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Old 18-02-2016, 09:27   #1
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Charter Business, Anyone Tried It?

Just curious if anyone here has done a sailing charter business? You know, day sails and sunset cruises typically done on a big catamaran. If so I'm curious your thoughts on the business. I'm more interested in the logistics and the day to day as well as if you thought it is worth it.

Tom
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Old 18-02-2016, 09:30   #2
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Re: Charter Business, Anyone Tried It?

In Alaska???
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Old 18-02-2016, 10:52   #3
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Re: Charter Business, Anyone Tried It?

Not sure I follow? I was thinking somewhere in the tropics.

Tom


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Old 18-02-2016, 11:03   #4
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Re: Charter Business, Anyone Tried It?

Yes, I was wondering the same thing. There are so many mom & pop chartering outfits everywhere. Are they doing OK to make some meager income to extend their cruising life? It must be hard to compete with the big chartering houses !!!

I'd love to hear those who have done it, too ???
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Old 18-02-2016, 12:34   #5
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Re: Charter Business, Anyone Tried It?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rockDAWG View Post
There are so many mom & pop chartering outfits everywhere.
Are there? Where?

And the OP's: 'The tropics' covered a one hell of an area. All with different laws.

So unless these are just ambit questions please get your questions thought out if you want serious answers.
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Old 18-02-2016, 13:40   #6
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Re: Charter Business, Anyone Tried It?

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Are there? Where?

And the OP's: 'The tropics' covered a one hell of an area. All with different laws.

So unless these are just ambit questions please get your questions thought out if you want serious answers.
I don't want a rundown of the red tape I have to push through, I am just looking for a general overview. I'm curious, that's all. The question was well thought out for it's intentions and was left vague on purpose, in the hopes it would get better answers than "too much regulation" or "tourists suck".

I'd like to know the general feeling of the owner? What the day to day looks like wherever it is you ran the charter? Was it worth your time? Did you find it a good way to make a living? Pretty much any damn thing about it.

If you need a specific location then fine. Assume the virgin islands, U.S. territories preferred, but it really doesn't matter.

Sometimes I think folks on here take themselves too seriously for a bunch of beered up sailors.

Tom
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Old 18-02-2016, 14:13   #7
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Re: Charter Business, Anyone Tried It?

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Are there? Where?
I have been actively crewing and captaining from Grenada to central America for many years. It seems that I have ran into many single Cat chartering shops. They are usually run by a couple. They often give me their card. Since I don't them well, I hesitate to ask too many specific questions and pose any threat onto the sailing ground.

Like OP, just looking for more real life experience in the chartering/entertaining business in Paradise. I believe it is just a labor of love job, and barely get even type of operation. Just open my ears and listen what other will say.
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Old 18-02-2016, 14:21   #8
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Re: Charter Business, Anyone Tried It?

Wife and I did daysails and sunsets in the V.I. for 13 years . Not on a big catamaran !
Is it profit able ? Can be ! Many concerns come up , many of your competitors are part timers who are really not in it for the money as much as the life style . Hard to compete with someone who does not worry about their income .
The secret to make a good income is to get in to a resort , they book ya and charge ya 20 to 50 % . We paid 20% and sailed more than 200 trips a year . After a while you begin to feel like a Taxi driver . It that situation you can gross $75,000 and up per season .
The other side of the coin is the casual daysailer who will solicit on the docks , streets and ferries . They will charge a little less , take fewer pax and maybe only work enough to save enough money to go down island . But , most of the big resorts have had the same concessionaire for many years , ya might get in but you will work for the "prime concessionaire " No matter what island you work you will need a U .S. license .
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Old 18-02-2016, 14:29   #9
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Re: Charter Business, Anyone Tried It?

The U.S. V.I . is a good choice as it is exempt from some provisions of the" Jones Act ".
What part no Fl. Ya in ?
Unless you want a lot of red tape a six pack boat is much easier . I also owned at the same time a multi-passenger boat that I did tours and dive trips in USVI and BVI . Paperwork for that boat with a cert for 39 pax would keep a sane man awake nites .
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Old 18-02-2016, 14:34   #10
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Re: Charter Business, Anyone Tried It?

Is it a good life , hell yes ! I would be still doing it except some how we ended up with a baby girl and could not put her in school in the islands .
Myself I would not go back at it full bore , I would be happy with just getting by ,which is what we all do , some just have a fancier coffin !
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Old 18-02-2016, 14:42   #11
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Re: Charter Business, Anyone Tried It?

Been around the charter industry for many years, as have several others here. There are also several existing threads...give those a read too.

Sounds like what you are looking for is more subjective opinion than nuts & bolts. So, here's mine:

The charter biz, whether daysail/sunset cruise, or extened charters (typically ~1 week), is a lot of work for a little money. So, burn out rate is high. Many captains/crew only last a couple of seasons. Whether you enjoy it or not depends on your personality. Which type of charter also depends on your personal preferences. Ive done both, but mostly extended charters (which I prefer). Captains I know who prefer the day sail trade, prefer more of a daily routine and being rid of all those danmn tourists at end of the day. My perspective is that its about as much prep work to get off the dock for the day with a high head count (key to success in the day sail trade) as it is to get off the dock for an extended trip with a very low head count (often just a couple). Personally, I would rather go somewhere for a while if Im gonna put that much work into departure.

The daysail trade is more about shuttling drunken tourists around to beach/snorkel spots/sightseeing. That gets tiresome pretty fast. Extended charters are more like taking a few folks on a mini cruise. I enjoy that much more and have a number of repeat charter guests/students who've become friends. Ive had a lot of great times running charters and in fact only one charter from hell in 22 years (your milage may vary).

Market segment also matters. Ive mostly run "instructional charters" (charter + sailing instruction). The guests/students (I call them "crewdents" ) I typically get are the type of folks I would hang out with anyway. By contrast, I have friends who work in the megayacht luxury charter segment of the market who mostly despise their PITA guests and owners (high a'hole percentage in that market).

Ive had a number of students who've successfully made the transition from novice student to full time cruisers. Ive even run into to some out cruising. Thats cool.

In peak season after your 5th back to back one week charter...you will definately be burnt out...and many grow to hate it or at least need an extended break. I continued to enjoy the charter biz long term because I avoided back to back charters and only worked part-time seasonally. By the end of the season, even on my part-time schedule, I was tired and needed a break. By start of season, I was ready to go sailing again.

One of the things Ive enjoyed most is the camaraderie with the other captains and crew. Lots of good times, like having almost every charter captain I know in Belize pulling up at Tobacco Caye with guests for NYE one year...great fun.

When running your own boat you can produce a lot more revenue, but you also have a lot more expense and work. Running other boats in the charter fleet, and just getting paid/tipped as captain, I think nets about the same and is a lot less work between charters. One of my favorite things about that is turning over my maintenance punch list at the end of a charter to the base manager and strolling off to have a beer. BTW, Charter Fleet Base Manager is one of the worst jobs in the world...it just suxs...almost all the time.

Regardless of which type of charter you run, its a challenge to turn much of a net profit over the season with one boat. Ive never made much of a profit in all these years, but its usually covered all my boat expenses and sometimes made a small annual profit (if I neglected to spend it all on boat toys...err...I mean business expenses).

I could have obviously made more of a net profit if I had worked it like a full time job, but then would not have enjoyed it as much.
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Old 18-02-2016, 14:56   #12
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Re: Charter Business, Anyone Tried It?

Profit comes up a lot . One thing that will help ya save is that things cost so much in the islands that we were reluctant to buy . We sent money back to Florida and bought rent houses .
Drunks were just brought up , in 13 years we only had one drunk . We did not serve alcohol , mostly we had family s with kids . Many boats are captained by drunks and they tend to attract like kind , maybe . Also large catamarans attract party people and even advertise for party people , we did not . We were very successful and came back stateside with enough money that I am still spending it years later !
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Old 18-02-2016, 15:02   #13
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Re: Charter Business, Anyone Tried It?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rockDAWG View Post
Yes, I was wondering the same thing. There are so many mom & pop chartering outfits everywhere. Are they doing OK to make some meager income to extend their cruising life? It must be hard to compete with the big chartering houses !!!

I'd love to hear those who have done it, too ???
Ive worked with both Mom & Pops, the bigger outfits (Moorings, Sunsail), and mid-sized (TMM). Like most Mom & Pop business the small operators are usually struggling financially and many don't make it. Ive been through the failure of a few, owners who had become friends, and watched them struggle with a small failing business with few perspectives on the horizon...not pretty.

Moorings is a corporate machine, similar to working with any large corp, they have a very effective business model and are making money, but its not as much fun. Their strong centralized control makes it even less fun.
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Old 18-02-2016, 15:08   #14
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Re: Charter Business, Anyone Tried It?

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Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
Are there? Where?

And the OP's: 'The tropics' covered a one hell of an area. All with different laws.

So unless these are just ambit questions please get your questions thought out if you want serious answers.
Lots of Mom & Pops in Florida & Texas (or at least used to be).

True, if you really want to get into nuts & bolts you will have to pick a venue.
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Old 18-02-2016, 15:13   #15
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Re: Charter Business, Anyone Tried It?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Perstarebob View Post
Wife and I did daysails and sunsets in the V.I. for 13 years . Not on a big catamaran !
Is it profit able ? Can be ! Many concerns come up , many of your competitors are part timers who are really not in it for the money as much as the life style . Hard to compete with someone who does not worry about their income .
The secret to make a good income is to get in to a resort , they book ya and charge ya 20 to 50 % . We paid 20% and sailed more than 200 trips a year . After a while you begin to feel like a Taxi driver . It that situation you can gross $75,000 and up per season .
The other side of the coin is the casual daysailer who will solicit on the docks , streets and ferries . They will charge a little less , take fewer pax and maybe only work enough to save enough money to go down island . But , most of the big resorts have had the same concessionaire for many years , ya might get in but you will work for the "prime concessionaire " No matter what island you work you will need a U .S. license .
Agree, except the USA license. Some venues, like Belize, dont give a F what license you hold or from where, you must acquire theirs to operate legally. They dont even credit what you already have...you must start at square one.
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