Charter Talk

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

We catch the up’s and down’s of fishing boat charters from Rob Naysmith, owner of Offshore Sportfishing Charters

Rob Naysmith
Rob Naysmith, owner of Offshore Sportfishing Charters

LB: Is starting a charter business a risky endeavour?
RN: The answer to this simple question is a resounding yes. Every year I see new charter operators on the water, and then they are gone. They often do not have the necessary experience to produce the catches that are so necessary to manage and promote their charters successfully. What’s more, purchasing a charter fishing boat often comes at great expense and maintaining the gear, rods, reels and other accessories also etches into one’s bank balance. Simply, you need to do your homework financially and run a tight operation to reap the rewards. With experience comes the knowledge of maintenance requirements and the associated costs related to charter fishing. An excellent knowledge of local sea conditions is also vital to the success of the charter. Now add in the required certificates for charter operators, insurances and other incidentals before you hit the water and it becomes a lot more understandable why chartering is an art in itself … an expensive art, if not managed correctly.

LB: Is it worthwhile financially going into partnership with another party to fund a new charter operation?
RN: I don’t know that it can be a cost effective way of doing it because basically your cost remains the same. It could ease the initial financial burden on one person, but there again, the profits would need to be shared equally and as a return on investment, certainly for the first few years, chartering doesn’t pay.

LB: Do you need exceptional people skills to be a charter operator?
RN: Absolutely, if you can’t play the guitar during the quiet times, then you can forget it. (laughter) Almost more important than having people skills, over time you create this huge library of stories, real life adventures that the charter captain has experienced. That only comes from experience and people love to hear these real experiences. It’s like you’re living with a pirate for a while and he tells you how he’s plundered ship and fought battles. That’s exactly what it’s about. Relating first hand experiences. An example would be my charter clients asking me if I’ve seen a great white shark. It’s not that I’ve just seen a great white, I’ve fallen in the water right next to one. I’ve even had a whale pick the boat up on one occasion. These situations thankfully only happen once in a lifetime and the stories are the product of many years of experience.

fishing charter

LB: Do you require a good general knowledge of local sea and fishing conditions to start a charter operation?
RN: You need more of an intimate knowledge than a general knowledge. Anybody can take a boat to sea but it’s bringing everybody back safely, on time, without any incidence that is key. And, of course, they will come back with lots of fish.

LB: There is this idyllic view of fishing chartering into the sunset with light sea breezes at your back. Is it that glamorous or is it more about the thrill of catching fish?
RN: The thrill of charter fishing for me is watching people catch fish, especially those catching for the very first time. It’s not about the idyllic sunset, it’s about the thrill of the catch, clients fighting fish to the boat, camaraderie between anglers and friends. You can catch the idyllic sunset while drinking a beer when you get back from an often strenuous, but highly rewarding day’s fishing.

LB: Should you give up your job and dive right into chartering, or should you first gauge whether the charter life even suits you?
RN: I would certainly not give up your Monday to Friday job, that’s your life blood. It is very difficult to sustain only a charter business. Particularly in the Cape area, you might have charters booked, but the weather doesn’t play into your hands. You might have five bookings, but you haven’t been to sea once. My advice, don’t give up your job to start a charter business.

LB: If a new charter operator decides to take on fulltime chartering, how long should they have an income buffer for, or should they have another source of income until the business takes off?
RN: Always have a second income. There will be good months where the charter business sustains itself, but there will be a lot more bad months.

LB: Is it important to know the charter competition you’re up against?
RN: It is always interesting to know the other long-standing charter operators. Invariably they are guys who have been around all the time and they’ve cut their teeth on recreational fishing and then moved into chartering. Many of these fishermen simply want to cover the cost of the boat with their charters so that they can continue to do what they love, and that is fishing. When looking for a charter, it’s always important to find the operator that has been around for a long time and that has the necessary credentials. Has the charter operator been a Springbok angler before, how long has he fished in those particular waters for, how long has he had his boat and run his operation for.

fishing charter

LB: Do you need to treat your charter operation as a business?
RN: Yes, absolutely, it’s a business. You need to structure your rates to the seasons and you need to be flexible. If one person wants to charter, don’t turn them away, rather include them with another charter that needs topping up. But yes, chartering should be run like any other business.

LB: Do you need to promote a charter business with a marketing plan such as a website and Facebook page?
RN: Yes, you need all of these to promote your business. You need to have a presence on social media, have a dedicated website with new content. Most of my business comes from referrals. I’ve been in the business since 1993 and I’ve dealt with thousands of customers who have left my boat super happy. Every single one of those happy customers will tell of their experiences on the boat to their friends and that is where the referral business works best. I also give out my business cards and brochures which have gone around the world.



Write A Comment

Join our free mailing list