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View Poll Results: Cruising Repair Shop?
Hell Yeah! 6 42.86%
You're Crazy! 2 14.29%
You're Crazy, but Hell Yeah! 6 42.86%
Voters: 14. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 11-06-2011, 22:44   #1
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Cruising Repair Biz ?

So,

I'd like to ask the collective opinion. I'm continuing to pursue my goal of being a cruising boat repair guy. Basically, I'd like to run ahead of the cruising groups and offer my services as a boat repair guy. I intend to operate from Seattle up the Inside Passage, initially. I have attained the necessary skills and certifications from the ABYC, NMEA, and EPA to do diesel, electrical, diving, reefer, electronics, outboards, etc, and I've got a boat in mind.

What I'd like to know, is those of you who sail the Inside Passage and the West Coast of Mexico, have you encountered people who ply this trade?

Obviously, I'm not looking to make a lot of money, I'm a QMED/Oiler for my "day job," and intend this to be a side project to both assist the cruising culture, and help pay for my cruising.

Anyways, assuming I have my poop in a group, how often could you have used a guy like me? Feel free to throw ideas, thoughts, and constructive criticism... I intend to make this happen, and any thoughts that will help are much appreciated.
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Old 12-06-2011, 04:18   #2
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Re: Cruising Repair Biz?

Poop in a group...good one!
I vote hell Yeah!
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Old 12-06-2011, 04:38   #3
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Re: Cruising Repair Biz?

Sounds like you have your poop together!
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Old 12-06-2011, 04:44   #4
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Re: Cruising Repair Biz?

When we were out cruising in the '70s, most of the boats were sailed by people who'd either built their boat or done a major refit themselves. They were a pretty self sufficient group. Still, we needed help getting our ham radio up and running and others needed various assistance occasionally. One of the cruisers had designed and built his own holding plate refrigeration, in fact had rebuilt his boat around his refrigeration set up. He stayed reasonably busy trouble shooting and fixing refrigeration units on other boats. There were also shore jobs for anyone with mechanical skills. In the back woods, there aren't many people with technical skills. If people have the trappings of civilization, they need to get them repaired. One guy got a lot of nice carvings, free meals and fishing trips repairing the chain saws of the wood carvers in the Marquesas.

Today, it seems that a much greater number of the cruisers have purchased the life style. Cruising Sailboats are way bigger, much more complicated, and crammed with toys. They've hired someone to set them up for them and expect to have someone else fix them when things go wrong. In the PNW, with the large percentage of power boats, there are probably more things to break, less self maintenance, and opportunities for a 'fix it' guy.

One thing that seemed to be a common thread of the boats with toys. They broke and the owners would go to unbelievable cost and hardship to get their toys fixed. It wasn't a case of, "Oh well, it broke but we can live without it till it's convenient to get it fixed," or just throw it overboard. The toys became the black cloud hanging over the owner's shoulder demanding to be fixed, yesterday. We knew of one boat that cut short their cruise and sailed 2500 miles back to Hawaii just to get their refrigeration fixed. So Yes, think you'll need a wheel barrow to carry around all the money you'll make.
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Old 12-06-2011, 08:04   #5
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Re: Cruising Repair Biz?

In the late '80s my family and I were cruising in Mexico on a 43 foot trimaran. I was a sailmaker and had equipped my boat with sewing machine and all my hand tools. At first I was eager to help other cruisers with splicing (wire to rope was very popular) and sail repairs; after a year we were staying off the cruisers net check-in as some mornings there would be several dinghys with torn sails waiting when I came on deck after breakfast.
If you have a good skill you can trade for other services and make a little extra money but I'm not sure you can fully support cruising full time.
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Old 12-06-2011, 08:47   #6
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Re: Cruising Repair Biz?

I can only speak with experience from the western side of Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.

Locals and ex-pats with a work visa tend to be very protective of their trade and will go to great lengths to discourage any such practice as someone taking money from them.

In several countries only crew on a boat may do indepentant work and must go to Customs and sign on as crew before they can work on that boat. In Trinadad cruisiers cannot legally buy things from other cruisiers nor can they work on someone else's boat.
I stress the word "legally".
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Old 12-06-2011, 09:06   #7
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Re: Cruising Repair Biz?

I know folks who have done this successfully, but at much lower rates than you may be used to. In many countries, however, it is illegal to work without a permit, even among the cruisers in the harbor. It would always be best to see if it is "an issue" locally, first.

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Old 12-06-2011, 10:33   #8
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Re: Cruising Repair Biz?

Thanks for the good info, everybody!
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Old 13-06-2011, 05:17   #9
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Re: Cruising Repair Biz ?

My first thought was that if I got you to do some work - and then told you to f#ck off when it came to the bill, what could you do about it?
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Old 13-06-2011, 05:45   #10
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Re: Cruising Repair Biz ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by David_Old_Jersey View Post
My first thought was that if I got you to do some work - and then told you to f#ck off when it came to the bill, what could you do about it?
I'm guessing that's why the majority of "cruiser to cruiser" work is some sort of barter?

To the OP: Why not get a job at a marine tech place local to you and get some practical work experience while you figure out the trivialities of this proposition?
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Old 13-06-2011, 07:39   #11
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Re: Cruising Repair Biz ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Engine_Ear View Post
. . . Basically, I'd like to run ahead of the cruising groups and offer my services as a boat repair guy. I intend to operate from Seattle up the Inside Passage, initially. . .
Unless you have a Canadian citizenship or permanent residency, I would think that the Canadian authorities would be really pissed if you were operating a business in their country's waters. Probably end up with some jail time and confiscation of your boat and its contents if you were caught.
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Old 13-06-2011, 07:55   #12
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Re: Cruising Repair Biz ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by David_Old_Jersey View Post
My first thought was that if I got you to do some work - and then told you to f#ck off when it came to the bill, what could you do about it?
At the very least, you'd find a large hole cut in the side of your inflatable.
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Old 13-06-2011, 08:01   #13
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Getting work permits is a good idea, but I think you could make a decent bit of money. If you do as you say and start on the side, it could quickly become a full time job, at the very least steady part time. Even with just word of mouth if your known around 3 or 4 marinas. I know a couple that started a whole business just scrubbing some decks and cleaning up after some yacht owners parties. Even my retired father in law who is a heavy duty mechanic has more work then he can handle from people's cars around town. If you charged the right price and build a reputation for quality work you will be set. I have a business that Ive lived on for the past seven years, all I do is wash windows and do some pressure washing graffiti removal, there is a lot of competition in that area but I still make a decent living with all the tax breaks of being a sole proprietor. Someone with all the skill that you have is hard to come by, it's a good niche!
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Old 13-06-2011, 08:06   #14
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Re: Cruising Repair Biz ?

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Originally Posted by David_Old_Jersey View Post
My first thought was that if I got you to do some work - and then told you to f#ck off when it came to the bill, what could you do about it?

It's a real shame when a boat project turns into a salvage project...
That's going pretty far, though. If I'm out a couple hours of labor, that's not a big deal. Major parts? Customer ponies up for materials. Also, I like barter. Scotch works great.

Regarding Canada, I assume that a work visa would be the best way to avoid troubles with our friends up there. I'm not looking to step on toes, I'm looking to be where most other mechanics aren't.

As to the local marine tech place, finding a job isn't the point, this is more of a "down the road" sort of thing. Actually, it's an excuse to keep "working" while I'm cruising. I happen to like fixing boats as much as I like playing on them...it's a sickness, I guess.
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Old 13-06-2011, 08:10   #15
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Jim in an adjacent thread had this to say..

In our experience providing services to other cruisers is not often a money making process. Once in the cruising community, one tends to view fellow cruisers as friends rather than customers, and services are either willingly offered for free or in exchange for some other thing or service. Not much cash changes hands.

And providing such for locals is usually illegal (unless a work visa is obtained) and often raises the ire of the locals with whom you compete. If you can provide some service not otherwise available rules may well be ignored by officials, but caution is advised in testing these situations.

Thread about massaging and legal services.

I'm sure there is a solid middle ground. If one is willing to work there will be opportunities.
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