Family-Run Business Adjusts Fishing Industry Changes

By LOGAN B. ANDERSON, Delaware State Information

BOWERS BEACH, Del. (AP) — For a lot of, when the metaphorical seas get uneven, they flip to household to seek out calmer waters.

When Capt. Bob Trowbridge of the Bowers Seashore-based Captain’s Girl constitution vessel is coping with harmful waters off the coast of Delaware, he actually turns to his family members for assist.

The Captain’s Girl, a 70-foot-long, 82-passenger constitution boat with his-and-hers bogs and a solar deck powered by twin diesel engines, takes charters day by day from its Paskey’s Wharf dock in Bowers Seashore.

Capt. Trowbridge’s household retains his enterprise afloat. His brother, Capt. Willie Trowbridge, assists him in working the Captain’s Girl, and their sister, Doris Morris, handles dock operations, ticket gross sales and their land-based wants.

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The boat might be chartered for lighthouse cruises, birthday and bachelor events, weddings and extra. The crew recurrently takes anglers out to fish the waters off the coast of the First State. Additional, the Captain’s Girl typically hosts fishing tournaments and different angling occasions.

“All of us grew up down right here, and we grew up across the boats,” Bob Trowbridge mentioned.

Although he left the realm round 1989, a number of years later, he offered the companies he had began and determined it was time to come back residence.

“I all the time wished to be a constitution boat captain,” he mentioned. “I made a decision to get my license at a late age. I believe I used to be 40 years outdated.”

Then, in 2013, he and his then-business accomplice, Mary Ewing, took over the Captain’s Girl, fulfilling that dream.

Quickly after, his brother joined the crew, together with their father and sister. Bob maintains the boat and any main initiatives, whereas Willie runs the charters and prospects. Ms. Morris and their dad would work with prospects on the deck and put together fish. The siblings have misplaced their dad, however the household stayed collectively for the sake of their shared enterprise.

“It’s superb. I couldn’t discover anybody higher than my brother. He works arduous. I say, ‘Willie, take a break.’ He all the time says, ‘No, I bought her.’ On his days off, he goes fishing,” Bob mentioned, smiling.

“The extra you do it, the extra you find it irresistible,” Ms. Morris added. “I helped cleansing fish that got here off the boat for years. The extra you be taught, the extra you find it irresistible.”

Her brother, Willie, agreed.

“We grew up round it down right here. I find it irresistible. I’ve all the time beloved it. I am going fishing on trip,” he mentioned. “I bought my license in 1983.”

Capt. Bob began his constitution enterprise with Ms. Ewing again in 2013. Sadly, she handed away in July 2021 after a battle with most cancers.

Her obituary included her love for the Captain’s Girl and her crew: “The boat was her satisfaction and pleasure and (she) all the time beloved watching the boat coming backwards and forwards. You may all the time discover her on the dock having fun with time with individuals. She beloved to take a seat within the afternoon with our regulars after a morning journey and luxuriate in conversations.”

Bob referred to as her “one of many nicest girls I ever met.”

“And the one factor she taught me about being in enterprise: Whenever you give again, it comes again to you tenfold,” he mentioned.

To that finish, the Captain Girl’s crew prides itself on giving again to its group. Bob mentioned that Ms. Ewing tried to help anybody who referred to as to ask for assist or a donation.

“She’d say, ’Bobby, we’re going to present these individuals tickets. We’re going to do that for this. We’ve given away free charters for a kid with most cancers. We’re firefighters, so we give to all of our first responders, navy,” he added, noting a reduction of 10% for these people.

To recollect and honor Ms. Ewing, Bob had a significant dedication painted on the entrance of the ship, so she’d all the time be part of the enterprise and the vessel.

“It is a robust enterprise down right here. The fishery isn’t what it was once. Each fish we take aboard this boat, it’s a must to work for,” Bob mentioned.

Because the Trowbridge siblings had been kids in Bowers Seashore, the waters and the fishing business have modified loads.

“There was once boats stacked two deep down right here,” Bob mentioned.

He mentioned that, between the ever-shifting laws and different transitions he’s noticed within the Delaware Bay, it’s getting more durable to make a residing fishing.

To maintain his prospects completely happy and proceed the spirit of giving began by Ms. Ewing, the constitution boat captain and enterprise proprietor has needed to assume exterior of the sort out field.

“We began an oyster cracker match. Anybody that is aware of something about oyster crackers, they’re an unpleasant fish. No person needs to maintain or catch them. So we began tagging them. And we give away cash to anybody on the boat that catches them. They pay a greenback to get on the boat, and so they might win $1,000 in the event that they catch a tagged oyster cracker,” he mentioned.

With gas prices and costs on different provides rising, the Captain’s Girl’s crew must be inventive. For instance, Bob is within the course of of buying a smaller, quicker boat that they will use to take anglers out into the ocean for a distinct fishing expertise. The smaller boat can be for extra specialised teams, however it could preserve the crew working with out having to spend the gas the bigger vessel makes use of.

“It’s one thing to maintain individuals . On this enterprise, it’s a must to assume exterior the field. In case you go on the market and drop a line and assume that the fish are simply going to come back to you — it’s not like that anymore. We work for every thing we get,” Bob mentioned.

The crew of the Captain’s Girl not too long ago bought a machine to marinate their bait, making it extra engaging to fish.

“We go the additional mile to attempt to make the shoppers completely happy,” Bob mentioned. “If we’ve bought to run 20 miles to get a fish, we’ll do it.”

Working a detailed household enterprise is hook, line and sinker for the captain, who mentioned he works to make all his crew really feel like they’re a part of the Trowbridge clan.

He typically talks with the dad and mom of his youthful workers to see how they’re doing at school or at residence. If he senses bother, he makes them give attention to their schoolwork or different objectives. He mentioned he additionally works to present individuals an opportunity that others might not take.

“Generally, I pinch myself. When I’m on the market, particularly within the morning, when you’ve the solar hitting you within the face, and it’s a pleasant, calm day, I actually pinch myself and say, ‘That is my job. That is my livelihood.’ And it makes me really feel good that I can deliver my household into it,” Bob mentioned.

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