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Friday, March 22 , 2019, 6:08 pm | A Few Clouds 60º


Captain’s Log: Do You Dream of Being a Fishing Boat Captain? WaveWalker Charters Is for Sale

Capt. David Bacon at the helm of the WaveWalker charter boat Click to view larger
Capt. David Bacon at the helm of the WaveWalker charter boat. (Contributed photo)

Most people who fish dream of getting into the charter business at some point. The age-old question is whether it is best to buy an existing business with a good reputation, clientele and revenue stream, or start from scratch. That question is worth pondering because I am putting my WaveWalker Charters business up for sale.

I have come to the decision that it is time to sell my charter business. My charter boat, WaveWalker, needs to be repowered and various smaller things done. The reality I’m looking at is that my back and knees won’t allow me to work at sea for enough additional years to make those engines and upgrades pay for themselves and turn a profit. So, I’ve made the decision to sell my charter business, with or without the 31-foot-length-overall Grady White (Atlantic 26 model).

This is an excellent study-case scenario for someone who is thinking about getting into the charter business, and I offer this discussion of my own journey as a charter captain and charter business owner.

It is fun to picture yourself as captain of a charter fishing boat because it is the stuff people dream about — being in command at sea with everyone looking up to you as the experienced fishing expert who can put paying passengers on fish while keeping everyone safe and behaving themselves. You can make some money or have a great tax write-off, if you prefer. You are your own boss, and you become part of a fantastic industry with other captains and crew.

Some of those industry captains may be people you have looked up to and admired for years and who were successful at putting you on fish time and time again. Captains live by an old code in that we are known to be friendly among ourselves or at times at each other’s throats, but every one of us will go in harm’s way to help each other at sea when things turn dangerous. The allure of being a respected sea captain is a powerfully compelling force.

If you are one who yearns for that fabled life, an important question is whether it is better to buy an existing business or start a brand-new one and slowly build it up over years. Buying an existing charter business with a good reputation for catching fish, having a friendly crew and keeping people safe, plus name recognition from years of advertising and word of mouth, an existing clientele and revenue stream, makes a great deal of sense. A bonus is having a renowned skipper available for advice, because he or she wants to see you succeed. That is what I intend to do to help the buyer of my business.

Some people might prefer to start from scratch, getting the captain’s license, buying a boat and outfitting it with safety gear, electronics, charts, rods/reels, gaffs, nets, fishing tackle, etc., etc. Then comes the registration, business licenses, insurance, and Department of Fish and Wildlife licensing and regulations. The choice of which way to go is a personal decision. It can be argued that the money saved by not paying for the value of an existing business is offset by the loss of revenue that would come with an existing business. Then there are the costs and time of building a new reputation for your business.

Buying an existing long-term charter business is the quickest and easiest way to get into the business and actually have some business from the get-go. In my case, I will be referring existing clients and offering advice, knowledge and my prized waypoints or fishing hotspots.

For serious offers on WaveWalker Charters, email me at [email protected].

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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