As a current owner or prospective owner of a high-performance center console, hiring a captain may not be something that has been a consideration for the term of your boat ownership. After all, one of the main benefits of owning a center console is the relative ease of operation of such a vessel in relation to a sportfishing yacht. The operational costs, maintenance and general upkeep of most center console fishing boats are a fraction of that of a modern sportfishing yacht. So why would hiring a captain be worth thinking about?
For starters, depending on your level of experience operating large triple- or quad-powered outboard boats, most insurance companies are now requiring a licensed captain with experience on that type of vessel to be listed on the policy as the primary operator. In some cases, a new inexperienced owner may not be allowed to drive their shiny new boat at all without the licensed primary operator on board. In the scheme of things, it makes sense that insurance companies would not want to provide coverage to an inexperienced boat owner at the helm of a 60-plus-knot rocket ship. These types of boats have a definite learning curve to operate safely, and the tendency of a new owner to want to push the limits of a high-powered vessel at the wrong time have been seen plenty of times over the last few years with catastrophic results.
A Captain Lets You Kick Back
A more apparent reason for hiring a captain would be for the working boat owner who wants the boat to be ready to go when the stars align and a day or two off work coincides with a nice weather window to run offshore. For serious offshore fishing, hours of tackle preparation and rigging as well as hours maintaining and preparing the boat prior to the trip are necessary. Having someone responsible for having the boat fueled and iced, food and drink loaded, and tackle rigged and ready, along with a solid game plan to find the fish, can take a lot of stress and worry off the boat owner who just wants to be able to get off the grid and enjoy a day or two on the water.
Almost any freelance captain worth his salt doesnt have much availability on short notice, so having him on the payroll ensures that both the boat and tackle are the captain main priority, and the owner wont be left scrambling trying to put the pieces of an offshore trip together at the last minute. Additionally, a good captain will ensure that the boat and all systems are mechanically sound prior to and following running offshore. This will help keep the boat operating safely and efficiently for fishing trips, as well as help maintain the value of the boat as hours begin to accrue.
Captaining a Center Console
Capt. Kirk Ogren has the unique experience of being the former captain of the 66 Viking Pair-a-Dice and now currently captains the 42 Freeman Game Plan. “From a captain perspective, the center console is more of a rac-ready boat compared to a sportfisher,” Ogren says. “It much easier to hop on the Freeman last minute and have everything ready to roll versus needing a couple of days minimum to prepare a yacht boat.”
Ogren highlights the logistics and trip planning as being much easier on a center console. There also the appeal of less operating systems to keep up with and maintain. The owner expectations for Capt. Ogren are that he maintains the vessel at a high level of cleanliness, ensures the boat is mechanically sound and ready to fish, keeps all the tackle prepared and ready to fish, runs the boat for fishing trips and the occasional charter and keeps the owner apprised of any issues or needs for the boat. This arrangement works out well for both parties and ensures the owners have a worry-free trip offshore when they please.
Having a captain on the payroll can also allow the owner to charter the boat part-time, which can be advantageous for tax purposes. Entertaining business guests, the occasional buddy trip and even fishing a tournament or two can be a potential write-off, not to mention the vessel itself. If tournament fishing is one of the reasons for boat ownership, a seasoned captain can help things run smoothly and keep the tournament fun and productive for the whole crew. A good captain at the helm of your center console will be money well-spent, as
he not only helps the boat and fishing run smoothly but also teaches and instructs the owner and crew to become more proficient at boat handling, safety, fishing, navigation and other basic tasks that require experience to learn properly.