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Old 17-08-2016, 17:12   #31
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Re: Refitting - best place in the world

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Originally Posted by Terra Nova View Post
It makes no sense to choose some third world country simply based on their low (relatively unskilled) labor rates and lay days.

Also you need a source for marine grade materials and parts.
IIRC you are a marine service provider in a high wage first world environment. Could there be some conflict of interest in this advice?

Depending on the services needed, I reckon that it does make sense to seek a lower wage and lower hardstand cost environment... but a realistic analysis of total cost is worth while for such an endeavor. And such an analysis is not so easy to do long distance; some local knowledge really helps, and ain't easy to source.

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Old 17-08-2016, 18:25   #32
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Re: Refitting - best place in the world

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It makes no sense to choose some third world country simply based on their low (relatively unskilled) labor rates and lay days.

Also you need a source for marine grade materials and parts.
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IIRC you are a marine service provider in a high wage first world environment. Could there be some conflict of interest in this advice?...
That is pretty low, implying I would give someone bad advice based on some desire for personal gain. Up yours.
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Old 17-08-2016, 18:54   #33
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Re: Refitting - best place in the world

Environmental and worker protections? Sounds like first world problems.

Real cruisers know the planet is screwed regardless of where they get their work done and they are on a budget, do what they do and go where the poor people are at.
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Old 17-08-2016, 20:21   #34
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Re: Refitting - best place in the world

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Originally Posted by Terra Nova View Post
That is pretty low, implying I would give someone bad advice based on some desire for personal gain. Up yours.
No, TN, I did not imply that it involved your personal gain, simply that your position as a MSP in a first world situation might bias your advice in general against going elsewhere.

Lots of folks have successfully done the math and made the change. Sometimes it does not even require going offshore to save big bucks. Personal friends, based in Sydney, saved on the order of 50 grand by doing a "once in a lifetime" refit on a big steel yacht by sailing up the coast to the Clarence river and the Harwood Slipway for the work... a 14 month epic. So, your statement that it makes "no sense" to make such changes seems to make no sense to me.

As to your last gratuitous remark: how classy...

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Old 17-08-2016, 21:08   #35
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Re: Refitting - best place in the world

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Originally Posted by Delancey View Post
Environmental and worker protections? Sounds like first world problems.

Real cruisers know the planet is screwed regardless of where they get their work done and they are on a budget, do what they do and go where the poor people are at.
Well, I'm sure the poor people are more than happy when we go where they are and spend our $$$ with them.....

In fact I'm sure they are more than happy.

Better that than spending $100 at Walmart and having less than $5 go to the person that made the gizmo.

Just make sure there isn't some gringo running the show and creaming off 75% for sitting on his arse.....
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Old 17-08-2016, 21:13   #36
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Re: Refitting - best place in the world

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John, while it is true that there are good skills available in the Sydney area, it is one of the most expensive places we've ever encountered to hire work done. Plus, without wishing to rile any feathers, the work ethic is not universally strong. This would be one of the last places I'd recommend for a big refit.



Jim

Geez JC. The work ethic in Sydney is incredibly strong.

They work really, really hard at extracting every last cent from your bank account.


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Old 17-08-2016, 22:54   #37
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Re: Refitting - best place in the world

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Geez JC. The work ethic in Sydney is incredibly strong.

They work really, really hard at extracting every last cent from your bank account.


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Quote:
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John, while it is true that there are good skills available in the Sydney area, it is one of the most expensive places we've ever encountered to hire work done. Plus, without wishing to rile any feathers, the work ethic is not universally strong. This would be one of the last places I'd recommend for a big refit.

Jim
Hey guys, sadly your statements are all too true. I live here and find that the prices expected for the services provided are on the whole f^*&$@g rediculous. Having said that there are some exceptional tradesmen for reasonable money but jeez you have to look for them !!
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Old 17-08-2016, 23:47   #38
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Re: Refitting - best place in the world

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Seattle, of course!
HAHA!!!
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Old 18-08-2016, 01:14   #39
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Re: Refitting - best place in the world

Have hauled out in Italy Malaysia and Thailand and they where all pretty good . Depends how "hands on" you are. Worst experiences have been with westerners in Asia proclaiming to be the best!! Most professional was probably Italy but like I said all good in the end !
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Old 18-08-2016, 08:15   #40
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Re: Refitting - best place in the world

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HAHA!!!




Dood, I'm dead serious. It's not as easy to get top shelf work as it used to be, but this is where all the good stuff comes from. No place on the planet with a better selection of marine supplies available. The vast majority of third world work I have seen was a joke, have restored plenty of boats that were hacked up in foreign ports. Most of the good third world ports are right next to busy first world countries, whose fleets they serve. They quickly end up with pricing very similar to their neighbors but still with supply issues and import/export expenses. Ensenada would be a good example. Only way it makes any sense to me to refit in a third world country is if you DIY only, and make triple sure you brought ALL needed materials with you. Otherwise you'll be using cheap materials as well as cheap labor. Not a recipe for great results.
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Old 18-08-2016, 09:08   #41
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Re: Refitting - best place in the world

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...Only way it makes any sense to me to refit in a third world country is if you DIY...
Few boat owners have the skill to do this successfully, themselves.
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Old 18-08-2016, 09:46   #42
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Re: Refitting - best place in the world

We have had work done in Subic Bay, PI (lived there for 10+ years), Phuket, Thailand (10-mo refit including a new teak deck), Marmaris, Turkey, as well as Greece, Italy, and Puerto Rico/USVIs. As I wrote before, Phuket has the bits as well as the craftsmen to do almost anything, and the work we had done was excellent.....and at a more than reasonable price. Marmaris is a close second. Singapore and Langkawi third. But based on experience and costs here in the US, I can't imagine the quality and value-for-dollar would be even close. But that's just my opinion, from one who's been there.
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Old 18-08-2016, 10:35   #43
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Re: Refitting - best place in the world

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Only way it makes any sense to me to refit in a third world country is if you DIY only, and make triple sure you brought ALL needed materials with you. Otherwise you'll be using cheap materials as well as cheap labor. Not a recipe for great results.
That is not true for Guatemala. All kinds of shipping and ordering choices. Not such a bad selection of parts and materials in downtown Rio either. I am totally amazed at how much work people are getting done down there. As for skilled labor, there are a few gringo escapees that are as good as anybody anywhere at what they do. The locals can do all kinds of stuff but I think they excel at the big labor jobs like re finishing and bottom work.
All that said, you should see them pull a mast with a travel lift. It involves a telephone pole lashed in such a way that you can pull a mast from a 50' boat on the hard.
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Old 19-08-2016, 15:57   #44
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Re: Refitting - best place in the world

Ahoy Bud;

I can offer you a pretty good overview of the Trinidad option.

My story has become rather infamous on this board. In 2002 I bought the epitomé of a fixer-upper (I essentially got a 50-something foot trad ketch for free, by paying off the previous owners' $10K yard bill) on Tortola, and she gave evidence of some serious issues (dry rot and termites in deck beams, quasi-nonfunctional electrical and plumbing, drivetrain of uncertain health and vintage, etc.). At least a partial deck lift was in her future, and two crazy-huge quotes for not much work by shipwrights in Road Town told me the BVIs was not the place for a major refit. Three different old salts advised I limp her down to Chag in Trini, and gave me some good advice about how to approach a big project down there, which I'll get to.

So, I and two foolishly loyal pals did just that and barely lived to tell the tale, but we got her there. Then the real adventure began. One skeleton led to another until I found myself pretty much gutting her and starting over from scratch. So, I'm painfully aware that my refit is at the extreme end of the curve. Here I am "in my fourteenth year of a two-year refit", and she's still not quite done, though I can actually say the list of what's left to do before we can re-christen her is do-able within the next year (yes, Gord, I know I've said that at least six times before).

Now, before you put a big red "X" through Trinidad on your list, I can't entirely fault Trini for the timeline. I myself bear the lion's share of the blame:

•The enormous scope of the project (see for yourself on my Members' photo gallery), which would take several years no matter where I took her, though perhaps not 14+;
•As I'm still a worker bee, I can only go down and check on progress in person once or twice a year; it's no secret that absentee owners get de-prioritized in favor of guys pacing the yard and cracking the whip every day;
•I have a very conservative notion of debt (as in, I avoid it entirely), thus the slow progress meant I was able to keep up with the yard bills for cash money. In retrospect, if I had taken a refit loan I could have thrown more money at the situation and perhaps gotten things done a good bit quicker.

Now aside from my own mea culpas, the Caribbean work ethic is notorious for being slow, and there is some truth to this. While Diva isn't a "woody" (she has a glass hull), she has an awful lot of wood in her—deck beams, pilot house, and acres of teak below—and carpentry has been the biggest part of the project over the years. I found an excellent carpenter there, an expat Canadian, who has had a devil of a time finding and training local laborers and then keeping them. There seems to be a pattern for yard workers there: they work until they get a little ahead financially, then go awol. This meant that there were months when maybe only one person was working on her at a time, and months of no work at all while he looked for new people with a desire to work and trainable skills. Also, it's hard to get a big project accomplished each year between mid-December (Christmas-New Year's holidays) to mid-March (Carnival). During the summer, it gets brutally hot; and while people born to it don't tend to wilt as quickly as us gringos, it does account somewhat for the generally slower work speed and lesser daily accomplishment. Perhaps it's not fair to call this an inferior work "ethic" as it's probably more a coping and survival mechanism against heatstroke.

I got in too deep and I'm too stubborn to give up on the old girl when I should have, so I've been putting a brave face on things and looking at the upsides: When she's done she'll be virtually a brand-new boat with all brand-new systems and rock-solid build, and be the boat I've always wanted to wander the world in, and I won't owe a dime on her. I've come to have a deep affection for Trinidad-Tobago and her people, and it now feels like my second home...in fact, I intend to join the TTSA and make it my home base after she's seaworthy. I certainly don't expect anyone else to defer their cruising gratification for 15 years to have that, and yeah, if I had it to do over I'd have picked a different boat in better nick. But here I am.

Short of my freakish tale of obsession, I really can recommend Trinidad for a refit, for these reasons and caveats:
•At 10º latitude, historically you're safe from any storm with a name (touch wood).
•There is a wealth of boatwork talent down there, and of course lots of hacks too, but taking advantage of a referral organization like YSATT and for a large project a boat management company like Dynamite Marine will help you avoid slipshod workmanship.
•If your boat has any major woodwork in her, teak grows native there (only other place in the world is SE Asia) and is thus way cheaper per board-foot than the US.
•Labor rates remain a good bit cheaper than the US, and as mentioned above if you can be present for the work progress will be much faster.
•You can get pretty much any parts or gear you need, either off the shelf at Budget Marine or shipped FedEx down from anywhere. Filing the paperwork as a "Yacht In Transit" can avoid paying VAT in most circumstances. For large and/or heavy shipments, you can arrange slow-boat container shipping through Tropical in Miami, which is cost-effective though slower. Trini Customs is a royal PITA but having a management company interfacing for you helps a lot.
•You may want to think about boat-shopping in Chag. There are a lot of boat yards down there, with a lot of boats in them. Many of them I've seen parked in the same place for years, which tells me that a fair percentage of owners seek Chaguaramas as a storm-season refuge, they put their boat in mothballs on the hard, and then life distracts them from their cruising dreams. So I have to think it's an enormous buyer's market there.

Anyhoo, that's my hard-earned dos centavos.

Happy shopping, and best of luck (or at least better than mine)!

Cheers,
Geoff
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Old 19-08-2016, 16:04   #45
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Re: Refitting - best place in the world

From the other side of the world, and with no dog in the fight... a really good post, Geoff!

Jim
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