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Old 22-04-2008, 11:17   #1
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How Tough Is the Owner/Charter Business?

New to the board but diving in head first.

How realistic is this?

I want to get a 40 to 45 foot cat. I have 200k and if need be I could finance some of the purchase but I don't want a big monthly payment. I have seen enough used boats that appear to be in good to great shape that would meet my requirements. Set it up for diving, 10k for compressor and tank ranks, 6 max.
Liveaboard and charter one week on and one week off. Most likely I would do this out of southern Fl. and make trips to the Bahamas. All inlcusive for 5k a week. Two couples on board is $1250 a week per person. That is a cheap dive vacation with an added adventure of sailing. I am close to getting my instructor certification for scuba, so I also have potential for additional income on that side.

With that said,

A. Is 10k a month income enough to cover expenses and still show a profit? (slip,fuel,insurance,maintenance)?

B. How competitive is this market?

Thanks for your feedback

Bruce
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Old 25-04-2008, 07:52   #2
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Wow, 41 views and no replies. I hope it isn't because you're all rolling on the ground laughing.... :-)

Bruce
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Old 25-04-2008, 08:17   #3
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Independent Chartering is a very difficult & competitive business.
Even the large outfits only achieve roughly 30% -to- 60% max. "occupancy" rates.
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Old 25-04-2008, 08:18   #4
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It is a tough business. There are a number of owner/captains out there doing the same thing and you are competing against the "big boy" industries such as Sunsail/Moorings. The difficult part will be finding a reliable method of getting your boat booked. In order to do that, you will have to "give away" increasingly larger chunks of what the customer pays. Discounts to brokers & agents so that they will book your services and advertise for you, etc. Then you will have to pay a pretty significant chunk of cash for insurance that covers chartering vs. private use. The season isn't 52 weeks long, so you won't get anywhere close 26 weeks of chartering.

I don't mean to say that it cannot or should not be done, but that it isn't as easy or profitable as it would at first seem to be.
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Old 25-04-2008, 08:28   #5
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Short answer = no idea!

Long answer, did a Google using - sailing dive florida bahamas - and got 393,000 hits.......these were on the first page:-

http://http://www.diveandsailcharters.com/Charters.htm

Catamaran charters 56 foot catamaran - 7 day Florida - Bahamas all inclusive sailing vacations.

Pricing is very interesting - as they do not say how much! - not even a guide price - strictly POA, which makes me suspect it is either a cut throat business or price fixing is going on amongst a limited amount of suppliers. and I doubt the latter.

Their have been a couple of threads on Chartering, which threw up some intersting stuff, albeit of course older threads are never exactly what "you" are after ...but interesting nonetheless.


FWIW (given my limited time onboard paid for boats / dive charter) one of the keys is being able to play the role of "Mein Host" (and "Hostess") very well.......me? I am not really a people person , and certainly not 24/7
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Old 26-04-2008, 16:28   #6
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Although you guys bring up valid points, I for one only need to charter 12 weeks out of the year to show a profit. I think. I am a scuba diver and would market to scuba divers with the sailing twist. I have seen how the brokers market and there is no way I would go through a broker. That is why you don't see any prices, because every boat is going to be different. Creating a website and finding ways to point prospective customers to it is not a difficult task. I will continue my research and hopefully can pull it off. Appreciate the comments. Any divers out there?

Bruce
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Old 26-04-2008, 16:51   #7
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Bruce,

I'm a charter captain. I've done the weekly charters and MAN are they hard. No time off and I mean NONE while the guests are on board. Like sleep? You won't get any.

Like eating when you're hungry? Forget that too.

Like to get up early or late or have anything about eating and sleeping you like? Forget it.

Are you getting a boat for serenity and privacy? You won't have any.

Are you prepared to pull apart a head and get elbow-deep in other people's poo?

Ready to have people go crazy and try to beat you up on your own boat? Ready to have people attempt to steal your boat?

Think long and hard before you jump into it without any backup plan.

It's a hard HARD job. Being a dive instructor on the boat you are running as captain is also nearly impossible. Why? Who is your lookout? How will people be safe when the captain of the vessel is below doing dive lessons?

There is a lot to think about. The more you sort out now, the less you'll hate it. lol

I'm signing up for a new season of chartering... I'm crazy.... ha ha But I need the money. At least I've had enough bad experiences doing it to figure out what you need to do to keep safe/sane finally.

Good luck...
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Old 26-04-2008, 23:46   #8
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S.I.T.S - I am glad Sully chimed in. Go do a search on some of his prior posts. He knows from which he speaks regards chartering and raises good points.

My external observations are this is not a casual - treat everyone as if they are "guests" and we all chill out, it will be fun and I can offset my boat costs. Depending on the atmosphere you create, you are the slave, servant and head complaint hearer and the customer is always right. The service has to be great, the accomodations have to be great and the food has to be great.

I have done dive charters as a customer - Paying $2000+ for 4-days for each of me and my spouse (after negotiating), I expect things to run flawlessly, and when I am done diving, beach combing and having fun, I expect the Captain to serve 5-star food and beer, not self serve from the fridge...

I didn't want to respond earlier because 99% of the folks here are following their dreams - If charter dive captain is your dream, go for it.

It is a very tough business to get going and sustain is my guess. There are three 50+ foot dive charter sailboats for sail around here if you want to get a jump start...
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Old 26-04-2008, 23:53   #9
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I think much of the business is related to references. I know I would not charter a boat without references. I have read of so many chartering horror stories now that I don't think one can trust the advertising. Word of mouth is much more accurate. I may sound a little skeptical but I think I am also being realistic.

It is also one of those dream jobs that most everyone wants to do which tends to drive down prices therefore making it difficult to cover your expenses and to give you a decent living wage.

What I am getting at is I think it will take a lot of time and effort to break into the business and to get those positive references. It can be done though and I would not want to discourage anyone from trying.
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Old 27-04-2008, 05:40   #10
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David, the funny part is when I read this, I was thinking about the *guests* needing to provide references! ha ha



That's how I see it.

I don't have trouble filling the seats on my charters (good marketing). I have trouble keeping the crazies off the boat.

And... Dan's expectations are definitely right in line with all guests' expectations. They can understand a small flub up here and there, but that's it.

Oh, and another thing they expect: Infinite water. They'll take showers like you've never seen, emptying your water tank">fresh water tank in 2 days on a week long charter, even when they think they are conserving. I think that is my biggest problem, aside from lack of sleep. People are very wasteful, even when they think they are conserving. I had people go through 120gals in 2 days taking "short" showers where they though they were conserving water. They just don't "get it" when it comes to living on a boat, because they don't typically have one and have never lived on one. Plus, our socieity is very wasteful, so you can't really blame them, but that's another thread! ha ha

Oh yeah... one more thing to think about: The boat.

If you are doing a dive boat (rather than a sailboat with a couple aboard), you will have to learn the ins and outs of getting your captain's license and how to run an "inspected vessel" (dealing with the USCG's inspection program).

I say all the negative so you can be aware of it, not to convince you otherwise. By alll means, proceed... but these are the pitfalls.


Quote:
Originally Posted by David M View Post
I think much of the business is related to references. I know I would not charter a boat without references. I have read of so many chartering horror stories now that I don't think one can trust the advertising. Word of mouth is much more accurate. I may sound a little skeptical but I think I am also being realistic.

It is also one of those dream jobs that most everyone wants to do which tends to drive down prices therefore making it difficult to cover your expenses and to give you a decent living wage.

What I am getting at is I think it will take a lot of time and effort to break into the business and to get those positive references. It can be done though and I would not want to discourage anyone from trying.
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Old 27-04-2008, 05:46   #11
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You will have the worst boss in the world. He will over work you and under pay you. He will make you wash dishes, clean up other people's spew, wash their soiled bedding and extract various unmentionable items that they will jam into marine toilets.

He will insit that you cook like a courdon bleu chef and be the most gracious host in the world, putting up with the most atrocious behavior from the most disgusting land lubber types that you could hope to never meet.

When he finally goes broke he will give you the flick without batting an eyelid. Forget about 401k contributions, severance pay, workers compensation and medical benefits.

If that's the kind of guy you are willing to work for, go ahead but don't say you weren't warned.

Cheers Cisco.
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Old 27-04-2008, 07:52   #12
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What about the day charter business? Go to a Cruise ship terminal and russel up 6 paying guests, $100 or so each for the day (6-8 hours). Get a cute girl to stand at the terminal with a sign, and you are set.
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Old 27-04-2008, 08:01   #13
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The cruise ships have their own businesses that they deal with (for a kickback & discounted rates) and usually don't hang around long enough for a (relatively) slow sailboat to acquire, load, entertain and return guests. Marketing over the internet is better.
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Old 27-04-2008, 08:04   #14
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S.I.T.S. I have basically been doing that kind of work all my life and I think it has been wonderful!

Not sure why the other guys are sounding so negative because like any other service industry……it all comes down to attitude.

My Two Guiding Philosophies were simply;

1. Hospitality through Ability.

2. If you have a very difficult client then you; “Kill em with kindness” (It is the sweetest revenge when they depart realising that they missed out on getting to befriend a really caring and knowledgeable captain)

So the bottom line is that you have to be very secure in yourself and really enjoy your part in making people’s vacation dreams come true.

I think you need to spend more time on your business plan and get some real numbers for overheads in your area. Your numbers sound optimistic.

The Sail/Dive is a comfortable niche as the drinking is kept down until the last day, but the secret is to put together a package that is different from the rest and offers something special.

Good luck!
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Old 27-04-2008, 08:17   #15
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Quote:
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The cruise ships have their own businesses that they deal with (for a kickback & discounted rates) and usually don't hang around long enough for a (relatively) slow sailboat to acquire, load, entertain and return guests. Marketing over the internet is better.
On the many cruises that we have done, there are the cruise ship organized "excursions," and then when you get to the dock, the same and similar excursions can be had from people just standing there with a sign.
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