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Old 03-09-2014, 14:27   #1
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Demand for diesel mechanics?

I have a friend who is a skilled mechanic, thinking about living aboard and cruising in the Caribbean.

1. Is there a need for diesel mechanics in the Caribbean?

2. If so, is this a word-of-mouth, pay some cash or a fish or other trading? I mean, can he really make enough to sustain himself? (I've heard some cruisers are cheap, but diesel engines are in all kinds of yachts...)

3. Anybody supplementing this way?

4. Any regulatory things to worry about, i.e. "working" in a foreign country.

5. What kind of repairs are typical? I mean, he brings his tools to an engine on a boat at anchor, or will he need to work on shore?

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Old 03-09-2014, 14:59   #2
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Re: Demand for diesel mechanics?

So your friend wants to be an illeagel alien? With all that is going on here in the US I am not sure how I feel about that. I was thinking about doing work along the way then I got to thinking about what that has done to the US and am I willing to do exactly what I don't like being done??? Moral dilema for some, me included. Either it's right for all or none- there is no "reasoning it away" that will make it wrong for some and not others....just sayin'
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Old 03-09-2014, 15:20   #3
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Re: Demand for diesel mechanics?

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So your friend wants to be an illeagel alien? With all that is going on here in the US I am not sure how I feel about that. I was thinking about doing work along the way then I got to thinking about what that has done to the US and am I willing to do exactly what I don't like being done??? Moral dilema for some, me included. Either it's right for all or none- there is no "reasoning it away" that will make it wrong for some and not others....just sayin'
So I take it you buy no goods made in China or vegetables from suppliers that employ migrant workers? Can I ask how you tell the difference when you go to the super market because I can't seem to tell. In fact I tend to favor labor intensive produce over Monsanto crap and that probably means I support illegal immigrants more than most, but that's me.

The illegal immigrant thing is such a bunch of crap. We were a country founded on open borders and land of opportunity. To now say that some people shouldn't be able to come here because other immigrants (we are all immigrants by the way) don't want to share the dream that brought their ancestors here is the ultimate hypocrisy. But this is

To the OP, I have a friend that has been traveling on his boat that is a very skilled carpenter and has worked as a boat builder in the past. He has not had trouble finding work yet. Typically he has been getting it from the marinas but other cruisers will approach him about doing some projects too. He is doing this on a cash basis in a sort of off-the-books kind of way. I don't think he would get the same reception from local authorities in some areas if he hung a sign off his boat advertising that he is doing it. In some places the marinas have steered work in his direction. Other places have asked him not to do the work at the dock.

I also know other people that have made some side money watching boats for people during hurricane season. They would get paid to check on the boat once a week, run the engine every couple of weeks, equalize and fill the batteries, exercise seacocks, etc.

I think if your friend does good work and is a nice guy, he will probably not have much of a problem getting some work. But I think the people that pay big money for diesel projects (engine rebuilds, replacing trannies, etc.) might shy away from him and pay a company that they can get a warranty from. So I don't think it would be possible just doing diesel work but if he is open to doing anything (especially head projects) he should be able to earn some money.
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Old 03-09-2014, 15:56   #4
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Re: Demand for diesel mechanics?

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............ I have a friend that has been traveling on his boat that is a very skilled carpenter and has worked as a boat builder in the past. He has not had trouble finding work yet. Typically he has been getting it from the marinas but other cruisers will approach him about doing some projects too. He is doing this on a cash basis in a sort of off-the-books kind of way. ............
I suppose that would work if you are living hand to mouth, but remember there is no insurance, no retirement and no benefits. He's also avoiding taxes and that could be a serious problem if he gets caught. How could he get caught? Do some work for somebody and then end up in a dispute over money or the quality of his work. The customer can hold this over his head or turn him in.

I wouldn't recommend going to another country and disobeying their laws. Some of these countries don't treat lawbreakers nicely.
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Old 03-09-2014, 16:10   #5
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Re: Demand for diesel mechanics?

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I suppose that would work if you are living hand to mouth, but remember there is no insurance, no retirement and no benefits. He's also avoiding taxes and that could be a serious problem if he gets caught. How could he get caught? Do some work for somebody and then end up in a dispute over money or the quality of his work. The customer can hold this over his head or turn him in.

I wouldn't recommend going to another country and disobeying their laws. Some of these countries don't treat lawbreakers nicely.
Local service providers will likely not take kindly to an undocumented mechanic from another country hustling up work in their territory. That's the biggest risk, IMHO.
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Old 03-09-2014, 16:10   #6
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Re: Demand for diesel mechanics?

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I suppose that would work if you are living hand to mouth, but remember there is no insurance, no retirement and no benefits.
The current economy in the US is so much better... lol. So basically.. same as he has now, except he'd be in the Caribbean. Hand to mouth is what alot of folks have here in the US now. I know, I rent apartments, and the slightest hick-up in finances and renters can't pay.

The tax issue really isn't that big of a deal, he'd probably report 'something' just to avoid suspicions - similar to a waitress who reports 'some tips'.

The 'other countries' thing is what I was most concerned about.

And yes, I guess he'd be an illegal alien, may as well, everyone else is doing it... except he'd get his paperwork for cruising with his US Passport just like everyone else, so no, he WOULDN'T be an illegal alien.

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Old 03-09-2014, 16:27   #7
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Re: Demand for diesel mechanics?

Forget the terminology and don't call him an illegal alien. Bottom line is he would be working in a foreign country without a permit so violating local law and taking business away from the local mechanics. Very high odds of the local diesel guy turning him in to the authorities where the best thing that would happen is he gets run out of the country.

You may think he could fly under the radar and only do work for another cruiser but you would be amazed at how word gets around in a small place.

Best option would be to see if the local diesel shop would take him on. Most places they could grease the wheels on the work permit or just have the local authority who is probably his cousin, just ignore the situation.
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Old 03-09-2014, 16:59   #8
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Re: Demand for diesel mechanics?

So some cruisers do sail and general fabric repair to supplement their incomes, but Diesel mechanic isn't OK?

See I'm a fair to middlin electrician, HVAC (licensed) and decent Diesel mechanic and when I start cruising, I intend to help others out, and will accept either trade in kind or money to help my cruising kitty, I thought this was common?
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Old 03-09-2014, 17:00   #9
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Re: Demand for diesel mechanics?

If he is out cruising he would end up doing a lot of free work. I have some professional skills and found out quickly that charging a fellow cruiser for your work can turn out unpleasant. I think it's best that if you are a wiz bang at something, help if you can. If you both got deep into something and the owner threw up their hands, you might make a deal on a project but I don't think you could count on it happening that often. Most often you would be just helping another cruiser, hopefully drinking their beer and having as good a time as possible.
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Old 03-09-2014, 18:25   #10
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Re: Demand for diesel mechanics?

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If he is out cruising he would end up doing a lot of free work. I have some professional skills and found out quickly that charging a fellow cruiser for your work can turn out unpleasant. I think it's best that if you are a wiz bang at something, help if you can. If you both got deep into something and the owner threw up their hands, you might make a deal on a project but I don't think you could count on it happening that often. Most often you would be just helping another cruiser, hopefully drinking their beer and having as good a time as possible.
My experience exactly. 99% of the time you are helping out fellow cruisers and don't charge but as you point out, that's you helping the owner. If the owner doesn't want to get his or her hands dirty at all, depending on the situation, I might be less inclined to pitch in.

Also, I have received help a few times when I was in a jam.
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Old 03-09-2014, 19:07   #11
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Re: Demand for diesel mechanics?

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So I take it you buy no goods made in China or vegetables from suppliers that employ migrant workers? Can I ask how you tell the difference when you go to the super market because I can't seem to tell. In fact I tend to favor labor intensive produce over Monsanto crap and that probably means I support illegal immigrants more than most, but that's me.

The illegal immigrant thing is such a bunch of crap. We were a country founded on open borders and land of opportunity. To now say that some people shouldn't be able to come here because other immigrants (we are all immigrants by the way) don't want to share the dream that brought their ancestors here is the ultimate hypocrisy. But this is
.
I too prefer home grown, local not crap food- but I also have lived in many areas for quite a while that have had an influx of people from Mexico- I lived in Las Cruces NM and taught school there- I saw what it did to the system over 20 years ago and now it's worse with the schools teaching class not in english, free lunches when the legally employed don't get it and can only afford PBJ- but that is neither here not there. I am simply stating that if you feel like I do then you should think twice about doing the same thing you are complaining about lest you'd be a hypocrite which I prefer not to be whenever possible. If you have no problem with going to another country and taking jobs and food from local people or having the same done here then there is no issue.
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Old 03-09-2014, 19:12   #12
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Re: Demand for diesel mechanics?

When we were in Moorea met a couple just completing the longest circumnavigation i'd heard of, 10+ years. They had a homebuilt larger version of a Tahiti Ketch with an aft cabin that he'd turned into a machine shop with lathe, etc. His services were in demand wherever they went and he found himself too busy to move quickly. They were Australian so might have made it easier to work in countries that are/were members of the Commonwealth. Were in South Africa for a number of years.

May not be able to make the money he makes in the States but will be able to supplement their cruising kitty. Best thing would be to work through a local shop if they like an area enough to hang around for awhile. Diesels are not just for boats and 18 wheelers outside the States.
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Old 03-09-2014, 19:46   #13
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Re: Demand for diesel mechanics?

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I too prefer home grown, local not crap food- but I also have lived in many areas for quite a while that have had an influx of people from Mexico- I lived in Las Cruces NM and taught school there- I saw what it did to the system over 20 years ago and now it's worse with the schools teaching class not in english, free lunches when the legally employed don't get it and can only afford PBJ- but that is neither here not there.
As a teacher I would hope you know that the Founding Fathers debated the idea of having a national language but decided against it. They wanted America to be a melting pot and envisioned that the prevailing language of the nation would change as the demographics of those who immigrated here changed.

Quote:
I am simply stating that if you feel like I do then you should think twice about doing the same thing you are complaining about lest you'd be a hypocrite which I prefer not to be whenever possible. If you have no problem with going to another country and taking jobs and food from local people or having the same done here then there is no issue.

Again, do you understand that this attitude is hypocrisy itself? It was ok for your relatives to immigrate here but not some different colored people who speak a different language?

Sorry to the PO for the off topic discussion.



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Old 03-09-2014, 19:57   #14
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Re: Demand for diesel mechanics?

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If he is out cruising he would end up doing a lot of free work. I have some professional skills and found out quickly that charging a fellow cruiser for your work can turn out unpleasant. I think it's best that if you are a wiz bang at something, help if you can. If you both got deep into something and the owner threw up their hands, you might make a deal on a project but I don't think you could count on it happening that often. Most often you would be just helping another cruiser, hopefully drinking their beer and having as good a time as possible.

I could see this aspect. I suppose it would depend on who you are doing work for. If you charge your typical DIY low budget cruiser for help change a water pump you won't make any friends.

However a couple of weeks ago we ended up in a slip next to an older couple that were complaining they didn't have enough room in the 47 Hylas for their 4-6 months a year they cruise the East Coast before going back to their place in San Fran. I didn't have the heart to tell him we lived on our 31 footer. But I can tell you that guy does change his own oil or joker valves. He would gladly pay someone to do that maintenance.


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Old 03-09-2014, 20:15   #15
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Re: Demand for diesel mechanics?

I met an american couple living aboard at nassau yacht haven in the bahamas. He was a retired carpenter. Across the harbor they were building condos on paradise island. Someone there heard about him and offered him work. They quickly got him a temporary work permit and paid him daily, in cash. Supposedly he was teaching the local workmen but in fact he was doing most of the work.
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