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Old 16-05-2011, 02:01   #1
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Getting Ready to Follow the Dream

Hello all,

A little about me first I guess. I'm a 37 year old bartender from central Texas. I spent 10 years in the the Air Force, the last 3.5 in Okinawa. Loved the subtropical climate, and spent all my free time in a boat. After my separation, I moved back to TX and started bartending. The last 6 years, I've owned my own bar and am ready to move on. I'm looking at an 8-24 month time frame on getting to the islands and am looking for any help/advice I can get. My two main concerns are: Will my two fairly large dogs (both around 80 lbs, and very well behaved) present much of a problem? and Will I be able to support myself as a bartender? I will be starting off with between $100K-$125K before buying a boat. I look forward to hearing what everyone has to say.
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Old 16-05-2011, 03:22   #2
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pirate Re: Getting ready to follow the dream.

If you want work as a bar tender I'd start getting in touch with the major Hotels/Cruise companies that operate in the Islands... in general the 'ordinary bars' tend to hire the locals... its so much cheaper... and they're young and female.
Places like 'The Soggy Dollar', Palapa Docks, St Martin do hire some white staff but once again its rare that a new comer can just step in...
Antigua.. 95% were locals... BVI's... 'Willys' takes on some but once again.. its who you know and how long you've been around.
I'd use the time between now and then to learn O/B mechanics, General boat repair skills and maybe 12/24volts electrics...
If you've a decent voice and can strum a tune well... you'd maybe increase your appeal for some bars...
The Islands are more for the multi skilled than the specialist... unless your very lucky...
Good luck with the dream..

PS; You may find this useful for addresses etc... also some jobs advertised now and then... places like Saba often need seasonal staff/guides..

It was a dark and stormy night and the captain of the ship said.. "Hey Jim, spin us a yarn." and the yarn began like this.. "It was a dark and stormy night.."
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Old 16-05-2011, 03:44   #3
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Re: Getting ready to follow the dream.

Welcome! You'll find the number of questions increase greatly for an extended period as you begin to learn the things you didn't know you didn't know. There is a lot here to help you along so you'll find your situation is not all that new here though everybody is a little different and there are many ways to take off to the islands. A million little details and it's something we do well here. Settle in and take your time.

Boatman61 outlines the idea of working accurately. You need to get familiar with customs and immigration rules as you skip between national borders. It's all a happy place but there are formalities and laws to deal with. For the most part you need to work under the political radar since you'll be an undocumented worker. Services pay better than labor. Locals will work for a fraction of what you'll be happy with. A mixed bag of skills really would serve you best. Competing with locals for local jobs might not win friends. Getting along would be a most prized skill.

Will my two fairly large dogs (both around 80 lbs, and very well behaved) present much of a problem?
Depends if they can sail better than you can. Dogs just want to be with you so will follow you any place. We sail with two small dogs and one gets sea sick and the other is pretty good. You can't tell which dogs will and which ones won't. Like people they can get used to it. They can take medication for rough weather. Over the counter Allergy pills work somewhat. They make a better prescription from your vet but it needs a long lead time. Ease them into sailing with short trips first and just see how it goes. They need to learn about being on a boat just like you did.

Note: Bringing dogs ashore just isn't going to happen officially in other countries. Customs regulations should be reviewd for every country you visit. It's not something you want to get caught at without proper procedures / papers. While it may not be easy to get caught the implications if you are won't be pleasant.
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s/v Bright Eyes Gozzard 36
37 15.7 N 76 28.9 W
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Old 16-05-2011, 04:55   #4
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Re: Getting Ready to Follow the Dream

Being a US citizen, you can work legally in the US Virgin Islands. Anywhere else in the eastern Caribbean, you'll need a work visa--difficult if not impossible to get on most islands, especially if locals can do the same job.

Many of the islands down here are extremely strict about importing pets. You wouldn't believe the steps we had to go through to import our cat to Nevis! The most extreme response I've come across is on Bequia, where the Customs agents will tell you that if you bring your dogs ashore, they will shoot them. So your best bet is to focus on the USVI.

Do a little Googling on "moving to the Virgin Islands" and the like. There are a lot of resources online and books available to give you some idea what you will experience.

Good luck!
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Old 16-05-2011, 14:41   #5
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Re: Getting Ready to Follow the Dream

Welcome, and make mine a Texas Tea please barman…The advice you have had so far has been bang on and I would add to it by saying that there is no shortage of people who share your dream, unfortunately, there Is a shortage of opportunities for them and most of them go broke in a hurry.
Sadly, it’s a case of who you know rather than what you know. But, the six degrees of separation theory holds that you are only six steps away from every other person on the planet so I would suggest that you contact everyone you know, tell them what you are looking for, and ask them to contact everyone They know to look for potential helpful contacts, and ask them in turn to get those folks to contact everyone They know and so ad infinitum. It’s calling in a lot of favours but it could shake some apples from the tree.
With regard to pooches on the poop deck, we take our very small mutt out for weekends only, anything longer than that and she’s in the kennels because on longer cruises, she’s just another responsibility and damned distraction that we really don’t need.
Live aboard with a couple of pooches? Not unless you were moored permanently to a grassy bank close to a Vet’s office.
I know, live aboard pooch lovers will grind me into the dust but that’s my view.
Good luck to you…James
I used to be indecisive but now I'm not so sure...
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Old 18-05-2011, 10:58   #6
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Re: Getting Ready to Follow the Dream

Welcome so were you at Kedena? I spent 1 long year at Camp Hansen back in 91. All the advise you get here is good but I would say your life will be twice as hard with two big dogs. If you live at a marina that would help. If you buy a more modern walk throu stern that would help a lot. But living on the hook having to lift them up and down all the time would not work for long.
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Old 18-05-2011, 12:09   #7
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Re: Getting Ready to Follow the Dream

2 80 lb dogs will pose a challenge, both logistically for you and in places legally for them.
"When one is willing to go without, then one is free to go." - doug86
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Old 28-05-2011, 20:16   #8
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Re: Getting Ready to Follow the Dream

Aloha and welcome aboard!
Thanks for your service. I spent a couple days at anchor in Okinawa on a Navy Cruiser. It wasn't much fun.
Good luck on following your dream.
kind regards,
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