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KainX 07-15-2003 02:28 AM

Please help me... re: live aboard
My GF and I want to live on the ocean. I have made a few other posts with other questions, but here is one of my biggies...


I am by trade a bartender and my GF is a waitress, I am physically fit and handle labour. If we do go live on a boat how can we make money? we are still young and we don''t have a fortune tucked away in our bank account.
What are some of the ways people can make money when living on a boat? can we make enough to live for a year? or even the rest of our lives?

thank you for your time,


Jeff_H 07-15-2003 02:59 AM

Please help me... re: live aboard
Short of being an itinerant computer consultant, best way would to earn a liveable income while cruising is to develop boat repair skills. Probably highest on the list would be refrigeration, boat carpentry, diesel repair, and electrical skills. Specialized skills such as rigger or marine plumber would come next. General maintenance skills such as refinishing and deck hardware maintenance are a lot more common so would come next.

Writing books or articles can often add a little to the kitty.

I suggest that you pick up Anne Hills "Voyaging in a Small Income".

Best wishes,

KainX 07-15-2003 03:29 AM

Please help me... re: live aboard
Thank you very much. What about living on my boat and travelling to islands and working as a bartender for a week? or going to a dock and doing some labour thats very short term? are these jobs likely to be there, or is that kind work scarce?

also, would we ever be able to get a paid position on someones (large) ship? doing general labour. catering to them and such? obviously we wouldn''t expect much. but as long as we could eventually earn enough for our own cruiser?
(I don''t remember if I posted it, but we do not have a boat, and we have no sailing exp.)
thanks again

fourknots 07-15-2003 09:02 AM

Please help me... re: live aboard
We cruised for several years on a simple 30 foot sailboat (4 of us). I remember in Honduras meeting a family of 4 in a 72-foot sailboat that had 2 young people as crew. The man helped with repairs and did a lot of sanding and varnishing. His girlfriend cooked all the meals and provisioned the boat. They both helped care for the kids (8 or 10 years old I think) and helped sail the boat. The dirty work always fell to them ("get that wrench I dropped in the bilge", or "dive down and unwrap that line on the prop"). As I remember they had little experience, but lots of enthusiasm. They were paid a small wage, a few hundred/month for them both, I think and got meals and had separate quarters. They rather enjoyed it, but when I met them, the owner had been in the same anchorage for 3 months and they were tired of the same place. The owner was afraid they would jump ship and leave him without crew (he couldn''t sail the boat without them). There was a little stress.

There are no doubt situations like that available. Being non-sailors won''t help, but you never know. Search the web for people needing crew and you might get lucky. Once you get some experience, you can move up, get licenses, etc, or buy your own small boat and see the world. Lots of people have done it with very little.

As far as travelling to the islands to make a living, it''s not easy unless you have contacts. You won''t legally be able to work and the locals might resent you if you snuck in. Usually when you stop, it''s for a while, so you can get enough $ to stay out for a few months.

I don''t know what bartenders make, but 2 people on a simple boat can live (frugally)on $500/ month in the cheaper places, assuming a paid-for boat with no major repairs needed.

A mentioned before, having a marketable skill, like refrigeration, diesel repair, etc is a way to cruise on a budget. Often the authorities look the other way if your skills are needed or if you advertise quietly.

You probably don''t want to wait to aquire the skills ( I was there too), but you better at least be mechanically inclined if you intend to sail your own boat.

Check into it and if the sea sounds like your thing, move. You need to be around people that do this kind of thing if you want to try it. Iowa ain''t gonna cut it. Try Florida.

Keep dreaming!

bob-m 07-15-2003 09:52 AM

Please help me... re: live aboard

There is a way to work in resorts in other countries. My daughter did it after college. She went to work for a hotel owned by Marriott in Vail, Colo. She worked there for one winter as a waitress. While there, she did a little investigating and found out that Marriott gave preference to employees that wanted a job at other Marriott resorts. She moved to Hawaii for a year and had a job (at Marriott) waiting for her when she got there.

I''m certain that other large hotel chains do the same thing. If they have a good employee and there is an opening in the Bahamas, Hawaii, etc, they will transfer you.

She had a blast!!!

Do some research. All resorts need GOOD waitresses and bartenders.

good Luck!!

knothead 07-15-2003 04:11 PM

Please help me... re: live aboard
Hi Jared and Stephanie,
As a business owner and someone who has cruised on a very limited budget I have to tell you that is not too easy to earn enough money to cruise while you are cruising. By that I mean that it''s not too easy to pick up work anywhere unless you are willing to stick around awhile. You might be able to feed your selves and survive but I think it will always be difficult to make enough to maintain a seaworthy vessel and the lifestyle most of us are accustomed to by shucking scallops or painting the occational bar and getting daily wages. An honest man should always be able to get by in this world, but it really does take a lot of either money or time (really both) to maintain a boat, especially, (forgive me ladies), if you are expecting a woman who has never had to live on a small sailboat to be willing to share the experience with you.
I don''t intend to discourage you in any way but rather encourage you to learn about it before you commit yourselves. Do some sailing, see if it''s really what you expect.

Jeff_H 07-15-2003 04:58 PM

Please help me... re: live aboard
While there may be an occasional temporary job that you can pick up in season, most employers are hesitant to hire someone for a week or two, or even for a month and then have them leave. While you may be able to get some temp work in the States, if you leave the US temp work is illegal and so you have a pretty slim chance of supporting yourself that way.

The nice thing about developing boat repair skills is that it pays well, there is a big demand in cruising venues for people with skills and often it is a cash trade that flies under the radar of local governments and so can be very portable.


KainX 07-16-2003 04:19 AM

Please help me... re: live aboard
Wow! thanks for all the info, eventhough a lot of it may be demoralizing, but at least I am learning the truth. hopefully I will know what to expect a little more :). I am going to pick up the book from anne hills, maybe I can get an idea of what i want to do from there...
What can you guys tell me about Barbados, my GF has family their, so at least that way we will have a "home base"... Our original plan was just to get a vise on the cayman islands or something and work and live there, but i figured it may be a little more interesting to live on a boat, that way if we don''t like the caymans, or any other island, we can just sail away... but ya, if we do go. We will be staying at LEAST a month at a place if we get a job... OR maybe we''ll luck out and get a decent part time job on the coast, and just take little trips on our days off... i have never been on the ocean before, so i am sure even the littlest things will amuse me :) at least for a while.

In comparison, would it be cheaper for us to buy and live on a $15k boat or would you guys reccommend just avoiding the troubles and paying expensive rent and living on land?

also, here is probably a silly question, but its one that I need to know. Can a houseboat with a reliable motor take me from island to island (eventhough i know they arent made for it) or is that dangerous? or just so unheard of that people would make fun of us? :)
does anyone know how much would it be for a house boat to say at dock per month roughly? is living on a houseboat cheaper than a sailboat?

Thank you guys again for all your help


KainX 07-16-2003 04:32 AM

Please help me... re: live aboard
I also should point out that we just want to get as far away from home as possible. But I want to at least make an expeariance of it. If we have to stay parked for two months or even 6 months at one place so we can work, we won''t mind.
My theory in life is;
1. Bust my arse working full time, living pay check to pay check in my "dead end", boring city
2. Bust my arse working full time, living pay check to pay check. BUT, when I get off work, I am in a dream, a vacation. the coast to me would be heaven compared to what I get home to every day from work.

:) not a bad theory :P

P.S. if your wondering, I live in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Our city was INTERNATINALLY named "DEADmonton" after the 2000 winter games. I have been here since birth and have never left my province/state or been on a plane untill last month... THAT is be enough to make anyone want to get the heck out of here. :)

anyways, thanks for listening to my jibberish, and thank you guys again for the help

Stede 07-16-2003 06:44 AM

Please help me... re: live aboard

I''ll try to answer a couple of your questions. Maybe someone else can help you with the rest. I can''t help you on Barbados. I''ve never been there. I have cruised through a good portion of the Caribbean though. Everything is expensive.Most of the people that are native to the Caribbean islands live in shacks with tin roofs, while some rich people have very nice,expensive second homes there. It''s a disgusting balance. I don''t know what it would cost to live ashore there, but I''m sure it''s more than a rogue like me could afford. For someone of modest means, a boat is probably the best alternative. What kind of boat, depends on what you like, and what you intend to use it for. A houseboat would definately not be a good mode of transportation between islands. They aren''t designed to be taken into open seas. Some distances between islands are pretty long - 40+NM. On the other hand, I imagine if you could afford to keep one in a sheltered group of islands like the BVI, you could move one around from island to island pretty easy.As you can see,there are a lot of varibles involved in trying to answer your questions. I did meet a guy in Key West that had a 45 foot houseboat that he had lived on in the same marina for over 30 years. I don''t know if the engines even worked or not, but he was perfectly happy being where he was at. From his slip, he had a great view, a community of fellow boating friends, and for Key West, a relatively small expense for having his home there.I think he said he paid $700/month for his slip witch included utilities. I hope this is of some help to you.Good luck!

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