Reel-ality Check

November 25th, 2013

Fishing is fishing….not too often associated with work or reality.  As a charter captain, I have been baptized into a world of dreams, expectations, desires, abilities, conditions, weather, timelines, budgets and an infinite set of variables that are common components of any trip a customer books with me.  It’s a lot to think about!!

Recently, I get a common call where a party is visiting and want a last minute charter and are shopping around for this or that to make the most of their time here.  The big names are rattled off….sailfish, marlin, tuna, dolphin….I listen on as the picture of the wind forecast is burning a hole in my brain as the conversation goes on.  I know they don’t know the reality of what kind of day they are asking for is potentially a nightmare.

A typical customer books several weeks out, but in this case, I was about to go to bed and we were planning a morning trip the next day.  I like to build a relationship with my customers to give them time to prepare, ask questions and have a clear understanding of conditions leading up to the scheduled trip.  Life on the water is so dependent on conditions that match the planned activity for a successful outcome for the day.  I operate my trips with the mindset of me being my customer and I ask myself would it be a trip I would enjoy as a visitor or is it a trip I would be proud of as a captain?  I built my business on making dreams a reality and not taking money to get bodies on the water to make a little more money.  Reality is, chartering is a balance of many days at the dock for any reason, but short bursts of business to make up for the down time.  There is a pile of operations out there that sell a trip to make a trip because they are sinking and not swimming and paying bills is a priority ahead of the reality of you having a good day on the water!  Sorta kinda like a nice modern day pirate in survival mode.

Here’s where I’m going with this.  The point of booking ANY trip is to have fun.  Right?!  It kills me to turn away business because the weather or conditions don’t match up with the activity.  It is a difficult fiscal decision I have to tell a potential client that their dream is a nightmare in disguise.  These customers wanted to go do the big game stuff in conditions that would have been 6-8ft seas (or more) and nearly a 2 hour ride each way.  I gave them the best option going for the conditions and they went for it.  Well, in 4 hours they caught 15 species of fish and absolutely filled the cooler with nonstop action.  Actually several species were the finest eating fish that swim in our waters and some were quite uncommon to catch!  I even was contacted again to run the same trip, but had to decline because of poor conditions!  Did they have fun?  They had a trip of a lifetime and were so proud to add so many new species to their list of fish caught.  So why is this even worth mentioning?  Because they both felt queasy at times and one in the party got sick at the end of the trip.  We were close to shore in 1-2 foot seas.  If I took their money to run a higher dollar trip, we would have been 30 miles offshore in 6-8 ft seas with 2 people sea sick out of their minds because they just didn’t know better.  I build my reputation with each new customer that comes aboard because I do it the right way.  It is tough to tell you that your dream trip is not possible for any reason.  The reality of the big picture is you want to have fun and I want to take you there.  If you’re shopping for a way to spend the day on the water, be prepared for the reality of the variables that affect your trip.  If your captain isn’t looking out for your best interest, don’t expect your best interest to be served.  Do your homework and find out who is the real deal.  Online reviews can be faked and they are.  Just click on my photo gallery to see the reality of my trips.  Would you believe I have had other guides contact me to use my pictures for their websites?  You better be sure your captain is legit before you write that reality check that might get you less than the dream trip you expected.

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