By Capt. Nick Stanzcyk
I grew up fishing on our family boat, Catch 22. It was a 48’ Marine Management, your average charter boat with twin diesels, AC, bathroom and a 15-knot cruise. We fished every Sunday and then would travel to the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos for a few weeks each summer. In 2003, my family upgraded to a 54’ Blackwell. The boat was bigger, faster, and much more comfortable. The only bad news was there was a big price to pay for the added comfort with the increased fuel burn and maintenance costs.
I got my captain’s license in 2003 and my family was addicted to swordfishing already at that time. Most of the fishing was at night but my dad, uncle and their friends were slowly cracking the code for daytime swordfishing here in Florida.
With swordfishing being the new endeavor my dad wanted a faster boat that he could fish with a smaller crew, so he ordered a 28’ catamaran with twin outboards. On the Catch 22 you always needed a handful of people to run the boat and fish safely. I started college a few months later at the University of Miami and ran charters part time on the center console on weekends and school breaks. However, we sold the boat within a couple years because it didn’t perform the way we expected it to. We replaced it with a 34’ twin diesel crusader—the B n’ M.
Over the next six years my dream of being a charter captain came true on the B n’ M. I always joked and said the boat wasn’t fast but at least it was wet. In all honesty it was a great fishing boat, plain and simple. However, I knew I wanted something bigger and faster. Eventually I bought my own boat—a 36’ twin diesel express named the B n’ M II. I learned a lot with this boat, including working on diesel motors, generators, freezers and a better overall understanding of the “charter boat business.”
The 36′ Jersey Devil had everything a 50’ boat had as far as accessories, but it didn’t have the space! Everything was tight and the maintenance work was a little frustrating. It was miserable to go into the small engine room to change oil, swap out a bilge pump, work on a generator, etc. This boat was a private boat before I owned it and I realized it would make a better private boat than a charter boat. The ideal charter boat would require minimal maintenance and upkeep and you’d have work to work on it.
We did catch plenty of fish on this boat and made a lot of great memories but after two years I finally decided it was time for a center console. I didn’t want to spend any more time in engine room (or at least for now). Swordfishing was becoming my primary target species on charter trips so I wanted a boat with speed, stability and comfort. That’s when I came across Freeman Boatworks. My friend had fished one over in Venice, Louisiana and had nothing but nice things to say about them.
I reached out to Freeman and eventually went on a sea trial at the Miami boat show in February 2015. I’m pretty sure I had my mind made up before the show; I was going to get Freeman. I rode both the 34’ and the 37’, but I knew it was a better business decision to get a 34’ since it was more affordable. The build time was right around a year back then. A few months after ordering it they called me and really wanted me to get a 37′ Freeman.
There was another 34’ coming to Islamorada and they wanted to have a bigger model down here. Scott (a former tire salesman) was relentless and continued to stroke my ego about all the swordfish I caught. He would say all those big fish would sure look better in a 37’ Freeman. Long story short, I gave him a green light to upgrade me into a 37’. Months and months passed and finally early in January 2016, I had a brand new 37’ Freeman delivered to Bud n’ Mary’s Marina. I told Scott (the guy who talked me into buying the 37’) I would trade him a swordfish trip in exchange for trailering the boat down from South Carolina.
I felt like a kid on Christmas when the boat showed up that night. It was pure excitement. Big Yamaha outboards on the back, a pair of 16” Simrad screens on the console, and JL speakers up and down both sides of the boat. The next morning we put the boat in the water and Scott showed us everything on it. I figured he would drive back home after that and we would fish another day when we had a full day to put in. But he insisted on going that day even though it was nearly lunch time. I was used to leaving at sunrise my entire life but he said “we ain’t in the old boats anymore, let’s give it a shot”.
I had never ran a boat that you could cruise at 35 knots in the right conditions! Sure enough we were out there in no time with a bait down deep! I didn’t have any spots in the GPS, but I knew the area very well. On the second drop, the rod doubled over and we were tight. Two hours later, Scott caught his first ever swordfish—a 248-pounder! Not a bad way to break in the new boat! I knew I had made the right choice and I think I earned a little street credit with Freeman. Since 2016 I have built a thriving charter business and have a waiting list of people wanting to fish.
The best part is I haven’t had to go in an engine room in years! We’ve got better and better at swordfishing over the years and one reason our charters have been more successful is we have a lot more fishing time every trip. The boat is extremely comfortable when fishing and drifts amazing. I’ve never been on another center console that can drift in 4’ – 6’ waves with a similar level of comfort. The boat has it benefits when fishing for other species like sailfish and dolphin too. You can walk around the entire boat while fighting fish, casting at fish, gaffing fish. Plus you can chase fish with the angler on the bow. The boat has plenty of live well space with one well built in the transom and two in the deck and more storage than you could ask for in each sponson.
Fast forward to June 2019 when I bought my second 37′ Freeman. This one had quad 300 Yamahas and a fold down tower so it could be trailerable! When the new 37 was delivered I sold my 2016 37′ Freeman to a friend and it still operates out of Bud n’ Mary’s Marina as the Water Damage.
Skip ahead a couple more years to July 2021 and I just took delivery of a brand new 42 Freeman! This is really the dream boat and I never thought I would have something like this. A pair of 24” Simrads, quad 300 Yamaha motors, double row seating, a fold down tower, and more! The other boats were great but this one is even better and more comfortable. My dad still thinks I’m crazy for buying a boat that costs twice as much as his house (which maybe I am). But I’ve been fortunate to build a business model that works.
It’s currently a three to four year wait to get a Freeman so that makes all the used ones pretty valuable. I do a few other things in addition to chartering which include being a father to two young girls, running a YouTube channel, brand partnerships, boat sales, fishing camps, and we recently launched our own fishing brand, STANZ. To help promote the brand we wrapped our 42′ Freeman with a STANZ FISHING logo and design. I’m excited to see what the next few years have in store for us! If you want to check out the STANZ FISHING gear, head to www.stanzfishing.com