Seaclipper 20 Trimaran Charter in Florida
If you’d ever like to go sailing & fishing in Florida — on a Seaclipper Trimaran no less — then you’re going to enjoy this post. It comes to us from Captain Michael Channell, who operates a very unique fishing charter down in the Sunshine State.
I tried not to envy Mike’s job when I first read this piece … but failed :-)
Since I really can’t add to what he shares below I’ll just let him take it from here. But be sure to visit his website because it’s a really fun read. (And thanks to Mike for sharing this stuff about the SC20 tri as it fits into his business life).
Seaclipper 20 Trimaran Charter in Florida
by Michael Channell
I’m a Florida native and have embraced outdoor living my whole life. I love the ocean and inshore waterways here in central Florida.
I’m a born again Christian very involved with my church and community. Married now going on 6 years to my beautiful wife Antonia and together our latest effort was to take the Sea Clipper 20 and build a fishing charter business with it. I’ve been a professional mariner and guide in one capacity or another about 12 years.
Now being a fishing guide is tough enough trying to keep your finger on the pulse of where fish are. It’s even tougher when an industry begins to saturate. That is, people move here from Walleye country wanting to be a guide but don’t understand proper etiquette and methods associated with the pursuit.
Next thing you know, you got spooky fish, boats stacked on top of each other and growling anglers with wrist rockets and egg sinkers! A guide down in the Keys told me a long time ago – If I’m poling a flat and can see the guy in the other boat is wearing sun glasses, he’s too close.
I am constantly amazed at the lack of courtesy in the fishing community.
But on a much lighter note, here in Cape Canaveral, FL is a 24 sq. mile estuary called the No Motor Zone. That is, gas or electric motors are prohibited and have been for 31 years.
The southern most tip of the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is leased by Cape Canaveral Airforce Base and NASA, therefore, the shores are inaccessible to the public by car nor can one walk the property without being arrested. With the Sea Clipper Trimaran, I just solved my “crowd issue”. I mean, you can paddle a canoe or kayak 12 miles round trip but one leg or the other is gonna be against the wind and with blown out shoulders and back muscles you’ll never see the same guy twice in two days!
Well there you have it- with the rest of Central Florida building and paving, THIS place is frozen in time. It’s the “rocket ranch”- history meets scenery. Think of it – I’m fishing RIGHT NEXT to where they launched the very first Redstones and Atlas rockets in the space race!
About a decade ago, I took a shot at building my own version of a small trimaran with a 16 foot American Eagle flat back sailing canoe and two sail boards with custom alum rigging. In short, it failed. These days, I got the floating living room.
Now with this Sea Clipper, I’m offering a whole new twist on an area which is extremely difficult to fish and no one else is doing it commercially. In fact, many other guides in the area see me at the ramp at first light and have said, “That is the slickest ride into that place I’ve ever seen.” “You did it Channell- You finally made it happen.”
Jeff Pira of “Xcell” Marine made me the most ingenious engine mount I’ve ever seen for my 4-horse Evinrude. That engine is necessary to get us to the southern boundary of the “NMZ”.
It’s there I come alongside a permanently moored vessel and drop the motor off. From there it’s about 15 minutes to the first fishing spot by pushpole. Sweet, beautiful silence in this massive body of water and it’s all mine! I mean, I might see two kayaks all day. The weekend is a little different story so I fish Monday – Friday.
Anyway, we catch Redfish, Snook, Sea Trout, Tarpon, Black Drum and a host of others. These are good size fish with some of the reds around 35 lbs. That’s a crazy fight on 10 lb. test line.
By the way, throughout the day while fishing – the mast is down. With the boat being 20 feet, the mast is 28 so you split the difference with a little more sticking out the back so it’s not in anyone’s way. I’ll get to more of that shortly but I want to share a little about the genius behind what I’ve found in this Sea Clipper 20 and what made it a dead lock.
Knowing the NMZ for it’s oyster beds, sand bars or sunken islands, and a handful of other obstructions, I was going to need a shallow draft and in this case we’re talking just above my knee or 22 inches loaded. When I say loaded, this boat is set with two portable coolers (one for food and beverage the other for fish) which double as forward seating.
The floor of the cock pit has been separated into four storage compartments. There is a forward livewell, aft dry storage and two others on either side of the keel trunk allowing storage for lines, spare parts and tools and the other side is the trash can.
Then there “sometimes” is the overall weight of three good ole’ American red neck boys that’ll take a 16 ounce steak, baked potato (heavy butter and sour cream) and two pitchers of beer over ceiche every time. It’s those days we might draft a little more! You get the idea …
Forward of the mast is yet another hatch with an emergency “dunny” in case those redneck boys had beer, buffalo wings and raw oysters the night before! Actually, it’s the ladies who appreciate a little privacy the most with the ability to actually lower themselves down into the hull leaving the hatch up to block the view of those back aft.
Still thinking about putting in a magazine rack. (kidding) Anyway, I just put out a stern anchor and let the wind do the rest. This is also where I store the jib and a seven foot “sunbrella”. That’s another really cool quick set up for immediate shade and stows nicely.
I tell you, this whole thing has been a perfect fit for what I needed- So much space and so very accommodating. People love it. Rigging to sail is about a 15 minute transition beginning with sliding the mast to the middle to pin the side stays. Tie a temporary shroud to the mast and thread it through the bow stay.
With the Hobie 16 mast, it’s easy to walk it back, pin off the step, raise the mast, take a heavy strain on the temp shroud and pin the forestay. Done!!! Raise your sails and go home.
It’s funny because once you get the hang of it, people watch the procedure while never missing a beat in the conversation and are amazed. In fact, most want to take part in it but I have to kindly wave them off because it really is a one man show. Raising the mast is easy so long as the boat isn’t jerking around.
Sailing is awesome and turning to the weather is remarkable. In a way, it sometimes feels a little too buoyant and winds up a little bouncy in a good chop. For me on a south wind, the chop can’t be helped but one thing I will say bouncy or not… This is one DRY ride. When it gets ridiculous, yeah – you’re gonna get wet, but that’s half the fun if you’re out on a day like that cause you sure as hell ain’t fishing.
With the shallow draft, an east wind for me takes me right down the beach in calm water and THAT my friend is NECTAR. There is nothing like catching that day when you leave the dagger out and plug the hole. You have to btw or else it’ll gush up and you start taking water in dry storage but anyway.
I love to give folks the sailing 101; go stand on an ama and look for fish darting past in 3 feet of water. You’re going so fast and quiet they don’t know what’s up til you’re on top of them.
Once back at the dock, break down and trailering is a chore but again, once your used to it, you don’t even think about it. If you REALLY want to get lazy like me, keep a cordless drill with a 3/4 inch deep well socket and wrench for the bolts that have to be removed before closing it up for the road.
I have to say the trailer design on my boat is where it’s at. A Hobie 16 trailer (the beefy kind) with a center cradle and outboard cradles all from PT lumber and STAINLESS bolts is the way to go- it’s too easy and I do it all alone.
Two remaining issues I’ll address are these – If you’d prefer to not have a hand in the construction of your Sea Clipper 20, when it comes to actual boat builders, do your homework. When I buy a car, I speak to the owner and establish a number of things. How long you had it? Why are you selling? Do you have maintenance records? And so on.
People don’t like to sell me a car because I do things like compression checks and extended test drives up an interstate. The same thing applies in business and I’ve had my fair share of being left “holding the bag”.
Let’s say you establish a contract with a completion date. Set certain mandates such as cost reduction for tardiness or inferior product.
Any changes in design, materials, additions or omissions will be discussed with purchaser prior to changes, etc. Get references. Look at previous work such as pictures or go look at a boat already in service and tour the facility.
Your part is to produce the funds and his part is to take a pile of material and turn it into a work of art. Half the purchase price down and not another dime until it’s complete.
Apart from natural disaster, fire and so on things need to go smoothly. If you are met with an apology and the acceptance of fault, you might excercise compassion but this is business. Look him in the eyes and say, “Don’t tell me your pain- just show me the baby!”
I’m sorry but failure to deliver what has been promised in business these days has gone epidemic so just be careful and stay on top of yours. In closing, I have to say the only real change I’m going to make to my SeaClipper is some form of lightweight, removable decking between the aka and amas. Other than that- she’s ready for years of dependable service.
As owner of Channell Guide Service LLC, it’s been a priveledge to share this tour of “my baby” and insight into her function. She’s quite a ride.
If you have any questions, comments or are interested in booking a charter with me if you happen to be in the Central Florida area, feel free to call or write. You can visit online at ChannellGuides.com or check out more info on Facebook.
My many thanks and fair winds.
Captain Michael P. Channell