Gulfstar Endurance

  • Waterline length 85″
  • Width 24’8″
  • Construction: 7075 Aluminum – Hull plating 3/4″ (no rust from steel like our competitors)
  • Main Engines 3 800 hp. Detroit Diesels when completed.
  • 2 Diesel 30kw Generators
  • Stability tested for 30,400 lbs. of passengers and gear

 

In early 2020 life at Gulfstar was pretty good. Business was going really well, the fish were biting and everything seemed like normal America. Captain Paul and I had been talking about upgrading the Gulfstar or purchasing another boat to replace the Gulfstar. It would have to be obviously larger and more comfortable while still being able to operate within the parameters of our mission statement. Our mission statement right from the very beginning has been good service, lots of fish, fair pricing and not jamming the fisherman on deck like a cattle car.

Finding a fishing boat that checks all the boxes is generally not very easy but a phone call from one of Captain Paul’s friends revealed that an awesome boat was for sale.  Captain Paul was very familiar with this vessel, the boat was the Mijoy out of Connecticut.  The Mijoy had been working hard for many years in the north Atlantic, right alongside Captain Paul when he was running his at that time, the brand new 140’ Viking Starship.

The Mijoy has sword fished with a harpoon, it has commercial longlined tile fish in the offshore canyons of the Northeast and it has carried many passengers to the offshore grounds of Cox‘s Ledge to catch big codfish. Captain Paul will tell you “not as big as the Cods he was catching”

The Mijoy had just become available at a decent price but for years and years she worked hard and it was time for a much needed and major renovation. Things are going really well we were thinking. If we continue to have another good year just like 2019, we will be able to buy her and have the dough to fix her up just as we would like without stretching the hell out of the company’s finances. Dang, this is actually gonna work out for us. We make the decision and agree to purchase her for what was a pretty decent price. Holy freaking hell, here comes Covid and the world is coming to an end. Everything is scary and almost everyone is freaking the heck out. I don’t have to remind anyone of the craziness that went on, but for us we had customers canceling reservations at an amazing pace. The reservations that took a year to sign up were disappearing right before our eyes in weeks.

 Now luckily we have been in business for almost 15 years at that time and we had the resources to refund everyone that wanted it. Some of our customers were really accommodating to us and waited awhile for their refunds or credits so we could tend to the more nervous customers.

Well we made a commitment to buy the boat, we can’t back out now. Captain Paul and I really didn’t want to back out anyway because we both liked the boat. We really didn’t think the world was going to stay hiding at home forever and since Paul is getting up in age he was thinking it may be his last big boat rebuild so how can we back out!

Gulfstar Endurance is born

While steaming the boat down from the north, Captain Paul and I had many hours to satisfy our need for the intimate knowledge of the boat that a good operator needs to keep the vessel and her passengers safe. We had 9 days around the clock of nonstop running to get familiar with the boat, build a plan and develop a vision.

First a name, we tossed names back and forth for days and with some oscillation we agreed on Gulfstar Endurance. The thing that we kept going back to was how big and comfortable the boat is. Now keep in mind that Captain Paul has built a few boats, all the way up to 160’.  I ran his boat the 140′ Viking Starship for years so we weren’t new to boats larger than the 65’ Gulfstar. Everything about the boat felt big, her seakeeping abilities are akin to a much larger boat. She holds several thousand gallons of fuel, has a massive freshwater tank, 2 generators, 3 engines and she is really wide. The space from the side of the boat to the bench seats is almost 5 feet, so the room at the rail makes for easy navigation when the mates are running around gaffing fish and icing down coolers. The wheelhouse is big and comfortable with lots of room for fishing and navigating electronics. The items I just listed and others were a very limiting factor with the Gulfstar. Don’t get me wrong the Gulfstar was very good to us and we pushed the boundaries of the Passenger fishing boat industry in the Gulf of Mexico further than anyone has ever before but now we can push those limits even further. Range, sea keeping and comfort is why we named her Gulfstar Endurance.

November 2020 we arrive in Tarpon Springs with the Mijoy. Right away we go to the shipyard and start tearing things apart. First thing, remove just about everything. Second on the list is sand blast from the top of the mast to the keel and inspect every inch of her with no paint hiding anything. Wow…she is in amazing condition. The whole boat is constructed of very heavy aluminum and almost every inch looks almost like a new boat. Honestly we were in disbelief, how can this boat have worked so hard for decades look so good we asked each other over and over.

Over the next 2 years we cleaned, scrubbed, painted, renewed and worked with a naval architect and the Coast Guard inspectors from Tampa and Washington DC to renew her while complying with the insane amount of regulations that apply when doing a job of this size.

Supply chain issues, a thinning work force and the absolutely insane prices for everything made it so that no matter what the task was, it was going to be forever and very expensive. This was not in the budget for us so the progress slowed down to a crawl and we just did what we could and when we had time and money we would move forward again inching closer to having a workable boat. As of today 7/10/2023 we are almost there and we can say that the time is coming soon for us to have a really awesome boat to take our customers offshore in style and comfort. Now I’m not going to try and fool you that we got our whole wish list completed. We will definitely have a continual improvement schedule for the next year or so because we still have a bit to go before we achieve the complete vision that the crew and I have for the Gulfstar Endurance.

One of the things that we did that really will make the whole crew very comfortable is the passenger sleeping arrangements. Although we have loads of room below deck we chose to build all of the customers berthing above deck in the main cabin. No bunks below deck will mean a much safer sleeping environment and a really easy escape to outdoors in case something bad happens. I know no one likes talking about it but as a Captain and a boat owner that all of you trust with your lives it is something that the crew and I take very serious, especially after that dive boat fire off of the California coast.

We made the berths big and comfy, easy to get in and out of and most importantly just a few feet from a doorway outside. We have installed a 5 ton A/C unit so even on the hottest summer day the lounge area or the berthing area will be nice and cool. Two restrooms with showers on the main deck alongside an area with personal lockers and refrigerators full of cold beverages are at the aft end of the galley and dining area makes for a really comfortable cabin with good flow.

 

Gulfstar Endurance Bunk Layout

 

Some of the equipment is an ice machine, a water maker, plenty of room for our fisherman and their coolers and gear and on the top deck we will have a bar that will serve sushi and alcohol on fair weather days. A smoker will be on the top deck so while we are fishing or steaming we can smoke some chicken, fish, ribs or whatever.

We have had such a good reception already and we haven’t even finished her up. We have had some customer’s book charters already and we are almost finished up with the final fall 2023 through summer 2024 schedule. We are also working on getting the berth layout diagram posted on the website so you can pick your new favorite bunk. The fishing spots are identical to the Gulfstar and even though we have lots more room we didn’t add any more spots which means tons of room for everyone.

Since 2006 when we purchased the Gulfstar it has been our mission to give you the very best trip at the most affordable price we can. Our mission with the Gulfstar Endurance is the exact same. We have only built 20 bunks and will stay a limited load boat because we want to. Yeah I know that it makes earning a living a bit harder than packing the boat but we really do want you to have the best time possible. We are in it for the long run as it is our careers and not our hobbies. We are there to help you catch your fish dreams. This is the reason that the crew and I do not fish very often. It’s not because we don’t want to fish, it’s because we understand that we are there for you and not for us. I can tell you that other captains and crews do not have the same mission. I know you have seen it and you know what it looks like, we just don’t do it. All of our Gulfstar crew is a licensed captain or has passed their test and waiting for their license to be issued from the Coast Guard. Even our current cook is qualified and awaiting the issuance of his license. The dedication of the crew to be the best clearly shows when you compare us to the other crews but that’s not really fair to the other crews because the Gulfstar is the originator of the all-inclusive limited load offshore Gulf of Mexico fishing since 2006, heck when we started doing it almost the whole fleet said it was impossible and we would never succeed. We now have a clear road map formed from the school of hard knocks that gives us an advantage over the others. We’ve already have been there and done it and we have tried so many different things over the years. Some we regretted and fortunately many that turned out awesome. The other guys are just followers not leaders and the followers are always looking at the rear end of the lead dog, that is why they have now modeled their whole business after our vision.

The Gulfstar Endurance’s fishing schedule is put out twice a year so you don’t have to book a trip a year or more in advance to reserve your favorite spot or bunk and tie up your money for such a long time. I will add that we don’t use the deposit money as an ATM like others do to pay today’s bills, to me that is nothing more than a Ponzi scheme that recently a charter captain got arrested for. With Gulfstar you get several different deposit options that gets you booked up with as little up front $$$ as possible. The only thing we ask is that if you have to cancel that it is not last minute so we can try to rebook your spot.

 

We all are very excited with the near completion of the Endurance and I know that you are going to love it for a few reasons but I believe that you are going to mostly love it because we now have the Endurance to take you on extended adventures while being very comfortable with the most professional crew at an affordable price.

 

Captain Richard J Castellano

Originator of the Gulf of Mexico Multi-Day Deep Drop Charter Fishing Since 2006

 

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