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funding-the-fun 12-16-2012 04:48 PM

A penny for your thoughts
Hello all,

I'm a long time listener, first time caller. I have a plan for world domination...oops, I mean navigation...and I would like to know what the cumulative knowledge and experience of the Sailnet community has to say about it.

First, a little bit about myself and my partner. We're young. Not jail-bait young, but mid-twenties. We've both grown up on the water racing and cruising the waters of BC's beautiful coast. I became a mate on cruise ships and worked for a few years on one of the largest cruise ships in the world (no, not the Costa Concordia) before resigning last September to pursue adventure. My partner is a talented - not to mention gorgeous - graphic designer. I love to surf, kayak, snorkel and dive. We are an outgoing, funny, awesome, sexy and don't forget modest couple with a plan. Here goes.

The budget:
~ $100,000

The boat in mind:
~ 40ft offshore capable sailboat with at least two separate cabins. In that price range it will likely be a well maintained boat from the mid-80's. Something like the Valiant 40, Baba 40, Bayfield 40 or this Spencer 41 (

The idea:
Set up a no-frills crewed charter/adventure business to fund our sailing. We would live aboard and publish a rough itinerary on our website and charter the extra cabin to those with a bigger taste for adventure than for luxuries. Rates would be somewhere between $1,500 - 2,000 for the cabin. An extra $30/day per person if more than two people and we would sacrifice our cabin and sleep in the saloon. We would offer adventure, safety, good food and lots of laughs at an affordable price. We're not looking to get rich, only to fund our voyages and meet a ton of interesting, like-minded folks.

The numbers:
35 weeks with charter guests @ $1,500/wk = $52,500
Minus maintenance/running costs of 10,000 = $42,500
Minus insurance/fuel ~$3,500 = $39,000
That's $39k/year that will go towards paying down the loan, food and all other costs incurred.

Rough itinerary for the first year:
Spring and summer on the West coast from Seattle to Bella Coola. Fall and winter on the West coast of California and Mexico. As we increase our offshore experience we will start to venture farther.

My questions:
1) Am I in dreamland to think that this is a feasible plan?
2) Are my numbers realistic?
3) How many of you would be interested in coming to cruise with us, or maybe know someone who might be interested?
4) Do you have suggestions about an ideal boat for this operation that I have overlooked?
5) Is this market already cornered by someone I'm not aware of?
6) Do I have my head up my rear or in the clouds?

Glad to finally be a part of the online community. I can't wait to read your responses!



Lake Superior Sailor 12-16-2012 06:57 PM

Re: A penny for your thoughts
Wow, 35 weeks? maybe more like 12 weeks,and then you better be good at sales....Dale

FSMike 12-16-2012 08:36 PM

Re: A penny for your thoughts
To produce those kinds of numbers the weather gods and the airline schedules need to agree. The only way that's likely to happen is if you stay in the same area rather than travelling.

funding-the-fun 12-18-2012 06:04 PM

Re: A penny for your thoughts
Thanks for the feedback guys. Follow up questions for ya...

Superior: Why only 12 charters per year? Is that what you experienced when trying to start a business?

FSMike: I agree that a single location would be easiest, but I envision a lot of my customers would be return customers and the varied locations might help facilitate that. I think by making arrival and departure ports in major cities like Seattle, Vancouver, San Francisco, etc. the flight schedule problem would be mitigated.

As for weather, I live on Vancouver Island and 6 months of rain and cold is not appealing to most folks. Hence the plan to migrate south for the winter.

Do you think these are adequate justifications? How would you do it?

chucklesR 12-18-2012 06:42 PM

Re: A penny for your thoughts
Frankly - just to highlight one area - the insurance at 3.5k a year is waaaaayyyyy low.
For a business, with charter guest - on a circumnavigation - take it way up.
Considering you have to make schedules the fuel alone will eat that up.

The other area - you can not legally charter in the US unless you are licensed - and as a consumer of charter boats - no way I'm going blue water sailing with a skipper who is still in a learning phase.

Lake Superior Sailor 12-18-2012 07:05 PM

Re: A penny for your thoughts
Selling weeks during school on is so hard you wouldn't believe, you will find out all that sells at top dollar is vacations and summer, the rest is a uphill challenge! This makes no difference if your in Wisconsin or Florida............Dale

tdw 12-18-2012 08:01 PM

Re: A penny for your thoughts
ummm .... not wishing to be Mr Negative Misery Guts guts about this but don't you think that if it were feasible, on that budget, with one of those boats, even 26 weeks of the years then we'd all be doing it ?

FSMike 12-19-2012 09:41 PM

Re: A penny for your thoughts

FSMike: --- I think by making arrival and departure ports in major cities like Seattle, Vancouver, San Francisco, etc. the flight schedule problem would be mitigated.


The flight schedule isn't the problem, it's getting the weather gods to agree with it.

funding-the-fun 12-20-2012 07:11 PM

Re: A penny for your thoughts
Wow. Tough pills to swallow, but I appreciate your honest input.

I guess I'll have to think of another way to fund my adventures!

geehaw 12-21-2012 07:35 AM

Re: A penny for your thoughts
Well I think you need to not give up so easily. First off you are already live in one of the most ,interested in, cruising areas in the world. But you have to think maybe a bit bigger. I live in Alaska and know someone that does charters. Now he has a power boat not a sailboat. But it is a nice power boat.More like staying in a 4 star+ hotel complete with laundry. He charges more like $2500 per person. He already has lots of money and does it more for pleasure then profit. But I am sure it pays a lot of boat bills. He only does like 4 or 5 charters a year. There is also a an outfit here that does hunting in a luxury boat and charges closer to the $7000 per passenger rate. But it includes guided trophy hunts. I looked into this for my father-in-law quite a few years back but was even more then he wanted to pay. My wife says it was closer to $10,000. You have to appeal to the higher end people. But this also requires a higher end boat. And of course the captain's license, insurance and boat maintenance. But to say it can't be done is flat out wrong. You just have to find the right niche to make the money.

And here is also the lower end, champagne sunset sails, whale watching day trips and kick back fishing trips. There are boats ,and owners, that do this so it is not impossible. Look for charters do a couple maybe. See what ya get. Call some ask for advice, some might be willing to give you some. SN is a good site but geared more to the cruiser and pleasure sailor then the money maker. But any business requires more work then the average cruiser is going to want to do. That is why they are cruisers! Don't mean that in any bad way. I know some worked themselves half to death so they can do just that.

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