Long first post, I’m sure it will be one of many. Firstly, I’d like to say I’ve searched the whole forum and really enjoyed learning
from you guys. I’ve re-read this post a few times, sorry if it sounds a little like a business plan!
My wife & I are seriously considering starting a bespoke charter
company. We have a million questions and a huge learning
curve ahead of us but we’re young, motivated and hey, even if it doesn’t work out we’ll have spent the next few years sailing.
As an introduction
here’s some background:
Us: Living in Toronto, Canada
. We’re both 31, no kids
. I’m actually a Brit working towards my permanent residency in Canada
. We both have EU passports.
Sailing: Me - sailing since I was a child. My dad had a couple of boats when I was growing up, 29’ & 44’ sloops. I’ve done lots & lots of cruising on the south coast of the UK, passage
making in the Baltic
and some day sailing
in the Med. I’ve crossed the Bay of Biscay three times – including once on a yacht delivery
from the UK to Canary Islands. I think of myself as a good sailor and I know a few people who always turn first to me when they need extra crew. Small issue - I have no (sailing) qualifications (yet)! Actually, I have RYA Competent Crew.
S/O – Did her ASA
‘Skippers’ ticket a few years ago, sailed for 1 – 2 weeks every year for the last few years. Caribbean
The Boat: Still not 100% confirmed, likely to be a Lagoon 440
, certainly a cat around 45-55’.
The opportunity: My background is in travel / hospitality. I’ve worked for 7 years in ski resorts providing luxury ski holidays for groups of 8-14 people. The ‘chalet holiday’ is a very similar proposition to a crewed ‘all inclusive’ yacht charter
, I was responsible for breakfast & dinner (another meal is no problem) and looked after every aspect of the guests stay. The main difference is that guests were out skiing all day, but then so was I!
My father-in-law is about to buy a boat; he wants it all sorted for this coming season in the Caribbean
. The idea of a small charter company was born by him simultaneously to myself & my wife. The in-laws are ‘semi-retired’ and were planning on spending 4-5 months on their new boat in during the winter. While thinking through different options for the hurricane
season the idea came about that he would be happy for the boat to be brought to Europe
to be chartered (he gets to cross the Atlantic in it and gets a few weeks of Euro cruising to boot).
Firstly with regard to our sailing experience / qualifications - the boat (hopefully) will be all sorted for November of this year. We’ll then be on the boat from then until May 2010 when we’d join ARC Europe
for the transatlantic crossing. During this time we’d do any of the formal qualification that we might need to do (actually it would be possible to do them on the cat in the Caribbean (ASA only?) or back in the UK with the RYA depending on what we need).
The cat would then be arriving in Europe in June. We would plan to sail straight to our chartering destination
and spend 3-4 weeks familiarising ourselves with the area before taking on out first guests. I understand that this aspect will be a challenge in terms of our guests – our limited experience of the area. However we are being realistic – our initial pricing will reflect this weakness – and it is likely that our first few weeks will be made up of family
and friends (not that we are relying on them for future income
just to allow us to cut our teeth!).
We have no expectations in terms of how many weeks we could sell in 2010. One or two weeks could make it worthwhile in terms of covering costs. This summer would be our learning curve. We’re in the enviable position that we wouldn’t have any payments to make on the boat, the costs would almost solely be our living expenses (plus any insurance
costs etc with regard to the business – marketing
We’d then take the boat back to the Caribbean for the winter and *possibly* do another week or two charter when the in-laws weren’t on the boat. By summer 2011 we would hope our marketing
plan would mean we would make some proper bookings and hopefully the first step to profitability.
The basic reason for this post is just not knowing where to start. The boat currently hasn’t been purchased and we’ve never worked on Charter boats.
1) Who can run charter operations in the Mediterranean
? In particular the northern Med, as we both speak good French. Ie. Can a Canadian based / registered charter company operate there? I’m guessing UK based companies can operate there due EU agreements?
2) If we have to be a UK registered charter company to operate in the Med, does our boat have to be UK registered? I’m guessing for insurance
purposes they would want the boat to be MCA coded but does that mean it has to be UK registered?
3) What qualifications would we need? I guess this is really at the discretion of the insurance company?
4) Things we’ve missed - I know we can do the sailing side of things (tickets pending), I know we can do the business side of things (sales, marketing etc). The unknown is the market itself and any rules, regulations
& restrictions regarding this sort of business in the Mediterranean
Other stuff we know: this could put some stress & strain on the family
, especially the in-laws and their new toy but they were considering using a charter company anyway, at least this way they know who’s looking after the boat. FIL is happy the boat isn’t on the hard
for 6 months and even happier if my wife & I can start a viable business.
I know that a lot of you will already have some, if not all, of the information that I am looking for. I’m asking for your help as I know I can find it eventually but I’m sure you’ll all agree we have a lot of stuff to work out so if you can shed any light on any aspect of the project
, please chime in!
Edit just to say, I've also posted this on a UK forum, to check it's in the right section of the board? And to say thanks...