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Old 16-08-2005, 05:17   #1
Kai Nui
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Boat-Based Business

I find it interesting, that the only time you really hear about how cruisers make money underway is after the first book. Most of us can sand, paint, even perform basic engine repairs for other cruisers, but how can someone make a "living" while cruising. I have had no problem while cruising within the US, but what about Mexico, or Europe? Where can you run a business from your boat without violating local laws, and what are the limits?
Are there any traditional trades that are more marketable than others? Are there any that lend themselves favorably to the nomadic lifestyle of the cruiser?
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Old 22-08-2005, 04:52   #2
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So.... Is it that no one wants to let their secret out, or is there no such thing as making a living while cruising?
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Old 22-08-2005, 07:22   #3
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Commitment....

I think the problem is that most jobs require commitment, mostly for longer than most cruisers would plan on staying in one place.
The best story that I heard was of the cruisers who would fund their voyage by selling their boat, and building another one to use.
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Old 22-08-2005, 12:31   #4
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ACtually there are

Here in the Caribe we have met several people who own businesses operated from their boat.

One of them owns a small software company in AUstrailia. He provides software fixes via sat phone or internet if avaliable. Only ocassonally does he need to travel home. He does quite well.

There are several that have been funding thier cruising by being certified mechanics, delivery captains, and one who installs wireless networks systems around the Caribe. Several paint, make jewelry, teach diving. The list is long.

Point being that one need skills, imaganation and competancy with the ability to promote yourself. Most see a service that needs to be filled and fill it.

The only downside is there are a large number of incompetant people out there promotong themselves.

Good luck
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Old 23-08-2005, 02:17   #5
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All of the above are very true....
Unfortunately, it sounds like if you are not an artist willing to starve your way around the world, or a software professional, the prospects are limited. Making a living as a delivery skipper is impractical at best. Speaking from experience. As a mechanic, not my first choice, but I am qualified, but I see a potential for conflict in foreign locals. I ran an insurance appraisal business from my boat for over a year, until I was bought out, but it did not allow me to travel. I was leashed to the dock, and my car, as well as a local clientel. I know Reefurl was started, and run as a successful boat based business by a cruising couple. This sort of thing has potential, but does rely on shore based manufacturing, and satellite phones.
What I am searching out, is a business that can be operated from a boat, while changing locations internationaly, using the communications available from a boat in varying locations, with no particular talent as opposed to skills, and not requiring arrival schedules (communication schedules are OK).
I know it exists, I have just yet to think of it. There have got to be some ideas out there with the diversity of the cruising community.
As for commitment, cruisers commit better than most of society, just not to a location.
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Old 23-08-2005, 15:04   #6
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Opportunity knocks

Some of the starving artists we have met have pretty nice boats!

Usaully it is difficult to think about how to make money short of a specialized skill before setting out. Many cruisers we know who work and travel have seen gaps and were able to recognize them and fill them in for money. Many of the working cruisers we have met were able to apply the land based skills to water based work.

You stated you have a great skillset for cruising, but don't want to be a mechanic, etc. Making money while cruising can be difficult as there are many who are doing the same thing and already out here. Good artists there are many, great mechanics, there are few.

One of my favorite cruiser workers is Chris Doyle of the guide fame. What a better way to make a living, check it and compile info from those who have gone before and get paid.

My point is there are a lot of opportunities and depending on your skill set what can be applied. Just look around, but like any business it takes time to build.
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Old 24-08-2005, 03:25   #7
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So true...As our prepare for 5 and leave for 5 turned into prepare for 6 and leave for a month, come back for a year and leave for a month etc... we have about another 5 years before we can try to make the break again. It would be great to have something started by that point.
I do not think I am as great a mechanic as I would like to be, but my customers over the years still look me up when they have a problem, but as it has been about 7 years since I have made my living turning wrenches, I am not what you would call "up to date".
As for the artists, I did not say they were all starving artists, but the majority are, and that includes lots who have a lot more talent than I do. Any doubts, read Pat Henry's "By The Grace Of The Sea".
Does anyone have any experience with a paper business in foreign ports? For example, the software designer you mentioned, does anyone know if the officials in places like Australia would dig deep enough to know you were designing software while anchored, and if so would they take steps to limit your visit?
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Old 24-08-2005, 03:52   #8
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in prep for cruising in the caribe, i have contacted various potential employers to see if they might want what i got. the response has been positive. the reality seems to be kind of a hopscotch lifestyle where you have to stay in one spot long enought to make some $ and work on lining up the next spot. it is not without commitment and compromise. in prep, i upgraded my uscg 6 pac to masters 50 ton (need the masters now) and i still need stcw cert for non u.s. waters. (insurance co. want both - i'll do the course this winter) these jobs are basically driving boats for vacationers (bus driver). i also have business skills and long standing carpentry skills. as i tell those that work for me, there is no crappy job i will ask you to do that i haven't done many times myself so, for me, its just about picking up cash. from what i can find, if you can cook, clean, do carpentry, repairs, basically show up and not screw up, there is demand.
i am sure every place is different, and demand will be driven by tourist dollars so i would be tied to more commercial spots while refilling the kitty but at least i know you don't have to be a tech or financial wiz to find some $ cruising. everyone i talked with while visiting says the same - you want it - you can find it. capt. lar
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Old 24-08-2005, 04:02   #9
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KAI NUI - your post popped up before i could two finger type last comment. i can tell you that trying to do something in your name in BVI is very hard - paperwork takes months, but as to working while cruising, i have a nephew in tech with a partner in GB. they have office in states and GB and it really becomes a tax issue. you need legal advice but, as they set it up, if your business has legal address you may be fine. is there a specific service you are considering ? product / service / consult. capt. lar
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Old 24-08-2005, 04:54   #10
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Currently I am in the insurance bus. I got my 100 ton 7 years ago, but did not find the income I needed with it.
I am looking for ideas. I would do cargo and machinery damage appraisal and investigation, but my current employer does not do international business, and most who do will not use independent contractors.
Something a bit less corporate would be nice.
I have considered the business address thing, and I realize I need legal answers to a lot of these questions, but right now I am in the idea stage.
I can leave in a few years for a while and have a great cruise, or I can figure out a way to generate reliable income, and cruise for as long as it is fun.
And if not for myself, I am sure a lot of people out there would like to go, but are at that age where leaving, only for a few years may mean a much leaner retirement, or none at all.
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Old 24-08-2005, 07:42   #11
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Insurance?!? As long as your an Assessor not a salesman
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Old 24-08-2005, 15:16   #12
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"retirement" - what's that ?

i think its a 2 step - leave, cruise and figure out as you go - similar to my plan - rent house, stash cash, set a limit that will required new income to keep going. otherwise - back to the game. i have accepted that it will have to happen as we go, rather than be in place prior to escape.

personally, part of me likes not knowing. having everything set up gives us security, but it limits our potential. it is the balance of risk and growth that makes it fun. capt. lar
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Old 25-08-2005, 01:46   #13
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Wheels, I am the guy that tries my best to undo what you do. I do not think I could sell insurance, as I do not believe in gambling on your future. But... When you need it, it is a really good thing to have.
Capt Lar,
I had a grand plan for retirement when I was 18. I had a well thought out plan for retirement when I was 25. I was questioning if I would live long enough to worry about retirement when I was 30, and at 40, I realized that I had better start planning for retirement. I have spent my life, and been fairly successful taking things as they come, but I have to think of my wife as well. She adapts well to adversity, but I suspect she will outlive me, and that is the time I am concerned about.
If it was just me, give me a solid vessel, a catchment system, and a net, and I would be happy as a lark. When the end comes, it's a viking funeral for me! But...
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Old 25-08-2005, 17:29   #14
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it can cost $60,000.- to $100,000 per year to pay for assisted living. my point is, from personal experience, you can spend your entire life saving for old age, and find out all that cash can be spent in just a few years, and the "system" required you to be destitute before you qualify for assistance. almost none of us can save or make enough money to guarantee security. scarry truth.

obviously there is a balance in there. you do what you can do and deal with the rest. personal choices have a lot to do with good health.

some who know us have described me as the wind that drives the boat, and my wife as the keel that keeps us stable, but my wife would be the first to tell you the adventures she has experienced are the best part of her life (except her kids). when she has her old butt parked in some chair, those experiences will be what she looks back on. i feel bad for people who end up in that chair without those experiences.

we will all be dead for a long time. i plan to live, learn and work until i can't. capt. lar
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Old 25-08-2005, 23:08   #15
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Planning

Stuff happens. You are more likley to be sidelined as a result of an accident under age 40, and as a result of an illness over age 40. If you are in good health over age 50 things should be fairly smooth. There is an insurance product to satisfy most needs, but there is never enough money for a young couple to take care of every possibility. You do the best you can. If you want to leave some money to your wife at your death, over and above all the assetts, you can buy life insurance on yourself. Get a BA 35 calculator from Texas Instruments and figure out your costs. If you want to leave your wife $100,000 at your death calculate the present value of that amount, or calculate the yearly amount required to provide it. Figure out when you are likely to die to get the number of years needed to pay or accumulate the $$. You need to use a realistic after tax rate of return. Compare the cost to what you would pay for a guaranteed Term to 100 insurance policy. You are not gambling with your future like most insurance products, as the end result is known in advance. The only variable is the timing of the event.
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