. & Territories.

Id concentrate on acquiring skills.
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Old 03-03-2009, 14:50   #4
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Would this be on your boat or someone elses? Would it be for more than six passengers? Would it be just for carrying passengers or for vessels that carry cargo? Would it be coastal or oceans as well?
No- not on my boat. I was thinking the skills and certifications/licenses to get work in a new harbour.

What's more abundant workwise?
Sailing Instructor, crew, delivery, towing, diving, hull cleaning, charter captain?

What would seem to be the best cross section of skills & certs to get work?
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Old 03-03-2009, 15:08   #5
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Originally Posted by GordMay View Post
Certs & licences are issued by governments; so (for intance) the USCG 6-Pac would be honoured in the U.S. & Territories.

Id concentrate on acquiring skills.
OK- let's try this another way. I agree.

What combination of skills (followed by some form of recognized accreditation if necessary) would be the most valuable in getting work not full time but maybe seasonally or quarterly.

I can sail in land and inshore. I can maintain and make repairs on my boat. I can teach sailing but I am not certified to do so.

What other skills would be worth building to make a living. Again I refer to the commercial pilot example. In that instance, it's not practical to get the skills to become a commercial pilot because it would cost me a years worth of cost of living in the bank and the full tuition and it would take 4 years to break even full time.

For instance- does it make sense to start by getting the USCG 6 pack license, then get the ASA instructor cert? Then would you add the delivery and tow endorsements. Work your way up to a 100t license (by building skills).

I don't want a full time job. I want to build the skills that are the most valuable (and have the certs to back them up versus the other way around).

Other ideas- Capt. License, diesel mechanic, sailing instructor?
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Old 03-03-2009, 15:09   #6
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Refrigeration-
Carpenter
Electronics Tech
Engine(s) Mechanic
Welding
would help you-
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Old 03-03-2009, 20:37   #7
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Everyone, it seems, considers themselves an expert in boat repair. Few actually have the real expertise and experience (meaning, they screwed up and actually learned from the experience). There are increasingly larger numbers of cruisers having little actual repair or seamanship skills who believe the posturers. "In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is King".

So, how about using the skills that locals and itinerant working folks don't have? The ability to repair computers or craft networks. The ability to actually build a stairway, the right way, or wire an office. Being able to assess a small business accounting system. Knowing how to actually repair an outboard motor. Knowing how to breed pigs and chickens, how to supervise a healthy slaughterhouse, how to organically farm and market the outputs. How to write grant proposals to develop training programs for local governments. How to drive a backhoe. How to run a marina or charter business. How to collect field water samples and test the results. How to mix drinks for a hotel bar. How to paint watercolors on the beach under a coco palm. How to set up a solar panel array and couple it to a watermaker for a small village or hotel. How to deliver babies. How to cook for a crowd. Even if all you know is how to sell insurance, teach Medieval Basque Romantic Literature, or make change at a taco stand, you may have skills and experience that most folks in the cruising locales simply don't have. Maybe you could even score as a trainer in whatever you did landside (mortician, cop,firefighter, grocery clerk, brake installer). Just don't expect to make it as a captain, shipwright, or electronics whiz unless you already are well-trained and experienced in such matters. People could get seriously hurt by your hubris.
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Old 03-03-2009, 20:58   #8
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Quote:
I don't want a full time job. I want to build the skills that are the most valuable (and have the certs to back them up versus the other way around).
A law degree or a nursing degree still seem to be good. If you consider the competition I don't see living on a boat as qualifications. If you have experience doing anything then you have a better chance doing that.

I have a neighbor now out using his USCG 6 pack he recently acquired. He gets a lot of work but he pays his own way to the boat and back and they pay expenses. It seems he makes no actual cash money. Until he quits I wouldn't hold my breath doing that. We have a lot of waterman here trying that as well. Crabbing is totally a bust right now.

Another friend contracts with a Navy contractor as a communications officer and has a secret clearance. He makes good money but is gone for 4 to 5 months at a time in places as far away from his wife as is possible without leaving the planet. She lives on the boat they own. They don't have children but he does get medical benefits.

Living on a boat affords no advantage I can see when it comes to finding employment. It's not really a disadvantage either other than ground transportation. Being resourceful counts for as much as anything. A lot of folks looking for work these days.
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Old 04-03-2009, 07:48   #9
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Where do you plan to cruise, and earn?
I presume you are an American citizen.
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Old 04-03-2009, 08:25   #10
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Probably a license to kill a la 007 and the license to print money :-)

Jokes aside, the question is wheter you want to earn money to finance your hobby or if you want to turn your hobby into your job.

These are 2 different things. More successful overall might be to money with anything else than boats and then spend it on your boat.

Regards from India

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Old 04-03-2009, 09:20   #11
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The advice here has been somewhat scattered, so let me restate some of (my) assumptions:
  • Goal: You want to earn money while cruising to maintain/rebuild the cruising kitty.
  • Goal: You want to build your personal expertise in cruising-related fields.
  • You would like to know if the investment in USA licensures/certifications are a way of meeting the previous two goals.
Yes, the licensures/certifications can eventually help you with earning money while cruising. They are not very efficient as investments as getting the jobs while cruising is difficult, there is considerable competition and thus lower wages, and the primary method is by reputation/word of mouth which requires long-term cruising in a given region to develop.

As others have pointed out, professional expertise in other fields, primarily land-based, are much more efficient in restoring the cruising budget. Fields where you already have expertise prior to your cruising life are your most efficient method of getting money afloat because you do not have a great investment of time or money in preparing to work abroad. If you have a specific profession - for example accounting - you'll find there are international organizations which can help you find jobs in whatever port you land in, and help you complete paperwork to legally work at them. An example is a service for accountants which specializes in 'swaps', where you get to live in the housing of the accountant you're temporarily replacing.

There are particular benefits to living aboard while rebuilding the kitty. If you can live on the hook, your housing costs might be minimal allowing the maximum savings to the cruising budget. (This isn't always true; in the PI I found the monthly cost of a mooring ball was the same as renting a small house that came with a personal cook.)
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Old 04-03-2009, 10:24   #12
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forget about dive instrution

I'm a retired scuba instructor, having held both NAUI and PADI certifications for years. First, significant expense is involved in terms of liability insurance and annual dues to a professional association, both of which are mandatory if you're going to certify students. Second, the industry is flooded with qualified instructors, and most resort destinations have a long waiting list of people who would like to teach/guide for them. Third, on a per-hour basis, you don't end up making a lot of money when you're doing it part time. It can be profitable if you own a share of a dive shop or scuba school, or even a commercial dive boat, but otherwise, it's not much more than a hobby for most part-time instructors.
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Old 05-03-2009, 05:54   #13
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Living on a boat affords no advantage I can see when it comes to finding employment. It's not really a disadvantage either other than ground transportation. Being resourceful counts for as much as anything. A lot of folks looking for work these days.
At least in the SouthEast US, it can be a disadvantage. Dinghy Docks, Anchoring, and proximity to facilities without ground transport are a real problem in a lot of locations. We are leaving Stuart, Florida now and we had a tough time finding a anchorage where we could land a dinghy AND that was close to some amenities.

A lot of folks are looking for work these days. The land based jobs are scarce and the pay has been downgraded based on demand. Trim carpentry isn't paying what it used to pay anymore, for example.

Being mobile means you can't build a client base as you could if you stayed in one location for a long time, making it much harder to be self employed and skills service oriented.
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Old 05-03-2009, 05:59   #14
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Where do you plan to cruise, and earn?
I presume you are an American citizen.
We plan on cruising the East Coast looking for places we might want to set up shop when the kiddo hits 4 or 5 and the economic cloud eases. That's the current plan anyways.

Maybe as good a question would be, "What water cities, towns are good possibilities to cruise and work?" Some, many, locations just aren't good due to poor proximity to commerce and lack of basic amenities. A good example of a working/cruising city is St. Augustine, Florida. Right in Historic St. Augustine, lot's of businesses close by, row to shore- you can have a life and find a job.
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Old 05-03-2009, 06:16   #15
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Correct assumptions...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Amgine View Post
The advice here has been somewhat scattered, so let me restate some of (my) assumptions:
  • Goal: You want to earn money while cruising to maintain/rebuild the cruising kitty.
  • Goal: You want to build your personal expertise in cruising-related fields.
  • You would like to know if the investment in USA licensures/certifications are a way of meeting the previous two goals.
Yes, the licensures/certifications can eventually help you with earning money while cruising. They are not very efficient as investments as getting the jobs while cruising is difficult, there is considerable competition and thus lower wages, and the primary method is by reputation/word of mouth which requires long-term cruising in a given region to develop.

As others have pointed out, professional expertise in other fields, primarily land-based, are much more efficient in restoring the cruising budget. Fields where you already have expertise prior to your cruising life are your most efficient method of getting money afloat because you do not have a great investment of time or money in preparing to work abroad. If you have a specific profession - for example accounting - you'll find there are international organizations which can help you find jobs in whatever port you land in, and help you complete paperwork to legally work at them. An example is a service for accountants which specializes in 'swaps', where you get to live in the housing of the accountant you're temporarily replacing.

There are particular benefits to living aboard while rebuilding the kitty. If you can live on the hook, your housing costs might be minimal allowing the maximum savings to the cruising budget. (This isn't always true; in the PI I found the monthly cost of a mooring ball was the same as renting a small house that came with a personal cook.)
I was also assuming (hoping) that one would also acquire more knowledge during the process of getting licenses/certifications that could be put to practical use while cruising.

In my case, my land based skills range from residential remodeling to construction and development management. In one corner, I can only carry so many tools aboard and in the other corner, most construction management jobs last the life of the project- sometimes years, but rarely less than 6 months even for a house.

I've been thinking about going in the financial hole and seeking an advanced degree that is more mobile- accounting or engineering, for example. But again, the upfront and cost of living may be more than you can recoup in 4-5 years.

My wife and I have been toying with creating a boat based business. We're both artists and I was a furniture maker years ago. We can make and sell crafts ranging from knitting, sewing, and jewelry- we're going to experiment with that to see what we can generate right here on the boat.
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