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How do charters make money?

Old 06-12-2017, 06:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Vitamin_Sea View Post
This. I booked an inshore guide a couple of years ago. With the tip it cost north of $600. The boat was like a 20' skiff with a 150. He couldn't have burned more than 20 gallons of gas all day. No mate to pay off, no need to buy bait (we used artificial lures only), a much cheaper boat in fresh water, and the guy was clearing over $500 profit per trip.

I'd never run a charter business with the expectation of making a profit. I'd be happy to break even and support my habit... kind of a semi-retirement gig if you will.
Add me to this group.

The boats in my sig I have owned for 12 years. The Rampage is all depreciated out and so is the Maverick.I can run a half day trip on the Maverick clear 400 bucks and be home by 1PM.

That 400 bucks is then spent on my slip for the Rampage and that is just for the boat to sit there a month. Saturday on the Rampage I took a party of 5 out for bottom fishing. 1200 bucks. Burned 100 gallons of fuel. Caught live bait and iced the boat the day before the trip to get an early start. 2 hrs of my time.

Awake at 5, to the boat at 6 am and got her ready. Got 350 bucks in the day for fuel, bait and ice.

100 bucks to my Mate. Got back to the dock at 4 PM cleaned fish and then the boat. The mate and I wrapped up at 6 PM got home around 7 PM. Take into account insurance maintenance, tackle all the little extras I probably walked away with 600 bucks for my 14 hour day.

The flats boat is where my money comes from. And when the motor wears out it will cost me 15K as opposed to 100K when the Cats get tired.
Old 06-12-2017, 07:02 AM
  #142  
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Originally Posted by GMW View Post
Putting the money issue aside as well as the love of fishing (getting to do what you love), I'm not sure I could deal with the people aspect of the business. I enjoy people, like being around people and think I can hold a conversation as well as anybody. I've been in the people business all my career but I'm not sure I could risk have to deal with what these charter guys (inshore and offshore) have to deal with. You have to be incredibly tolerant in a small space for a long period of time. You need to be teacher, psychologist, handyman, policeman and in some cases entertainer - and by the way - make sure you put these people on some fish. Not to mention make a little bit of grocery money while you are at it.
GMW, you pretty much nailed it here except for maybe one small thing. You should not HAVE to catch fish every time out. Yes, the business is based on catching fish but the truly successful Captains can satisfy their customers even when the fish don't bite. On the rare occasion that the fish all have lockjaw I work hard to make sure that everyone leaves the boat with a smile. Chartering is a people business. I try to do whatever it takes to make sure that everyone on the boat has a good time. Does that happen with every customer? Of course not. But most people appreciate a crew that works hard all day, keeps a positive attitude and respects the clients. The "golden rule". Treat others the way you would want to be treated. It works.
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Old 03-28-2018, 07:13 PM
  #143  
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Ooopppsss edit wrong thread

Last edited by Re-Bait; 03-30-2018 at 03:17 PM.
Old 03-29-2018, 07:31 PM
  #144  
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They take fuel bait ice etc . Whatever it cost them they double that.
Old 03-31-2018, 02:04 PM
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I own/operate a multi boat charter business outside the USA, so have really enjoyed reading this thread. So much sounds very familiar, but also some things a little different.

Our typical rate for inshore fishing (usually a 10 - 25NM run) is $1400 - $1600 (no tips required on our trips) on a 40 - 50ft twin diesel sportfisher. Our boats however are mostly cold-moulded style construction, a little lighter with smaller hp, and we cruise a little slower so around 20 - 23gph @ `18knts. We are actually a bit faster than average for our area where 12 - 16knts is a typical charter boat speed. The good thing is that our fishing can start less than 1NM from the marina and we often get to do trips with only a ~10NM run in our season peak. Once you factor back all the daily variable costs (skipper, fuel, bait, ice, tackle etc) there is a pretty good return if you self skipper or an OK return if you hire a skipper. What we also do though is offer catering services on the trips and have bar licences on the boats so we can offer a full catering service plus control any alcohol consumption. Getting that extra $100 or so on some trips adds up by year end.
Using the same vessels we also offer long range trips targeting pelagics (Marlin, Tuna, Mahi etc) in the Spring/Summer season and deep water species (Groper, Giant Sea Bass etc) and large inshore species from remote island locations in the Autumn and Winter. Our winters are cooler but not real cold. The long range trips can be as short as 2.5 days or as long as 10 days. These are usually fully catered trips and work out around $1800 per day. Again the returns are pretty good if you self skipper and OK if you hire a skipper. What this does do though is give us a year around income and keep the boats moving when our inshore fishing slows down. The big 'secret' is to keep the boats moving. One thing we do on many of these long range trips is leave base the evening before the charter officially starts. The clients get an extra night away and we cover a lot of travel at an economical 8knts rather than 18knts with half the mpg. That can add another $100 - $300 into your return from the trip depending on how you manage it. It is also much easier on the engines and vessel.

One thing that I see many skippers (some also boat owners and some on a wage) here not focusing enough on is the service level. There is a lot of focus on finding fish by 90% of them but some think that is almost their only job. What I have found is that finding fish is a big part of getting repeat business, but the small things can save you from a bad day or turn an already good day into an excellent one. I had a group of 8 out recently. Half women and half guys group of individual anglers. We did a day of inshore fishing. We left the dock at 8:30am, ran for an hour, and had the all the anglers at their catch limit by 2:00pm. A good day but not that unusual. During the fishing I did the normal unhook/untangle/release/iki/cooler etc duties but also focused on the ladies with the least experience until they had the technique sorted and were catching fish. When I had time I would also bait their hooks and offer extra tips etc. Made a really busy non-stop day but they were all nice people so enjoyable. On the way back I explained to the group what our fishing program would look like as we head into our Winter season. When we got back to dock I had one lady wishing to book a private day trip for her family group and another lady I had been helping wanting to book a 3 - 4 day long range trip for her and a group of her friends. So one $1400 trip turns into possible $10k of total business and some very regular clients plus whoever they bring along maybe becoming more clients. I also get to introduce a group of people to our Winter long range trips which are an incredible fishing experience but fishing usually goes to the bottom of the list come Winter. So I figure that a couple of hours of 'extra' work has generated a pretty nice return.
Old 04-01-2018, 03:45 AM
  #146  
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I know some guys get sponcered . Including fishing equipment to boats . If There costermers purchase a boat with there reference they get a cut. If you don't have to pay for the boat or equipment it helps
Old 04-01-2018, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by La Vida CR View Post
yes that may be true in the short term.
but depreciation is real, wear and tear, devaluing and asset, and reducing the useful life of it.

most good investments do have an exit strategy to cash in profits.

eventually it will come back and cost you one way or another. rebuilds, (lost business because of needed repairs), as mentioned in my earlier post, when sport fish yachts start getting allot of hours on them, they become a hard sell, even with fresh overhauled engines.
nobody is going to pay top dollar for a vessel with 6000 hours on it when comparable year vessels may have 2000 hrs. especially true for a production boat.
the exception would be a unique well made high end custom boat.( Merritt, Rybos, Bayliss) that there are not many around to choose from.

the best exit strategy for a charter boat, is to hope it gains a good reputation, and long client list,with steady business, so if/ when it is sold, you can market it as a successful income producing business, and the future value of cash flows will increase the sale value.

a turn key operation with crew and existing management that stays on would probably. be easier sell than and owner operator vessel. a prospective boat buyer may see it as a good way to have a boat to use when he wants, that pays for for its upkeep, even if it doesn't put much cash in his pocket as a business.

but most owner operators try, and hope to continue their operation for their lifetime. they take the financial risks to pursue their dreams and do what they love, rather than save a big retirement nest egg to hopefully quit working for the man one day and go fishing.

the pride of ownership and enjoyment of use of a nice vessel, and the memories you make are priceless, is the real profit of the game.

for me, I love getting feedback from clients that they had a great time, or seeing families/ friends bond and share experiences/ make lifelong memories while on my boat, or even talking to prospective clients who may or may not ever fish with me, knowing we share a mutual love and enthusiasm for fishing/ being on the water.
it almost equals to another digit at the end of my annual income.
Thank you for great post there Captain!!!
Old 03-22-2020, 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by ThreeLittleFish View Post
Offshore charters don't make money. Don't forget to take into account the boat depreciation, costs to refit the boat with tackle when current tackle gets old. Add in all the days you can't fish because of weather. I own a charter boat and have no boat payments. I'm lucky if I break even at the end of the month. Most months are a loss especially in this economy.
what boat do you run? I would image a sport fish because people with CC problem have a higher profit due to less gas useage
Old 03-22-2020, 10:35 PM
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I do pretty well. I'm a paid captain running a 2015 39 Yellowfin and I fish ~ 150 days a year.

I left a professional job in the medical field to do this and have never looked back. I make about the same $ but I love what I do and am a much happier person because of it.

There's a lot of hard work behind the scenes with maintenance and upkeep that I don't get paid for but I'm out there driving around in a badass boat killing big fish and living the dream.

BTW: I've seen quite a bit of chatter on this forum about the demise of Venice tuna fishing.... All I can say is check out the reports from the last few months....

Scott King
Old 03-23-2020, 02:30 AM
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This is a pretty odd question, honestly, the answer is easy. Spend less than you bring in, just like any other legit business. Getting to that point is rough but if you love the work and are good at it, it will pan out if you put in the effort. There is an entire fleet here in Oregon Inlet alone that makes their entire living running offshore boats, many who are owner/operator blue collars guys that didn't makes millions doing something else. So the guys that say that offshore boats don't make money, they're got it wrong. Yes more guys probably lose their ass than win at it, but like has been said, it's not a get rich scheme, it's a lifestyle. Long hours must be put in, but if you enjoy doing it, they are fun hours. I love working on the boats, oil changes, cleaning, tinkering with gear. Like many people go home and garden, that shit isn't for me, but I'll go down to the boat for no other reason than check on it, have a drink and scrub it down if needed.
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Old 03-23-2020, 05:35 AM
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Originally Posted by ThreeLittleFish View Post
You also have to look at other possible money making investments that the boat is preventing you from making. When the economy goes south things like charters are the first things people stop doing. Charters are a losing investment.
........ and then you have to look at the tax deductions by owning the charter business as a boat owner. Keep in mind that the deductions include all the mileage to and from the boat, housing and so on along with depreciation on asset. I chartered a 40' boat out of Ocean City years ago and made not a ton of money through my work, when I sold my charter boat I went from averaging 8k back a year to paying 13k average. These guys who can sling 8500 a month for a boat payment, let alone get approved for it in todays finance world, are making a boat load of money somewhere. At the end of the day the guy ends up with a depreciated asset that he can sell and not pay capital gains on, this is the reason why you see a 7 year turn around a lot of the time. Your mileage may vary.
Old 03-23-2020, 07:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Vitamin_Sea View Post
They have other jobs or retirement/pension money rolling in. That's my plan as soon as the kids get older.
Some of us have built up a business over 25+ years and have a lot of repeat customers. I've had individual customers who would fish 40-50 days a year with me and some capts down in the keys get guys who do a lot more days than that. Yes a lot of charter operators have or had another income and it's what they want to do, but there are a lot of us who do it for a living and it's our main source of income.
Old 03-23-2020, 10:20 AM
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Two year old thread. Just saying.
Old 03-23-2020, 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by dolphin hunter View Post
I was wondering how do charter boats make any money? Im from eastern NC and the average charter is about $1600/day for offshore fishing. Went on one last summer and the captain said he was burning about 60 gal/hr. It was about a 2 hr ride from the dock. So thats 240 gallons just riding. I figure about 80 gallons trolling. So 320 gallons and lets just say diesel is $4.50/gal that will be $1440 just in fuel. Im sure the mate gets paid something other than tips, plus bait, insurance, dock fee, regular maintenance on boat, etc. Dont see where they make any money.

They only actually burn about half that.
Old 03-28-2020, 11:52 AM
  #155  
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When I was in high school, I worked as a mate on two different charters in New England. Both Captains would routinely joke with me at the end of the day that I made more money than they did that day. Turns out, they weren't joking after all. Both were retired, had a steady income stream and chartered May through October really just to stay busy.

Very interesting thread, thanks to all who contributed.
Old 03-28-2020, 06:00 PM
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Originally Posted by N2theblue View Post
They only actually burn about half that.
No disrespect when I say this, but you my friend have not ever maintained and paid for big boat bills.

I RUN A 42 Henriques and we burn 55 gallons an hour cruising at an honest 26 gallons per hour.

granted we are heavier than most Carolina boats, a cold molded 60 footer does NOT burn 30 gallons an hour.

Dont forget upkeep, things constantly breaking, and service. 1000 hour and 2000 service on cats mans Volvo’s is 10s of thousands of dollars.
Old 03-28-2020, 06:39 PM
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A lot of times the truck delivers to the boat or they have a deal with the fuel dock for favored pricing. None of those guys should be paying $4,50/gal. My guy is paying less than $2/gal. And probably closer to $1.50/ with oil where it is now.
Old 03-29-2020, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by rookiefisherman713 View Post
No disrespect when I say this, but you my friend have not ever maintained and paid for big boat bills.

I RUN A 42 Henriques and we burn 55 gallons an hour cruising at an honest 26 gallons per hour.

granted we are heavier than most Carolina boats, a cold molded 60 footer does NOT burn 30 gallons an hour.

Dont forget upkeep, things constantly breaking, and service. 1000 hour and 2000 service on cats mans Volvo’s is 10s of thousands of dollars.

Where did I say anything about maintenance costs? My post was literally only about fuel burn. All the other costs you mention are part of it, but his post was about fuel burn, so that's what I responded to. OP is from eastern NC, so I was specifically referring to fuel burn of NC charter boats such as Oregon Inlet or Morehead City boats, and they aren't burning 320 gallons a day.
Old 03-29-2020, 09:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Tainui View Post
A lot of times the truck delivers to the boat or they have a deal with the fuel dock for favored pricing. None of those guys should be paying $4,50/gal. My guy is paying less than $2/gal. And probably closer to $1.50/ with oil where it is now.
Check the date they posted that. It may add some clarity.
Old 03-30-2020, 01:50 AM
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Fellow charter next to me runs a 55 Ocean w/ 8v92s, burns just shy of 240/day. The few custom single screws I know are burning less than 30 @ 24kts, one as low as 24gph. Those single screws are ridiculously efficient.

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