What to look for in a Charter Boat:
For years, I dreamed of owning and operating a fishing charter on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The opportunity came my way last year. Today, I own and operate Reel Time Fishing Charters which operates out of Nanaimo and Ucluelet. I wish to thank all of those in the industry (their names to many to list) who talked to me, listened to me and who even gave me the opportunities to discover more about the industry by helping out on their boats. I gained some very important understandings about chartering, one being that the boat matters a great deal.
Safety, stability, strength, comfortableness, lots of usable space, a good ride, a boat that fishes well with 2-4 people on board and a boat that can handle the worst weather (rain, wind, waves, even the beating sunshine) the west coast can throw at you are all important features when choosing a charter boat. And there are a number of boats that fit this bill such as Boston Whalers, Grady Whites, or Skagit Orcas. In fact, I came very close to buying a Skagit Orca and a Grady White. However, at the end of the day, I chose a boat that is familiar to some, even legendary to others: 23 ft Hourston Glascraft.
Made in BC for British Columbia waters, Charles Hourston began this company in his garage in the 50’s building his first, and perhaps the first fiberglass boat in BC, and 8 foot runabout. From there, he worked his way up building larger boats throughout the 50’s and 60’s as well as introducing the first real fiberglass V-haul boat in 68, the 18 footer. The big revolutionary industry changer however came in 1972 when Mr. Hourston built the company’s first 23 ft Sedan. This boat, measuring 23 feet in length with and 8’10” beam had boat owners and charter operators drooling. Backed by the reputation Hourston had already built with boating enthusiast of all kind, it was no surprise that over 60 of these boats where ordered when it appeared for the first time at the Vancouver Boat show.
Today, you will find that these boats are used by many charter operators. And there is a big reason for this. For their length, these boats are perhaps the most stable, safe, and easiest to fish from boat in the industry. Pod this boat out as many charter operators have, and you have more usable space than any other boat in its class. And though this may not be the most expensive looking boat, in my books, they are the sexiest. Their lines and curves appeal to young and old alike.
In the market to charter or purchase a charter boat? Visit the Hourston Glascraft plant in North Vancouver and talk to Bill Hourston himself (as I discovered, Bill is a very approachable/likeable person with a lot of knowledge of the boating industry). Mention the word Hourston around boating enthusiast in British Columbia and listen their response (actually, in 2005, Charles Hourston was inducted into the NNMA Boating Hall of Fame for his extraordinary contribution to recreational boating). Talk to some of the charter operators in Sooke, Port Renfrew, or Ucluelet and hear what they have to say about their Hourstons. Or simply come down to the Sea Air Terminal in Nanaimo during the month of May or the Public Docks in Ucluelet during the months of June-August and check out my boat. See for yourself how this boat compares to other boats in its class. And then you be the judge. I’m sure you’ll discover that the Hourston 23 ft Sedan is dollar for dollar, foot for foot, perhaps the greatest fishing machine ever to fish the waters of British Columbia.
In conclusion, allow me to say this: I am not only living a dream, but I am chartering from a boat that me, my friends and guests feel safe with, at home with, and good about. Crazy thing though…, that dream became more grandeur this past weekend when Bill Hourston himself came down to the dock to go for a little cruise and fish upon my boat. As I kept saying to my family and friends, “whoever would have thought I’d have this opportunity and privilege.” Thanks Bill 🙂 And thanks too for keeping on keeping on. I know it hasn’t always been easy. All the best to you and your son Nash as you continue the operations of Hourston Glascraft. Cheers.
Turk (Andrew Turkstra) Owner and operator of Reel Time Fishing Charters, Vancouver Island