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Old 12-08-2022, 07:30 PM   #1
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Charter per day/week charge?

Hello to all, been a while since I checked in. But Iím back and glad to be here. Got a question. Whatís a fair charge for a day or week charter with me captain? I ask this because I was asked the question for possibly putting my boat to work. Ive looked online along the Gulf Coast and its mostly fishing charters or sail cruises upwards of $900/day.
This, to me, is the dream job. And probably the last job of my career. Any advice appreciated. Sure glad to be back.
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Old 12-08-2022, 07:35 PM   #2
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Do you have a captains license? How many people would be on board? More or less than 6? Have you checked with your insurance company as to how much more it would cost? Then you could maybe make an informed choice as to how much you would need to make in order to turn a reasonable profit.
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Old 12-08-2022, 07:39 PM   #3
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Yes captains license, no on insurance cost. Check on that in the morning.
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Old 12-08-2022, 07:41 PM   #4
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Deep details not available yet, just started on this. Appreciate the advice.
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Old 12-08-2022, 08:00 PM   #5
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Is the boat US built and Documented? You'll need the Coastwise endorsement on your Document. If not US built you'll need a Jones Act waiver. Not easy to get. Without the waiver it's illegal to run a foreign built vessel in passenger trade.
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Old 12-08-2022, 08:10 PM   #6
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Becoming a fishing charter captain is pretty straightforward as far as licensing, insurance and equipment, at least for 6 passengers or less. Building a solid book of clients is the hard part, running at trawler speeds and starting from scratch is the (very) hard part.

If you can find a niche, perhaps start with walk-on trips (similar to a head boat but pre-arranged with individuals, you might build a clientele. Multi-day trips would require a second captain and 38' would be hard to accommodate that many crew and customers.

Whatever you do, go above and beyond for your customers and regularly post to social media to build your customer base, repeat customers and strong word of mouth referrals are key.

I charter fished as a mate for years and there were always a couple boats much slower than the rest of the fleet, these captains and mates had to be really good at finding fish and very pleasant to spend the day with in order to compete, but some made it work, but they all eventually upgraded the newer and faster boats.
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Old 12-08-2022, 08:41 PM   #7
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I have a good friend with a very nice 2014 Horizon 52 Power Cat ($2m boat). He just got an insurance quote for 6-pack charter. $21k in addition to his regular insurance of $9k/yr. His plan is catered and nice booze for $2k for 4-hour cruise along ICW in St Petersburg area. Sounds rich to me but might work.

Good luck.

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Old 12-08-2022, 09:19 PM   #8
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In southern California, fishing charters get a premium as compared to other charter types, but it is very seasonal. The other big category is booze cruises, but those tend to be more than 6 passengers so require an inspected boat, etc. On top of all of that, you will have to compete with illegal charters, at least if your market is anything like ours.
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Old 12-08-2022, 10:19 PM   #9
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Might also want to review the liquor license and food vending license laws. If you're providing that stuff and the customer is paying for the charter, you're selling it to him. There is a point where you are out of state waters and the state rules don't apply. But still worth asking.

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Old 12-08-2022, 10:27 PM   #10
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This much I can promise: as soon as other boat owners along your stretch of the waterfront notice that you might be picking up a few bucks doing whatever you are doing, you will have competitors. Some will be legal, a few more will be illegal, but they will all try their best to undercut you. You'd better be serious about this and have the drive and determination to turn pro. If you are, then be prepared for years of grinding, sometimes cutthroat competition, and months of hanging on by a shoestring. Do everything, and I do mean everything, just exactly right and strictly by the book, every time. Slash every one of your expenses to the bone. Develop and consistently follow a marketing plan. Pray several times a day for good weather. Build lasting relationships with your charterers. Do all of those things faithfully, year-in and year out, year after year, and you just might wind up paying for your boat. If this is your idea of a hobby, though, please forget about it and leave it to actual professionals.
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Old 12-08-2022, 11:53 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jgwinks View Post
Is the boat US built and Documented? You'll need the Coastwise endorsement on your Document. If not US built you'll need a Jones Act waiver. Not easy to get. Without the waiver it's illegal to run a foreign built vessel in passenger trade.
Canada built, U.S. documented. Jones Act MARAD waiver. What Iím asking about is an opinion on day or weekly rate for cruise type charter, taking people out and back for work related projects.
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Old 12-09-2022, 12:02 AM   #12
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If you just want to know what to charge then you should check the going rates in your area. What is charged other places isnít relevant to your location.
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Old 12-09-2022, 07:33 AM   #13
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You probably already did, but make sure your marina is good with you running a charter business there. It should indicate that in your contract.
Good luck with your venture!
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Old 12-09-2022, 07:38 AM   #14
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Canada built, U.S. documented. Jones Act MARAD waiver. What Iím asking about is an opinion on day or weekly rate for cruise type charter, taking people out and back for work related projects.
You might take a look at this company to get some price ideas. They lease boats from individuals and rent them to others for a few days to a week. They can also provide captains. I would guess that the single day rate (which they generally don't offer) would have to be about the same as 2 or 3 days since you essentially have to do the same amount of cleanup and prep work. You might also find fuel needs to be added at the end because it's now such a large cost.

https://www.swfyachts.com/

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Old 12-09-2022, 09:44 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gulf Comanche View Post
Canada built, U.S. documented. Jones Act MARAD waiver. What Iím asking about is an opinion on day or weekly rate for cruise type charter, taking people out and back for work related projects.
It seems you are not asking about fishing charter work or pleasure charter work? But supporting a bushiness that needs people moved to a work site and back? Chartering for sport fishing or pleasure cruising has been well covered by other posters, no need to add my $0.02 on that subject.

But if I read your post correctly this is a support business you are looking to start. That's another animal all together. Without any idea of what that work will be and for whom it's impossible to suggest a meaningful rate.

In your shoes I'd do a first pass at a business plan to come up with a rate then approach the business owner to discuss.

Some of the items I'd put in my first draft business plan would be:
  • What I need to earn.
  • Moorage.
  • Maintenance and repairs.
  • Fuel.
  • Food. Will you be feeding your passengers? I would not allow booze in a working situation.
  • Insurance.
  • Income taxes.
  • Business taxes.

If your boat will continue to be your personal pleasure boat as well then some of those costs will be shared between business and personal use.

It's damned hard to charge enough $$$ to make a living with a boat.
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And probably the last job of my career.
I've worked on the water my entire career and the best way I've seen to make a living with a boat is to work on someone else's boat and draw a pay check. Of course there are exceptions, one being commercial fishing.

Taking a stab at it and making some wild assumptions about what you have in mind I'd expect my weekly rate for myself and my boat to be somewhere north of $6,000 for a 7 day charter before fuel and food. At that rate I would expect to pocket mid to low blue collar wages after expenses IF everything went well. It's pointless show my arithmetic because I have to guess at so many parameters. And I suspect my costs are higher than yours because of where I live and boat.

An analogy I'll draw is employer owned vehicles vs worker owned for company errands. Time was when my employer owned and maintained cars and trucks for us to use. Then they decided to have us use our cars and trucks. They paid a rate of $0.50 / mile which back then, many years ago, seemed a good deal to some of my co-workers. I took the opposite view thinking that my employer was looking for the good deal. Pushing all of the costs and risks onto us for a rate that was less than what they knew it costs to own, support and run a vehicle. That's a long winded way of setting up for a question. Why does this business that approached you want to use your boat rather than a boat they own, support and pay the wages for?
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Old 12-09-2022, 12:39 PM   #16
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Pricing is usually a two step process.

1. Determine your costs
2. Determine what the market will bear.

For costs you'll need to determine whether you want to include the marginal costs or all costs. For example you are paying your slip/mooring fee already. Do you think your rate should cover that ? If you don't think it should you are fine. If you think it should, you may need to talk to an accountant. I am thinking of the "home office" write off for people that work from home. There are very strict requirements for how often the space is used, if it is used for anything else, what percentage of your home's square footage it is and so on. I would expect there would be similarly complex requirements if you were to try to write off any of your current expenses for your charter boat.

Two of the most difficult costs to determine will be your hourly rate and opportunity cost. You'll want to make sure you include the non-charter time like provisioning, marketing and post trip boat cleaning. (You will probably spend more time marketing than you realize). Even more difficult will be your opportunity cost. You like boating. If you are working your charter business for 25 hours per week, those are hours you are not pleasure boating. I used to love scuba diving so I got a job as an instructor/divemaster. I was no longer able to pleasure dive for myself, and the hours I was working were not enjoyable at all, and I ended up quitting before I destroyed my appreciation for an activity that I enjoyed so much.

The second part will be determining the going rate. If you determine that your costs are $1000/hour and the going rate in your area is $500/hour, your deam is over. Because of this I would suggest you determine your costs first. If you know the market rate before you total your costs, you will be tempted to skew the numbers in favor of making it work. The market analysis will have to include a features comparison. What does the current market offer that you can't and what is that worth to the customer. If the industry standard is a boat that does 20 knots, but you can only do 10, what is the value to the customer of that increased travel time. Do the current guys have big screen TV's, more comfortable salon, less engine noise, snacks, etc. The converse of this is determining what you are willing to offer that the current operators don't. Maybe you have a crockpot of home made chilli, you establish a discount at a local hotel or restaurant. Get creative. You may want to hang around the existing operators and ask their departing customers if you can buy them lunch and pick their brain.

If you can postpone your dream for a while, getting a job as a mate on an existing boat will provide invaluable experience. Even if you offered yourself up as a relief mate for when their staff calls out sick or they just need an extra hand. That may expose you to multiple operators that all have slightly different ways of doing things. You may also discover that the existing service providers are all neglecting a particular market. Maybe no one is catering to college oceaneering classes,environmental watchdog groups, the Boy Scouts, etc. You might be able to succeed by specializing in that neglected market.

Final note. Before you get started set a limit of how much you are willing to lose, and walk away when you reach that limit. If you make that decision on an ongoing basis you will always tell yourself, profitability is just around the corner....if I can just have one good week I'll be all set.....and you will keep sinking money into a losing proposition.

Good Luck!
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Old 12-09-2022, 03:06 PM   #17
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Thanks to everyone for the sound advice, you’ve given me a lot to think about. Ill keep y’all advised as I negotiate this minefield.
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Old 12-09-2022, 03:12 PM   #18
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One of the costs that may not have been brought up is a maintenance cost kitty for catastrophic things, like an engine overhaul. You may want to put X number of dollars per hour or day into the kitty for the really bad day(s) when you have to do a rebuild.
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