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Coast of Ownership

Old 01-15-2021, 08:45 AM
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Default Coast of Ownership

BLUF: I'm new to this forum. I don't own a boat. I would like help with historical data, spreadsheets, advice of a small side charter business


My wife and I have talked about getting a boat for a side business for a few years now. Our intent is to get a boat that would be large enough to focus on sunrise cruises with dolphins, sunset cruises, and MAYBE some "near offshore" (I think is the term for 100 miles or less) fishing out of Virginia Beach, VA. Between my wife's cooking/hospitality, a friends deep knowledge/ability for fishing, and my funding I think there are options to make a part time business work to help offset or better yet fund a boat purchase. I searched online and saw generic articles and looked at the Sportfishing and Charter forum on here but that seemed to mostly talk about fishing and equipment.

I'm looking to see if anyone would be willing to share their cost of ownership of a roughly 20-25' center console or sport fisher. I know there lots of variables but I'm just trying to see what rough numbers I would need to be prepared for expenses and possible revenue.

I am VERY open to any advice on types of boats to consider or stay away from.

Thank you in advance.
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Old 01-15-2021, 09:35 AM
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In my honest opinion, it’s not even worth thinking about if you need to ask those questions. It’s not a part time gig, you are competing with guys who have spent their entire lives on the water.

20-25 is way too small for what your looking to do. Would need a 35+ footer to be anywhere close to comfortable on a regular basis. Customers are going to expect at least a head on the boat.

A 36’ judge would be a good combination of fishing and cruising. But you will have 3-400k invested before you start.

Last edited by jlipsky14; 01-15-2021 at 09:42 AM.
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Old 01-15-2021, 09:36 AM
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A lot more than people on here spend on a boat. The wear and tear on a boat carrying passengers all day long is huge - I have connections to a couple of people doing this kind of thing and they reckon on replacing a pair of 200-250 outboards every year or two years and there's 100hr servicing comes round alarmingly often, and you'd have to reckon on replacing the boat much sooner than a leisure user would, plus their spend on advertising to find enough customers runs into many thousands and that's before commercial insurance etc etc. I'm not sure if it's the kind of business that would work as a sideline.

Last edited by Clinker; 01-15-2021 at 01:10 PM.
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Old 01-15-2021, 09:41 AM
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Just go check with the Coast Guard first and find out what the regs are for this
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Old 01-15-2021, 10:06 AM
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Wouldn't you need a captain's lic of some sort? Insurance would probably be a killer too.
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Old 01-15-2021, 10:17 AM
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Question: How do you have $1,000,000 in a small charter business.
Answer: Start with $2,000,000.

On a serious side, your questions sound as though you not only don't own a boat now, but haven't owned one. Or certainly not with the experience to get USCG licensed and to run a successful charter business.

Old 01-15-2021, 10:29 AM
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You are right, a lot of variables to consider. I run a part time charter business on a 23ft sea hunt out of Key West. No fishing, just sandbar/snorkel/paddle boarding/sightseeing. Will you be profitable, likely not. Will you offset the cost of boat ownership and get some enjoyment showing people the water, hopefully.
Old 01-15-2021, 10:38 AM
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Not to sound condescending but you really should own a boat for 10 years, at least, before even thinking about running it as a charter operation.
Old 01-15-2021, 10:43 AM
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If you can not spell cost you might think twice lol!!!!!!!
Old 01-15-2021, 10:47 AM
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Let me be first PICS OF WIFE. You only have 1 post you might not understand. But the regs on here will get it......
Old 01-15-2021, 10:53 AM
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Old 01-15-2021, 10:58 AM
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Here on the west coast of Florida most of the sunset and dolphin cruse operators use large pontoon boats. It is not easy to consistently earn any type of income on the water with out extreme effort and a shit ton of hard work. there are many better options for a side business.
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Old 01-15-2021, 11:06 AM
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Old 01-15-2021, 11:59 AM
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I get that you are searching the internet for information and guidance to learn but with your lack of boating knowledge and experience this idea is not going to get a lot of positive feedback on this site.

It's just like when I hear someone say they want to be a charter captain but they have no idea how much work goes into the process of taking someone out on a charter. All of the work before and after the customers experience. The expectation to produce fish and the experience the customer is paying for all the while dealing with people who don't know how to fish and having the patience to deal with a whole lot of customer stupid on a regular basis. Once you digest all of that you can start talking about the money you have to invest in a truck, boat, equipment, insurance and all of the other things that you have to pay for.

I have the utmost respect for the captains that can make it work because I love to fish but I wouldn't want that job.
Old 01-15-2021, 12:55 PM
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If you read the OP's post carefully, he's looking to be the money for the operation not the captain. There are plenty of charter operations where the boat owner is not the operator of the boat.

To the OP, I'd suggest you walk the docks of the local fleet in VA Beach and get to know the local captains and owners. You're not going to find much help here in terms of financials. Your idea of a dining/fishing/sightseeing charter could be a great one, but I have no idea if it would make financial sense. It certainly sounds like it would be a fun charter.
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The cost of ownership for. Rec vessel is going to very different that that of one for hire. Most of the folks here are rec boaters which is why I suggest you get to knownyour local operators.

I do agree with the advice above on the size of the boat. If you were just going to have a captain run fishing trips, maybe, but it sounds like you're going to need a bigger boat.

Good luck with your research!

Last edited by GreatBigTuna; 01-15-2021 at 01:00 PM.
Old 01-15-2021, 02:09 PM
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Originally Posted by big rip View Post
BLUF: I'm new to this forum. I don't own a boat. I would like help with historical data, spreadsheets, advice of a small side charter business

I find it somewhat sad/amusing how people assume what I know and don't know about boats bc I don't own a boat now and I'm asking for advice on a spreadsheet of total costs of owning a boat in a size that I'm not familiar with and the business side of it.

I know of two charters as a side business in the area that run 25' single outboard center consoles for charter but specialize on the fishing charter business.

Yes I know I will need a captains license and business insurance. I also have another captain wanting to get involved (the one with all the fishing knowledge).

Yes I know this will be hard work.

Yes I know 90% of businesses fail.

So does anyone here have a spreadsheet/historicals or just all the ways to tell me it won't happen, about my lack of experience, that I'm new to this forum and that I don't already own a boat (which I already stated in the first line)???

I told my wife today after my first post that I'm prepared to lose a portion of money that I've saved as an experiment and learning. Compared to previous life choices loosing money will be a lot more fun and sane.
Old 01-15-2021, 02:17 PM
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The weather makes it so hard to make money with a small vessel running anywhere offshore

Last edited by TerryS; 01-15-2021 at 02:24 PM.
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Old 01-15-2021, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by TerryS View Post
The weather makes it so hard to make money with a small vessel running anywhere offshore
yes especially part time and its a hell of a run to the Norfolk.
Old 01-15-2021, 05:18 PM
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Originally Posted by big rip View Post
I find it somewhat sad/amusing how people assume what I know and don't know about boats bc I don't own a boat now and I'm asking for advice on a spreadsheet of total costs of owning a boat in a size that I'm not familiar with and the business side of it.

I know of two charters as a side business in the area that run 25' single outboard center consoles for charter but specialize on the fishing charter business.

Yes I know I will need a captains license and business insurance. I also have another captain wanting to get involved (the one with all the fishing knowledge).

Yes I know this will be hard work.

Yes I know 90% of businesses fail.

So does anyone here have a spreadsheet/historicals or just all the ways to tell me it won't happen, about my lack of experience, that I'm new to this forum and that I don't already own a boat (which I already stated in the first line)???

I told my wife today after my first post that I'm prepared to lose a portion of money that I've saved as an experiment and learning. Compared to previous life choices loosing money will be a lot more fun and sane.
I can't imagine that anyone would have a ready made spreadsheet that would suit your particular circumstances, and even if someone did, would they be prepared to share such information? I know I wouldn't for my business even if it was impossible for them to be a direct competitor due to geography or any other consideration - you never know what the person might do with such information.

I would start to build my own spreadsheet made up of ongoing costs - insurance, fuel, berthing, outboard purchase (which I think you would need to regard as an ongoing cost with a defined cycle of replacement - one of the businesses I mentioned earlier keeps a spare ready to bolt on so there's no downtime if a problem occurs), servicing, boat payments, advertising etc etc and one off costs - getting appropriate qualifications, one off purchases to get the boat coded etc and research each and every cost with people who can advise (some of whom you could find on THT eg engine purchase and servicing) - just the same as if you were opening a snack bar or a guest house without any previous experience.

Clearly it can be done, especially if you're prepared to lose money, but I think the hard work you mention begins at the research stage.

I guess the other option is to see if any of the existing operations in your area are for sale as a going concern - then you should be able to examine all the accounts once you agree to non-disclosure.
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Old 01-15-2021, 05:48 PM
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Bottom line is this: First, you do need a captains license to do it legally. To get a captain's license requires that you document hundreds of days at sea over the past 5 years. Second, your customers will expect that you know how and where to catch fish.

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