It’s a question that comes up quite often, whether by telephone or email: what’s a typical captain worth to an owner? The rule of thumb for many years was that a captain’s pay averaged around a thousand dollars a foot, but how true is that rule today? We wanted to find out.
The following survey results were obtained exclusively by the InTheBite staff, conducted mostly in person while attending tournaments in the Bahamas this year. It is intended to provide a current snapshot of a typical captain’s pay with relation to boat size and their length of employment with a particular owner. The criterion of the survey was exclusive to boat owners who employ full-time sportfishing captains–no charter captains were included in this version. The sample size was twenty-five boat owners.
The survey asked straightforward questions regarding the captain’s salary, not taking into account additional benefits such as insurance, vacation time, tournament winnings, cars or bonuses. As a result, we received excellent feedback from the boat owners and will be pursuing more in-depth surveys with both a larger geographic reach and a more in-depth scope in the future.
Almost half of the captains in the survey were recruited as a result of the owner’s friends, so that means that a captain’s reputation is of vital importance. Word gets around. Almost a quarter were recruited by a broker or the owners themselves. And with an average stint onboard lasting less than five years (and a third being less than three years), it’s equally important to keep those networks of communication open when it’s time to move on. The boats are also getting bigger and more complicated than ever before so a captain’s skills in regard to maintenance and daily operation are also more important than in the past.
As a trade publication differentiating ourselves from other marine industry media, as well as being asked about the going rates for captains, we will use this as a springboard to surveying more industry data in an unbiased manner. Please feel free to contact InTheBite if you would like to be on our survey committee or have specific questions you would like to see asked.