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Old 19-03-2012, 08:51   #1
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Going Huge on a Buy to Charter

Hi all,

My g/f and I have been living aboard our Island Packet now for the past 4 years. I've been thinking of selling off my businesses and house (which we've been renting out) and buying a 70ft Sou'Wester. I know this is a dangerous gamble. But I'm also trained to handle mechanics and such which will cut a lot of cost. The largest vessel I've maintained as an owner is 52ft.

I just got my 500 ton and looking to become a pro at chartering. I'll I've owned are IP's and ours now is by far ample in size for charter but I was thinking going higher end to do weddings and corporate parties. My g/f is a trained chef so I was thinking it could work out marketing wise.

I know a few charter capts/couples that do BVI hauls etc... in the 30's - 45ft range and have said if they had the choice they would scale it up quite a bit.

Since chartering has never been my business I'm wondering what the market is like from New England to FL. Pricing etc... and if there is really even a market for high end chartering. Also wondering if there is a market for trans-Atlantic chartering. Trying to get an idea what type of income we are looking at in doing something like this.
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Old 19-03-2012, 09:14   #2
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Re: Going Huge on a Buy to Charter

once you get over 60ft,unless you anchor all the time, parking the boat in marinas and going alongside becomes an issue making having a 3rd crewmember more or less obligatory to avoid damage.
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Old 19-03-2012, 12:23   #3
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Re: Going Huge on a Buy to Charter

Quote:
Originally Posted by satdiver View Post
Hi all,

My g/f and I have been living aboard our Island Packet now for the past 4 years. I've been thinking of selling off my businesses and house (which we've been renting out) and buying a 70ft Sou'Wester. I know this is a dangerous gamble. But I'm also trained to handle mechanics and such which will cut a lot of cost. The largest vessel I've maintained as an owner is 52ft.

I just got my 500 ton and looking to become a pro at chartering. I'll I've owned are IP's and ours now is by far ample in size for charter but I was thinking going higher end to do weddings and corporate parties. My g/f is a trained chef so I was thinking it could work out marketing wise.

I know a few charter capts/couples that do BVI hauls etc... in the 30's - 45ft range and have said if they had the choice they would scale it up quite a bit.

Since chartering has never been my business I'm wondering what the market is like from New England to FL. Pricing etc... and if there is really even a market for high end chartering. Also wondering if there is a market for trans-Atlantic chartering. Trying to get an idea what type of income we are looking at in doing something like this.
I've been in the charter biz for years, and know many other charter captains, there is certainly an East Coast charter market (I know a few captains and crew in the Schooner fleet in the New England area).

Having a chef aboard is a big plus -- one of the keys to running a good charter is great food!

I don't think there is any real market for TransAtlantic charters. I've never even heard of anyone running them. Although, I do know of educational foundations which do this sort of thing, but that is a very different gig (non-profit privately funded foundation that I know of...so profit is not a concern). This is not what most vacation charterers are looking for and the costs/price would be quite high. Those who could afford the ticket probably are not interested.

Like any business you should have a good plan up front -- a few things to consider: Who is your target market? How will you reach them? What are your estimated costs? How many charter days to have to run to break even? And, as the old saying goes: "don't gamble more than you can afford to lose" -- there are plenty of ex-charter operators out there -- I know a few of them too.
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Old 20-03-2012, 03:37   #4
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Re: Going Huge on a Buy to Charter

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Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
...Like any business you should have a good plan up front -- a few things to consider: Who is your target market? How will you reach them? What are your estimated costs? How many charter days to have to run to break even? And, as the old saying goes: "don't gamble more than you can afford to lose" -- there are plenty of ex-charter operators out there -- I know a few of them too.
Our friends, Dreaming On (Dreaming On Luxury Sailing Catamaran Yacht Charters), did it a bit differently. He finished USCG captain courses, she - nice cooking courses. They reset up their boat for chartering (signs, whatever else needed by law), did 1 or 2 charters for their friends, got their feedback/reviews, then went to a Chartering Show (somewhere northern Caribbean), got into contact with a few charter brokers/companies, reviewed these companies (wanted to make sure their charter vision was similar to the companies'), and chose one (or some? - not sure). It's worked well for them so far.
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Old 20-03-2012, 07:41   #5
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Re: Going Huge on a Buy to Charter

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Originally Posted by Katiusha View Post
...went to a Chartering Show (somewhere northern Caribbean), got into contact with a few charter brokers/companies, reviewed these companies (wanted to make sure their charter vision was similar to the companies'), and chose one (or some? - not sure). It's worked well for them so far.
Good suggestion, Katiusha. They probably went to the big yacht chartering show in Antigua, held each year in early December.

Antigua Charter Yacht Show - Home

You can get an idea of the yachts attending the show last December and their management companies on this page...

http://www.antiguayachtshow.com/atte...php?type=yacht
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Old 20-03-2012, 08:17   #6
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Re: Going Huge on a Buy to Charter

I would have a good look at what the competition are already doing (Google and real life, from a bit of dock walking and enquiries as a potential Charterer - if something grabs your attention I would think about going out on a Charter)......plus I would look to buy an existing Charter Operation in your area and / or the level you wish to pitch at. Not neccessarily to buy an existing operation - just to suck as much info out as possible (accepting that you will be told a lot of BS, but will be nuggets amongst the dross). Timewasting? Well, if folks can't take a joke are in the wrong business......besides, you may stumble accross a deal that is worth considering.

I would also bear in mind that everyone has different ideas as to what "luxury" means (Punters and Suppliers). sometimes very different! For some it may mean a bucket each - others may require a constant stream of smoke blown up.......

For me the fundamental thing is that both of ya can cope with Punters 24/7, IMO having a tolerance level high enough is not something that can be learnt - apart from the physical capabilities of the boat (gold plated toilet roll holders etc) and the experiance (sitting under palm tree sipping cocktails etc) you are most importantly selling yourself, in mind, body and spirit - often at the cost to your soul! The Hosts can make or break an experiance, appreciate that likely most of 'em won't be coming back - but you want them to say nice things about your operation......the "challenge" is that every Punter will expect something different from the hosts, from doing SFA for them to wiping bums 24/7.

Appreciate that bigger is very likely better (esp. as luxury don't usually include 7 onboard sleeping in padded locker space) - but given where you are, why not try out doing Charter on your current boat, even if not at the "Luxury" end you envisage for later (sell the business - but keep the house?) and if that shows potential then go for the bigger boat. and if not, you still have a boat that suits your personal needs whilst you whistle up a Plan B.
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Old 20-03-2012, 08:33   #7
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Re: Going Huge on a Buy to Charter

We are chartering in the Arctic with our 50ft boat, if we had the budget, we would scale up to 70-75ft as well. I'm not sure how the market in new England is, but "ours" is good.
As mentioned, hauling out becomes more difficult and do not under estimate the running and maintenance cost of a 70' boat. We do have the design laying here, ready to build as soon as the budget is there. The running coast are about $380-$450 per day and an annual maintenance budget of $48.000, materials only because we do all the work ourselves.

you must have a good clientèle to be able to run such a vessel, it is not something you can just jump in and hope for the best.
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Old 20-03-2012, 10:09   #8
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Re: Going Huge on a Buy to Charter

I work on passenger carrying Schooners in the 130’ range in the Bahamas and Puget Sound. I have also sailed as a passenger on several Windjammer Barefoot Cruises trips.

Random thoughts:

When you are looking at the size of the boat look at how many passengers you can carry vs. the number of crew required. For example I just got off a boat that can carry a maximum of 24 passengers and required 9 crew. That same number of crew could handle a bit larger boat

I think Windjammer Barefoot Cruises (RIP) really understood what they were doing. Each boat and trip followed the same format. If you liked the format you came back over and over. We went on 5 or so trips. Find your format and stick with it. You will need options as to where you go (it might be too windy to go to the North side of Rose Island that day) but each Monday should be about the same.

Have an appropriate sized tender and learn how to drive it. Will your guests get wet on the way to / from dinner ashore? Can the crew handle it during a wet landing? Power davits (hell yes)?

We anchor all the time. Some days we drop the hook several times. Anchoring should be set up to be as easy as possible. Will you do an anchor watch? We have dragged our 400lb anchor slowly all night. How will you know if it is dragging?

Sail handling should be as easy as possible. Power roller furling everything.
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Old 20-03-2012, 17:11   #9
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Re: Going Huge on a Buy to Charter

Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiusha View Post
Our friends, Dreaming On (Dreaming On Luxury Sailing Catamaran Yacht Charters), did it a bit differently. He finished USCG captain courses, she - nice cooking courses. They reset up their boat for chartering (signs, whatever else needed by law), did 1 or 2 charters for their friends, got their feedback/reviews, then went to a Chartering Show (somewhere northern Caribbean), got into contact with a few charter brokers/companies, reviewed these companies (wanted to make sure their charter vision was similar to the companies'), and chose one (or some? - not sure). It's worked well for them so far.
Small world. "Dreaming On" are my friends too.
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