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Mothership Fishing the World

Nearly unlimited travel flexibility is possible

June 18, 2020
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A sport fishing yacht next to a large yacht mothership.
With the combination of a mega-yacht mothership and sport-fisher, the possibilities are nearly endless. Richard Gibson

Many people still ask me today about motherships: What to get, where to go, and all the other interesting details that go along with it.

I thought The Madam was the perfect mothership. She carried 37,000 gallons of diesel fuel, and back then, our biggest problem was fuel availability, so The Madam solved that problem. Having a 10,000-gallon-per-day watermaker was also a plus. The well-stocked pantry held up for almost two years—that was how long we had planned our trips to last. We only needed fresh vegetables, bread and fruit. We had six freezers full of beef and chicken, plus enough staterooms for our guests and crew.

We also had a 48-foot game boat that could handle all the weather we would encounter. We were able to fish off Australia in those rough seas; we also fished off Peru and the west coast of Africa, just to name a few. So many different sea conditions, and yet the boat was very comfortable for owner Jerry Dunaway and all of his guests.

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Today, so many people are gravitating toward mothershipping. There is one owner who has a 72-foot sport-fisher that tows a 34-foot center-console. They go to the Bahamas with both boats and fish on the 34-footer most of the time because it’s fast, burns less fuel and is easier to wash at the end of the day. Run out, catch some mahi or snapper, dive for lobster and be back without even getting a sunburn. For tournaments, or when entertaining special guests, they take out the big boat.

Then there are quite a few owners these days who have 100- to 165-foot yachts and

60- to 70-foot ­sport-fishers. They can live large on the yacht with a chef and a full crew, then jump on the smaller boat and fish comfortably in Bermuda, the Virgin Islands, Costa Rica or wherever they want to go. The possibilities are ­practically endless.

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When it comes to ­traveling to faraway places such as the Azores, Cape Verde, Madeira or the South Pacific, including Vanuatu and Tahiti, or even places like Australia and New Zealand, there are many other options, and all of these destinations have great charter boats and crew. Most everyone I talk to about mothershipping would like to fish some of these places, and for me, it would be great to be able to do it on your own boat. It would take some serious thinking about what kind of mothership and game-boat combination you’d want to acquire, but having the opportunity to ship your boat to most of these places is part of the allure too.

The remote destinations I fished so many years ago now all have marinas, a very good charter fleet and fuel, and some even have local airports—the things that were not always available back in the day. And luckily, we now have the internet to do the research. Years ago, in order to find out the fishing seasons and the amenities (if any), we would call the IGFA and ask them to send us contact information for the representative who lived in the area we were considering; we would always talk to them first. When we visited these places, they were usually the first people on board, along with the immigration and customs personnel. The IGFA reps were influential people and very helpful with everything we needed to go fishing.

Once you pick out your destination and decide what boat and mothership you’d like to have for the adventure, I still recommend getting in touch with the IGFA to meet its representatives and get all the info you can. Local knowledge can be invaluable.

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