Sure, a boat is a hole in the water into which you pour money, but no one says you can’t make money with your boat, too. Have you ever thought about turning your boating addiction into dollars and cents? Here’s how.
- Charter fishing. Might as well start with the obvious. Guiding isn’t usually described as lucrative, but even for a casual captain it can defray the cost of your boat. You’ll need to become properly licensed and insured, so plan on spending a tho or two up-front. After that, you can make anywhere from $250 to $500 a day, taking anglers to the hotspots. Keys to success include maintaining a happy, friendly attitude at all times, using a trailerable boat to minimize expenses and maximize flexibility in where you fish, and building a (repeat) clientele with good marketing and social media.
- Fish commercially. Crabs, oysters, shrimp, finfish, and more are right at your doorstep. The biggest impediment to getting started is the law school degree you’ll need to earn, just to understand all of the regulations and licensing requirements. That said, it’s possible to sustain a low-intensity commercial operation, like crabbing, with little risk. Use a small boat with a fuel-efficient four-stroke outboard, go fishing to catch your bait, and your expenses can be kept very low.
- Eco-tourism. There’s a surprisingly strong market for tourists who want to experience nature at sea. Porpoise-watching, clam-digging, bird-watching, and back country tours are all things that people who don’t own boats will pay to do. Again, an imperative part of being successful is keeping your expenses—and your rates—as low as possible.
- Tournament angling. Okay, so this one’s a long shot, but it sure is fun. So what if you can’t really “plan” on this being profitable—who cares! If nothing else, it’s a good excuse to go buy some new rods and reels.
- Tow toys. Why not start your own towing service at sea? Most of the big towing services are franchises or licensees, and although start-up costs are hefty (you might need as much as $50,000 in working capital, plus the boat and insurance) the potential rewards are, too. But be forewarned, this can quickly turn into a 24/7 commitment.
So, what’s the best part about making money with your boat? Document it properly, and all of your boating and fishing expenses could be tax-deductable. Trust me on this: few things in life are as satisfying as cutting your tax bill, by buying bait.