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Old 16-07-2018, 13:25   #1
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How much demand for my talents?

After owning maybe 25 boats from 12 feet to 36 feet there's not much I can't fix. Electronics installations, GPS, VHF etc. I'm an accomplished wood refinisher and can do gel coat too. Diesel trouble shooting and general systems fixes such as water systems are also run of the mill for me. Oh, and I was a sail maker for twelve years. Currently I am rebuilding the steering system on my C&C 34/36+ and this job includes pedestal removal and sourcing Edson steering parts that are no manufactured. I'm also rewiring the compass light and swapping out an old Silva compass for a Ritchie with appropriate adapter plates. All new fastenings from Edson.

I'm sort of retired but prefer to work on boats and when my own restoration is complete (in a few weeks) I want to seek out others who need work done but do not want to pay yard prices.

What is the need? I'm in Western Long Island Sound.
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Old 22-07-2018, 06:57   #2
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Re: How much demand for my talents?

Consider this: Sailing schools. First of all, sailing schools are heavily involved in maintenance of all kinds all the time. The work is steady and the pay is OK. Second, you get to teach sailing part of the time which is a lot of satisfaction/fun. Finally, there is a general shortage of instructors and technicians.

I bet you could live aboard and work up North in the summer and South in the winter.
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Old 22-07-2018, 07:23   #3
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Re: How much demand for my talents?

Maybe offer to act as a “consultant” to advise, assist, and otherwise walk fellow boaters through their projects. Make it clear what you can do and how you intend to charge for this service and maybe a max total price for your consulting for the job. For example I do many types of repair work regarding engines, metal, wood, electric and electronic but not much experience in the marine world. A consultant would be very helpful but at a fair cost. If the cost is undefined or ambiguous I would look for other resources.
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Old 22-07-2018, 07:28   #4
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Re: How much demand for my talents?

Years ago I tried that by posting little signs with my history at marinas for a while. Just something to do mostly. There was very little demand based on response to my postings. A word of mouth thing would be best, but takes forever to establish a reputation I would guess.
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Old 22-07-2018, 07:51   #5
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Re: How much demand for my talents?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2savage View Post
After owning maybe 25 boats from 12 feet to 36 feet there's not much I can't fix. Electronics installations, GPS, VHF etc. I'm an accomplished wood refinisher and can do gel coat too. Diesel trouble shooting and general systems fixes such as water systems are also run of the mill for me. Oh, and I was a sail maker for twelve years. Currently I am rebuilding the steering system on my C&C 34/36+ and this job includes pedestal removal and sourcing Edson steering parts that are no manufactured. I'm also rewiring the compass light and swapping out an old Silva compass for a Ritchie with appropriate adapter plates. All new fastenings from Edson.

I'm sort of retired but prefer to work on boats and when my own restoration is complete (in a few weeks) I want to seek out others who need work done but do not want to pay yard prices.

What is the need? I'm in Western Long Island Sound.
My background, besides some general boat system experience, also includes electrical/electronic (20+ years in a different field) and one marine industry certification. Obviously, different part of the world than you.

I have worked professionally on boats, but these days I mainly do other work (software) that's more steady and pays better. I do hope to do some part-time boat work as part of retirement.

Some answers, based on that:

1) if you're good there's screaming demand, depending on the area. A few years back, I worked part of a season assisting one of our area's busiest boat electrical guys. In-season there's no lack of work. He's younger than me, but he's bunged up his knee and can no longer do all the crawling around the job requires. He called me earlier this month because of all the work he's turning down.

2) it's a tough way to make a living, especially in the north. During the season it rocks; out of season - crickets, unless you can score some refit work from a wealthy owner, hopefully with heated storage. You have the costs of truck, inventory, tools, accounting, insurance, certification. If you aren't charging yard prices, how will you cover that overhead? And it's usually physically demanding work.

3) the dangers of being a jack of all trades. It's always great to know more, but efficiency and quality comes from specialization. Is the person who can do immaculate fg repairs also able to engineer or troubleshoot a complex networked navigation system? My choice has been to concentrate on what I'm good at, and leave other work to those who are best at that.

All that being said, I think there should be lots of different opportunities.
  • Staff or contract position at a sailing-school - great idea
  • position with a chandlery as their in-house install/fixit guy
  • make contact with all the different service providers in your area; let them know you can jump in to assist when they're busy
I know one guy who simply calls himself a 'boat guy'. He's available to do all sorts of stuff, like launch/haulout prep, polishing and detailing, fuelling, boat moves, etc. He gets all his business via word-of-mouth. He has minimal overhead, and I suspect most of his work is cash under the table. I can't recommend this, but he seems happy enough.

Good luck, and build that network.
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Old 22-07-2018, 08:57   #6
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Re: How much demand for my talents?

I want to seek out others who need work done but do not want to pay yard prices

To the OP:
Would you consider something like a 'pre-purchase' walk-through, advising newbies like me who may be interested in buying within your travel area?
For folks like me who are thinking of buying, who have read the recommended readings from Mr Boatpoker (thank you sir) and others on this forum, a more knowledgeable set of eyes is always appreciated

I remember when I bought my motorcycle, the 2 guys who went with me basically made my choice (of the 2 bikes for sale).

Thanks
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Old 22-07-2018, 09:02   #7
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Re: How much demand for my talents?

Like others have said, it's all about a network, and I would say it also depends on where you are. The more marinas and haulout yards the better. I'm in what may be the best place in the US to operate as a small independent contractor--dozens of yards and boat shops, work for just about anyone who can demonstrate a pulse and show up mostly sober--and still it has taken me several years to establish a decent word-of-mouth network. I worked in several boat shops, met people, met people, met people, was careful not to step on toes, did the best work I could wherever I went, and have only just now had enough business to not need a full-time job on the side. If you're retired or have a separate income, and just want to keep busy and make a little on the side, it should be easy enough to get rolling, but if you have to depend on that boat-work income, you have to make sure you'll have enough work coming in before you cast off of other jobs--that's a scary thing.
I would also add to the previous posters advice that you should specialize. If you put yourself out there for any and all general boat work, you'll find yourself scrubbing decks or sanding bottoms for $20 an hour, because that's the going rate. If you limit yourself to more skilled work (electronics or rigging), you can charge more from the get-go, and people will not think of you as "that bottom-sanding guy." Also if you specialize, you can invest in better tools and kit specific to your specialty, instead of having stuff for every sort of work.
Sorry to go on for so long--this has been my life for a few years now...
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Old 22-07-2018, 09:45   #8
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Re: How much demand for my talents?

To OP:

Having owned 5 boats and when buyng the 1st one being totally green as far as most if not all aspects of boat purchasing/ownership were concerned, I greatly benefited from help of my then sailing buddy who had sailing experience but very little of any other experience boatwise (as I understand "experience" now). You sound like you would be a Godsend had I been able to utilize your expertise at a reasonable rate each time I shlepped over to another boat looksee.

Since there is little in the market between the cost of hiring a real surveyor - many hundreds of $$$ and not economically feasible for each potential boat one may consider and a free or cost of round of drinks help of a sailing buddy who may be often unavailable for but a few boat visits, I think you could occupy a valuable and beneficial for all parties niche - that of a pre-purchase filtering reasonable cost precursor to hiring a surveyor and/or weeding out duds and disasters.

At the time, and even today, I would gladly pay $50-100-150 for each such visit if that meant saving my time for 2nd-3rd such visits or spending $500-1000 on a survey only to find a fault which I was not experienced enough to find myself but which wold be easily identifiable by someone with your level of experience.

Also IMO there is an underserved need to help long distance potential purchasers. Long Island as is rest of the Northeast (or all of the East Coast) is teeming with boats for sale. while a good portion of potential buyers are landlocked in Midwest or too far away to make a trek for each promising prospect. Your service of pre-survey looksee for such people would be worth every $ you reasonably charge. If you'd charge the cost of one night accommodation who in their right mind would not utilize it if it meant saving time and $$ many times over? Heck I myself lost a few good deals in NY area (both boats and engines) just b/c I couldn't get there on time and did not have a trusted reasonably priced someone who would go and look at those for me so I could make an offer to go forward with the survey, etc.

Since you're retired and dont' pretend to offer "real surveys" but just pre-survey opinions of a long time boat owner and since you are retired there would be no downside to you of spending time at reasonable rate, even of infrequently. No upfront (or very minimal say cost of business card printing) carrying costs for such business model make any income a "net profit" and least you immediately succumb to "greed virus" of "established professionals" should give you steady customers for long time to come.

Let us know if you end up doing something in that vein and I may have a boat or two for you to check out in not too distant future.

PS A marine pro friend of mine who due to family reasons is now stuck on the West Coast is looking on the East Coast for a 45-50 footer, late 70s or later, as little $$ as possible (say under $20K), may consider TLC condition as long as she floats from the getgo or better yet in the water. Obviously he can't fly here each time a "potential buy" is found unless someone like him tells him it is a "potential buy". If you come across such specimen shoot me a PMl as he is prepared to pay finder's fee upon closing of the deal.

PPS His last "deal" on such a boat was 12-15 years ago when he was given a tip by a wharf rat of a charity 46footer in Maine which he got for $7K.
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