Business in Boardshorts Podcast
EP2 – John Caterina


Release Date:
December 2, 2020

Location: Portland, ME

Guest Name: John Caterina

Business Name: Casco Bay Adventures

Business Website:

Host: Welcome back or welcome to the Business In Boardshorts Podcast. Today, I have John Caterina from Portland, Maine. John, how you doing?

Guest: I’m doing really well. Thank you.

Host: Can you just let the audience know kind of give your backstory. Where did you grew up in Portland, Maine?

Guest: Sure, I did grow up here in the Portland area and I spent a good part of my summers out on the islands of Casco Bay, particularly Peaks Island, and being on the water was pretty natural. The thing was never had a boat, with my cousins and I, we’d have some rickety old. Every once in a while we’d get a hands on some junky old skiff with an old beat up motor, or a sailboat that might last for a summer, and that was so exciting to be able to just get out on anything that floated to do some fishing for mackerel or not. It’s really great to have the business. I have to be able to get out there all the time.

Host: And tell the audience about your business.

Guest: Right, so we offer really family friendly charters that our typical charter would have a family, let’s say Mom and Dad, and they have three kids, ages eight, 10, and 12, visiting from Pennsylvania or something like that, and we bring them out. I give them some background on the history of our area. Point out some of the lighthouses, and some of the local, some of the ports that we have out on the bay, and then we cruise up to Portland head lighthouse, which is one of the most famous lighthouses in the world, and what we’ll do is we’ll fish from mackerel and other bait fish. The kids get right into it, becomes chaos, with fish flopping on the deck. We go haul lobster traps, and people just go gaga over it, because they don’t understand, even the locals don’t understand how you catch lobsters, and all the rules. And then, we’ll usually add, do some cruise, and looking for bald eagles that are nesting in the area, seals, porpoises, and every once in a while we’ve even had some small whales pop up on our trips. It’s really fun. People love it.

Host: How many boats do you have on your fleet?

Guest: We have two, 25-foot Steiger Craft, which has a pilot house, which is our main boat that we can run in pretty much any kind of weather, and it’s really good for doing the hauling lobsters, as well as for fishing and tours. And our other boat, is a 22-foot Center Console, which is pretty much used just for the strictly striper fishing trips that we do.

Host: Do you just go out, like during the day, during the night, do you do a mix of both, all-day adventures going, how does that shake out for you?

Guest: I usually, well with charters, and what pretty much do people want. Usual pattern is a morning 3-hour or 4-hour trip, mainly three hours that does a little bit of everything plus we put a little bit more effort into fishing specially this summer, we did. And then, the afternoon we might do one or two, 2-hour trip, and some days we do a little wine and cheese tour around the bay in the evening as the sunset comes in, so we’ll do as many as four trips a day.

Host: And, what do you enjoy the most about getting on the water?

Guest: I enjoy everything but I really do, it sounds corny. I love to share our little corner of the world with people from away but also people who live just 10 miles inland who don’t realize what’s out there. You don’t really like a lot of things, you don’t realize what’s in your own backyard, but I love to show them, and see the excitement that they have when they catch little fish, or big fish, and hauling lobsters, and having them bend the lobsters, and seeing the seals, and eagles, and all the other wildlife. It really, I really, I enjoy it, and I like to teach people about things out there too.

Host: What would you say is the breakdown between the seasonal traveler that’s coming versus the end state?

Guest: I’d say it’s about three quarters people that are traveling and visiting Maine, staying at local hotels in a normal summer, which wasn’t normal. People bringing their kids up to the summer camps that are all through Maine and they have like a week, while they drop the kids off to go out for a trip around the bay. But, I’d say both, a quarter of our business is people from out of state and a quarter of the locals.

Host: And, if any of the listeners want to come to your area, they would fly into a Portland, Maine International Airport, correct?

Guest: Yes. A lot of them will do that. Quite a few will have fly into Boston and rent a car or take the Amtrak up to Portland.

Host: Can you tell us the backstory, we kind of talked previously on how you all got started? I would love for you to share on that.

Guest: Sure. I really get into boating about the year 2000, and my brother-in-law and I bought a little, he joked about it as a lake boat, in reality it was. It wasn’t really meant to be out on the bay, little 18-foot boat, which we love but we realized it wasn’t big enough because as every boat owner knows to 2-foot disease. We got a bigger boat the next year and we started bringing out relatives visiting from out of state, friends to go out have fun with, and we just noticed that people loved catching fish, hauling lobster traps, because we got our lobster license, and all these other things. And, so we’re sitting around a campfire, backyard campfire in about 2000, mid 2005, 2008, I don’t know what it was. And we said, you know, we can’t get people to pay us, do the stuff we’d love to do and we’ve kind of joked about it. My brother-in-law are actually that, so this is probably I’m thinking really about 2010. My brother-in-law went on to his phone and signed up, went to GoDaddy and got the domain name Casco Bay Adventures, and we said, what should we call ourselves? Casco Bay ventures. What will we do? We’ll do anything people want us to do. It’s still that way. And so, our idea was let’s get people to pay us to do things we’d love to do. So, captain’s license, main guide license, lobster license, bigger boats, more expenses, and everything else, and that’s really a story. There’s nothing really fancy about us but people really do enjoy what we offer.

Host: I love the passion it definitely shines through. Hey there, it’s CT. I’m going to do my own show because I’m now open to new clients, or I have a waitlist for website design and marketing strategy sessions. If you’re trying to throw in your marketing dollars down the drain, and want a website that actually drives new business, let’s hop on a call. You can book a free hour with me at, that’s What would you say it was like to go from, okay, we got this really cool idea to actually starting the business?

Guest: It actually became kind of overwhelming because my first, might give a quick story, my first trip was that really booked was a bachelor party because they tend to want to go out do the deep sea fishing and we don’t do the deep sea fishing. So, they’re very first trip and I was nervous. I knew with a captain’s license never done a charter but I went out with these guys, who’s in their mid late 20s and just had a great time with them. Should they have waited till the night after to do their all nighter? Oh yeah, they never do even though we we tell them to. But, it was like wow, I you know, I can get it off with people and they really enjoy it. I think I’m really a people person. I was amazed at how much people loved it, and how words spread, and we really did take off, we did all right, right away.

Host: Would you say a lot of that was coming from word of mouth then?

Guest: Yeah, at first. And then, the next season or two went I put together information packets and I bring him out to some of the local inns and hotels. We really hit it big in by the sea, and in Cape Elizabeth and Black Point in Scarborough, and they’re really upscale inns. They got to the point where they knew they could just call us and say we have a family who wants to go out and do stuff, and we say, we’ll figure it out, we’ll work with them, and it really became the backbone for what we do.

Host: Can you tell the listeners a little bit more about Casco Bay for those that have never been to Maine before?

Guest: it’s beautiful. I don’t think there’s any bay like it in the US, let alone the world. It’s very protected. There’s literally about almost 200 Islands. Now, some of them are big, we’ll you’d expect for islands. Some of them but just basically rocks with some little grafts that stays above the tideline, but there’s a huge variety. While you get an afternoon sea breeze, you can go out of the wind and fish. It’s really beautiful in the summertime. There’s lots of people sailing around and there’s other tourist boats. The Portland in Casco Bay it’s just beautiful areas in the spring, summer and fall.

Host: And when is your season, like some win-to-win?

Guest: It pretty much is from midMay where it starts getting kind of slow till about Columbus Day, or Indigenous Peoples day, I guess it’s called now, is when it goes. But for the most part, it’s really based on the traditional school year, that we really get busy when the kids get out of school in New England. And, it’s really slows down a lot when the kids had back to school because people have done with their vacations for the most part.

Host: Yeah, that makes sense. What would you say that you’ve learned the most since you started the business?

Guest: What have learned the most, ah, cheese? I don’t know, I guess I’ve learned the most that I really enjoy doing this type of stuff. I’m comfortable dealing with people like the idea with teenagers all the time and always have. But, just kind of chatting and getting to know people is a lot of fun. And, they literally come from all over the US and and some foreign countries. So, I guess I’ve learned that I like to get to know people.

Host: What’s the farthest traveler that is come to get on your boat?

Guest: Oh, people visiting from Germany, people visiting from Japan, literally all. We had a couple this year, who were from from Russia, that afterwards my wife was a first made on that, and we brought them out, and afterwards we had them over to the house, and cook lobsters for them. I had them for dinner. They loved it and I hear from him all the time.

Host: That’s awesome. Okay, last question. What is the best life advice that you’ve ever received?

Guest: The best life advice? My dad, I remember way back. He was a banker but he always said, “You know the best class you can ever take in school is public speaking.” You know what and a lot that’s pretty much true. Being able to just communicate, and talk to people, like pops up all the time in what I do it for my real world job as a school teacher, and in this, and talking to you for example. Just feeling comfortable doing it. That was a good piece of advice. And, I guess the advice from my mother is, if you ever have people upset at you, she’s was a teacher, like parents, or could be customers, which we haven’t had. First thing you have to say to them is I understand. Always tell them I understand before you start answering, trying to take on what they’re mad about. So, those are a couple things that I live by.

Host: Very nice. Well, I appreciate you hopping on the podcast. Where can my listeners check out more about Casco Bay Adventures?

Guest: and our Facebook page. I believe is No “s” on the end of that. We’d love to have a, check out give us a call.

Host: Awesome. Thank you very much.

Guest: No problem. Glad to be here.

Overview: Casco Bay Adventures was formed in 2013 by John Caterina, his brother-in-law, Geoff, and good friend, Bill. They noticed how friends and relatives always enjoyed it when they took them out fishing and lobstering and decided they should get people to “pay for stuff we like to do anyways”. Thus, Casco Bay Adventures was born. CBA caters mainly to families visiting the area who want to go out on the bay for 2 or 3 hour adventures. This includes fishing, hauling lobster traps and viewing awesome scenery and wildlife. It’s “WICKED” fun!

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