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Where to look for a captain/engineer and business partner for a new Costa Rica tour boat?
BobR
Posted: Sunday, May 16, 2010 1:07 AM
Joined: 16/05/2010
Posts: 2


I need some direction. My partner and I bought a new 100' power catamaran and are setting up a new whale watching business in Costa Rica. We have struggled with a couple of local Captains. Lack of training. Inability to build a team. Sort of a lack of general commitment, at least compared to ours. Being from the US, perhaps we expect too much. And that is the rub.

We are now thinking our ideal Captain would actually be a partner in the business. That would change the dynamics, incentives and responsibilities as he makes decisions.

My question to the forum is where do we look? There are many young, eager Captains available around the world. That is not what we need. We need someone willing to move here and make a long term commitment to the business. That would mean making sales calls on hotel and travel agents. Managing the crew. Doing whatever is necessary to make the customers happy. Spend lots of our money on the boat wisely.

Are we looking for a retired Captain/engineer that might be looking for something new? Maybe a person that had been operating his own boat and finally sold it. (That would be an indicator of high intelligence . We would also like someone to buy into the business. Become a partner. The amount of money and ownership percentage isn't really important. But we cannot think of a better way to bring someone in that is committed as we are to make the business successful and not just think about it as a paycheck and maybe a fun job until they find something better.

I guess I am looking for suggestions and ideas. Posting a 'crew position' advertisement isn't going to work. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.

~bob




Henning
Posted: Sunday, May 16, 2010 4:28 AM
Joined: 01/06/2008
Posts: 1053


Hmmmm... You want someone to put their own money and do all the work into a business that you can't make work in some third world country. You'll find that person in an insane asylum for the wealthy.

Seriously, read what you wrote and ask yourself how appealing that sounds. First thing you told me is that you have no clue as to what's involved in running a boat. This is a 100' boat, you want me to be captain and engineer (managing the crew is part of being captain) AND you want me out there making sales calls, The captain/engineer part of it takes up all the time. The fact that you need someone to be out there making sales calls tells me you did no advance legwork on this and have no contracts lined out which if you were astute businessmen, you would have had before you put a dime into buying a boat. How much did this boat cost anyway? How about a link to your website, you do have a website right? Sorry if I sound doubtful and jaded, but I've been around this business for 25 years and have seen hundreds of people with similar stories come and go. Dreamers who have no concept of what they are actually getting into who want to "live the dream". Let me tell you, the dream is actually a nightmare. The fact that neither you or your partner are qualified to run the boat and didn't have your captain found before you proceeded with anything outside of securing contracts and business is enough to scare anyone off from investing their money with you. The partner idea is a good one, but you'll have to give the partner shares to a qualified person as part of the compensation package and make them CEO to run the business, otherwise you won't find anyone qualified to do what you want because they'll have no faith in being able to secure a return on those shares much less their own investment. The deal you are offering is not particularly attractive and will only garner you more headaches.

I have to be able to bring in my own crew so I can be sure the boat is dealt with properly as I go out and secure business for it. I'm assuming you're on the Pacific side since you're talking whale watching and that's a seasonal market anyway. You'd be better off on the Caribbean side working as a live aboard dive boat if that's an option for the boat you have. It sounds like you are more suited to being venture capitalists than business owners.

Anonymous
Posted: Sunday, May 16, 2010 11:54 AM
Henning's thoughts are interesting to think about. I would like to see a website to get a better picture on your business.
BobR
Posted: Sunday, May 16, 2010 2:42 PM
Joined: 16/05/2010
Posts: 2


You raise some good points. I'll try to address some of them. And let me clarify my purpose, which is not to post a business plan and dissect it here. I would hope prospective candidates would be able to ascertain the viability of the boat and business. I'm looking for ideas and direction in how to identify people that might be interested in joining us.

Our website is CostaRicaWhaleWatching.com

Yes. As stated, this is a new business. So, our marketing and advertising is just beginning. We moved the boat down to the southern Pacific Coast just 3 months ago. The boat was built in Costa Rica.

The few examples of the job description I included in my post was an attempt to explain we are not looking for an employee. The Captain that came with the boat and the subsequent one we hired were not interested in being more than 'boat drivers'. Yes, they hired a crew and would order them to do specific tasks. But that was it. The concept of building a team and working together hasn't quite made it down here to this "third world country" as you put it. They could not manage the crew and boat. My partner and I have each founded and built customer oriented service companies in the US. We don't believe a successful business can be built anywhere if everyone within it isn't working together. So, we are looking for management experience. Both when it comes to employees and the business. And that might mean switching hats and calling on key customers. It means doing whatever is necessary to make the business successful. Being a new business, we don't have time (nor the inclination) to train someone to do this.

Regarding the sales calls. We have salesmen on the street. As a manager and owner that is also my responsibility as well. What I wanted to make clear is that our new partner and Captain would be responsible for helping the business become successful. That might include calling on key hotel owners and introducing himself and pitch the boat. We have interviewed many Captains that are uncomfortable doing that. Some firmly believe that isn't their job. Which is probably fine on most boats. But that isn't the type of individual we are looking for. We are looking for a business partner as well as a Captain. There are no fixed job responsibilities and performance reviews. We all pitch in and do what needs to be done.

As far as the investment in the business, I apologize for not better explaining that. I've seen advertisments all my life that are scamming people to buy a job. We are not looking for a major investor. The amount of money isn't that important. But having skin in the game brings an instant, long term commitment. As an owner, rather than an employee, perspectives change as decisions are being made. And that also might help us narrow down our search to people that have managed their own lives well.

This has become a rather lengthy post and people reading this will still have more questions and answers. We are looking for a rather unique individual and a 'crew wanted' advertisement isn't going to do it. How would you search for such a person?


Henning
Posted: Sunday, May 16, 2010 3:19 PM
Joined: 01/06/2008
Posts: 1053


Pretty much same as you would for anything where you are seeking a business partner/investor. First you have to put together a prospectus. The person you are looking for is used to being compensated $150k per year or more and having their living expenses covered, plus when they sell/book charters, they get a percentage of that as well. You have to show where your compensation package is going to entice them. Living in a third world country gets old quickly for most of the people that you would want in the position you are describing. Most people willing to live in Central America do so because they like the Manana life and they are the people you have been dealing with, so you are going to have to figure out a schedule that the people you want need to be there, and when they can be away.

If I was you, I'd put together a package and advertise in the Wall Street Journal. You'd be surprised how many readers there are owner operators of their own 60+' yachts and hold a 100 ton USCG license. With the way things are going, you might find someone who is ready to say "f-k this place, I'm outta here..."

I really don't think you are going to find what you are looking for though.  From the website, the operation doesn't look like it'll carry three partners. You need to do a better sales pitch with some real numbers. There's plenty of captains out there who have no problem selling, but we make real money doing it. I'm doubting that you're looking at providing a compensation package, including the profit sharing of more than $75k, and if more than half of the compensation is going to be profit percentage tied, I doubt it'll get that.

So far I'm not seeing anything that would get me, or anybody that you are looking for to want to "put skin into it". This is one of the problems with operating in third world countries, "Go getters" don't want to be there because it's too frustrating.

Gieotti
Posted: Sunday, May 16, 2010 7:48 PM
Joined: 16/05/2010
Posts: 1


I don't know. Perhaps Henning is a little pessimistic. There are probably a lot of retired Captains that would jump at an opportunity to leave the rat race of their lives and get in on the ground floor of a new business with a new boat in Costa Rica. Been there several times and loved the place. Mostly American tourists. Lots of Germans and Brit's, as well. Growing economy. Can't say that about Florida right now.

I know a couple of guys I'll pass this on to. Friends of friends and networking is probably the surest way, but of course that is quite limited and not as fast as using the internet to get the word out. I've been an owner/skipper for a couple of decades and I've never looked in the Wall Street Journal. But that is just me. If you post the position on one of the many 'crew wanted' websites, you will be wading through 10,000 applicants that can't or won't read your requirements.

Keep looking, though. I think you are on the right track bringing a captain in as a partner, rather than a paid employee. I wish more charter boat owners would consider that.


junior
Posted: Sunday, May 16, 2010 9:07 PM
Joined: 14/01/2009
Posts: 1026


You re playing with fire by looking in the yacht scene for a captain, partner. Advertise for a professional waterman here http://www.nationalfisherman.com/advert.asp
Anonymous
Posted: Monday, May 17, 2010 3:02 AM
One really nice thing about Costa Rica is that it is income tax free. One of the few democracies left in the world that don't take 1/3 to 1/2 your money in taxes.

Anonymous
Posted: Wednesday, May 19, 2010 12:12 AM
BOB I WOULD LIKE THE OPPORTUNITY TO TALK TO YOU SOME MORE ABOUT THIS. DO YOU HAVE AN EMAIL ADDRESS I CAN GET IN DIRECT CONTACT WITH YOU ON. EMAIL ME AT chefche@hotmail.com +447872222687
Lars
Posted: Wednesday, May 19, 2010 5:15 AM
Joined: 22/10/2008
Posts: 8


I am here with Henning!

You probably don´t even speak Spanish! traveled a few times to Costa Rica and thought - Hmmmm I am sooo much better then them and I show them how to do it!

lol(big time!) but no offense! been there did that (and learned out of it!)

You want somebody's money to work for you????
Like the Captain who wanna sell his position???

OK I´ll take my time and give you the reasons why this idea of you gonna fail big time!

1st)
You can´t just go to a Hotel and sell your tours! The Hotels have a contract with an agency and they do buisness just with this agency! ( but they are polite and let you drop off your flyer's and advertising material what most likely goes straight to the bin)

2nd)
when you understand 1st then you might make a contract with the agency and pay them about 50% of you price without them doing JACKSHIT what means you gonna pay for everything! Transportation to the boat, fuel etc.

3rd)
You gonna realize that if you don´t do those trips on your own with your (underpaid family as crew) you´re never gonna make any money! Not even enough to pay for the boat!

Here you are talking to Yachties! A industry  standard salary for a 100 footer is a 100K in green money! what includes accomondation, food etc. - so for your expenses about 125.000 US(if you are not looking for a knowitall)
85% of the tourism in Costa Rica are Backpackers(no money) the locals live about 85% with less than 500$ US a month!(a school teacher earns $ 200 a month) - this market is gone for you too!

You can call me whatever you want!!
I am trilingual!
I lived in CR
I have contacts even into the Presidents house!
I have Tico Captains contacts
I had a company working with seasonal tourism
I am an trained consultant

DUDE CUT YOUR LOOSES!!!!(sorry to break your Heart but that is the only honest advice you can get!!!)

Remember the rule! 7 out of 10 businesses fail 2 can barley pay for the expenses and 1 makes money!

But I make you an offer! For $8000US/month(=96000US$/year) I´ll give it a shot! fix salary no commissions wanted! free business advices, no responsibilities , no guaranties!!!! The only thing I want is a letter of a bank that you can pay a years salary!





Lars
Posted: Wednesday, May 19, 2010 5:22 AM
Joined: 22/10/2008
Posts: 8


I just had a look at the web page!
southern CR??? where Golfito?
You know that this area has about 3-5% of the tourism than the north Pacific coast!

My honest advice! go to the Hotel/Casino El REY in San Jose and place your Boat papers on the Poker table!


Anonymous
Posted: Wednesday, May 19, 2010 1:01 PM
Hi Bobr

Have you tried an advert in say yachting monthly magazine, perhaps explaining what you are looking for?
Good on you for giving it a shot I say!

At Lars.  Why do you waste your breath with negative comments?  You say 7 out of 10 business's fail, but that is because 7 out of 10 people are mugs like yourself.  Learn to spell.
Backpackers have no money? Backpackers always have money to splurge.  How do you think AJ Hackett makes his millions? 

Good luck Bob.

Cheers Grant

aeronautic1
Posted: Wednesday, May 19, 2010 2:31 PM
Joined: 25/07/2008
Posts: 32


See below


aeronautic1
Posted: Wednesday, May 19, 2010 3:08 PM
Joined: 25/07/2008
Posts: 32


200 ton master. US Coast Guard veteran, engineering. I have started up and operated two successful charter operations in the past- Chesapeake Bay and Micronesia. Former broadcast advertising professional. "The king of shameless self-promotion." Masters degree in Marine Science. Experienced in the Golf of Nicoya. Bi-lingual - Spanish/English. Single and Sober.

However, I would ONLY consider this position for a base salary of $6000 per month net, shore lodging and vehicle provided and all costs associated with Costa Rican licensing and regulations. One year contract with 30 days clause, bi-annual airline ticket (business or better) to/from FLL, medical and health and 30 days paid vacation.

I have no problem doing "roadwork" as long as a per diem is provided. PM me for my web link.


Lars
Posted: Wednesday, May 19, 2010 3:29 PM
Joined: 22/10/2008
Posts: 8


Grant - muchas gracias! me puedes corigir si quieres! As I said - call me whatever you want!   I would like to see you writing in a foreign language! I am working on it and sorry that you feel sooo strong about my spelling.
Posting something anonymous and sign it with your name isn´t so smart either!(welcome in the club of mugs!!!)

I just want to say that there is too much out of line in this project!

Bob - I wish you best luck and hope you find someone!

As Henning said - The Captain/Engineer position is a full-time position for its self. I´ve never seen a whale watching boat carrying 140 pax! To get this amount of guests, in between of running a boat, in this area. I am sorry I don´t see that anybody in the world is capable of doing it. (Please Grant give me a break)
On your web site you write about a local Captain with 12 years experience and now after 3 month what happen to him? You can´t fill a boat like this with "a few calls to local Hotels".
When you find someone who gets about 15 people 5 times a week on the boat then this guy does a hell of a Job!

Bob, let´s take a Yacht here! Anyone between 100 and 300 feet. There you have a Captain AND mostly more than one managing company to find and sell charters, find crew, arrange berth,fuel etc.. If the boat is bigger those companies take more and more Job task´s off the Captain!
You on the other side try to pack even more responsibilities onto this position!
I recommend that you think this over! Find a Captain who is capable of running the boat, the crew and who is capable of entertaining the guests and leave the responsibility of selling the the trips to someone else!



Anonymous
Posted: Wednesday, May 19, 2010 4:22 PM
Bob I like your thinking and wish you luck in your venture. Don't listen to all the negative talk. You got to throw the pebble to get the pond to ripple. I will let a few people know that may be interested.
Adrian
Posted: Thursday, May 20, 2010 7:50 AM
Joined: 08/08/2009
Posts: 17


I would also say good luck...however Costa Rica sucks IMO...Quepos=gay capital of Central America, Golfito=there is no darker shithole in the world...although Banana Bay's Bruce is alright...the other marina bait and Switch or whatever it's called now(propably closed) was a nightmare...corruption, people with no money trying to rob you...I would have tried any other country before CR...I lived on the west coast for years from pavones to Los Suenos and the Islands and cruised/sailed it all...great views but horrible country. As everybody has an opinion I'll give you mine. Move your cat to Panama and do it there...safer, cleaner and better people...if the whale wathcing fails you can turn it into a booze cruiser and hire stripers for entertainment as Colombian women abound...or maybe Bocas del Toro on the east coast of Panama... Sorry to say but Lars is pretty much hitting the nail on the head...albiet has no idea how to put it to paper.
Adrian
Posted: Thursday, May 20, 2010 7:58 AM
Joined: 08/08/2009
Posts: 17


If it matters Lars I think their out of Los Suenos as the rocky point in one of their pics is of Isla Tortuga at9 46 13n by 84 52 51w by the looks of it...nice area for cruising and beaches...
Lars
Posted: Saturday, May 22, 2010 3:23 AM
Joined: 22/10/2008
Posts: 8


He said earlier that they just moved the boat down south! Maybe he did some whale pictures of other boats before his was finished.

BobR
I was thinking a lot lately but got no idea where you could find somebody! Out of mine and others experience, I think I have to make you aware that it will be difficult enough to find a suitable person for the Captain/Engineers position! When he finds time and is willing to promote your business too, makes it just a bit more difficult. But to have him invest in your company - sorry I think after reading 10000 CV you will still not have found this person!

Find a hardworking Captain with people skills to run the boat! You probably have to look every season for a new guy!

Good luck!!!! I just said my honest opinion, no offense!!!

Your boat is big you need much more tourism to make this working! The only place I know on the pacific side where you have that much people would be Cabo San Lucas/Mexico!
As Henning said  -You'll find that person in an insane asylum for the wealthy -

Good luck

Henning
Posted: Saturday, May 22, 2010 7:16 AM
Joined: 01/06/2008
Posts: 1053


aeronautic1 wrote:

200 ton master. US Coast Guard veteran, engineering. I have started up and operated two successful charter operations in the past- Chesapeake Bay and Micronesia. Former broadcast advertising professional. "The king of shameless self-promotion." Masters degree in Marine Science. Experienced in the Golf of Nicoya. Bi-lingual - Spanish/English. Single and Sober.

However, I would ONLY consider this position for a base salary of $6000 per month net, shore lodging and vehicle provided and all costs associated with Costa Rican licensing and regulations. One year contract with 30 days clause, bi-annual airline ticket (business or better) to/from FLL, medical and health and 30 days paid vacation.

I have no problem doing "roadwork" as long as a per diem is provided. PM me for my web link.


This is typical of the type of deal you'll look at for someone of the caliber you are looking for to come in. Notice that he isn't looking to "have skin" in the game, nobody is looking to have skin in an operation they are not in full control of. All in all, you're looking to provide a compensation package that's going to cost you about $100-$110k a year.

soontobeayachtie
Posted: Saturday, May 22, 2010 3:51 PM
Joined: 22/05/2010
Posts: 1


BobR congratulations on setting off on a new adventure, business and otherwise. I just wanted to give you some encouragement, although it doesn't sound like you need it. You and your partner are obviously remarkably effective and successful. And I enjoyed reading your well written posts. To the naysayers, sure the majority of businesses fail. However successful entrepreneurs like myself, the original poster, and his partners know that the majority of people are also nearly useless and are lucky enough to survive partly on the backs of successful people. Also the fact that most businesses fail is a good thing because it makes room and thus profit potential for the successful businessmen. Some of the naysayers I'm sure have significant insight and experience in the industry and it is nice that they share such in the forum. But they should consider whats really motivating themselves if the vehement doom and gloom takes precedence over potentially helpful information. Bob, you're obviously part of the minority of entrepreneurs who evaluate things intelligently and are wildly successful. I hope to one day take a trip on or work on a yacht like yours. As it will likely be well run. I'm currently a small time entrepreneur (just made it to my first million at age 33, but spent 9 years in college and grad school.) Best wishes on your new, exciting, and likely to be successful endeavour.
Henning
Posted: Saturday, May 22, 2010 5:18 PM
Joined: 01/06/2008
Posts: 1053


soontobeayachtie wrote:
BobR congratulations on setting off on a new adventure, business and otherwise. I just wanted to give you some encouragement, although it doesn't sound like you need it. You and your partner are obviously remarkably effective and successful. And I enjoyed reading your well written posts. To the naysayers, sure the majority of businesses fail. However successful entrepreneurs like myself, the original poster, and his partners know that the majority of people are also nearly useless and are lucky enough to survive partly on the backs of successful people. Also the fact that most businesses fail is a good thing because it makes room and thus profit potential for the successful businessmen. Some of the naysayers I'm sure have significant insight and experience in the industry and it is nice that they share such in the forum. But they should consider whats really motivating themselves if the vehement doom and gloom takes precedence over potentially helpful information. Bob, you're obviously part of the minority of entrepreneurs who evaluate things intelligently and are wildly successful. I hope to one day take a trip on or work on a yacht like yours. As it will likely be well run. I'm currently a small time entrepreneur (just made it to my first million at age 33, but spent 9 years in college and grad school.) Best wishes on your new, exciting, and likely to be successful endeavour.


ROTFLMAO.... You're a millionaire and hope to work on a "Yacht" like that... First off, it's a tour boat, it's in commercial service, it doesn't meet any qualifications of a yacht. Second off, why would such a fine entrepreneur as yourself want to work for someone else? I mean hell, considering you've only been at it for 5 years and have already made your first million, you should be in an ownership position in another 5, why would you ever want to be crew? The closest to being crew you should ever be is as an owner operator and eventually hiring crew when you turn 45 and buy that 180'er. It goes against all precepts of entrepreneurship to be an employee. Heck, it'll be a decade or more before you reach the $200k a year wage if ever. Your starting wage will maybe be $35k.

 
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