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Old 26-05-2019, 22:20   #1
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Refrigeration Tech

Iím working on my plan to live off a boat in the Caribbean in the next few years. I'm a refrigeration tech with years of experience. Would that be a good way to sail and survive?
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Old 26-05-2019, 22:44   #2
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Re: Refrigeration Tech

Not sure about in the Caribbean, but many countries have strict working visa arrangements. In Oz, you'd also need to be licenced by a Govt Authority for handling refrigerants...do lots of research, ask locals and proceed with utmost caution.
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Old 26-05-2019, 23:38   #3
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Re: Refrigeration Tech

Don't go by Australia, they think the same as Europeans. And even there I have run into quite a few guys working under the table. He is right about refrigerant gases being hard to get but there a still a few that will sell you a bottle for spare. Everywhere else in the world you can buy R134-A at the local garage.
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Old 27-05-2019, 04:03   #4
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Re: Refrigeration Tech

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Mwoody.

It can be difficult to make money, when cruising, but refrigeration & electrical are probably the 2 trades most in demand, by other cruisers (you best, safest customers).

See ➥ Make Money While Cruising - List
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Old 27-05-2019, 06:15   #5
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Refrigeration Tech

Quote:
Originally Posted by TassieBloke View Post
Not sure about in the Caribbean, but many countries have strict working visa arrangements. In Oz, you'd also need to be licenced by a Govt Authority for handling refrigerants...do lots of research, ask locals and proceed with utmost caution.


This is your issue, and in truth I donít think you could make nearly enough to survive, at best beer money etc.
I was astonished this year in Georgetown in the Bahamas listening to the net every morning. What astonished me was two fold, the complete non understanding of Cruisers for mechanical things, and the complete lack of any kind of maintenance support in Georgetown, where it seemed there were 200+ boats always in the anchorage.

One would think that as the need was there, that there would be several people and businesses there to support them, but there werenít, I canít imagine why.

Other than worrying about being caught by the Bahamian authorities, which I think unlikely as long as you donít get too obvious, is that there are almost no supplies available, everything has to be flown in and by the time shipping and duties are paid itís about three times as expensive as it is in Fl where itís shipped from.
So you would need to bring almost everything with you, maybe of course leave the high dollar seldom used parts to be shipped to you.

Your services would have to be spread by word of mouth, which would happen pretty quickly.
However it seems that most Cruisers just help each other out, so you would need to be sure right up front they know that you expect to be paid.

What seemed to be in the most demand was someone with knowledge of DC electrical systems, specifically battery banks. Seemed every morning someone wanted to borrow a ďbattery testerĒ to see if their batteries were dead, cause they were near dead every morning when they got up.
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Old 27-05-2019, 08:39   #6
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Re: Refrigeration Tech

I also have exstensive experience in both high and low voltage electrical systems, plumbing and diesel as well as gas motors. I will definatly do some research. Thanks!
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Old 28-05-2019, 09:24   #7
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Re: Refrigeration Tech

Years ago bringing Bonaventure back to the states we stayed in Georgetown.
I had just sold my company Seatek and planned on making some money on the return trip so I brought Freon, and other parts with me. I let it be known that I was available to do repairs. Within 3 days I was covered up with work. It lasted about two weeks as when I went to the little auto parts store the owner took me aside and told me I was becoming to high profile and I should think about quitting working on boats or move on.
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Old 28-05-2019, 09:49   #8
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Re: Refrigeration Tech

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................ was becoming to high profile and I should think about quitting working on boats or move on.
This is going to be the issue. Imagine if a foreigner rolls into your hometown and begins taking all the work the locals have been making a living doing.

You're taking the money the locals have been earning. You're not paying taxes to the local government.

People notice this stuff quickly.
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Old 28-05-2019, 11:02   #9
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Re: Refrigeration Tech

At that time early 90's there was no one local to do the work. I understand and would not have done it if a local was available.
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Old 28-05-2019, 11:24   #10
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Re: Refrigeration Tech

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...
1. You're taking the money the locals have been earning. 2. You're not paying taxes to the local government.
3. People notice this stuff quickly.
1. Indeed - or not.
2. Nether do Bahamians - no income tax.
3. Indeed.
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Old 28-05-2019, 11:39   #11
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Re: Refrigeration Tech

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At that time early 90's there was no one local to do the work. I understand and would not have done it if a local was available.


I donít think in Georgetown there is anyone still to do the work.
I canít figure it out, a nearly permeant residence of 200ish bots at least during the Winter season, and nearly zero available boat parts or mechanics etc.
It would seem it someone opened a West Marine type of store, they would make a killing.
Yes there is one store that supposedly has parts, but they are odd parts and have been there forever, itís like they got a store that had gone out of business and inherited all the odd ball stuff that never sold.
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Old 28-05-2019, 17:45   #12
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Re: Refrigeration Tech

Is all marine refrigeration equipment still R-134a or antiquated R-12?

A reefer tech might need to carry multiple sets of equipment, rashly assuming rules similar to the US where you need a complete set (gas tank, recovery tank, gauges, etc.) for each gas type that you'l be working with. Then, possible complications of carrying gasses across borders. Then, quite obviously, "EPA" equivalent licensing in EACH country that the OP plans to work in. As well as a work permit to work there.

Trying to do this under the radar could be quite risky depending on local enforcement.

Carrying just dry nitrogen and just doing diagnostics or "teaching" people how to troubleshoot and repair might be feasible. Working as a reefer tech...not so much unless you're planning to stay in one place for a while and do all the paperwork.
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