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Old 20-01-2010, 17:16   #1
td1
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Boatyard/Marina Jobs

I'm trying to get a handle on the types of hands-on jobs one might get in the boating industry. I grew up around boats and boatyards, so am somewhat aware of what the general categories of work are, but am curious as to which skills are in the highest demand, what pays well, what allows flexibility or the opportunity to start your own business, etc. The areas in which I would most be interested are general maintenance, rigging, dc/solar wiring, and carpentry in a boatyard, marina, or boatbuilding setting. My personal experience is strongest in the carpentry and construction (of custom homes) arena, but I've always enjoyed learning new skills and am particularly interested in rigging (I like being outside, working on those types of systems, and the view from the top of a mast is a bonus) and solar/dc wiring (I have a bit of experience here, but would need some more training- a bonus would be the opportunity to work on land-based systems as well). In general I have a very good mechanical sense and tend to pick up related skills quickly. I would also be curious as to where diesel mechanic ranks in terms of pay and demand. I'm not currently looking for a job, but just trying to get a feel for what skills I may want to improve before (if) we are to become non-landlocked in the next 3-5 years. I also have a lot of project management experience, but I would prefer to start with a base of the hands on skills before putting this experience to use. I guess I wouldn't be opposed to some parts of marina management and maintenance, although I'm less aware of what opportunities exist in that area.
Thanks for your comments, td1
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Old 20-01-2010, 17:25   #2
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Normally, you are not supposed to work in marinas/boatyards unless you are employed or run a business thereabout.

From my observations, this is what pays best:
- genset jobs,
- advanced engine jobs,
- fridge and air-con jobs,
- advanced electrical,
- lamination and painting (need a shop to do this).

b.
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Old 21-01-2010, 15:34   #3
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The Marina I presently live at has a nice marine/consignment store. I was a able to secure a job there. I am able to get other jobs through this, but basically it is our main income... I am very lucky to walk down the dock to work, and BS about boats all day, it doest get any better.. No doubt we will have to move on some day, but in until then, we are still living on our boat, taking her out for some great sails and working in the marina that my boat is at.... I am a lucky guy, by the way on your way down the ICW drop in and see me at the Beach Marine consignment shop at JAX Beach FL....
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Old 21-01-2010, 18:37   #4
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Certification counts. Whether you are applying for a straight job (what level of college degree have you?), a job as a low level blue collar wrench turner (high school diploma, or equivalency certificate), or a job that has a certain degree of competency test (contractor's license, NMEA certificate, Captain's license), you have to prove to someone that you are worthy of the level of entrusting a very expensive boat to your care, custody and control. Insurance and bonding is one measure of this capacity. Considerable local experience and acceptance is another. No one in their right mind is going to give you the decision making capacity that will affect their family and crew and vessel to endanger them with errors. And since everyone has the capacity to screw up, the most likely to be given the chance to potentially screw up will be the the ones with the best record of not doing so.
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Old 21-01-2010, 19:13   #5
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To add to what Roy said, houses and boats are two different animals. A lot of work on boats could be structural. It takes years of experience to to know whats what.

When I go home to my house I feel like it's just an over sized fancy garden shed. Houses are not really built much different then that.

If you want to own a boat and work on them too, that's another problem. Working on ones own boat is a task in itself. It can be very physical and chemically dirty at times.

But hey! If working on boats is your thing, go to work for a boat yard as a beginner and work your way into a experienced position.

There's not a lot of money working on boats. Fisherman that are out of season or just plane out of work usually find work in the yards until they can get back to sea.

There are a lot of codes one has to know either threw the USCG or ABYC. And boating DC has it's own color codes as well as plumbing and construction for different materials. And so on........................._/)
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Old 21-01-2010, 21:49   #6
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As a Port Engineer told me...steal everything you can....knowledgewise.....

Find a mentor or two....i.e. work as a helper
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Old 22-01-2010, 07:03   #7
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As a Port Engineer told me...steal everything you can....knowledgewise...
Good advice. Knowledge is one thing that you can steal and most people really won't mind too much. What's more, when you get caught stealing it, they can't take it away from you!
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Old 23-01-2010, 10:30   #8
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Thanks for the replies, esp. barnakiel and I. Mike- like I said, I'm not looking for a job (my business is providing all the work I want to handle right now), and the type of info you provided about what tends to be available and in demand is what I'm curious about. Chief, I learned that lesson a long time ago and it's done very well for me- I think that it applies to most aspects of life and I'm sure that if I ever end up in the marine industry any success I have will be due to the mentorship of others (btw- good luck with your new enterprise). Delmarrey, sorry to hear you live in a shed- I agree that a majority of homes are built to price points and with profit and square footage often in mind well ahead of quality. There are some builders that have a different philosophy and will build you a living piece of furniture full of the finest joinery you care to pay for- maybe if you're lucky and care to, you'll end up with one of these homes at some point in your life. Where I grew up and learned to build (both homes and small boats), carpenters often moved from projects on the finest built wooden boats in the world (Midcoast Maine area) to some of the finest built homes I've been around- their skills seemed to transfer pretty well (see projects by Brooklin boatyard, Rockport Marine, and any of the smaller yards in between). Anyway, thanks to everyone for their info and viewpoint. td1
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Old 23-01-2010, 22:43   #9
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Originally Posted by td1 View Post
Delmarrey, sorry to hear you live in a shed- I agree that a majority of homes are built to price points and with profit and square footage often in mind well ahead of quality. There are some builders that have a different philosophy and will build you a living piece of furniture full of the finest joinery you care to pay for- maybe if you're lucky and care to, you'll end up with one of these homes at some point in your life. Where I grew up and learned to build (both homes and small boats), carpenters often moved from projects on the finest built wooden boats in the world (Midcoast Maine area) to some of the finest built homes I've been around- their skills seemed to transfer pretty well (see projects by Brooklin boatyard, Rockport Marine, and any of the smaller yards in between). Anyway, thanks to everyone for their info and viewpoint. td1
What I was referring to is that it took 2-3 people three months to build my little rambler, which is fairly well built. But it took almost two years with 2-3 people to build my boat. They cost about the same when new. Actually the dirt under the house was about half it's cost.

Boats are a work of art by skilled craftsman with every little corner and edge detailed to a smooth finish and satisfying to the touch, unlike a house with ever corner chop sawed and nail gunned together.

If a house were built like a boat it would be in the millions of dollars. Come to think of it there are some pretty nice yachts out there the size of my house.

I'll end by saying; boat building and maintenance is barely profitable these days unlike the 60's and 70's and part of the 80's. Money is getting tight and the marinas are full.
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Old 24-01-2010, 08:15   #10
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Thanks, Del for the historical perspective on the industry- that's helpful and I appreciate that type of info. I've been around boatbuilding, homebuilding, and furniture building my whole life and I will say that good carpenters can and do transfer their skills, especially those used to join wood. A lot of fine homes on the coast I grew up on have the same compound radii joined with the same methods by the same carpenters as compound radii on boats- I know many of the carpenters and the men in both industries that hired them. This is not to say the entire house is built like a boat, but there are certainly components of some homes that utilize the same joinery skills as both boats and fine furniture and there are good carpenters that transfer their skills between the two industries (and yes, many of the homes I've been involved with do run into the millions of dollars). I know that your perspective on homebuilding applies to the vast majority of homes in this country, but there are a higher class of homes being built. I guess I'll leave it there, especially because beyond the possibility of building a boat or two for myself I'm less interested in the carpentry aspect of boats than learning to maintain many of the other systems (of which I currently have much less knowledge) at a professional level- I just like knowing how to do things the right way myself. I know that this knowledge will only come through education/mentorship and I'm trying to get a feel for what skills I may want to start acquiring to speed the process.
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Old 24-01-2010, 09:48   #11
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Buy and memorize Nigel Calder's book to get an idea of the non-carpentry side of boats. Boats are now more complex associations of systems than ever before. You can either specialize in one small area of practice, and only find work in that field, or you can focus on several and be able to build the battery box, re-route the battery cables, install the windlass and washdown pump, overhaul the rig and maintain the diesel. It's your choice. One is simpler and uses fewer tools. The other option requires lots of reading, taking courses, buying and carrying around tons of tools.

Houses, as mentioned, are simpler than boats. If you screw something up, hopefully everyone can run out the door as pipes burst, flames creep toward the ceiling, or the doors fall off their hinges. You can't escape as easily offshore in a blow when smoke begins to pour out of the electrical panel or water suddenly appears where the cabin sole used to be. It's not a simple transfer of skills, rather a greater sense of interrelatedness of systems, a higher awareness of the consequence of failure, and the experience of learning through your own and other's failures. There will always be plenty of work for those who know their stuff and build a fan base of folks who will testify to that.

The boat industry changes in tempo, but somehow there remains a core population of boats in need of work. In thirty-plus years of working in yards, on the docks and in the bilges, I've seen it happen may times. My suggestion is to use the slow times to go back to school, read books, and learn new skills that will come handy when the environment changes. Then you can spend some money buying new tools and tote boxes in the fatter years. Still, I sometimes consider how much better I would have been if I'd become an accountant. A sharp pencil, a calculator and a green eyeshade can be pretty easily transported. But, there is something especially compelling to me about a trade in which people entrust me with their family's and crew's well being and the expectation that they automatically should get the very best service for their dollar. It beats a gold watch at the end of the trail.
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Old 28-01-2010, 13:04   #12
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I'll second the book recommendation. It's one of the few real books I'll be taking with me. Fiction and other stuff will be on the kindle or computer. Technical books are a great help in both learning and later as reference.
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