It can be a rough sea when you first start out...
Use this guide as your compass, to help find your way.
Recreational or Commercial use?
So you have seen a Tiki Boat go by and thought "How cool would that be to have." Well, it is cool, so much so that 4 out of 10 of our passengers ask how to buy one and 2 out of ten ask how it's built. You can see the wheels spinning in their heads as we cruise along, but so many questions remain. Are you going to put this on your dock on the lake to take out your friends or find a commercial dock somewhere to charter it out? The latter is where you will get buried in legal and organizational minutia. But if it's just you and your friends, a state registration is really all you will need.
What waters will you operate in?
If the body of water you want to operate on feeds in to the Atlantic, Gulf or Pacific, you will need to get real comfy with the Coast Guard, they over see all commercial operations and will have the last word on any related matters. If on a landlocked lake or river, there will be a jurisdiction you will have to work with there as well, consult with the local Police or Marine Division to find out who. Fresh water is usually the best water to run a tour business on if all the planets line up. Usually calmer waters, far less maintenance on the boat, and generally no Coast Guard jurisdiction. Salt water on the other hand, can give you a leg up on things to see and do, think dolphin and lighthouse tours. Usually many more commercial docks in salt water as well.
What type of license will be required?
If for recreational use, a state issued boating certificate may be required. On federal waters you will need your OUPV or Master Captains license, on inland lakes and rivers, you may need a state issued Pilot/Engineer license to take paying passengers. Both will require some study, the Coast Guard license also will require minimum number of hours of previous sea service, physical requirements as well as quite a bit of maritime knowledge. We can help you obtain either, give us a call.
Is the insurance expensive?
Simple answer is it depends on what you think expensive is. Is the boat for business or pleasure? Do you have a large or small net worth, do you own or rent a home? Those are the things you should be thinking of. An single individual who rents a place to live and leases their car doesn't have the same exposure a married individual who own's a house and has multiple assets. They both will need insurance but the amount of insurance needs will depend on how much protection they feel they need. Talk to a few insurance providers or give us a call, we can help you get headed in the right direction.
I want to make $$$$
Don't we all, there is a infamous quote- "How do you make a million dollars in the marine business? You start with ten million." Not necessarily the case here but you will need some up-front cash to get that first boat legal and operational. Most operation can buy the first boat, get up front legal and marketing as well as materials and supplies for under $100K We recommend you have at least half of that again somewhere, to handle any unforeseen costs or surprises. You will either do all of this and run the boat yourself or be hiring staff to help. An inspected vessel (more than 6 passengers) will always require a Master Captain and usually a Deckhand on federal waters which is two salaries beside yours and, probably two or three sets will be needed if you plan on running every day.