Captains are always on the lookout for the best places to dock a boat. When it comes to listening to your captain there may be no more important thing than this. A good captain is going to know the best locations, the most convenient places based on use, and the most important security. Make sure to have excellent communication with your captain and crew as to what they recommend and where you would like to be. Make sure to keep an open mind because a happy crew is a long lasting crew. It’s very rare to keep a crew together for multiple years as many factors interfere. Stock markets, families, divorces, location issues, travel schedule etc. Always treat your crew like family and they will reciprocate with treating your boat like their own.
$1000 per foot per year was a good starting point for new captains circa year 2000. This is a new decade and if you want a great and loyal captain you have to think outside the box. A great captain who is drug free and willing to travel is hard to find. When you do find that person make sure you treat them like the rarity they are. It’s not uncommon for a good captain to earn say 100k for captaining a 65 Viking. I know this may seem like you are overpaying but the alternative looks like a $45 thousand dollar prop job because the captain couldn’t read a real chart and relied on a gps or didn’t truly have knowledge of the places he or she claimed to have been. These costly mistakes may sour your approach to even using your boat. They may quickly make you regret your multi-million dollar purchase. Don’t be that guy at the boatyard who’s standing around looking at other peoples crews wondering how you got there in the first place. Do your research and get good references. Make sure you check those references over carefully. BE AWARE of the Captain in a BOX!
This one is unique in that it’s part of doing your homework on who you are hiring. Take your captain out for a few drinks or dinner to get to know them and see where this leads. If your captain knows every bartender in town it may not be a great thing. I call this in the BIZ. Also take them on a test run to the local tackle shops and see how they respond and speak to the owners and workers at the shops. Make sure to ask around about your new hire. Don’t take everything they say as gospel but let the picture get painted for you. Find out who your are really working with. Red flag is if no one knows them at all and they have no connections, or if they are known to have caused major problems for other owners. One thing captains do a lot is talk, especially to other captains and tackle shop guys. Trading tales of the tall seas and their battles with Sea Monsters.
One of the most important reasons you hire a captain is because they know the waters better than you or anyone else you know. Captains are constantly out fishing or running boats. They know about the shifting shoals, the local cuts, the sunken cars by the bridges and all of the hidden hazards that don’t show up on a map. Most of them grew up on the waters in the area you are looking for and most have traveled extensively prior to the age 25. These guys have knowledge that far surpasses the money you will pay them. This knowledge comes with experience and these are not your (CAPTAIN IN A BOX)
This is a very important topic because maintenance on a large vessel can be very costly and if not properly done can cost millions to fix. A good captain will keep a log of maintenance and records for his/her vessel. This can be a huge factor if you ever decide to sell your boat and or trade up. A proper log with documented service records keeps your boats value at its highest possible level. Boat Sales can be hard enough and without proper records and logs it can be almost impossible. Most captains will stay on top of things like regular Air Conditioning maintenance and regular system cleanings. This will extend the life on these very temperamental and expensive units. In Florida without AC or some sort of dehumidifying device you can all but kiss your interior goodbye. Everything will have to be replaced due to mold. Engine records and service must be kept and done properly. Oil changes are one thing but regularly or yearly maintenance regardless of hours is a must. Bottom and running gear and so on must be maintained. Its a good rule of thumb to haul your boat once a year regardless of hours to check everything from hull blisters to running gear to bottom paint, to shaft angle, to the most simple things like cutlass bearings and zincs. This is all preventative maintenance and should not be neglected.
Security and peace of mind are great reasons to hire a full time captain. A full time captain is on your boat every day to watch over it and test the pumps lights alarms etc. All of these parts can fail at any time and without a full time captain it is very easy to find your 65 foot sportfish laying at the bottom of the slip. Heavy rains and strange tides can cause a boat to sink fast. Most common problem we used to joke is just “too much water”. When water enters in faster than it is expelled it will sink a boat, ship, tanker, or anything that floats. No ship is unsinkable. Believe it or not boats can sink on a lift. I have salvaged many boats on lifts and they have been a total loss. Hurricanes don’t care where your boat is kept and will destroy it without pity or remorse if you do not take proper steps to avoid these storms. Have a hurricane plan A and a plan B. Make sure you go over this regularly and make sure you keep track of your payments to marinas. Stay on the emergency list wherever you haul out and keep it up to date.
Captains are constantly in communication with owners regarding scheduling, tournaments, crews, trips, and more. Let the captain handle this stuff as we are certain you have larger things to handle and that is why you own the bus and don’t drive it. Scheduling can be very difficult due to many things including unpredictable or unstable weather events. Crew changes and many more things can change a schedule. Don’t be the guy who stayed in the day the sailfish bit like never before because you couldn’t find a captain for hire that day. Keep your crew happy and paid and they will reward you with these epic days at sea.
Travel can be a very stressful thing on captains and their families. Most of them have families and children at home. Keep in mind that if you were that person you would want regular trips home or at least have your family come visit on a paid basis. The quickest way to lose a good captain is to keep them from their family. Every 2-3 weeks is reasonable and if once a month allow at least a week off. Travel can be grueling and being far away from home is what they are used to but try to be the good owner. Captains will also make sure that all of your travel arrangements are taken care of. They book you at the local hot spots for dinner and they take you to the secret fishing holes that they have never taken anyone but you. They handle your car rentals and make sure you are checked into your hotels if necessary. The captains job never ends so treat them like you care.
Keeping a boat up is not an easy task. Every morning the entire boat needs to be wiped down or washed and dried. This can take two or more crew and depending on the size can take several hours. The interior must be cleaned and wood oiled or taken care of regularly. Boats are full of moisture and its a constant battle against the smell and the mold. This in itself can be a full time job. Stay on your captain about these things to make sure they have a handle on this.
Weather is the killer of crew. If you make your crew take your boat out in 10 foot seas than you can expect things to break constantly. No boat is built for constant pounding in severe weather and no man is made for it either. I’m not saying don’t fish when its 10 foot but maybe limit the run. If you do get out the fishing will most likely be epic but you usually don’t have to go far and the fish will bite. bow into the waves and pop those kites and watch your crew make magic happen. These days can be hard on your body but they can be the best trips of your life. Make sure you pick a deep inlet to navigate on these days as certain local inlets like Jupiter, Boca, Boynton and a few select others can be nearly impassable or certainly unsafe at best. Choose wisely and listen to the guy driving the boat.
I hope you have enjoyed part one of my new blog series. Please leave comments and feel free to interact or share stories.
Captain Darren Diaz
Pompano fishing has been on fire lately. With the winds finally calming down the pomps have made their usual journey through the treasure coast. I have recently gone down to 25lb floro from my usual 30lb for surf rigs due to clear water conditions. You can get away with 15lb if the waves are very small. The lighter you go the better the bite. Some guys are using 15lb and having great success throwing 4 oz sputnik sinkers on double hook rigs.
I personally throw a 6 oz sputnik with the 25lb setup and 40lb braid. The braid makes a world of difference for spinning reels for distance casting. I typically use sand flea flavored fish bites as they seem to work best but shrimp and clam have worked good lately too. Don’t be afraid to toss a short rod right in the surf too because this year there have been a lot of quality fish right in the break. Look for shoals and sand bars and set up right off the edges of these structures. Good Luck