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Old 11-11-2009, 06:11   #1
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HVAC/R as Income Generator While Cruising

I have always heard there is a lot of work available anywhere you land for Heating, A/C and refrigeration mechanics. I am just curious as to what thoughts anyone has on this good or bad. I am also a plumber and welder and my plan is to try and make some income from time to time while I'm cruising. I am not licensed as an electrician however I have a lot of knowledge in that area also as it applies to the HVAC field. I met a guy years ago who claimed he had kept busy in Australia just working on other cruisers boats doing electrical for quite a while. Just curious as to what everyone's seen out there. Thanks in advance for any input!!!!
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Old 11-11-2009, 06:27   #2
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HVAC-R is among the most useful trades, and one of the best in which to supplement the cruising kitty. Unfortunately, working for other cruisers (“out there”) isn’t the most lucrative occupations. Generally, we’re a poor, cheap, and self-sufficient lot.
In fact, I can only recall a very few instances where I actually charged a fellow-cruiser for electrical/mechanical work (or even materials & parts) when out cruising. I made my living as a boatright/electrician when not out cruising.
It's likely you won't be able to work "legally" just anywhere you land.
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Old 11-11-2009, 07:17   #3
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Doing a bit of welding work now and then for other cruisers is probably a more likely way to make a bit of money. Of course, the problem with that is that you've got to carry all of your welding gear with you and it will have to work with the electrical system in the country that you're in (unless you only work with oxy-acetylene and then you have to have or rent the tanks). If you start working in local towns, for local customers, you run the risk of attracting the attention of locals who may turn you into the authorities if you don't have the proper working visas (which are usually not all that easy to get).
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Old 11-11-2009, 07:29   #4
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I agree with Gord, once "out there" you are very much in a one for all, all for one scenario and you develop that mind set. I did a lot of repairing in three years in the Caribbean, but looked at it as paying forward for when I needed help. "Payment" was often a dinner on shore or a bottle of wine.

All that being said, there are not many HVAC/R mechanics out there so you may be able to legitimately earn a buck.

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Old 12-11-2009, 06:47   #5
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Poor and cheap

are two different things.

I think that anyone who thinks they can do this and "sail into the sunset" are deluding themselves.

The ones who I have seen do it.....tie themselves to one spot for a longish period of time.

Then theeere is the question of insurance etc.

Quote:
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HVAC-R is among the most useful trades, and one of the best in which to supplement the cruising kitty. Unfortunately, working for other cruisers (“out there”) isn’t the most lucrative occupations. Generally, we’re a poor, cheap, and self-sufficient lot.
In fact, I can only recall a very few instances where I actually charged a fellow-cruiser for electrical/mechanical work (or even materials & parts) when out cruising. I made my living as a boatright/electrician when not out cruising.
It's likely you won't be able to work "legally" just anywhere you land.
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Old 12-11-2009, 17:57   #6
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One chap who made a go of it specialized in fixing equipment for ice houses, fishermens co-ops, etc. He went to small villages in Mexico, Central America, etc. where there wasn't much officialdom and what there was bent over backwards so the locals could get their necessary machinery fixed. As I understand it he only got a small amount of hard currency, but the locals wouldn't let him pay for anything which made up for a lot.
I'd be real sure of the situation before I tried that. Guess wrong and you could end up with equipment confiscated or worse.
Fluent Spanish would probably be necessary.
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Old 27-12-2009, 19:13   #7
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I worked my way thru the Caribbean for 25 years.
While in major ports, work for established businesses at a comfortable wage. Attend the major marine refrigeration manufacturers training sessions, receive whatever training they offer specific to their product, and become a certified repair center for them when you leave for distant shores. You will be extremely busy with legitimate warranty work for the manufacturer.
This often helps get cleared with the local customs when you are arriving for said work. I have never had an instance where they didn't appreciate my extended stay.
After a few years - I carried enough rigging, compressors, fittings, different blends of freon, electrical supplies, shipwright materials, for almost any emergency, and a list of manufacturers ready to ship on a moments notice.
While cruisers may be an independent lot, and shall we say "frugal" - when your repairing things on their boat - they don't mind paying reasonable wages. It was the times where the "fix" took but a few minutes - that found me with more drink then I can beer... LOL
I eventually found better comfort working as a ships engineer on larger yachts - and I had yet to hear an owner or captain that I worked with complain or not ask me to stay longer... Life is good when you treat others well....

"If you can't fix it yourself, or afford to pay someone who can - it simply has no place on the boat"
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Old 27-12-2009, 21:41   #8
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"While in major ports, work for established businesses at a comfortable wage."
No one hassles you for a work visa or union membership? And you're ON the books, fully legal?
I'd have thought that was rare these days.
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Old 28-12-2009, 06:57   #9
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Quote:
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"While in major ports, work for established businesses at a comfortable wage."
No one hassles you for a work visa or union membership? And you're ON the books, fully legal?
I'd have thought that was rare these days.

I never had a problem - I worked with a few manufacturers in New England, Ft Lauderdale, New Zealand, and Europe.
I worked for representatives in Florida, San Juan, the Virgin Islands, and St Marteen. These are your northern ports - as far as the southern ports of Trinidad, Curacoa, and Panama, you are advised to sign on as ships crew. From that point on you are in "third world ports".
Otherwise - yes - you might need to sneak around like a thief in the dark if your working on the baby boats with the "frugal factor". There is a price to pay for helping people be cheap...
I never had any complaints from Mom and Pop when I would come aboard and follow up on a "repair" from another cruiser - be nice, and never disrespectful of the person that tried helping them out. He may be your neighbor in the next hurricane hole.
It just goes to show that a little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing.
And yes - rebuilding that Delco starter on that detroit for the occasional fishermen keeps you in fresh fish and vegetables while living in the Aves. Carry spare brushes, start solenoids, and starter drives.
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