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Tang Tonic

What type of day charter experience would you choose in the Caribbean?

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Hello everyone,

As a multihull fanatic and long time resident on a Caribbean island, I am looking to start a day charter business in the near future.  As an ex F-27 owner I got bit by the bug of high performance multihull sailing and the joy of sailing such a nimble fast boat.  I also am a huge fan of the Farrier folding system and how it eliminates the need for haulouts and yard fees.  Plus its great to be able to pull the boat out of the water during hurricane season.

I have a 6-pack Captain's License and I am looking to purchase another trimaran to do day charters with here in the Caribbean.  Where I live the options are basically a 4-hour trip on a multi-passenger trimaran or catamaran which runs about $50-60.  Or you can do a 4-hour private charter on a catamaran or monohull for around $450/day or about $75/person if you fill the boat with 6 people.  None of these options, save for one, offer much in the way of performance sailing, so its more about just providing the guests with a day out on the beautiful water here with some offering snorkeling as part of the trip.

I am looking to offer a somewhat different experience.  I want to offer private 2-hour sailing tours for groups of 2 or more at around $50/person with max capacity of 6.  Where my trips would differ is that you are getting a private experience at an affordable price point.  The only way a private 4-hour private charter is close to the price I would charge is if you had a group of 6.  Otherwise it works out to be much more per person.  The other option is being on a boat with 20 other tourists you don't know.  

I want to combine the private experience at an affordable price point with the thrill of sailing fast on a multihull and the option to actively participate in sailing the boat.   

So here's my question.  I think a Corsair Sprint would work great for this.  Fast boat, big open cockpit, and the experience of sailing a nimble boat.  Crystal clear Caribbean water going under the nets and of course complimentary local beers and painkillers to enhance the experience.  Alternatively, I am considering a more vintage trimaran like a Norman Cross.  While you wouldn't get the that same thrill as a the Sprint, the big deck space and more subdued sailing might appeal to more people. 

The pros to the Sprint are the fast sailing, nimbleness , and big cockpit plus open nets which allows you to have appreciate that beautiful water more.  Plus being able to pull boat out of the water on a trailer is a really nice feature.   The cons are perhaps too much performance, although i think the boat could be slowed down to offer a more subdued experience, less comfortable cockpit but bean bags on the nets would sure be comfy, and perhaps the boat feeling too small for people.  Lack of bimini could also be a con, but for a 2-hour charter I don't see this as being too big of a deal.

The pros to a boat like a Cross is the expansive deck space, more comfortable seating, bigger boat and more subdued experience overall which might appeal to more people.  The cons are slower sailing, less nimble boat, less cockpit room.  Plus being at the mercy of haul outs, yard fees, and having to find safe haven for the boat every hurricane season.  Also I think the maintenance would be a lot higher with all that deck space to keep painted, diesel engine maintenance, and its going to be an older boat so will require more maintenance in general. 

I should also mention that these are the types of boats I am considering based on my budget.  I am a still pretty young and fit, great with talking with people of all ages, and I want to do this now before I get any older and regret not doing what I love which is being on the water.  I will have some other types of income so it won't be my sole bread and butter, but I hope it would be the type of thing that would get more popular over time as I establish a good reputation.

So in a nutshell, fast sailing on a smaller boat like a Sprint where you get tpo participate in sailing either by tending the sheets or the tiller vs more subdued sailing on a bigger less nimble boat but lots of deck space to spread out although tighter cockpit.  Which would you choose?  Which would your friends choose?  Which would your kids choose?

I  hope I've explained myself well and I welcome any comments, wtf are you thinking type replies, or anything else you might have to say. 

For your time I've attached the necessary first post imagery. 

 

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First thing you should do is check out local rules/regulations related to doing this for someone like yourself.  Unless you are a citizen there may be real road blocks.  Even if you are a citizen there may well be paperwork that needs to be done.  Next is to come up with some sort of business plan.  At a minimum you should have some idea of cash flow verses expenses.  All this is basic business school 101,  This business plan should also address the difference in cash flow between the C24 and the Cross tri.

The thing is those are two very different boats; and I would expect would attract two very different types of customers, something you noted.  Without knowing just where you are located it is not easy to assess just what type of folks would visit there and be potential customers.

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1 hour ago, Tang Tonic said:

Alternatively, I am considering a more vintage trimaran like a Norman Cross.  While you wouldn't get the that same thrill as a the Sprint, the big deck space and more subdued sailing might appeal to more people. 

Hi Tang,

 

      I had a Norm Cross 42R that I bought after a year of operating a windsurfing concession in the National Park Campgrounds in the USVI. My first year with the Nat Park was sort of a trial period and since I didn't drown anyone that first season they were amenable to allowing me to expand my watersports operation. I had originally intended to add 2-3 Hobie Cats to my excellent beachfront operation but I had been up to my neck just keeping my fleet of 6 windsurfers off the reefs and rocks and I knew from that first season that a couple off newbies on a Hobie could disappear around the point (in either direction!)  I decided that the big stable Cross would be a better expansion route and I could add 6 pack daysails to my offerings as well as live on the boat at my concession location. Park Service didn't see it that way and would not allow me a mooring in their waters but I bought the boat in the offseason up on the Gulf Coast and did a hasty refit and sailed back down to the Islands with a couple of college buddies.

    I never regretted that decision and had some serious good times and used the daysails on the tri to complement my income from the Windsurfing business. Park was always on my case about its presence in the Park waters but there were enough loopholes in the rules that keeping them guessing became part of the fun. 

    BTW, where did you get that photo of my first mate? I don't remember that tattoo on her ribcage...

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Hi, Tang.

We are consumers of charters such as you propose.

Does your business plan call for several trips a day? Reason I ask is we find 2 hours a bit short to sail. We prefer 3-4 hour trips for half-day activity. Might think about that. 

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Tom,

I am a citizen so no worries there.  Yes I have crunched the numbers and the C24 certainly would appeal to a younger or more adventurous type person, wheres a Cross would appeal to a wider range of ages and types of people. The numbers get skewed when I factor the smaller appeal of the C24 with lower maintenance costs but good point, I should have try to break these numbers down even more for a better idea. 

Rasputin,

Great info!  I will send you a PM with a few more questions if you don't mind.

Clew,

My business plan would be a trip from 10am -12pm, 1pm -3pm, and a sunset sail.  The particular area I am looking to launch this business has little competition.  Its on the leeward side of the island so nice and flat water but still great winds.  There are no real destinations so this would be more of a coastline cruise.  I could offer longer tours and include a snorkel but then I would need to raise the price of the trip.  But something worth considering.

With the C24, I would also stern tie the boat to a popular local beach on Sundays that gets packed with tourists and locals and offer hour sails ripping around just offshore.  This is another attractive feature of the C24. 

 

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If the sailing is at least interesting might offer longer with or without snorkel as an option "looking for a different sail contact us" kind of thing. Good luck!

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Yes good point, Thanks Clew!

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If I’m connecting the dots...at that place, at that price, I think you have the right idea with 2-3 hr hour fast sails in flat water and then back to the bar. If you were reliable, a big IF in the islands, Sundays should pay for the boat. Not a lot of growth potential but it should be really fun. Do it and I’ll buy a ride. I’ll send you a pm to see if I have it right.  

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Hey Tang, why don't you contact Niels (Soma)?

There can't be much he doesn't know about running performance day charters, back in the day that was his game out of St John.

We have often thought about using Triple Jack for the same but it's a game of getting 'bums on seats' and it's only the 'custom cattle trucks' that seem to do well.

If you are going for a niche market with low numbers it's going to be tough.

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what island? we're currently surfing Apple bay, taking people out quickly to surf/dive is definitely appealing.

Niels is definitely someone whom I'd ping.

 

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You should look up Llewellyn who has been daysail chartering since 1960 on his early Island Sloop and later on Newick trimarans and his own design/build CHARIS II to Buck Island. He is DA MON when it comes to daycharter on St Croix. Old friend and racing nemesis and a good Calypso troubadour too!

 

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https://llewellyns-charter-inc.business.site/

 

 

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7 People on a Sprint? That's going to be a bit dull!   Get an SRX or 33

I am a Farrier fan, but you can't beat flying the hull on a cat to know that you are sailing a performance boat. F40 for that

 

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5 hours ago, teamvmg said:

7 People on a Sprint? That's going to be a bit dull!

Totally agree - and you'll be at or near the payload capacity which isn't good either.

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