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Old 19-11-2009, 09:55   #1
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Refit in South / Central America with Cheap Labor?

I had a professor in college that took his old beat up mustang down to Mexico to have it completely restored. I saw it when it got back and it was beautiful car. I don't know how much he paid but supposedly it was much much cheaper to get done in Mexico than in the US.

I have friends in both Mexico and Colombia that say you can get labor for about $200/month. I'm looking at a local Columbia 36 that is in need of a complete refit but would need minimal work to sail/motor. The idea is to buy the boat for cheap and sail it to SA where I can hire three guys for three months to completely gut and refit the boat. Now parts are going to be expensive anywhere you go but the labor should be around $2000 for the whole thing.

I would like to know if anyone has done this and what your experience has been. Too good to be true? Thanks.

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Old 20-11-2009, 11:59   #2
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One can always find cheap labour anywhere, however for the type of minimum skills needed in refitting a boat then I would suggest that it would be a lot more... Even then, assuming that you paid a higher price, then really you need to be there to oversee; or it just not going to get done.

Parts etc tend to be more expensive and none of the local labour will have the tools...after a while neither will you... lost, broken damaged etc.

A modest refit, properly planned with one of your friends overseeing, could be a achieved at a justifiable cost saving but you will feel will take longer and likely be a compromise which will have to be addressed sometime in the future. What is viable is doing most of it yourself with their assistance...Even that can be frustrating but quite doable (it has a bonus- it does help you learn the swear words quite quickly and with near perfect intonation).

Economically most central and south American countries have seen the prices paid locally for untrained but useful help rise considerably over the past few years. It wouldn’t surprise me that your Professor could have his car restored inexpensively….those are ready available skills in a competitive market…Sadly anything to do with boats are never so considered… So doable but with many caveats



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Old 21-11-2009, 04:35   #3
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Wherever you go for cheaper labour, you'll have to ask yourself; how & where these "cheap" labourers will have had the opportunity to learn & practise their marine trades skills.
If there's a locally active boat building & repairing industry, there may be qualified marine tradespeople. If they service a "yachting - cruising" clientel, they are even more likely to have the skills you require.
Otherwise ...
Gord May
"If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time/$ to fix it?"

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Old 21-11-2009, 09:26   #4
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I'm thinking someone with carpentry and furniture building skills could do excellent work on the interior of the boat and any good mechanic should be able to rebuild an engine. As for painting and fiberglass repair, if I'm able to learn then so can anyone.
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Central America, refit, South America

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