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Thread: Becoming a saltwater charter guide

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    Member Maast's Avatar
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    Default Becoming a saltwater charter guide

    I've been going out every weekend with a full load of friends and coworkers (4 people actively fishing and sometimes a couple of kids) and I've noticed I dont actually do much fishing - I'm too busy driving the boat. I'm cool with that - I get a heck of a kick watching and helping people catch fish, almost as much as catching fish myself.

    I've tossed around the idea of getting a guide/charter license and rejected it - my clients would displace my friends and it'd turn something I love into a job and I'd feel responsible for getting my clients onto fish - and I just dont know the sound well enough yet to consistantly produce fish.

    I did wonder though what is actually involved in getting a charter license and what the regulatory requirements are.

    The three things I can think of are:

    - The license itself
    - Insurance
    - Documenting the boat as a commercial operation, boats of 5 net tons or more have to be Coast Guard documented, 5 net tons doesnt have anything to do with weight or displacement, its got to do with interior volume - I'd probably go way over the 5 ton limit.

    Anything else you know of or other considerations?


    This may belong in "saltwater fishing", put it here because its more about licensing my boat vs just myself.
    2696 Sea Raider Pilothouse
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    Member fullbush's Avatar
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    One thing to consider is you become liable and responsible for a lot more, for instance; I knew a guy that fell asleep and ran aground. He wasn't spilling or leaking anything. The CG boarded him and inspected the situation and everything checked out. When the officer was leaving the pilot house he caught a glance at the guys framed 100ton masters certificate and turned around and wrote him a 1500.00 ticket. From what I understand apparently if you don't have a license the authorities have an idiot clause which allows the everyday boater get away more because of ignorance. I kind of take solace in the government considering me an idiot

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    Member tzieli22's Avatar
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    Your on the right path, but also needed, is your boat must be made in the US, all safety gear needs to be annually certified so emergency raft for say 8 people. Mine cost's $1300 per year. Your insurance will triple, all your gear should be as close to top notch so you can expect to an outlay of 3k to 5k plus your upkeep of about 500 to 1k per year, and the list goes on. The 6 pack license itself takes 2 weeks to get and you have to take it concurrently. Boat slip, (Seward is $1500) per year etc.

    Unless you want to commit 100% to it, I haven't figured out how to make it work... unless you want a write off for a year or two. I can give you more if you want, just PM me if you like.
    Tony

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    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    What's up with the Made in USA clause? I know I've been on a charter with an aluminum boat made in Canada.
    Bunny Boots and Bearcats: Utility Sled Mayhem

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    Never heard of the "Made in USA" clause. I'd be curious to know where that came from.
    I'd agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.

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    Member tzieli22's Avatar
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    Not 100%; sure on it. I was told when looking for my boat that if I wanted to ever use it for charter, it would need to be made in the US, maybe it's North America but either way, I would confirm it. I did end up with a Uniflite so it was not an issue for me. Since you have been on a charter boat made ins Canada, maybe the clause is North America, not sure.
    Last edited by tzieli22; 08-05-2010 at 15:23. Reason: typo
    Tony

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    Member FISHFACE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKBoater View Post
    Never heard of the "Made in USA" clause. I'd be curious to know where that came from.
    I could be wrong, but I think I remember it has to do with the Jones act. If you are looking at doing it don't get a un-inspected (six pack license) get a 25, 50 or 100 ton, because you can't upgrade a "six pack" if you want to run a larger vessel. Good luck, and remember about the moratorium for halibut fishing now.
    Boatless

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    IIRC the Jones act dealt more with shipping between US ports. Any good shipped between the ports had to be on a US flagged or owned vessel. And the ships needed to be US made. I don't think it's necessary for a charter boat. Either way he's running a Sea Raider, those are US made.
    I'd agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.

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    Member Maast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FISHFACE View Post
    and remember about the moratorium for halibut fishing now.
    Suprised me, initially thought it was for only southeast, nope, its southcentral too. Learn something new every day - no new halibut charter operators in southcentral. Bummer

    http://homernews.com/stories/040407/news_1_8001.shtml

    Well, that'd be put a kibosh on any charter plans right there!
    2696 Sea Raider Pilothouse
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    Member FISHFACE's Avatar
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    you can still do salmon, Rock fish and ling cod. Make some combo trips out of it.
    Boatless

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    Member Maast's Avatar
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    Maybe I'll do it when I retire in 12 years, or maybe not.

    It looks like its just not worth it unless you can charter full time daily.

    Heck with it, I'm going fishing - be near north night island all tomorrow and saturday, if you're in the area give me a shout!
    2696 Sea Raider Pilothouse
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    Member jrogers's Avatar
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    I suggest getting a slip on B or C dock in Seward for a summer and watch what the charter guys do on a day to day basis to earn a living. This would be enough to discourage me. As the old joke goes:

    Q: How do you make a small fortune as a fishing charter?

    A: Start with a large fortune.
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  14. #14

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    Here's a link to the Coast Guard website

    http://www.uscg.mil/nmc/cb_capt.asp

  15. #15

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    I tend to agree with "jrogers". Good charter operators have to work way too hard. I know I couldn't do it. I enjoy making sure my guests have a good time, as well as catch fish. That means taking on parts of the role of "guide". Along with that certainly comes less personal fishing time. I think most people who own fishing boats can agree on that. As much as I love fishing, after about five or six days in a row I need a break. I'm sure the fun level would decrease some if it was a business. And then there's that daily boat and gear cleaning........

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    Member Frostbitten's Avatar
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    I agree with you guys completely. No matter who I have on the boat, be it the family or just a few of the guys, I'm usually so busy doing all the other stuff (baiting, netting, untangling, driving, cleaning etc) that I don't get near as much fishing time as I would like. Not just that, but doing it day in and day out would seem a lot like work.

  17. #17

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    Hey about that moritorium on halibut licenses: What if you are a passenger on a charter and the charter operator doesn't have a license to guide for halibut, and the passenger happens to catch one? Does the passenger have to throw it back? Does the charter operator get in trouble? There are lots of places where you catch both halibut and rockfish, so... ?
    Hike faster. I hear banjo music.

  18. #18
    Member captaindd's Avatar
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    The Halibut Limited Entry Permit goes to the Business Owner that fished in either 2004 or 2005 and was still fishing in 2008. It is base on participation by the number of trips made in those years bottom fishing. In either 2004 or 2005 and again in 2008 you fished for Halibut 15 times or more you will get a transfereable permit with a pole limit on it. If you fished 14 trips or less you will get a non transferable permit that you can not sell. A Captains LC only means you can take passengers for Hire. The State Guide lets you fish and fill out paper work. The limits on Halibut come from the International Pacfic Halibut Commission. The Halibut Limited Entry Permit for the Boat will come from NOAA. Limits on the number of fish that can be taken can also come from the North Pacific Management Council. If you own the boat and also Captain the boat you day starts at 5 am. Passengers show up at 6. 6:15 leave dock to fill up. Leave fuel dock at 6:35. Arrive fish grounds 10AM fish until 3 PM arrive back at slip 6:30 PM Clean fish 6:40 to 7:40 Clean boat 7:50 to 8:30 get bait and food for next day eat late supper go to bed by 10 PM Work 6 days a week 7th day do laundry and boat maintence. It goes like that until you get a weather day or a break down.

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    Member Maast's Avatar
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    I was having a related conversation at work about becoming a charter operator and when I mentioned that there were no new halibut guiding licenses being issued he said:

    "Then why not just have people rent the boat, its gear, and you to drive it where they tell you to go (after a bit of advice from you) and leave what they catch up to them."

    It caught me flatfooted, after a couple of seconds of mental gear grinding I said "Uhhhhhh, because its still a charter and it still wouldnt be legal if they caught halibut?"

    It's not, right? I'd think as long as the boat owner/captain is still on the boat it counts as a charter operation. Tried reading through the regs but I couldnt find a black-and-white answer.

    Dont know why I'm still looking at this, I decided not to because its too much of a PITA and the cost return for a weekend operation would be marginal.
    2696 Sea Raider Pilothouse
    "Dominion"

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maast View Post
    "Then why not just have people rent the boat, its gear, and you
    When you add the "and you" to this, I think it stops being a rental operation and becomes a charter. You don't state what you're trying to achieve by gaining guide status. Is it to absolutely work your tail off for not near enough compensation, in order to offset some of your boat expenses? Or maybe you just like to fish EVERY day with someone new, who, for the most part, will be inexperienced. Or maybe you're like "Muttley",who it seems, simply lives to fish, and thoroughly enjoys the daily experience. I realize I may have painted the picture a kind of "grayish" color, but strictly from my point of view, it's way too much work. What I always have enjoyed about my boat experience is it affords me the ability to do what I want, when I want. I hope you enjoy your boat as much as I enjoy mine.

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