We have for some time been contemplating old and new adventures and have decided that this will be our last full season. Tim's been driving jet boats around Ramsey for 40 years and Beth for 30 so it’s not exactly early retirement 🙂 .
We will be retiring but the boat won’t be. We're sure you understand that we are in no rush to part with Shearwater but If we can find someone who will take care of our passengers and boat we will sell Venture Jet and give them every support in taking the business on and making it their own.
If not our beloved boat will join us in an adventurous retirement until we can find a suitable home for her. If she is still with us next year we will continue to do charter work and passenger groups but we will not be running scheduled trips seven days a week as we have done.
So this is it, guys – our last season. Right now we’re enjoying the wildlife and the views as usual, persuading Shearwater in and out of tricky spaces and generally having a blast with our passengers.
We are in no rush to sell Shearwater or Venture Jet but we are open to sensible offers for the boat and the business and can be flexible on timing depending on whoever takes the boat and / or the business on.
If you know someone looking for a marine business adventure please pass this on 🙂 .
Anyone contemplating setting up a boat business will have a host of questions. These are some of the ones we've been asked most often:
Is it possible to earn a living from running boat trips?
Yes. Boats are not inexpensive to buy or run so boat businesses are not get rich quick schemes but there are some obvious perks to having a jet boat around :-). For us the key decision was the type of boat and the kind of trips we wanted to do. We chose Shearwater largely because having worked Ocean Dynamics Ribworkers for decades we really didn't want anything else - nothing else comes close to these boats. We could also see that the boat's unique abilities (in the UK passenger market) would enable us to offer something genuinely different in the popular UK powerboat market whilst giving us the additional option of commercial work - one boat could do everything we needed and wanted to do.
Is running a jet boat business in Pembrokeshire as much fun as it looks?
We've often joked that we could make a great television programme about the reality of running a jet boat company 🙂 . I suspect that if we advertised for a group of people to come and try running the business for a while we'd be swamped!
We've been driving jet boats for 40 and 30 years respectively and running Venture Jet for over 13 years so you'll probably have worked out that it's something we rather enjoy 🙂 . Running a small business inevitably has its challenges but they are far outweighed by the freedom of running your own business. We enjoy the fact that 'the buck stops here' - we find it liberating because we can do our best at every point in the business to make things right for people.
It is of course a business but the paperwork isn't as daunting as you might think and we'll be happy to pass any paperwork, contacts etc on to make life easier for anyone taking the business on. We'll be happy to discuss all aspects of the business with an eventual buyer. You can then decide how you want to approach things - it will be your business.
Of course you may not want to take on the business in Pembrokeshire. You may be looking for a boat for your existing business or wanting to set up your own jet boat adventure from scratch elsewhere.
What can you do with an Ocean Dynamics jet boat?
That requires a page itself - so we might do one 🙂 . You can do pretty much anything. Shearwater is dual coded, which means she is fully coded as a passenger boat but also under the more stringent Workboat code, which is essential for anything other than passenger work. Shearwater is very good at towing, phenomenal at pushing and of course simply carrying a lot of stuff! Put that together and she's very useful.
She's also an ideal dive and rescue boat - lots of deck and storage space, no propellers so safe to work around people in the water.
Shearwater was originally designed and built as a workboat, with solid aluminium sides. We bought her for the hull with its ideal angles for working shallow waters (and spinning on her axis 🙂 ) and its unusual breadth - it gives great stability but it's also really useful to have that extra space. Tim removed the original aluminium walls (which we still have lurking by the garage - as you do!) and took our ideas to Mustang Marine, who did a great job welding them into reality. See The Making of Shearwater photo album. The large aluminium storage box was designed to be bolted to corresponding aluminium strips welded to the deck. It can be unbolted and removed if you need even more deck space or you want to add additional seats, wheelchairs etc. It's designed so that all sorts of equipment can be bolted securely and then removed as need be.
Aluminium is tremendously versatile, as seen in Atlantic Eagle's change to Brandaris II, from open RIB (like Shearwater) to a RIB with winch and wheelhouse.
How much does an Ocean Dynamics Jet Boat cost?
This is a tricky one because each boat is designed and produced individually. They're not often made for individual sale these days - they tend to be made for large organisations like the armed forces.
New Ocean Dynamics jet RIBs of Shearwater’s size and class are around £200,000 depending on their spec. It's very rare to find them second-hand but the manufacturer tells us that if you can they're around half that. Shearwater’s cousins working with the MOD approach an eye boggling £500,000 due to their technical spec – lots of very expensive toys.
Aluminium is expensive, as are jets but the upside is these boats have exceptional longevity – their working life far outlasts that of their humans. Generally a boat business has to factor in replacing their RIBs every few years, Ocean Dynamics boats just keep working. With proper maintenance no-one knows how long they’ll keep working because the first, Atlantic Eagle (now Brandaris II), still shows no need to retire – she’s 33 years old, which is insane for a RIB working in tough sea conditions all her life.
Shearwater's shiny new engine was put in at the end of the 2015 season and with just one full season's hours on the clock she's just getting nicely run in and you shouldn't be needing to replace that any time soon. She was pretty quick with the first engine but with the new one and a change in jet intake grill she's going better than ever. She's always been extremely economical on fuel for her size and the new engine and intake grill have improved that further. She also has a nice useful lot of spares so that you can change things before they need it.