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Old 07-04-2013, 02:47   #1
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Good cheap yard in Cuba, Carribean, Central America ?

I am considering buying an old strong 50+ foot monohull in Texas or Florida, then sailing somewhere close by with cheap labour to get a significant overhaul done before going on to circumnavigate.

Depending on the boat the work could be as extensive as stripping the boat to bare metal followed by a full rebuild including motor, electrical, plumbing, welding, and carpentry. I could stock up on marine components, materials, paints etc before leaving the USA. I am not a perfectionist, so not looking for perfect wood work with exotic timbers, but am happy with strong and functional.

Can anyone recommend a cheap yard in the Caribbean or Central America that will do a competant job, and if so, what are the day rates for workers ?

Has anyone had work done in Cuba, and if so what was the day rate and quality ?
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Old 07-04-2013, 03:59   #2
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Re: Good cheap yard in Cuba, Carribean, Central America ?

i can see a couple of flaws in your plan!
firstly buying an old boat will probably require an extensive refit before leaving to go anywhere.
secondly the gains made on cheap labor in a 3rd world country are lost on the cost of importing,and the difficulty of finding specific marine grade materials and equipment locally.

your best bet is to look in a developing country for a cheap project,that is more or less complete equipment wise,then if nessacary bring in a container/pallet of materials/tools specific to the project.

if i were to sudgest any where it would be trinidad,namely chagaramus,lots of good projects there at reasonable prices,with materials ,semi skill labor and associated servises available locally.
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Old 07-04-2013, 06:41   #3
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Re: Good cheap yard in Cuba, Carribean, Central America ?

Yes, I had considered those issues. My preference is for a new build in the Philippines, but for comparison I am costing upgrade of two existing project boats, one in Texas, one in Florida.

Both boats (are claimed to) have operational motors and usable sails and rigging, and are capable of making the crossing the hard way (hand steering, no cooking, crap in a bucket) As I said in the original post "I could stock up on marine components, materials, paints etc before leaving the USA."

At the moment my main interest is in estimating labour costs, so if you have estimates for Trinidad that would be useful.

I have seen references online for very low hourly rates in Cuba due to government regulation, and wanted to confirm that was actually the case, hence the title of this thread.
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Old 07-04-2013, 06:49   #4
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Re: Good cheap yard in Cuba, Carribean, Central America ?

There are some reasonable boatyards in Cartagena, Colombia, where people do what you want to do. When we were there people were having all sorts of metal work done, getting bottom jobs, having the whole boat painted, etc. In my experience there you would want to have someone trusted supervising constantly or else either nothing will get done, or it won't be done right. But, those that did this ended up statisfied. And, as a previous comment mentioned, you can't easily purchase all the little bits and pieces you need at a local chandler, and it is very expensive to have stuff flown in. Myself, I would plan on restoring the boat closer to home so that you can supervise everything, obtain exactly the stuff you want for the boat, and be able to shake everything down before setting off around the world. You will save in the long run by doing that.
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Old 07-04-2013, 06:52   #5
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Re: Good cheap yard in Cuba, Carribean, Central America ?

i would think the standard rule applies, double what you think it will be,and then add a third!
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Old 07-04-2013, 06:55   #6
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Atoll makes some good points: "good cheap and boat" are three words that dont mix well.

That aside, I would consider Rio Dulce, Guatemala. Two good yards here and lots different skills available. Importation of parts is easy and not crazy expensive (...as long as you dont make it difficult like many of the gringos here do...I dont know why they do this...).

I have a friend w a similar plan...I think he's on his third expensive attempt to get the boat South.
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Old 07-04-2013, 07:06   #7
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Re: Good cheap yard in Cuba, Carribean, Central America ?

friends did a refit in trini recently,they were reasonably happy with the results.
you might have a look at their blog
http://www.ironylondon.com/its-a-hard-life/
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Old 07-04-2013, 07:41   #8
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Re: Good cheap yard in Cuba, Carribean, Central America ?

Everyone has offered good advise. If you decide to continue with your plan, we did some work on our sailboat Sea Trek, at Abel's Boatyard in the Rio Dulce. It's well protected from tropical storms, we found inexpensive but skilled locals to do a lot of the work. It was so cheap to hire someone that we had them do a lot of the messy work we normally did ourselves. We also found it very easy to get parts shipped in when we needed them. And it's a great place to hang out while your working on the boat. Chuck
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Old 07-04-2013, 07:49   #9
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Re: Good cheap yard in Cuba, Carribean, Central America ?

Minor detail -
If you're a US citizen it's illegal for you to spend money in Cuba. But if you don't care I don't care.
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Old 07-04-2013, 08:24   #10
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Re: Good cheap yard in Cuba, Carribean, Central America ?

Keep in mind that no matter how much stuff you jam onboard your boat before you leave the U.S.A. there will be many things you find you need later as work progresses. That is just the nature of boat projects. When I am planning major work on my boat and looking for a place to do it one of the most important things is easy access to marine supplies, hardware stores, and/or the availability of shipping facilities. Since I do all the work myself, other considerations include the availability of a car, and where I will be staying during the work, which can make a huge difference in how easy it is to get stuff done. In my experience, no matter how great the boatyard, you can't just give them a list and say do this stuff and expect it to come out right--you have to hover over them constantly, even in first-world places, to make sure they do what you want them to do and they do it right.
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Old 07-04-2013, 08:46   #11
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Re: Good cheap yard in Cuba, Carribean, Central America ?

I have been to cheap countries and they always up the rent rate. I require very little and if I can't stay in the marina or some place cheap their friend or relative is over charging me. Find a place that does not mind you "camping" in the yard since you will be watching all asspects.
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Old 07-04-2013, 09:01   #12
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I don't need a restoration, but a haulout and storage for a few months at a time, while I Fly back north to work or wait out Hurricane season etc.

Is there some massive parking lot type marina where I can get a low price on dry storage in the Caribbean or Florida?
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Old 07-04-2013, 09:10   #13
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Re: Good cheap yard in Cuba, Carribean, Central America ?

Quote:
Is there some massive parking lot type marina where I can get a low price on dry storage in the Caribbean or Florida?
Check out these places:
Gibson Dry Dock
Green Cove Springs Marina
Indiantown Marina
Glades Boat Storage
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Old 07-04-2013, 20:39   #14
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Originally Posted by Sierahotel View Post
I don't need a restoration, but a haulout and storage for a few months at a time, while I Fly back north to work or wait out Hurricane season etc.

Is there some massive parking lot type marina where I can get a low price on dry storage in the Caribbean or Florida?
RAM Marine on the Rio Dulce does dry storage.
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Old 07-04-2013, 20:52   #15
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Re: Good cheap yard in Cuba, Carribean, Central America ?

In thinking about the Rio, remember you need to get over the bar.
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