Marketplace / Constituency Needs
The founders of SALTY invested the time and effort to interview Executive Directors and Program Directors of the nation’s largest youth organizations. This included Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of America, YMCA’s, Boys and Girls Clubs of America and a very special group called Gold Star Teens, which will be addressed a bit later.
What our research consistently discovered was these youth organizations, due to the high costs of boat rentals, charters and overnight accommodations on the ocean or near the shore, are not able to successfully introduce their youths to the beautiful coastal waters of New England and provide them the opportunity to discover the sea and our rich and exciting maritime heritage. There is an eager desire to do so as many of these organizations offer their respective youths rank advancement, merit badges and certificates that can and should involve access to these waters.
As a result of this research SALTY was specifically organized to serve these national youth organizations along with and including many local youth organizations. These national organizations, which have local chapters, troops and groups, could immediately see an opportunity for SALTY to provide Sailing Adventures to the young men and women they serve. A key component was SALTY’s ability to serve groups as small as six to eighteen youths. This is a key as it often is the average size of the number of youths they might serve who would be eligible for this high adventure program.
The size of the existing and future SALTY sailing ships gives it unique position and opportunity to cater specifically to these organizations. The flexibility of being able to offer Sailing Adventures to groups as small as six guests is SALTY’s core strength.
SALTY’s business model emulates the Boy Scouts of America Florida Sea Base located in the Florida Keys, which has been in successful operation for more than thirty years. It has been so successful, that the Florida Sea Base does very little advertising to the 1,081,000 Boy Scouts in America. The decision to promote little advertising is based on the enormous demand for Florida Sea Base Charters and as such seeks not to disappoint the scouts and their leaders who unfortunately -are turned away.
The demand for weekly charters at the Florida Sea Base has been so high that several years ago, it was necessary to install a “Lottery System”. This system required Boy Scout Troops, Varsity and Venturing Groups and Sea Scouts to enter their request for weekly charters into this lottery system. The disappointing reality is that it’s not uncommon for these groups to wait three years or more to win a lottery position and have the privilege to attend the Florida Sea Base.
In 2013 13,922 scouts were served at the Florida Sea Base. It is estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 are turned away each year. Imagine if it were advertised to the nation’s more than one million scouts?
The average Florida Sea Base rate per scout is approximately $1,100. This does not include airfare to the closest airport in either Ft. Lauderdale or Miami, nor does it include the transportation costs from these airports to the sea base in the keys, which can easily add, round trip $100 per scout. With Airfare, this can easily translate to more $1,700 per scout. SALTY’s average weekly sailing adventure youth cost, especially for New Englanders who have access to SALTY via driving, is $950.
Additionally, the Florida Keys in July and August, their peak chartering season, is as one might imagine, is exceptionally hot and very humid making the climate uncomfortable at times. An additional challenge for those who pay to go there is the fact that the winds for sailing in those particular Florida Keys during the summer are known for being absent. An example is Sea Scout Ship 1909 from East Greenwich, Rhode Island who visited there in 2016, chartering two sailboats for sixteen adults and scouts was able to sail only one of the seven days of their charter.
On the other hand, sailing in Narragansett Bay, Newport and surrounding New England waters in July and August and virtually all of the time, provides some of the best sailing in the world. For over fifty years of the 20th century, the most coveted sailing race in the world was held in Newport – the America’s Cup. Equally important is the warm sunny weather that New England and its waters are famous for.
These facts combined provide an enormous opportunity for SALTY and its developing Sea Bases, to offer Sailing Adventures to not only the 10,000 to 15,000 Boy Scouts who are turned away each year an exceptional alternative to sailing in Florida, but also to Gold Star Teens, Girl Scouts, YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs and other organizations who do not have access to any Sea Base.
In spite of SALTY’s opportunity to be a national draw, SALTY’s Sailing Adventures, Ships and Programs are not intended or expected to compete with the BSA’s Florida Sea Base. The two organizations focus on somewhat different strategies with SALTY offering its services to a wide variety of youth organizations and customizing its programs for each and while the BSA focused only on serving Boy Scouts. They will be an excellent complement to each other.