“Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
I am an event photographer and travel journalist for much of the year. During the boating season, I keep a light schedule writing for this publication as well as doing an occasional photo gig. The reason is that I want to be on the water as much as possible, whether cruising for a new story, day trips or a sunset picnic on board. This year I got the idea of being on the water and possibly making some money doing it. I also liked the idea of showing off the beautiful North Shore waters to anyone that wants to see it.
With some free time and on a dare last year I enrolled in the Nautical School in Lindenhurst (www.nauticalschool.com) to get my captains license. Captain Bill Rivera runs a tight ship through drills, humor and his signature learning techniques. If you take his course I can tell you there are no “gimmes” so expect to stress your brain to pass the various tests (and you will pass if you study). It was hard work but the class bonded together to help each other sort out the various problems during class. After passing my tests and taking the upgraded masters course I was awarded a Master’s license to 50 tons.
The Nuts and Bolts
Having my OUPV captain’s license (known as a six-pack for the number of passengers you can carry) got me thinking on how to put it and our boat to financial use. With some guidance from the Nautical School, an accountant and lawyer I put a business plan together. This started by obtaining the web site www.glencovecruises.com with the intention to run a six-passenger charter out of Glen Cove.
The most important part of any charter company is safety and regulations. To start, I replaced my perfectly unused PFD II’s and replaced them with PFD I’s as required. To run our 46-foot cruiser safely I needed my experienced first mate, Maureen to be on board. The rules for six-pack charters state that you can only take six passengers plus the captain and any crew members. Taking six passengers and Maureen would be a serious violation. To get within code Maureen passed a simple screening to get a Transportation Worker Identification Credential or TWIC as it is known which made her a crew member. Next, there was a check to make sure I was in compliance with several other simple items that I already had on board.
The business end is important in any new start up. It began with contacting our insurance company. As a licensed captain, I learned I was entitled to 5% off my hull insurance. For chartering I had to pay $550, good for ten cruises.
The next step was to protect ourselves from liability by incorporating Glen Cove Cruises for $400 through our attorney Mona C Engel P.C. of Hicksville. She said forming an entity limits your liability in the event of a lawsuit as a corporation or LLC shields your personal assets from any claims in connection with your business. We chose to incorporate rather than create LLC due to the higher LLC startup costs. (Please note, I am not giving any legal advice here and if you decide to turn your boat into a mini-charter company you should consult professionals on how to protect you and your boat)
At about the same time I spoke to our accountant Paul Leventhal of Leventhal and Company, CPAs P.C. in Roslyn. He understood that this was a part-time business for us and cautioned on the expenses one can write off. Paul stated “The IRS views an activity as a hobby (verse business) if it doesn’t show a profit for three out of every five years. Under the new law which took effect in 2018, you cannot deduct any hobby expenses, but you must still pay tax on any income that you received from the activity. In order to prove that you have a business rather than a hobby, the key is to maintain good records and keep all supporting documents for income and expenses.” What I will deduct at this time, fuel spent on the charters, the start-up costs and some miscellaneous ones. I will not deduct any major expenses at this time while the boat is used more for personal use.
Getting the Name Out
With Glen Cove Cruises launching on June 20th the word needed to go out. Because we want to run the business part time, marketing was kept on the lighter side. This started with a two-sided flyer produced by the Glen Cove Printery showing photos of the boat, a beautiful Long Island Sunset and people enjoying themselves. It also had an explained where we go, information on our Viking Sport Cruiser and my vast nautical experience. Once launched we took these flyers to the area hotels where it was placed with other local tourist information. We also left the flyers in any place in town that had a place for them.
The next step in the promotion department was to make a presence on social media by setting up a Glen Cove Cruises Facebook and Instagram account. When the page was set up I downloaded photos of sunsets, mansions, New York Harbor views and friends having a great time on board. To get interest in the new Facebook page I sent the page to be “liked” to my many digital friends that follow my personal page for travel and photos. To further get the word out, once we launched, we posted our page on the various Glen Cove Facebook forums as the local intimate cruise company. To finish up on social media we listed us in Tripadvisor with a goal to be a top attraction in the area.
A new venture needs a big event as a send-off so we arranged through the Chamber of Commerce a ribbon cutting on June 20th. This brings out many of the supporting businesses, friends and some elected officials to the grand opening with plenty of prosecco flowing. Doing this also gets the story in the local papers and additional photos on social media.
Lastly, as a way of giving back to the community, we have donated cruises to various charities in the past. (See https://www.liboatingworld.com/single-post/2018/08/23/Giving-Back on helping charities with your boat) We will continue to give back in the same way but have Glen Cove Cruises be the sponsor for promotional purposes instead Maureen and I.
A Three Hour Tour….
Unlike Gilligan many years ago, our plan is to have a smooth three-hour tour. To keep things simple it was decided to run a scenic Great Gatsby Gold Coast cruise covering the North Shore bays and large mansions. This can be at sunset or for an afternoon. For those more budget conscious, a shorter two-hour version will cost less than good seats at a ball game per person. The premium tour offered will be a cruise to the Statue of Liberty taking four hours with a stop in a quiet bay for lunch. For the lunch crowd, we will go to City Island, Stamford, Manhasset Bay and Huntington. Overnight cruises are something being considered.
Jumping into the charter business requires a lot of planning and additional expenses. I spent $800 for the Nautical School including supplies and another $1500 in startup expenses as described above before the first passenger boarded. It also requires you to be personable with your guests and love being on the water.
Tab Hauser writes and photographs on travel and boating. He currently boats and charters out of Glen Cove. You can find some of his cruising stories by web searching “Long Island Boating World Tab Hauser” or go to www.tabhauser.com. Email questions to email@example.com