Yesterday was my first time out on a local San Diego six-pack charter, The Long Run. For the unitiated, there are basically two types of boats with paying passengers onboard (this includes sport fishers, whale watchers, charter sailing trips, harbor tours, water taxis, etc):
- Inspected Vessel. This type of boats have a Certificate of Inspection onboard in which the US Coast Guard goes through the boat literally with a ruler and determines how many passengers can be onboard. Based on the naval architecture, deck space, and bunks, a day limit and overnight limit will be established.
- Uninspected Vessel. This is the typical boat that most private owners will buy. Unless you have the USCG issuing you a Certificate of Inspection every year, you are (naturally) uninspected. As such you will be restricted to six paying passengers. Whether it's a 300' mega yacht or an 26' sailboat, six passengers will be your maximum load. Hence the "six-pac", "six-pack", or "six-pax" designation that gets applied.
Beyond the smaller passenger load, the other big difference was our route. On the Pronto we head offshore as a rule. Fuel up, get passengers, hit up the bait barge, clear the point, and usually motor throughout the night making 8 knots to the outer banks, arriving roughly ~50 miles offshore by first light down in Mexico.
On The Long Run we already had fuel (despite going out the night before as well) and spent the day in the bay, raking in probably 25+ fish. Everyone got something, several legal sized bass, and even a ~35lb bonnethead shark (or shovelnose, as they're called out here).
We left the dock around 6:00am, and were back around 2:30pm. All around it was a great trip. Clients had fun, I got a chance to work on a different vessel with its own handling characteristics, and the weather was just about perfect. Really couldn't ask for better conditions.
There's the business end of this boat that I still need to figure out (how often it's running, what my schedule would be, how much it pays, etc) so it's up in the air a bit as to whether this will be a regular thing for me. But for what I got out of it I'm happy, and it was great meeting a nice group of clients and deckhand (Mike) who really had his act together.