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Old 02-09-2013, 09:06 AM   #1
Join Date: Feb 2013
Home Port: moraira alicante
Posts: 3
Default Live aboard and starting a chartering business

Hi there

We are Brits currently live in a villa in Spain and want to change our lives. We have come up with the notion of living on a yacht (35-45ft). We would probably look to buy a 3 cabin used boat, spend some time in a marina that doesn't object to live aboards and from there start a seasonal day charter business (carrying 6 passengers). We also intend to buy and apartment for winter living (if necc) and summer rentals.

We have 3 destinations in mind...

The Med
Canary Islands

Can anyone give us a heads up to the type of costs involved in setting up a charter business in these areas.

Marinas who don't object to live aboards
Profitability and popularity of certain areas for charters
Regulations and ease of getting started
Hidden Taxes and Permits to take into account
Areas for strong apartment rentals
Up and coming American retirement destinations

Thanks in advance for any advice

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Old 02-09-2013, 11:55 AM   #2
JeanneP's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 2,098

Let me get some links to help you out of the way first.
I just read: Chartering your boat for fun and profit
I've recommended this in the past: The Triton Nautical news for captains and crews

Now, a bit more to discuss.
France used to have pretty strict rules and regulations regarding charter yachts, and I would assume that there would be some EU laws as well. To consider.

What qualifications do you bring to running a boat for charter? What experience do you have in the hospitality industry? I would hope you have the basics - captain's licenses. First aid certifications. Legal residence. Non smokers.

Marinas who don't object to live aboards
First you have to find a place from which you plan to operate for any information to be relevant. There are lots of marinas that allow liveaboards, and lots that don't, and there is information that we don't have that would help us advise you - your passport, registration of your boat, your budget, etc.. This is something you really should research for yourself.

Profitability and popularity of certain areas for charters
I can't speak for profitability, and can really only speak for U.S. - the Caribbean, but that's a lot of countries to deal with - Puerto Rico; the Virgin Islands, US and British are very popular; as is Sint Maarten/St. Martin. Anguilla, though that's become so upscale that the rules (of which there were none back in the 70s through early 90s) are strict and expensive;
the Bahamas, regulations and fees you would have to research - and there are getting to be more and more - Megayachts can afford to pay the fees so there's little incentive for the Bahamas to keep them low for the small cruiser.
The Dominican Republic used to be a wide open opportunity but I've been out of touch with that area for too long to give any worthwhile advice. I would encourage you to research it, though, since it remains a popular Canadian destination.
Venezuela used to be a great destination, but Hugo Chavez has made it a bit uncomfortable to U.S. citizens. It might still be a welcome destination for EU nationals, though. However, from past experience, hooliganism/petty theft is too often rampant in tourist destinations when the government demonstrates hostility to them. That said, I loved Venezuela and found the locals to be delightful most of the time.

Regulations and ease of getting started
Hidden Taxes and Permits to take into account
Areas for strong apartment rentals

Well, it will be very hard to impossible in any U.S. territory for a foreign national to run a business, especially a charter business. Can't speak for Europe, but as EU citizens you should have reasonable access to that information.

Up and coming American retirement destinations
Do you mean tourist/vacation destinations? Looks to me that the mega cruise ships are the most popular right now. Then the Caribbean, Bahamas, Bermuda.

Do you mean choices of residence areas for American retirees? I think that remains to be Arizona and Florida (seems to be most popular for Canadians), and North & South Carolina, Georgia. I don't know anything about the West Coast of the US.

Lots to consider and I think it's a pretty hard way to make a living - years ago we met an American couple sailing to the US Virgin Islands to start a day charter business. First the husband had to get his captain's license. That took a few months. Then they tried to drum up business - the high season is the last week of November through March, maybe the first two weeks of April - not a long time to make a lot of money. They ran out of savings in their second year and had to give up and go home to get a job.

In 1986 we went cruising for a few years. After 20 years and 50+ countries and several oceans, we are STILL "cruising for a few years".

MV WATERMELON (New) | Cruiser's Dictionary, free ebook

= Cruiser's Dictionary, North America,
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Old 02-09-2013, 01:34 PM   #3
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Join Date: Jan 2005
Home Port: Darwin
Vessel Name: Sandettie
Posts: 1,729

Jeanne's advise is always top class. Just a bit to add. An aquaintance decided to charter his boat in northern Australia. Marina fees eventually increased by 40% (commercial vessel). He had to study for and sit practical and theory exams for his mandatory qualifications. Then he had to adapt his boat which was bought originally for recreational cruising. Strengthening, safety gear, fire control systems, waterproof bulkheads, upgraded sanitation and bilge clearing hardware and of course, the cost of developing a web site, advertising and a visit to the taxation department.

He eventually did get underway as a charterer after almost two years of expense. He made a living wage (he used to joke he could make more salting potato chips in Macdonalds) and enjoyed most of his charters. But he virtually stopped recreational sailing and his wife had constant troubles dealing with transforming her home to a charter boat on a regular basis.

They chartered initially for two years, before moving ashore to live. They continued chartering until they were able to sell the vessel a couple of years later.

However, I have a friend chartering in Darwin. Again he is not getting rich, he bought a purpose built 60' charter yacht ($800,000) and after 11 good years he is trying to quit the business so that he can quote 'go back to enjoying my sailing'.

I guess a reasonable analogy is that if you enjoy recreational driving, buy yourself a taxi cab and make a dollar doing something you enjoy.
"if at first you don't succeed....Redefine success"!

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Old 02-10-2013, 10:01 AM   #4
Join Date: Feb 2013
Home Port: moraira alicante
Posts: 3
Default thanks JeanneP

Hi JeanneP

Thank you so much for your posting. It has been really useful and honest and your links have helped us to form a much better opinion of what we want to do. We are both cautious types and have a hell of a lot of work to do research wise before we even dip our toes in the water!
Chartering your boat for fun and profit was an excellent read and their associated link.. www.cygnusclassiccharters.com. contained thorough information on their business, was very well designed and written and more to the point is pretty much what we may want to do.
In answer to your questions, we have no boating qualifications yet and would expect to do all of these when our mind is made up. This is all pretty new to us, we have a house and an existing business to sell before we set off on a new path and we are using this time to research, make viable business plans and think hard. David has some sailing experience but no qualifications (dinghy's, sailboards, a Nicholson 35ft, and was both a watersports officer in the Hebrides and a windsurfing/yachting instructor in France for Canvas Holidays). I have extensive hospitality experience managing and owning hotels and restaurants. We both have excellent marketing skills. Our plan, pretty much in line with the Cygnus classic charters guys would be to live aboard the boat and offer day trips including food and poss. liquor depending on regulations.

Your comments on the megayacht business are useful as it answers a question we had as to why the south American ports appear very expensive taking into account the cheaper cost of living there compared to Europe. I think this will be invaluable info to think about when chosing our destination. I guess you could say they’ve become the supermarket chains of the seas: putting the little shopkeepers out of businesss!

From your remarks JeanneP we have looked quite hard again at Panama, which appears to be fairly up and coming in terms of an emerging economy (internationalliving.com/Countries/Panama). This morning we have been looking at www.shelterbaymarina.com and Corfu www.ybw.com and www.medmarinas.com , not to mention a bunch more. They both appear to have a fair amount to offer by means of live aboard options and charters. If you or anyone out there has experience of these two destinations we would love to hear from you. Especially with info on living on the hook to keep down some of the marina fees.

You are right “lots to consider”! The last thing we want to do is take our money and blow the lot. We will have some savings to live on to get started. I think you are dead right in saying it would be easy to run out of cash before you get going!

Once again, many many thanks for your comments and time.

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Old 02-10-2013, 10:29 AM   #5
Join Date: Feb 2013
Home Port: moraira alicante
Posts: 3
Default Thanks Auzzee

Hi Auzzee

Thanks for posting. As with Jeanne’s advice it’s invaluable to us to find out anything at this stage of being so green to the pitfalls and disasters that await the uneducated.

Your comments on your acquaintance in Northern Australia and your story of what happened to him are our biggest nightmare. Yeah, we’ll have some back up cash when we sell our house but we still want to earn enough to keep us going… pocket money, and covering repairs, and expenses on the boat would be heaven! The idea of continually increasing marina costs and gov. taxes is hard to quantify. Of course, one expects yearly increases and hopefully, word of mouth and yearly increasing bookings will soften the blow. We have both been in business all of our lives and we are no strangers to the pitfalls. We really need to look over every angle.

Your story on your friend in Darwin is also relevant and love your end analogy on recreational driving. I guess this is really what we are looking to do.

Please read my other post to Jeanne and if you can think of any other info we would love to hear from you.

One last thing, probably a dumb question but if you were in a marina for the day living on your boat say 40 foot, 3 cabins, would there be a rule of thumb for calculating daily KW consumption of electricity. We are finding it a bit difficult to work out what our electricity charges may be. I know it’s a toughie because it depends on what is running on board but any info or web sites that may advise would be helpful

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canary isles, charter, live aboard, med, panama

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