David Yates, founder of HOBA, steers guests through Shem Creek; images by (Yates) Margret Wood & courtesy of (app) HOBA
June 1, 2017
Fun on Deck The new HOBA app lets users hail boats now—or reserve them for later
Written by Jessy Greensmith
Ever been sitting in beach traffic on a sunny day, gazing out at Lowcountry waters filled with pleasure-cruising crafts and thought, “I need more friends with boats’’? Well, thanks to David Yates, you now have a whole bunch of them at the touch of your finger (though they’re a little pricier than the kind paid in six-packs). This spring, the longtime Mount Pleasant fisherman and boat captain launched HOBA, which allows users to “hop on a boat anywhere.”
HOBA captains, who are licensed with the U.S. Coast Guard, are available for sunset cruises, fishing tours, even late-night rides home. But unlike road-bound ride-sharing apps, HOBA trips can be scheduled weeks in advance as easily as they can be made impromptu. As soon as the app is opened, GPS technology locates the closest captains within a 100-mile radius, and from there, users can sort through profiles, reviews, and rates until they find the right skipper. (Most local boats max out at six guests and range in price from $75 to $150 an hour. More luxurious “XL” crafts land in the $250-an-hour range.)
“We operate wherever there are captains signed up,” says Yates; so far, about 130 of them are registered in Charleston, New York, and Miami, although he thinks global service is only a matter of time. Captains, for their part, take home a pretty penny: 80 percent of whatever rate they set, plus tips.