Captain's Log

How Much is a Fishing Charter in Miami?

Published June 12th, 2021

Deep Sea Rates-

Half Day Offshore- $1200

3/4 Day Offshore- $1600

Full Day Offshore- $2000

Extended Full Day- $2400

Swordfish Charter- $2600

Inshore Rates-

Half Day Inshore- $800

Full Day Inshore- $1000

How Much Does a Fishing Charter Cost and Why?

This is a fair question and one that I’ve had come up many times over the years. It’s a pretty straightforward question and I’m going to give the most straightforward answer I can. Charters are an expensive activity and for good reason. Anyone who has ever owned a boat usually understands where these rates come from and I’ll do my best to break them down below.

How Much Does A Boat Like Ours Cost?

I put about $300,000 into this build in 2017 and yet, the boat is only worth about $150,000 today. I spent a year working on the boat and we did as much as we could ourselves to save money and get the job done right. If we were to have taken the boat to a yard and requested these upgrades, we would have been handed a $500,000 estimate. 

Renovations in the boating world are very expensive and don’t yield the same ROI as traditional assets. Boats are one of the most rapidly depreciating assets you can own because of the environment in which they are used. Our boat is a custom build which you can read more about here:

How Much Money in Tackle Do We Have?

We have about $50,000 in rods, reels, kites, etc. This is a big upfront investment and the part that stings is the 3-5 year lifespan on most of our equipment. We end up replacing most of our rods and reels far too often and the repairs are constant.

How Much Do We Spend on our Slip?

Our slip actually isn’t too bad, right now it’s about $1200 per month. When you factor in licenses, insurance, accounting, benefits for our crew, etc., we have about $4000 a month in fixed expenses (whether we move or not). 

BOAT- Break Out Another Thousand

Repairs can be absolutely brutal. It’s only June and so far, I have replaced 2 transmissions, a turbo, 2 sets of injectors, some pumps, a GPS, and more so far this year. I’ve spent about $30,000 in repairs alone and we’re only 6 months into 2021.

Renovations or Repairs? 

In boating it becomes hard to tell the difference between renovations and repairs. Short of the fiberglass, nothing on the boat seems to last more than 5 years. A boat like ours has 2 engines, a generator, 2 transmissions, an AC, a bathroom, countless pumps, electronics, steering, cables, and more. Our boat also has AC and DC electrical systems like you would see in a house and car. 

An average sportfish has as many systems as 2 cars and a small house crammed into a tight space. This is why new builds typically cost well over a million for a boat as small as 40 feet. To add insult, marine environments can be absolutely relentless. The boat is shaken like a rag doll as it pounds the waves on a daily basis. UV rays beat down on the paint and anything else that isn’t covered. Corrosion destroys what is remaining.

Most boats end up requiring major overhauls every 3-5 years and the ROI is almost nonexistent.

How Much do We Spend on Fuel?

I spend about $60,000 a year on fuel. This is actually my favorite expense because we’re making money when we are burning fuel unlike everything else.

How Much Does the Owner of a Charter Business Make Per Year?

We run about 350 trips per year and gross somewhere in the vicinity of $400,000 with our offshore boat. I often tell people I own a job (even though I love it) rather than a business. On a good year, I might have a 20% margin as the owner but I make a majority of my money by running the trips myself and sharing gratuity with my crew. 

What About Our Crew? 

Our crew all has a minimum of 10 years of experience fishing and an average of 5 years doing it professionally. They are all well-spoken, polite, well trained, and have clean backgrounds. They work very hard and have a very specialized skillset. I do everything in my power to find the best possible people for our crew and take care of them to reduce turnover.

To keep our crew on board and compete with the private market (wealthy locals who want a private crew for their yachts) I have to pay my crew well to keep them motivated. In addition, the cost of living in Miami has skyrocketed over the last 10 years. We appreciate the tips and trust me; we need it for our $10 beers :)

Chartering Vs Owning A Boat

No matter how much you fish, you will always stay ahead if you choose to rent or charter a yacht vs own one yourself. I hear it far too often that the best days of yacht ownership are when you buy the boat and when you sell the boat. The time in between is often met with large invoices and frustration when you try to use the boat and something doesn’t work. 

Why are Some Boats Cheaper to Charter? How Does Price Affect Experience?

Some charter businesses, especially new ones, price themselves lower in an effort to build up a book of clientele and make some money in the short term. This can be troublesome for the owners and their customers. Charging less per trip would adversely affect our service in a variety of ways that I’ll outline below.

If we charged less, we would be pressured to save fuel which typically results in us fishing closer to shore than we may need to. If we need to run 20 miles on a half day, we will. Cheaper boats seldom make it more than 5 miles from the dock. Sometimes this works out but on many occasions the conditions are simply better elsewhere and the run is a requirement.

If we charged less, I wouldn’t have the buying power for the best possible crew to ensure that the boat is maintained, and that our crew is made up of motivated, experienced fishermen.

Another major factor is live bait which is crucial to our fishery. We ALWAYS have bait on hand and leave the dock with a few dozen at a minimum. This is an expensive endeavor when goggle eye for example cost about $60/dozen and we are forced to either buy or bait fish on our days off.

In short, if our price point was less, we wouldn’t be able to run the charters while keeping up with the boat. I see charters go out of business on a regular basis after a good 2-3 years. They made some money during that period but when it came time for new motors, they didn’t have $100,000 saved. It’s hard to strike a balance short and long term in this business.

Above all else our experience, reputation, and expertise counts for something (i think). We know that we fish harder than any other boat in Miami. The effort and experience is there and it’s something our customers see on a daily basis. Sure, it’s still fishing and I can’t guarantee the outcome every trip. What I can guarantee is that you will see the energy, skill, and preparation if you book with us and if you have fished around it’s something you’ll rarely see matched by a competitor.

Interested in Booking?

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