The idea came to David Yates while he was pulling up his app to request an Uber.
“I thought to myself, ‘I can do that, but with boats.’ ” said Yates, founder of HOBA — Hop on a Boat Anywhere.
“Everyone has great ideas, but it takes hard work to make those ideas a reality.”
Yates has 15 years of captaining experience and has been fishing in Lowcountry waters for more than 40.
He started the business and launched his app about four months ago. Business has been doing well in Charleston for the captains who have signed on, he said. Now, Yates is ready to expand to the Beaufort area.
The HOBA app allows customers to quickly and easily request a captain to take them out on a boat. Just like Uber, the customer requests a pick-up and can either reserve the captain for the whole trip or for a return trip only.
“The captains work their own hours, so I would suggest requesting both the pick-up and return trips at the same time,” Yates said. “That way you know you are covered.”
He says HOBA is different from chartering a boat “because when you charter a boat, you have to do so with a large group, and you have a set number of hours that you are out on the boat. You also need to reserve the boat ahead of time, so it isn’t a quick process,” Yates said.
Pricing for a HOBA ride typically is about $20 an hour per person, he said. The captains are able to set their own fares as well, as long as they stay within the range set by Yates.
Booking the captain, payment and communication with the captain is all handled through the app.
Yates spent the majority of the day last Saturday passing out koozies and hats with the HOBA logo on them to boaters — and hopefully potential customers and captains — who were enjoying the Beaufort Sandbar Concert.
“We have captains from Charleston to Florida.” Yates said. “I really think that, if we got captains to join who are based in the Beaufort area, they would make a killing, especially with the tourists.”
All captains who can be booked through the HOBA app are pre-screened and approved by the U.S. Coast Guard and all are licensed boat captains.
According to Yates, the captains can take you anywhere a boat can travel. If you want to get out to a secluded beach or sandbar for the day, they can take you.
“Sure you can just get an Uber, but this is a much prettier way to travel,” Yates said. “You’re paying good money either way; you might as well enjoy it.”
To learn more about the company, go to www.hobarides.com. The app can be downloaded through the Apple iTunes or GooglePlay stores.