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Ft. Lauderdale boat show

Discussion in 'Licensing & Education' started by Turtle9343, Sep 13, 2013.

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  1. Turtle9343

    Turtle9343 New Member

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    Hello all, I have been lurking here for several weeks as I am trying to educate myself on the world of yachting.

    I am a 36 year old owner of a small trucking company here in the Dallas area. I am considering attempting a change of career into boating. I have been on small boats my entire life, with perhaps an average 125 days a year for the last eight years so I do have a fair amount of experience, albeit on small boats (under 30 feet).

    My question is this. I am considering making the trip to Ft. Lauderdale next month for the show, in order to talk with captains, crew, etc and hopefully learn what it takes to make the move into actually captaining a yacht. Is the idea of making the trip worthwhile? It's not a huge investment to travel to Florida for four days, but if it will be for nothing in return, I would rather hang onto the money. Having never been to the show, I don't know if there are people there to even talk to, or if it is just all salesman trying to sell me a boat.

    Anyone have any thoughts? Advice? Thanks in advance.
  2. Norseman

    Norseman Senior Member

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    Plenty of Captains at the boat show, but no need to travel and stay for 4 days just to get basic advice.

    This place is free and you get the same advice..:cool:

    Take a course, get your ticket, take a job on a boat, get more sea-time, work your way up, get to know people, etc.

    MPT | Maritime Professional Training
  3. Old Phart

    Old Phart Senior Member

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    I dunno

    Think of it as a four day vacation to sunny FLA.

    Ask if anyone needs a Deckhand/Tender operator.

    Work your way up the ladder.

    You do not mind being a hand, do you?
  4. Norseman

    Norseman Senior Member

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    Expensive vacation, IF you can find a hotel room during the boat show...;)

    Good for my furnished rentals though, getting top dollars during the show, don't even have to advertise.:cool:
  5. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    The show is worth going to, especially if you intend to get into this business, for general knowledge and familiararity. I don't see it helping you get in the business though, especially at this stage. The people at the show are there to sell, not educate, and not hire although it's not impossible.
    If you do intend to get into the business I assume that the trucking business is failing. Otherwise you're heading into some lean times while you work on getting a licensed and develope connections aka: Paying your dues.

    Norseman gives you a good suggestion. We've had quite a few people visit here with that dream. Use the SEARCH feature. Here are a few threads to start you off:

    http://www.yachtforums.com/forums/yacht-crews/20085-trying-get-into-industry-advice.html
    http://www.yachtforums.com/forums/yacht-captains/21378-using-my-oupv.html
    http://www.yachtforums.com/forums/yacht-captains/11798-day-captains-food-thought.html
    http://www.yachtforums.com/forums/yacht-captains/12984-i-need-help-advise-i-need-job.html
    http://www.yachtforums.com/forums/licensing-education/2371-becoming-captain.html
  6. Turtle9343

    Turtle9343 New Member

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    There is no job I can think of, in any segment of any business, I mind doing. In my life I have shoveled cow sh**, bagged groceries, and a few other "bad" jobs, all with equal enthusiasm.
  7. Turtle9343

    Turtle9343 New Member

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    The trucking business is doing great, especially the last couple years. The problem is it just doesn't excite me any longer. I no longer enjoy waking up to the job. However, it is what I do, and it's what pays the bills. This is part of the problem for me. Questions lingering in my mind are many, as I know pretty much nothing of the boat business. Among these, how long does it take to get the required first license? Assuming I start at the bottom, whatever the bottom may be, what is a reasonable pay range? How long does it typically take to reach the point where one could actually run the boat? Is it possible to accomplish anything while still holding on to my current job, or is it a path one must commit to 100% right from the get go? Is 36 too old to reasonably even start in a venture like this?

    I have a wife and two elementary school aged children, so they must be considered as well. If I were to pursue the new path, I would need to sell the trucking assets, presumably relocate, etc. If it seems like a completely irrational idea, by all means, say so.
  8. YachtForums

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  9. MBevins

    MBevins Senior Member

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    Follow our ADMINS suggestion. Grow your business and use boating as your pass time. As you become financially successful you have options.
    The life you are currently exploring will keep you away from family more than you may be prepared for.
  10. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    Everything becomes a job eventually. Like you I get tired of what I do, and it's doing what you want to do. However, like you, it's what I do well and what pays the bills.
    Many times over the years I've thought of trucking, but the base pay is too low, there's no security and the regulations are too many for it to be fun anymore. Much like this business.


    I believe you need 365 days of sea time within a 5 year period, and the breaks down further about more recent sea time.
    Quite possibly below minimum wage.
    For a full-time gig? Many years, if at all. You can do things like day-captaining and transports, but you'll have to build a reputation and contacts, and that could take years.
    That kind of depends how close you are to the business centers (water/boats). I highly recommend doing it in your spare time and building into it. These days you don't want to throw away your 'bird in hand'.
    I was 38, and I'm now nearing retirement, but it's hard. So it's possible, but you'll have to make your own inroads. You're competing with young graduates of the Merchant Marine academies and kids who grew up on daddy's boat and who have daddy's connections. It's a rich man's sport.

    No way. Kids need security. Keep trucking. One fact of this business is that very few of us manage to get to our homes every night or even every week. Some of us are away from home for months at a time. That's a bad way to raise children.

    What might make more sense would be to get your ticket in your spare time,. work part-time or ocassionally in different aspects of the business to build experience and connections, and eventually transition into a marine business of your own, possibly a charter boat or marina, launch service, supply vessel, etc..
  11. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    My sentiments are pretty much the same as Kiwi's and Nycaps. If you have 2 children and a wife, stick with trucking. I grew up on boats and around boats. I then worked at a marina and fuel dock in my early 20's and there I also washed a lot of boats, fixed some stuff and was running smaller yachts around 50'<. Nobody really cared if you had a license back then in that size range (owners, insurance companies etc) as long as you could run the boat. I then worked for other Captain's for nearly a decade washing boats, doing repairs, working as a day mate, etc., maintianing a few boats. Went full time as a mate on 2 boats and got my Captain's license and then spent years doing day Captaining and really it took a full decade to build up contacts and business where brokers and owners trusted me to run their yachts fully and this is in the yachting Capital of the world, Fort Lauderdale. If I didn't live at my mother's house in my 20's, grow up in Ft. Lauderdale and already know some people in the industry, and had a place to keep my stuff in between trips etc. I probably would have had a much tougher time making it. If you take a full time Captaining gig eventually, you will be away from home much much longer than trucking. You might be stuck on the boat in the Bahamas for 3 months straight. You could get a job as a deckhand on a yacht for about $32-36k a year starting out, but it's a lot more physical work than you imagine.
  12. aviator4512

    aviator4512 Member

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    Well played ha.
  13. Turtle9343

    Turtle9343 New Member

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    I appreciate all the responses. Since everyone seems to agree with one another, it sounds like the idea is a bit crazy.

    I was most curious about the time away from home. In our trucking business, it is typical to be away for 3-5 days at a time, then home for 3-5. To not be home for weeks at a time would be extremely difficult, especially as a deck hand only making $35k. I could not justify taking such a large pay cut, and being home less at the same time, regardless of the eventual possible payoff. I also don't think my wife would be as supportive of it as I would like to think.

    Nycap123, you mentioned getting my ticket and working part time doing something. Is the "6 pack" the ticket you refer to? It sounds like this would be a good way to go for me. No huge life changing decisions, and I could get on the water, and get paid a couple bucks for it. If that's the case, what do you all suggest as far as education? What course(es) would be the best to start me off, just to get out on the water, driving a duck boat or whatever. (Don't laugh, it gets me on the water, which is really the goal, right?)
  14. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    A) It's not crazy at all. You have the same dream I had and 10,000 others have. For me the situation worked, that's all.

    What kind of boats are near you? Personally I think those duck boats sound like a great idea. You can't captain, but you can act as guide. When I do deliveries I hire deckhands and pay $100 to $150 a day. I'm sure alot of others here do too (at different rates). They probably do in your area as well. When I say deliveries I mean that go from 3 weeks to 3 hours. Call local captains and see if you can get on their lists. You run when it won't interfere with your regular business, days off. This also counts as sea time towards your license. The only schooling I recommend is Sea School right before you go for your license. I get the feeling you're going for a career like I've had, small boats (mostly around 60', with it ocassionally going from 11' to 140'), and going home most nights.
    Learning to deck hand and mate is very important. Never moreso for me than this weekend when I had to put the Hatteras on a dock with a strong wind blowing me off. The owner, who's willing to do what's instructed but pretty inexperienced, was my deckhand and the dock hand was on the job for a week. That left me instructing both step by step what to do, and taking over a few lines. And not only does a captain have to be able to instruct, but he's also responsible to keep them safe. That only comes from experience, what my father used to call the School of Hard Knox. I think you probably do well with that school.
  15. Turtle9343

    Turtle9343 New Member

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    I live in the Dallas area. The only boats around are ones that can be driven on the local lakes. The largest boat I have seen is probably about a 40 ft or so. I mentioned the duck boats because I know they have them on at least one local lake. There are also several companies who have large "party barges" they rent out for private parties on the lake. The closest place for "real boats" would, I guess, be Houston. When you get on the captains list, is it typically a last minute call you get? Or do you get a heads up that they will need someone? I make my own schedule, more or less, so it is easy for me to plan a day or week off, if I know its coming.
  16. Turtle9343

    Turtle9343 New Member

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  17. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    There are all sorts of niches in this business. The key is to find or make the right one to suit you. There's a lot of captains working as salesmen or mechanics or shoe salesmen. Those party barges strike me as an opportunity for getting your feet wet. They need people to give orientations. and chase them and fix them when they break down or whatever.

    Deliveries are very last minute. Even if you get advance notice, you have weather, sea conditions and mechanical failures to contend with. I never count on anything in this business untils the lines are back on at the end. You can also hire on part-time or ocassionally on things like crew boats, and fishing boats. You'd be amazed at the different jobs I've done in this business over the past 25 years, but most of the people in the business wouldn't.
  18. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    I agree with most of the replies posted so far.

    First step would be to get your 6 pack if you have enough sea time (or lake time in your case) and you can document it (self certify if you owned the boats, or have the owner sign the form). Keep I mind that between the course, medical, drug test, TWIC card, etc it s about $1000.

    If you re doing ok in your current business/career, you should stick with it. There are thousands of folks trying to get in, flocking to "yachting hotspots" like FTL. Not easy to make it and you would have some lean months, if not years ahead.

    I got in this late, after being tired of running a business year after year along with all the issues. But I had a lot of time over 25 years on my own boats, up to 53' and Then of course luck plays a role in meeting the right people at the right time.

    There are many different kind of jobs in this line of business, and some may be pretty stable as far as hours and locations (tour boats for instance, or fishing). Otherwise, the schedule can be pretty variable and yes often last minute. I ve done last minute deliveries that lasted 2 or 3 weeks... Right now we Do mostly charters on the boat I run and some are also last minute believe it or not; and in cases that may mean a couple of weeks away.

    With a family, you d better make sure they will understand if you have to go away around holidays, birthdays, etc..