Why is it Captain's Choice to Cancel a Charter Trip?


Capt. Frank Smith.

A recent unpleasant experience has been weighing on my mind and I felt that an article like this one might help clients to understand the situation ahead of when it unfortunately happens to them. The situation is that you have scheduled an offshore charter trip months ahead and finally the date is getting close. In anticipation you have begun checking the weather and water conditions about a week ahead of your reservation date. When you first begin checking, the weather and sea conditions are spectacular and better yet the fish catches are fantastic. But looming on the current scene is a tropical storm wandering around in the South Atlantic with seemingly no idea of where it wants to go.

You would probably be surprised at how often this exact scenario plays itself out during a typical fishing season. The storms have no regard or consideration to the fact that you have scheduled your charter trip during that critical week of your once-a-year vacation. You have traveled a thousand miles for this experience and you rightfully don't want to miss the only opportunity you will have for another full calendar year. You sent in your deposit. You have the money for the trip in your wallet. You showed up at the dock ready to take your shot. It's really not fair because you just want to go fishing no matter how uncomfortable it might be out there!

A recent unpleasant experience has been weighing on my mind and I felt that an article like this one might help clients to understand the situation ahead of when it unfortunately happens to them. The situation is that you have scheduled an offshore charter trip months ahead and finally the date is getting close. In anticipation you have begun checking the weather and water conditions about a week ahead of your reservation date. When you first begin checking, the weather and sea conditions are spectacular and better yet the fish catches are fantastic. But looming on the current scene is a tropical storm wandering around in the South Atlantic with seemingly no idea of where it wants to go.

Decision to Go Fishing

Only after weighing all the various factors involved does the captain decide to take the day's charter group fishing. Did the previous day's charters have good catches? Did the previous day's charters have a lot of sick passengers? Were other professional captains happy with their decisions to leave the dock? Did the captain warn his charter of the potentially rough sea conditions and/or poor fish catches and give them the option to cancel or reschedule? Only after all these things have been considered first will a charter make the decision to head offshore.

Decision to Cancel

Always keep in mind that this decision has not been made lightly. A decision to cancel a trip means that both the captain and mate will be spending another unpaid workday at the dock. Most charter boat captains are also owners and no one wants to lose a day's business without good reason.

Here are some of the reasons a charter trip might be canceled.

  • Severe weather conditions
  • Rough and dangerous sea conditions
  • Mechanical boat issues
  • Safety concerns about the chartering group
  • Questionable fishing conditions in relationship to poor sea conditions


Capt. Frank Smith.
Capt. Frank Smith.

We call this "Captain's Choice" because inevitably the final decision and responsibility for the decision rests squarely on the captain's shoulders. Our website states that this decision is made at the dock before the charter trip ever leaves the dock. Many times when the decision is obvious days ahead the captain will call the charter and let them know that there is no chance the trip will be run. However there are times when that decision must be made with the input of the charter group just before the trip is to leave.

Rest assured that if your charter captain has determined not to take you fishing into the area of the Atlantic Ocean called "The Graveyard of the Atlantic" it was for very good reason.

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