Skipper Gentry has been fishing offshore since he was a little boy, so it comes as no surprise that the 38-year-old made the saltwater sport that’s his passion his livelihood, too.
“This is where I make and lose all my money,” he says with a laugh. “This is my whole life.” Since 2007, Gentry has operated Carolina Gentleman Sportfishing, running charters from North Carolina to the Bahamas and all over South Florida, from Palm Beach to the Keys.
Aboard his 45-foot Viking, the Carolina Gentleman, he tailors charters to clients’ wishes, from afternoon outings to trips of a week or longer. “I do whatever anyone can think of if I can make it happen,” he says. “I’ve done everything from bachelor and bachelorette parties to a honeymoon for a couple for 10 days from Florida to the Bahamas. I actually felt like a guest by the end of that trip, we had so much fun.”
Operating a year-round business chasing down fish – sailfish in the winter off Florida, marlin in the summer in the islands of the Bahamas – is work, make no mistake about it. As important as it is to pick the right tackle, it’s equally critical to equip the boat with the right marine electronics for every situation. Customers demand no less.
And no matter how much fun it is to fish, there are times when people want to take a break, he’s learned. That’s why Gentry, who had a KVH TracVision M5 satellite TV antenna system onboard, recently upgraded to a KVH TracVision TV5 satellite TV antenna system on the boat to get the great new features. Not only does he have a TV screen in the boat’s main saloon, he can watch TV programming in the flybridge on his Furuno NavNet TZtouch2 navigation system multifunction display.
“I can do everything with this setup,” Gentry says. “We watched the Super Bowl in the flybridge of the boat last year. It’s as easy as setting it up at home on your television.”
Needless to say, this entertainment incentive — wherever it’s located onboard — has helped lure the clientele. “A lot of guys can only fish on the weekends,” Gentry says. “They come then, watch football, and don’t miss anything.”
That also includes keeping up with the news and stocks, even if they’re supposed to be focused on the Big Catch. “We’ve had to knock on the windows and tell them to come outside,” Gentry confesses. “We’re trolling, they go in, relax on the couch and watch the game. We get a marlin on and want them to come outside.”
Bear in mind, he adds, the average client isn’t accustomed to being out in the elements at all times, and being able to retreat to the saloon also adds relief. “You can come inside, watch TV, eat lunch,” he says. “Outside, right in the cockpit, world-class fishing is going on at the same time. We do a lot of island hopping where there’s no TV and no communications. It’s just wonderful to have it.”
The same reasoning works with kids onboard, too. Gentry’s 7-year-old daughter, Daryn, who caught her first sailfish at age 4, accompanies him for long days on the water, taking breaks when she wants. “Children get bored fishing all day,” he says. “Before we had the TracVision system, I didn’t want to drag her out all day. Now, Momma’s happy, the kid’s happy, and I’m happy — everybody‘s happy.”
It makes one wonder how Carolina Gentleman fared pre-KVH, and Gentry doesn’t miss a beat with his answer:
“I’ve had KVH for a few years now,” he says, “I don’t know how I did without it. Sometimes there are conditions where we’re trying just to hold on and it tracks perfectly. Never loses a signal. We get great reception. Once you have it on your boat, you’ll never want to be without it again.”
Want to catch a Big One? Stop by the KVH Booth (C590) at the Progressive Miami International Boat Show Feb. 11-15, 2016, and sign up to win a daylong charter with Skipper Gentry aboard his 45-foot Viking, the Carolina Gentleman!
You might also be interested in:
“Life on the Line,” a monthly video series documenting the Carolina Gentleman crew on adventures that highlight sportsmanship, conservation, education, and instruction.
“A Quick Lap Around the World,” a look at a couple cruising around the world on their 52-foot boat and staying in touch with jobs, family, and friends via KVH’s satellite communications solution.