Young entrepreneur hoping for a busy summer season: StCroix Courier - Charlotte County Business News
A young island entrepreneur who started his own boat tour business last year is hoping for a busy summer season as he awaits the completion of work on his new vessel. Stephen Robinson, 30, started Top of the Island Boat Tours last year using a boat rented from the Reversing Falls Jet Boat Company in Saint John. His business served about 700 passengers between July 1 and the second week in September.
The business was so successful that the local Scotiabank nominated him for Charlotte County's Young Entrepreneur of the Year award. While he didn't win the award, Robinson said it was because of that, he was put in touch with the Community Business Development Corporation (CBDC) and learned about the business development program for young people.
He was able to borrow $20,000 from that program and another $41,000 through another CBDC program which has enabled him to purchase his own boat.
"I bought the boat and took it into the Grand Manan boat shop and I am having the whole thing rebuilt into pretty much a brand new boat and I am just trying to let people know what is going on. I am hoping to have lots of people this summer."
The boat can take 12 people at a time and last year he offered three three-hour trips a day out of North Head - though he said there were not many days when he did all three. Once a week he also made a five-hour trip to Campobello so passengers culd visit the Roosevelt cottage.
He works as a lobster fisherman between November and June and said he got a really good deal on the boat which has been used as a pleasure boat and was in "immaculate" condition.
"Last year I took them down to Long Island and hauled two lobster traps - I had special permission to do that - and showed them how lobster fishing works, then I took them to one of the salmon sites and explained how that industry works."
From there Robinson took passengers to Swallowtail Lighthouse and along the shore where he took them inside a herring weir and explained how that fishery operates.
The trip then took in the Hole in the Wall and the Seven days Works (cliffs in Whale Cove). Robinson said he took passengers around Ashburton Head and told them about the sinking of the Lord Ashburton in 1857 - 21 were killed but the captain survived by climbing up the cliffs.
"They found him next day almost frozen and they had to amputate one of his legs, but he spent the rest of his life on Grand Manan. He had his family here after a while and his son became a famous artist and I have one of his paintings."
The boat trip continued around to The Whistle, and Robinson made sure he took along some food which brings all kinds of birds to the boat. There is also a chance they will see whales, seals and porpoises.
"On the last trip of the day we watch the sun set and they have sea-food chowder."
Robinson is planning to start up this year's operation in June. He said he is planning three or four trial runs in the new boat at the beginning of the month and will be offering free trips to any local business owners who would like to see what he is offering.
I have hired a boat designer the boat has been in the shop for almost a month so it is nearly done. The work I am having done is quite extensive. There is an upper deck for viewing and it is going to be really nice when I am done."
His logo is a mermaid with a telescope and his pitch is take people out for a closer look around the island. Other tours, said Robinson, take people offshore to see the whales.
"On my trip, I don't guarantee whales but what we are doing is seeing something the whole trip. We are close to the shore and we get to see the wildlife - birds, seals and porpoises - every trip and certain times of the year we see whales as well."
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