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Old 20-10-2009, 13:58   #1
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Is it Feasible to Make Money Cleaning Hulls in the Caribbean ?

Well...and the Southern US? but mostly in the Caribbean.

I've been talking to a few people up North who do it full time. Seems in NJ average price is about $3/foot. There's another guy in ME who says he charges $6/foot, $100 minimum. Most say that if you charge 50% of a haul out you should be able to get customers, so I'm guessing with marina fees going up worldwide, $100 minimum is a good starting point.

Based on my primitive math, and assuming I'd be dealing with cash, I'm guestimating 200 boats/year would be enough to keep me cruising. That sounds like a lot, but that's only 4 boats/week and assuming they're all only 30-35'. Throw a few bigger boats in there and that number goes down fast.

The big question would be, what are the local regulations, and how do they really enforce them? I was just going for a dive. What scraper?...dropped in wetsuit pocket before coming up.

How much competition is there? Seems like the few locals who are divers in the Caribbean are instructors. Can't really see those guys cleaning hulls after how many hours they work. On the other hand, I can see that being part of their duties at the shops/resorts they work for, taking a big chunk of your potential customer base away?

Also, for every cruiser who does all his own work, there seems to be a lot of boaters who barely step foot in the water. I'm guessing that number changes significantly as you go further South and get into clearer warmer water?

FYI - I do have other things up my sleeve. I'm just looking at this as another option and as something to maybe at least open the door to work that doesn't require sitting in front of a computer all day. How about a nice picture of your boat from below the surface...or one of those cool over/under shots?
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Old 20-10-2009, 15:41   #2
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First, most countries want their citizens to have jobs before some expat. There will be some locals, wherever you go that offer bottom cleaning. Often cheaply.

Second, the farther you get from Florida, the fewer the cruisers "who barely step foot in the water."

I would love to feed your dream, but dream on, you will have a hard time supporting yourself, or even keeping the fridge full cleaning hulls.

George
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Old 20-10-2009, 16:11   #3
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Well, at least maybe I can make a few $$$ here and there.

I guess I'll stick with the, how about a cool over/under photo of your boat angle.
Or just stick with that damn computer crap, but at least the some joy in the fact that I'm not in a cubicle and I'll only need to work part time to keep the kitty full.
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Old 20-10-2009, 17:07   #4
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gruzster,

The enforcement comes when the locals or ex-pats with a valid work visa go to Immigration/Customs and rat you out. Then Immigration/Customs imposes a fine, maybe confiscates your boat, but for sure they kick you out of the country. And please, don't leave a country without paperwork from Immigration/Customs.

I've seen a couple asked to leave a country when the woman was giving haircuts to cruisiers during swap-meets, and the ex-pats complained.
Regards John

ps. work visas for ex-pats can take years to get. Think of it as a 'green-card'
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Old 20-10-2009, 18:43   #5
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Wow, one by one, you guys are shooting down all the how to make money while cruising ideas I've read about in these forums.

Booted for giving haircuts!!!

Maybe they should make a list of jobs you can do, but you're screwed if you get caught. Or maybe they should just add the disclaimer, these ideas will only work if you're cruising in the US.
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Old 20-10-2009, 19:28   #6
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Don't give up Grunz, but look at it this way. Florida has tons of boats that need cleaning. Do the job right, then Cruise for the rest of the year. I am sure it is that way all up and down the east and west coast.
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Old 20-10-2009, 19:31   #7
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Grunzster - I know it sounds negative but don't kill the messengers. There is a grey market in labor. I have met people doing boat work, selling jewellry etc., etc.

But make no mistake they are under the radar and if in a foreign country they are illegally working aliens. You admitted as much in your post.

Your tolerance for action and adventure is the key and your ability to operate under the radar.

If you do it, understand the risks. If you make money on it great. The odds are not in your favor. The guy who told you he makes $100 per boat is probably doing it in the US. In reality you have to figure out the labor rate for unskilled labor in the country (say $4 per hour) and multiply it by the time it takes to clean a 35 foot boat (3 hours) = $12.

This is probably low but here in Singapore I can get the bottom cleaned for $35 by a legal local who will be there week after week.
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Old 20-10-2009, 20:32   #8
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The times, they have changed!
The US Dept. of Homeland Security gives free seminars to other countries on how to treat foreigners.
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Old 20-10-2009, 22:38   #9
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We pay $17 for a hull and prop clean here incl all through hulls.

At $120 I would do it myself.

Nicolle cuts my hair!

I cut Nicolle's hair!!!!! (She does her own armpits! Pheeeew!)

That saves us about $4 per cut.

All this and people on another thread criticise me saying I'm a millionaire.

I would think cruisers are the stingiest bunch of folks anywhere. After a few months of having to maintain the engine, clean the blocked toilets, fix the rigging, sew sails, change the electrics, service the galley stove and a multitude of other crap we thought we were totally above, now we will clean the bottom of the boat and go get drunk @ $60 per night for 2 nights.


I would even save the $17 and clean the hull myself except that the last person who entered this 'water' mutated into a Ninja Turtle.





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Old 21-10-2009, 04:28   #10
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newt - That's the plan. Either only work for a few months, or work all year, but only part time. Maybe sticking with the old job, but working reverse weeks is the way to go?

Ex-Calif - Point taken. Would be nice if in just a few of those how to make money threads people would point out that it's highly illegal and you'll get booted. Guess I should have known, but I always kind of assumed other countries weren't as strict as we are here.

John A - Figures it would be our own fault

MarkJ - At that price, I'd almost pay instead of doing it myself. Actually cruisers being stingy and also most likely being the most likely client base was really my biggest concern when I started thinking about this.
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Old 21-10-2009, 05:15   #11
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Hull cleaning

We were in St Maarten from 1995-2002 in Simpson Bay lagoon and we NEVER saw a local hull cleaning, only yachties. We sailed up and down the Caribbean ( twice ) and NEVER saw locals diving under boats on any islands.Maybe things have changed since then but without tanks or a hookah it would be too much effort for most locals.
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Old 21-10-2009, 05:27   #12
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Curious - what about diesel work? what about mast work?

Is there another way of making a few $$$ out there?
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Old 21-10-2009, 06:26   #13
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It's always been my experience that the cruising crowd help each other out when things break. If things that are fixable without a full workshop, I can always find someone to help and when it comes to electronics, I'm the one doing the fixing. Then you have a couple of beers or you get invited over for a meal, payment in money doesn't come into the equation. As has been said, we're a stingy lot
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Old 21-10-2009, 06:34   #14
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Originally Posted by fishwife View Post
It's always been my experience that the cruising crowd help each other out when things break. If things that are fixable without a full workshop, I can always find someone to help and when it comes to electronics, I'm the one doing the fixing. Then you have a couple of beers or you get invited over for a meal, payment in money doesn't come into the equation. As has been said, we're a stingy lot
I don't have experience with a "cruising crowd" per se, but what you say doesn't surprise me. With my yachting friends, that's pretty much how it goes. Even when I could use a bit of extra cash, I just can't bring myself to take payment for anything I do for a fellow yachtie. Guess I'm not much of a capitalist.
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Old 21-10-2009, 06:43   #15
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I don't have experience with a "cruising crowd" per se, but what you say doesn't surprise me. With my yachting friends, that's pretty much how it goes. Even when I could use a bit of extra cash, I just can't bring myself to take payment for anything I do for a fellow yachtie. Guess I'm not much of a capitalist.
When I think about it, we're not really stingy, we'll always share those basic foodstuffs, rum and beer.
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