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Old 12-26-2017, 02:20 PM   #1
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Testing the waters

I am wondering if there would be any interest in trawler flotillas in the Great Lakes and Canadian Maritimes, down the Mississippi in the fall to the Florida Keys (or Bahamas) and back up the East Coast in the spring. Folks would be able to join the flotilla for any segment they pleased, or remain with the flotilla as long as they wished.
For a small weekly fee, there would be morning pre-voyage briefings with route planning, current/tide/weather information, and a discussion of the evening’s stop, be it a marina or anchorage, with the security of knowing that the information supplied was from a professional mariner with over 5 decades of seafaring experience.
The basic idea is to voyage to the less traveled (and more interesting) areas, spending more time at anchor than in marinas, with a small group (maybe 10 boats max) of like minded individuals. Getting together for beach barbecues (especially if someone has a guitar), nature walks and tours of local attractions could be fun group activities, but attendance would not be required or pressed on those who prefer time alone with their significant other. Transportation, most likely at a discount, for provisioning trips could be arranged.
Arrangements for marinas, national park mooring permits, locks and fuel would be handled for the flotilla members, by the flotilla leaders, at discounted prices when possible.
Light mechanical repairs and fault finding (engine jump-starting, impeller changes, refrigeration system charging, etc.) and maintenance (oil changes, battery watering, etc.) by the flotilla leaders would be available to flotilla members at a greatly reduced hourly rate. Help docking in difficult circumstances would also be available to flotilla members, at no charge.
As the title states, this post is just to test the waters, so any suggestions from you all about what would make this idea more appealing to you, would be appreciated.
Thanks in advance,
Andrew & Nikki
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Old 12-30-2017, 08:29 AM   #2
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Yes. To me this sounds like a very fun idea but I'm still many years away from having the time to do it.

One question is the fees. Having a weekly fee or paying for minor repairs may put off some folks. If I'm traveling with friends I won't be paying them for services. It may be hard to form friendships if you're having to pay the leaders.

But I also understand that the leaders are doing all the route planning and prep but not sure if that warrants a small weekly stipend. Unless of course this is a business plan of yours. Is it a business or just a hobby group? If it's the former then obviously the fees are justified. Im just giving my feedback sir, please dont think I'm criticizing.
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Old 12-31-2017, 07:32 AM   #3
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Considering the amount of time and effort that would go into coordinating the travel of ten boats or so, and the fact that having a reliable service person at one's beck and call, at less than half the going rate of some stranger found in some port along the way, why would a small fee be objectionable? Call it a membership fee.
For my part, it would require my having to purchase a twin screw vessel instead of a single screw one, in order to move fast enough to do a repair in the morning, then lead the flotilla into the next marina or anchorage at the end of the day, or get back to a vessel having trouble on that day's trip, before they get into jeopardy.
It's not like we'd be getting rich at this, just helping with the expenses.
My wife and I currently operate a small charter business in the Caribbean and have made close, lifelong friends with many of our guests, and they pay to be aboard.
My point was that if I was going to do these trips, then it might be nice to help others with less experience and confidence, to travel with us to places they might never visit on their own. I believe that RVers caravan and the organizers charge a fee, and I know sailboats do the same in the Caribbean and elsewhere, so why would it be objectionable in this case?
Anyway, since the response has been so underwhelming, in a couple of years my wife and I will go back to our original plan and pick up a small single screw trawler and begin our adventures up north. Hey, maybe we'll be the first couple to do the NW Passage on a small trawler? Hello Alaska!
After that, it's the canals of Europe and beyond.
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Old 12-31-2017, 07:50 AM   #4
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You might be better off over on the Great Loop Association forum as there are many still in the planning stages and may be more tuned into starting and stopping in the same year as a professionally lead group.

I am not sure, but you may have to check the legality of "your business model" and how it works both interstate and in each jurisdiction you are passing through.
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Old 12-31-2017, 08:20 AM   #5
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You might be better off over on the Great Loop Association forum as there are many still in the planning stages and may be more tuned into starting and stopping in the same year as a professionally lead group.

I am not sure, but you may have to check the legality of "your business model" and how it works both interstate and in each jurisdiction you are passing through.
Would agree, AGLCA would be a great group to tie in with and they have a significant following and would add credibility to the operation.

Also, business model is not an issue, nor is licensing which is a state thing. If it's a charter then there are some federal requirements, but this would only be a guide service, no requirements.
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Old 12-31-2017, 08:21 AM   #6
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And I would have an interest in participating.
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Old 12-31-2017, 08:24 AM   #7
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Sounds a lot like what Marine Max does for its customers at least down here in SW FL. They have trips about once a month with 2 "Shepard" boats to lead the group, make docking arrangements, handle breakdowns, etc.
They have an hour long infomercial on radio station WENG called "The Boating Life" available in the WENG show archives. Some "shows" are all boat sales but most include some useful non-sales info about things like group cruises, trips thru the Okeechobee Waterway, the FL Keys, local conditions, etc.
Also seen the same type thing in NJ with large boat dealerships.
No affiliation with Marine Max.
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Old 12-31-2017, 08:45 AM   #8
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OP: I dont think the response has been underwhelming. Its only been a couple of days since you posted it. Sometimes threads get "lost" or take a while to gain momentum.
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Old 01-05-2018, 08:10 PM   #9
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OP: I dont think the response has been underwhelming. Its only been a couple of days since you posted it. Sometimes threads get "lost" or take a while to gain momentum.
You are absolutely right. I'm sorry I jumped to that conclusion.
Perhaps it's because we are down here in the Caribbean and the holidays are just days like every other when you work in the charter business. Of course, many are away with family for the holidays and not thinking of a boating forum in the dead of winter.
We'll see how it goes. It seemed like it might be a fun thing to try and put together. As a business model? I'm not even sure what that is. If there's one thing I've learned about myself in over 5 decades of professional seafaring, I'm not much good at anything other than "simply messing about in boats."
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Old 01-06-2018, 05:34 PM   #10
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It is totally different than what Marine Max does unless they changed thevway they do it from when I worked for Marine Max.

Call it a "guide service" and thete may be WAY more comications than ever. Some statesvrequire separate licences for guide services.
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