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Old 14-05-2006, 19:24   #1
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Electronics Design and Repair

We haven't goten our first boat yet. This "making money" issue has been one point of contention the last year Kathy & I have been searching for a boat. Now, we likely have found a trimaran and could soon be on the water. Still, the issue of making money bugs us.

What do you reading this think of someone who is exceptional at electroincs repair and design being available to fix radios, consumer electronics and the like? I also have developed several products that might be useful onboard, such as new methods of lighting, energy production and water distillation.

It seems to me these would be useful, but I don't know really. Any comments?

jerry
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Old 15-05-2006, 06:22   #2
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I'm pretty sure you could keep yourselves in beer money at least using your skills.

For example a ram mic on my VHF went intermittent this spring and since I'm not on the boat and time will be tight when we arrive we bought a new one.

I would bet the old one could be fixed for a lot less than the price of the new one at $100.00. (I plan to make it a spare if possible)

I would guess there is at least 1 boat in any anchorage that contains 2 or more cruising boats that has some electrical/electronic component on the fritz. Getting the word out will be the trick.
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Old 15-05-2006, 11:18   #3
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Thanks for your thoughts. You're correct about getting the word out. My idea was in relation to us being along a line from Mexico to Panama, Carribean. I was thinking it might be more difficult to get services in this region. Our plan is to sail to Panama and get away from the world for awhile. So, we're dreaming up methods to "stay afloat" : )

Anyone else have thoughts about my question?
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Old 15-05-2006, 15:38   #4
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Walk the docks, row around the anchorage, be friendly with everyone. Notice the gear that they have and ask if they are happy with it. Anything to start a conversation. They will likley tell you what they are having trouble with and you can offer to have a look because "you used to do electronics work." You'll probably create some very grateful folks.

I've done this even in local cruising around Puget Sound and the San Juans. Jemsea is right. There are a lot of boats that need something fixed. I convert my nav station into a small workbench as necessary. I also have a compact tool kit that I can take to another boat. Even the basic stuff such as wiring connections and soldering are in demand.
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Old 15-05-2006, 16:23   #5
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I'm not sure if this is a direct quote from Larry Pardee but the jist of it is:

"Advice is free, but when the tools come out I start charging"
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Old 15-05-2006, 16:44   #6
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Thanks folks... I really apreciate your input.

As it looks now, our plans are once again on hold. The trimaran we were looking at needs a motor and transmission. I was just told it would cost $10K for these, installed price. So, back to looking. We can't afford this right now. I sure thought it would have been less : (
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Old 15-05-2006, 20:01   #7
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Quote:
I sure thought it would have been less : (
Usually it is more but you sure can't stop looking and making more money. They won't send you home for having too much money or for finding a boat that was too good that you could afford. Hang in there.

If you need advice you can always find welcome conversation and good advice for free here. You need to provide all the tools and money. We can't do everything for eveyone or they would make us all politicians.
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Old 15-05-2006, 20:15   #8
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Jerry & Kathy. The problem is not finding the work. If you are good at it, the problem is not letting the workload takeover your cruising time.
As for discounting the trimaran due to the need for an engine, keep in mind most tris will motor quit well with an outboard, and the motor and bracket is a comparitively small expense. If the boat is otherwise what you are looking for, it could easily be seaworthy with the addition of an outboard, and the diesel can be replaced later. $10000 is cheap for a repower, but it is good bargaining fodder. You know what you want, so I'm just saying... Good luck on you plans.
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Old 16-05-2006, 11:48   #9
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Originally Posted by Kai Nui
Jerry & Kathy. The problem is not finding the work. If you are good at it, the problem is not letting the workload takeover your cruising time.
This is the truth. It's hard to find a balance between your cruising wants/needs and the need to make money. We struggle with this every single day still, since we just started our life on the hook.

Making money quickly starts to cosume your valuable cruising time. And you always have to deal with people to make money. Meaning... the farther out you are (and hence the more enjoyable cruising becomes), the less ways there are to make money.

Why can't we all just sail around with a boat that doesn't break and an endless set of provisions?
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Old 16-05-2006, 17:03   #10
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I have to say that in my (limited) experience, there is a real shortage of good marine electricians/electronics techies. I would have thought that you would not have to much trouble picking up as much (or as little) work as you want.

It might be a good idea to do some pre-made amrketing / advertising, such as natty looking business cards and maybe A4 (i.e letter) size posters / flyers. Most yacht clubs / marinas will have a board where you can post such things, and you can also hand em out at the local chandlery. A quiet word with the marina's bosun and also with the marina's barstaff is well worth it too.
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Old 16-05-2006, 20:05   #11
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So true. You would be surprised how much advertising is done at the yacht club bar, and how much can be purchased with a good tip.
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Old 17-05-2006, 11:49   #12
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Electroincs repair for money

Having worked in the industry I stocked several spares for SSB, VHF, instruments, ICs, transistors etc.etc. along with my own instruments. After spending a few years traveling the Carribean, Mexico, Venezuela, Belize, etc, I've come to a few conclusions.

First you have to be VERY circumspect wherever you go in how you advertise your availability and expertise. There are usually local laws which prevent one from outright competing with the locals, no matter how competent or convient to the other cruisers they may or may not be and you could run afoul of the local authorities with bad consequences. If you are careful you can still insinuate yourself in and do some business.

In general, most cruising sailboaters will love you if you successfully solve their electrical/electronic problems and your reputation may spread. They, will, in general however, hate to pay you what you are worth and may even resent the fact that you charge them at all (believe it or not). Some cruisers even feel (the more remote they are the more true this seems to be) that you OWE it to them to provide some spare part once they discover that you have it and that they NEED it to get going again and you don't need it. Again, money is another bad subject in this regard.

You other cruisers may not want to hear this but the big power boaters cruising out there are much better at paying you what you are worth and do so with a good attitude.

The next time I head out I am carrying only what I need for spares and will not advertise that fact. I am no longer going to be a provision source for others who often do not carry even the most basic of spares...it will surprise you! Now that does not mean that I have become a sailing cynic merely a sailing skeptic (the difference is one of positive attitude). I still gladly help others yet prefer to keep potentially negative experiences to a minimum.

Even so, recently my fiancee bragged (complained?) to some other sailers gathered onboard a gracious host vessel how many spares that I had on board. One sailer immediately asked for some S/S fasteners and, yes, I went back to my boat and pulled them out. He never even offered to give me any compensation, like a beer or anything. Now I had to caution my fiancee to not advertise for me. I don't begrudge such things yet do feel taken advantage when someone doesn't even make an offer other than "thanks".

Be cautious, be careful, be thankful, and be happy!
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