Day Captains - Food for thought
My wife and I have a thriving (small) yacht management business in Sag Harbor, NY (the closest port, 5 statute miles, from "The Hamptons"). We've been in business for nearly 10 years providing a wide range of services to a group of regular clients and free lancing as much as possible on the side.
Our clients range from the small to the large. We're on a first name basis with all our owners and have great relationships with them all. We charge a lot and are busy all the time - this season being our busiest yet. Even clients initially put off by our rates eventually come to realize we're not "in their pockets" and give us a blank check to do whatever we think best and call in whomever we think we need to.
I've been boating full time since 1991 having captained a 105' live-aboard dive boat for 4+ years, a 57' custom built Hinckley sail boat for 2 years, a 29' Sea Ray for 3+ years (!), co-captained an 87' Oceanfast up/down the east coast on deliveries for over 13,000 nm, etc. I've got many other deliveries on both sail and power to/from the Caribbean and Florida.
Two weeks ago an owner of a 62' Azimut contacted me for 2 days of captaining from Huntington to Newport for the Azimut rendezvous. On the phone prior to agreeing to take on the trip, the owner mentioned he wanted to "make a few things clear as he'd had a few day captains and had had differing opinions on what that entailed."
When we got to Newport, would I "help with the lines, power cords, steps, and RINSE down the boat?" I certainly agreed as that's pretty basic to day captaining.
He mentioned that his family liked their privacy and he'd put me up in accommodations in Newport for Sat. night. With that, I asked if my wife could come along for the ride as an extra hand so we'd have the evening together in Newport and he enthusiastically agreed.
As we live 90 minutes from his marina, our Saturday started at 0500 so we could meet his desired departure time of 0700-0730. When we got there, they weren't even awake yet...
The trip to Newport was fairly uneventful as it was flat calm with occasional patches of thick fog. As we got to Pt.Judith, he asked if I would get "the water out of the bilge under the rudder assembly as he thought "it was causing the master cabin to be overly damp and could possible be a source of ensuing mold". It had to be done under way as it was only when the boat was up on a plane that you could get to the water...
So, trying to remain flexible and agreeable, I spent 40 minutes disassembling the cabinetry in the aft crew cabin so I could get the upper part of my body far enough in to wield a chamois mop to sop up the water one mop at a time.
Upon reaching the dock in Newport, as they hurriedly walked off to go eat, I was instructed to "fuel and water the boat, launch the dinghy, un-wrap and set up the 2 folding bikes, pump up the tube, and WASH the boat."
Well we got all that done except washing the boat as it didn't even take spray on the way. My free ride wife and gave it a thorough rinse and chamoised to leave the boat exceptionally presentable.
Sunday's ride home was a PITA as it was choppy and lots of thick fog. After arriving back in Huntington and getting the boat tied up, it was 1700 hours. Knowing what was coming, I told my wife she wasn't going to want to be around for the final conversation with the owner.
After a thorough RINSE of the boat (which was very salty after taking much spray), we were getting ready to leave when the owner expressed his dismay that we weren't going to wash the boat!
We had had breakfast at 0900 and hadn't eaten since (nothing offered, nothing provided). I told him it was now 1700, we were going to go to town and eat, and then get on the road for our 90 minute ride home.
I told him what we had agreed to on the phone (rinsing), that my wife had provided over 7 hours of free work as a courtesy in exchange for the ride (for which we get $45/hour), that cleaning the bilge out under way was also a courtesy, and that a proper wash of his 62' boat would be approximately 6 man hours (at $45/hour approximately $280) and would mean I had captained for 7 hours for $70!!
So, to any of you out there offering day captain service, I ask -
-what do you charge? (I charge$300-$400/day, depending on length of day, overnighting, etc.)
-what do consider the duties of the day captain re: boat handling, driving, washing, rinsing, etc.
-what kind of cancellation penalty do you use? (we don't)
-any other thoughts along these lines?