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Old 12-09-2008, 23:05   #1
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Question Plying my trades abroad while cruising

Hi everyone. I am pretty new, having only made 1-2 posts so-far but I am sure I will have many questions for everyone!

I have read this particular forum with a lot of interest. The most promising post so far has been sailorgal's post on doing transcribing work while cruising.

Since I plan on leaving here without a steady source of income, only my $60-100 thousand dollars in the bank, and what I can make while out there, I am still looking for ideas.

I plan on settting up a revenue stream that me and my fiance will be able to take advantage of while cruising. We plan on trying this transcribing and other online type jobs while anchored near a marina, but now im asking about other options.

My main question is this:

I am a communications technician. This means I deal with radio waves in all its forms. I fix communications equipment and some other electronics. I put radios in vehicles. I put repeater sites on some forbidding mountaintops. I have even done a tiny bit of work putting radios in boats for logging companies (tug boats). I can install just about any piece of electronics you can think of, and I can fix some radios etc, especially if they are older (newer stuff can be very hard to fix unless it is something obvious).

I also have some pretty rudimentary mechanical skills which I plan on beefing up before I set sail. (Some kind of marine engine mechanics course etc)

Does anyone think I will be able to supplement my income plying any of these skills while on-route? Do cruisers often need electronics re-wired or fixed or installed while they are in paradise?

Again this would just be to supplement my income from what I can do online but it would be nice to be able to do it.

Thanks for everyone's help!


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Old 13-09-2008, 04:39   #2
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Does anyone think I will be able to supplement my income plying any of these skills while on-route? Do cruisers often need electronics re-wired or fixed or installed while they are in paradise?
Trades for the cruiser community are viable yet not something you can make large amounts of money with and maybe not even regularly. If you like the crowded areas with lots of cruisers then it may work as well as it might. If you like the solitude of a quiet place then you won't be making any money working for yourself.

You just have to understand that in most places you are working as an ilegal alien. They do it here in the US but you have to stay below the radar screen. You don't want to compete with local natives since a quick getaway is beyond your ability. You can not just disappear with a cruising boat. People will get to know you. You need to associate with many people to find work so it is a fine line you have to walk. Your people skills will be more important than all your other skills. Are you going to trust your boat equipment to a guy you met in a tiki bar? They may enjoy a drink and conversation but giving you money may be the line they won't cross. If you can't ply your trade in a local marina near your current location then you sure won't be able to do it on the far side of the world either.

Lots of folks are out there looking for ideas to make money. Some of them have only that one goal and are not burdened with a boat to care for. You need to be better than them to make a living while cruising. It may not be impossible but there is not formula to making it work.

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Old 13-09-2008, 05:04   #3
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The more things you know how to fix. The more oppurtunities of finding work. Yes you would be illegal, but some people do find a way to survive, and supplement themselves while sailing the world. Although I wouldn't start out needing this income. I would have another source of income such as investments, rent from a house, etc.etc.
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Old 28-10-2008, 18:18   #4
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The advice already posted is spot on. Yes, your skills are in demand, but getting the parts, etc. in "paradise" is a real challenge. Perhaps an approach would be to go to more populated areas and align yourself with someone already supplying what you do and work for them for a while. They could help you get the clearances to work legally and you'd be more assured of steady income. This would limit your areas of opportunity geographically, but you could stay for a while then move on - possibly with references.
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Old 28-10-2008, 19:13   #5
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The three places that I have seen people able to get work were American Samoa, New Zealand, and Australia.

One of my friends worked in refrigeration in American Samoa and New Zealand. Teachers can work everywhere if they are persistent. Nurses can work many places, again if they are persistent. I know an American computer programmer who got a job working in New Zealand and later in Australia.

In my experience, the more technical and highly skilled individuals seem to have the best luck in getting work in local economies. If you and ten thousand other people have the same skill, you will be competing with locals for the jobs. If you have special skills, you may be welcomed with open arms. If your skills are needed, obstacles to employment often magically melt away.
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Old 29-10-2008, 00:12   #6
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I was thinking of getting a string of girls and..........I think the admiral just vetoed that plan. Would have been a good cash plan.
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Old 29-10-2008, 00:47   #7
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Originally Posted by Pblais
”... If you can't ply your trade in a local marina near your current location, then you sure won't be able to do it on the far side of the world either ...”
Indeed ...
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Old 29-10-2008, 07:15   #8
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Haha all good advice for sure. Still working towards my local Okanagan boat right now. A 20-24 foot sloop of some kind by the looks of the boats around here.

Something simple like this (but not this necessarily, just an example)
Castanet Classifieds - CHRYSLER C22 1975

So once I finish the local part of this plan, I can sell that boat, plus my house and most other wordly belongings and buy something ocean worthy Then I will see about plying my trade a bit.

The thing I would be most confident in doing is radio work. I have all the specialized crimp tools for the various cables etc, and have a lot of radio repair experience. So we will see once the day gets closer!

Thanks again guys for all the replies.
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Old 03-11-2008, 10:21   #9
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Cruisers almost by definition are cheap and self-reliant. You might do better looking to trade your skills for others' skills (i.e. diesel mechanic, sail repair) or for a barter of stuff (fresh veggies, canned food, bottle of wine, etc...). Cruisers seem pretty stingy with the dollars, while simultaneously being generous with wares. Not quite sure why.
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Old 03-11-2008, 11:23   #10
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You mention getting a boat to fix up and sell. Ya know, that might actually be the route to look into. In many areas you will find basically sound boats that have been left to degrade. It may be that the owner has lost the desire, had a bad experience, run out of money, etc.

At my own marina someone abandoned a Colombia 26. The owner of the marina told an acquainance of mine that he could have it he got it out of the yard. He gutted the boat, fixed up the fiberglass and using parts from marine flea markets he and his wife fixed the boat up. Someone's abandoned bimini provided tubing, his wife sewed a new dodger and bimini....I'm sure you get the picture.

To round this off they named the boat "Lil Repo". He figured he had around $400 in materials in the boat. They sold it for $4,000.

Just a thought.
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Old 03-11-2008, 16:26   #11
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Hi the main trouble is most cruisers don't have a lot of cash and you may well end up fixing other peoples boats as a favour, I recon if you get some experience with computers and networking, more and more boats have computers and many offices around the harbour will have computer problems.
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Old 04-11-2008, 00:36   #12
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Yeah, you can do it. I've been out 16 yrs and I'm working 45 - 55% of the time. For the 1st 15 yrs I worked for yacht service companies in the Caribbean doing electrical, refrigeration, watermakers, diesels, canvas work, etc. Interestingly enough cruisers are a lot less self reliant now than they were back then, they also have a lot more money. But unfortunately the boats are a lot more reliable despite being more complex. Working under the table is doable in a lot of countries, working for a service company is simpler in terms of parts, billing etc. I've never been able to generate enough money out of the cruising community to give up a 40 hr wk. The best gig right now is electrical, energy systems, alternators, rewiring, etc. Electronics is problematic in that the boards aren't usually repairable and diagnosing them is plain difficult. Go for it man, it's not that hard to make a living cruising. Good luck George
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Old 04-11-2008, 11:22   #13
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I know of one cruiser whos SSB got wet and fried..he had some trouble getting it repaired..But there again being in the right place at the right time is key...I also believe what George said..Were getting so technical on a whole most of us cant fix whats wrong electronically..I would think your skill set is way rarer then say mine being fairly rounded in Diesel engines.

As far as separating bartering or "as a favor" free fixes..Its a fairly easy to communicate and excepted thing to pay for a service if its knowen that you rely on it as an income mater how cheap I am ..Im not going to take advantage of some one that way.
If they are that cheap I dont need there company anyway...Im not talking about a person in dire straights to get somethig repaird for the safty of life here..Im talking about people that "work you' so to speak to get some thing for free..There is a big diferance.

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