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Old 09-06-2021, 11:52   #1
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Questions about working while cruising Bahamas

Hi, new here! I’m thinking about having a proper midlife crisis and changing things up considerably. I’m a land lubber and so far only enjoyed local boating around. But I’m getting bored and the call of the sea is getting stronger. I’m considering selling all my toys and buying a cat and setting sail in the Caribbean. I’m not rich however, so I’d like to find a few ways to earn some extra cash while “out there”. I also don’t look that great in a bikini so I’m not sure a YouTube career is going to pay off. As a career “fixer” I can offer people all kinds of repairs in remote destinations. I’ve worked on many boats while being land based, and I think this could be a nice little retirement job. So, my question is, what considerations are there about legality and policy among various places around the Caribbean? Will I be stepping on toes or breaking the laws if I hang out a shingle off the side of my boat and do cash repairs for folks? Any other considerations?
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Old 09-06-2021, 12:06   #2
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Re: Questions about working while cruising Bahamas

Hi, SV Welder, and

Here are a few discussion threads on that subject for your reading pleasure. As with a lot of threads, you'll have to wade through a lot of irrelevant stuff to find helpful tidbits.

https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...ng-233651.html
https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...ng-144036.html
https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...ist-37982.html

I found these threads by typing "working while cruising the caribbean site:cruisersforum.com" into Google.
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Old 09-06-2021, 12:10   #3
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Re: Questions about working while cruising Bahamas

If there were jobs the Bahamians would have them
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Old 09-06-2021, 12:11   #4
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Re: Questions about working while cruising Bahamas

Cruisers tend to fix their own stuff. Most 'big' stuff they can't fix, they'll do once a year or so when they haul out or are near a reputable tradesman. You might find one off work by a desperate cruiser, but I wouldn't expect to be able to rely on any regular income from it.


You'll be much better off trying to reduce expenses than you will be trying to increase income. Get a cheap boat and head out. You'll likely be surprised how cheap it is to actually cruise.
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Old 09-06-2021, 13:26   #5
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Re: Questions about working while cruising Bahamas

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Cruisers tend to fix their own stuff. Most 'big' stuff they can't fix, they'll do once a year or so when they haul out or are near a reputable tradesman. You might find one off work by a desperate cruiser, but I wouldn't expect to be able to rely on any regular income from it.


You'll be much better off trying to reduce expenses than you will be trying to increase income. Get a cheap boat and head out. You'll likely be surprised how cheap it is to actually cruise.
Yeah, not when it requires welding though . I hear these comments and appreciate them greatly. I don’t expect to float my boat with this income, rather just use it as a way to stay busy on anchor, and have fun helping others out, and make a few bucks too. I’m guessing stainless welding is not easy to find it maybe I’m wrong? Anyway, it might be more about my own security feeling, as I’ll be on the ragged edge of making it work on my budget, so any extra coin at all might make things more comfy, or come in handy here and there.
Has anyone here ever had to find a stainless welder while cruising? I can imagine it being difficult even in big ports. I can imagine a lot of repairs get put on the back burner because they must be, but when SV WELDER sails in some folks might jump at that chance to get something repaired between haul outs. I dunno, maybe I’m way off base, which is likely, having never done this cruising thing.
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Old 09-06-2021, 14:25   #6
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Re: Questions about working while cruising Bahamas

Well, to be blunt, in most countries you will be breaking their laws by working while visiting on a tourist level visa. The officials may take a dim view of this practice.

And locals, even if they can't offer the same level of expertise that you have, will resent your breaking their rice bowls. Their dim view may well be expressed more directly and unpleasantly than the officials.

Any sort of work solicitation on your part will eventually get back to the locals, and "hanging a shingle" isn't very subtle.

Yet we've seen a few folks who managed to do such illegal work as cruisers and not get busted, but they relied upon inter-cruiser word of mouth "advertising", and they were damn careful to keep everything low profile. And we've also heard of such workers being beaten up badly by the locals.

Our cruising has been in the Pacific, not the Caribbean, but I'm pretty sure the rules and practices are generally similar... with country to country variations.

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Old 09-06-2021, 14:32   #7
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Re: Questions about working while cruising Bahamas

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Yeah, not when it requires welding though . I hear these comments and appreciate them greatly. I don’t expect to float my boat with this income, rather just use it as a way to stay busy on anchor, and have fun helping others out, and make a few bucks too. I’m guessing stainless welding is not easy to find it maybe I’m wrong? Anyway, it might be more about my own security feeling, as I’ll be on the ragged edge of making it work on my budget, so any extra coin at all might make things more comfy, or come in handy here and there.
Has anyone here ever had to find a stainless welder while cruising? I can imagine it being difficult even in big ports. I can imagine a lot of repairs get put on the back burner because they must be, but when SV WELDER sails in some folks might jump at that chance to get something repaired between haul outs. I dunno, maybe I’m way off base, which is likely, having never done this cruising thing.
Cool man, you do you. I'll see you out there.
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Old 09-06-2021, 15:10   #8
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Re: Questions about working while cruising Bahamas

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Will I be stepping on toes or breaking the laws if I hang out a shingle off the side of my boat and do cash repairs for folks?
Very likely yes. It's not quite as easy to hide welding from the locals as other boat trades. And it's my understanding that the real money in marine stainless is in custom fabrication, not small repairs... which means carrying stock, tube benders, fabricating jigs etc.

Idea - relocate to a southern coastal town in your own country (assuming US), and get into marine stainless work there, live aboard if you want, and use the proceeds of your biz to fund cruising trips.
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Old 09-06-2021, 15:54   #9
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Re: Questions about working while cruising Bahamas

In the islands, particularly the Bahamas, locals will not be impressed at all if you are working without a permit to do so. The pineapple telegraph will have immigration officials knocking on your boat very quickly if you hang a sign on the side of your boat. You will then most likely face being deported and not welcomed back anytime soon.
With those skills you would be better placed to approach a yard or workshop and see if they really do need your skill set. If they do they may arrange a permit for you to work?
You would be surprised at the varied skills already available in the Bahamas. Over time they have tended to fix, rebuild and repair rather than replace on their own boats and machinery and cruising boats requiring work have been coming through since their early days as an independent nation. Many other Caribbean nations are the same.
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Old 09-06-2021, 15:57   #10
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Re: Questions about working while cruising Bahamas

I have been in the Bahamas for the last three years bf COVID, and I promise you the Bahamians will take an extremely dim view of you hustling biz on a tourist visa, especially post-COVID when work is so hard to find for them.

And don’t think they won’t find out; the Bahamas were long a pirate and smuggling center, even to some degree now. The locals know just what goes on.
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Old 09-06-2021, 16:19   #11
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Re: Questions about working while cruising Bahamas

I have a different take on this and know it will raise a bit of ire in some. There was a time when many places were very strict about this but a lot depends on where you are sailing to. I also think there's a bit of the cheap sailor in many that want to keep the "You can work on my boat, rebuild my diesel, and fix the head for a six pack of beer". It is not unusual now for many people with your skills to easily find work that will pay well. I agree that I wouldn't hang out a shingle in their faces but this is done a lot more than many may think. We travel to the islands and countries all over for our business. Now, we follow the rules because of our size and many times we are flying parts into countries and we visit many of these countries over and over so they know us well. But practically at every port we have other owners dingy up to us and practically beg us to do work for them because they just can't find anybody to do it or those that do aren't worth the money they want. When we sailed around privately I worked on boats all the time. No one called the authorities no one beat anybody up, the job was done and I was in and out. I've been in the Marine trades for a few decades and I assure you there are plenty out there doing odd jobs, small jobs, on neighboring boats. I wouldn't suggest working on a boat in a yard or on the hard, but there are plenty on the hook or in remote places that are desperate for help. Every week we get a few calls from remote areas from people that have zero access to competent work. When we tell them we can't come they always ask if we know of ANYBODY available in their area. If your good and can weld SS and aluminum like a pro, I assure you, you will work. Just don't hang out a shingle. You won't need to. Even in a Bikini.
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Old 09-06-2021, 16:31   #12
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Re: Questions about working while cruising Bahamas

Well I get the message, locals won’t appreciate it, or will want to get their lb of flesh. And I get that. I don’t want to go to work in a yard, I can do that here lol. And that’s just another crappy job. Welding in the USA is a terrible career these days. My advantage would be based mostly on my abilities in a remote location. But, it’s okay, as like I said, I’m not planning on this income, just trying to think of any ways I can make a buck while at anchor.

Okay so here’s another angle, I make some small things that I sell on eBay, and I’d like to continue that. This would mean sending out 2-4 small packages a day. I use Usps, and print my labels etc. so this would be “working” in a foreign country, but not taking away from anyone there. Assuming this would be viewed more favorably, what is the situation with shipping packages Usps or other ways down there?
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Old 09-06-2021, 18:48   #13
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Re: Questions about working while cruising Bahamas

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Okay so here’s another angle, I make some small things that I sell on eBay, and I’d like to continue that. This would mean sending out 2-4 small packages a day. I use Usps, and print my labels etc. so this would be “working” in a foreign country, but not taking away from anyone there. Assuming this would be viewed more favorably, what is the situation with shipping packages Usps or other ways down there?
You do understand that the USPS is in the US only? That’s the “US” part…. Printing UPSPS labels won’t get you anywhere in the Bahamas. That, and your stateside customers will be responsible for import duty on anything you ship from the Bahamas to the USA. I also think you will find that shipping from islands in the Bahamas a lot more complicated, slower, and less reliable than with the USPS. I would imagine you CAN do it… but it will not be easy…

And… your Bahamas visa stamp very clearly says “Employment Prohibited.” That includes running a small business, and it doesn’t say “only if the locals object.”

You are, of course, free to break the rules if you want. You are then responsible for the consequences.

It’s all a question of scale. If I am in the Bahamas and somebody comes up to me and asks me to help with their boat, do I help? Yes. Do they pay me? Yes. I do not expect any issue with that. When I do deliveries starting from outside the USA, do I charge owners for repairs needed to the boat that I need to do in the country of origin? You bet. Again, not something I expect a problem with. Nobody has ever beat me up.
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Old 09-06-2021, 18:54   #14
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Re: Questions about working while cruising Bahamas

I had some locals weld my wind vane in 5 places it cracked and this stainless steel welding took 30 minutes and the price of $20 quickly negotiate down to $4 and I was still over charged.

If you can work at local wages otherwise I would find local to weld for me.

You can probably send by fedex if charging above $100 for shipping will not be too much
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Old 09-06-2021, 20:38   #15
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Re: Questions about working while cruising Bahamas

Doesnt Usps Operate in Puerto Rico? US Virgin Islands? Key west?
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