Houseboat rentals prove to be a popular niche

Heather Beck
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
© The Cairns Post

It,s an opportunity that doesn’t come along every day – heading to rugged Weipa on Cape York to take over a houseboat business that comes highly recommended by anglers from around Australia.

Owners Lisa May and Steve Rehn set up the business nine years ago after seeing a gap in the market between skippered fishing charters and high-end expeditions. But they had no idea it would be so successful.

After initially building one houseboat, they soon realised that more would be needed. The business has now grown to include two dry hire (self-drive) houseboats that can accommodate 10 people at a time, as well as six tenders and a 6m punt.

The incredible fishing of Albatross Bay and the surrounding rivers was a drawcard to groups of fishing enthusiasts who headed out for a week at a time and often returned year after year, Ms May said.

While most of their repeat clients come from New South Wales or southern Queensland, others travel from Tasmania and Victoria to enjoy the balmy winters. “I think it’s something that is a really different experience for them and the fishing definitely keeps them coming back,” she said. “For a group of six to eight men it’s a reasonably priced holiday – it’s about the freedom of being out there, living on the water, watching the sunsets and, of course, fishing off the back of the boat.”
Ms May said a new owner should be somewhat handy as it could be costly and time-consuming to freight equipment for

“It would be great for people maybe in their 30s who have a bit more energy, they really need to be interested in tourism and a mechanical mind would help,” she said. “They also need a coxswain’s ticket or, if they don’t have it, they need an employee who does.” Ms May and Mr Rehn are happy to offer support for the new owners while they spend more time with family and work towards their long-term dream of buying a sailing catamaran. The business is on the market for $1.2 million.

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