Hatteras Yacht as ‘boatel’ captures both excellence & customer service

By Alex Rooker | REALTOR in New Bern

NEW BERN ñ Debi Wynn, owner of  Mad Hatteras. offers overnight lodging on her magnificent 70-feet long motor yacht located at the New Bern Grand Marina. Guests rent a bedroom on board this ëBoatelí in much the same way as a motel room or B&B. Needless to say, the on board experience is positively unique!

Unlike a Bed & Breakfast, Debi doesnít provide food, but there is plenty of room for guestsí own food and beverages in the three refrigerators on board. Bottled water and coffee are provided to all guests along with amenities including soap, shampoo, conditioner,  towels and linens. Guests are allowed full use of the kitchen (galley) for cooking.

When asked what aspects of her Boatel most guests find special she excitedly replied, ìSleeping on a boat! You just canít beat the gentle rocking of the boat. And the viewsÖ..of the river, the sunrise, the sunsets. Just being surrounded by water is a very relaxing, unique experience.î

Folks will enjoy the experience if they have a love of adventure and a willingness to try something new. Guests need flexibility with changing weather. Wind or rain can come in to play, especially for the walk from the dockís security gate to Mad Hatteras. There are steps involved both to board the yacht and while onboard.

Debi has enjoyed boating for many years and has worked on several boats during her 28 years spent in Hawaii. The idea for starting a Boatel was a natural evolution for her. She previously rented out her home and condo for short-term rentals. She reports that her Boatel business has  turned out to be a huge success. 

ìSharing the amazing experience of living on a boat with others who wouldnít normally get that opportunity,î has become a major motivation for her. ìIím introducing people to the boating world while making new friends in the process.î

Q: You earlier mentioned that you started with your own 70 feet long Hatteras Motor Yacht named Mad Hatteras. How has the business evolved from just one to now four vessels?

ìI found that some of my guests did not want to share the boat with other guests, which is how the Mad Hatteras is set up. They preferred a private rental. So I started buying smaller yachts to rent privately to meet that need.The demand has grown so much that I  need more boats!î

Q: Whatís your vision for your company over the next five years?

ìI plan to keep expanding the fleet with a variety of vessels. I also plan to start offering charter trips, i.e. taking people on cruises for day trips, overnight trips, sunset sails and the like. My experience in Hawaii, working with charter boats there, helps me in this effort. I have also been asked to provide the same vacation rental services in areas like Beaufort, so thatís a possibility.To do this I need to incorporate other peopleís boats into   the mix.î

Q: Please explain how you provide marketing and management for those other owners?

ìRight now I promote the rentals using a popular platform called AirBnB.  My website is currently in development and will offer the rentals and charters there as well. As far as management goes, I do everything from taking the reservations and greeting the guests upon their arrival to cleaning the staterooms between rentals. As the business grows I will most certainly need to hire help.î

Q: How can other boat owners take advantage of being part of your listing of bed & boat offerings?  ìBoat owners who only use their vessel occasionally can benefit not only from the income and potential tax benefits but also from the on-going cleaning that is maintained, and the ìeye on the boatî they receive on a regular basis. My ëSuperstar Statusí with AirBnB gives me advantages over other listings for rental opportunities.î

Q: What size, location, and amenities are needed for an owner to be a part of your ìBoatelî rental service?  ìI prefer motor yachts but will consider sailboats. Vessels should be a minimum of 34 feet in length and be able to comfortably sleep at least two people. The vessel should be in good clean condition and feature a comfortable outside seating area like a fly-bridge or cockpit. I will work with every owner to help stage the vessel appropriately and ensure that all supplies and amenities are provided. Right now I am focusing on New Bern and in particular yachts in the New Bern Grand Marina.î

Q: Beyond the Boatel aspect of services, are there other plans for your business?  Yes, I plan to coordinate Delivery Services for clients boats; for example, captains who will transport ownersí boats from one location to another. Having such captains on call will also allow training services for boat owners who need to learn aspects of operating a ënew to themí larger boat.î

Q: Is there anyone who youíd like to have mentioned in your past who was part of your inspiration?  ìI would want to acknowledge my late husband who taught me so much about the rental business. During our time together we rented Exotic Cars, Jeeps, Harley-Davidsons, Mopeds and Medical Mobility Equipment to tourists as well as vacation rentals of our properties. From him I learned the importance of outstanding customer service in everything I do.î

Personal note from Alex Rooker: My wife and I have a day sail charter business. Weíve known Debi Wynn since 2017 and have visited Mad Hatteras a number of times. After learning that Debi plans to offer her marketing and management services to other boat owners, I mentioned to her a book available on Amazon ñ ìYour Boat as a Business.î I wrote the book in 2018, using my catamaran Yacht-A-Fun as inspiration. It has proven to be a valuable resource for Boatel operators!

Debi Wynn may be reached at:  Just Chillin Yacht Charters LLC ,   252-469-7523 or 808-870-6314 JustChillinYachtCharters@gmail.com

Editor’s note: Got a unique story about living or working in eastern North Carolina? Call Alex Rooker at (828) 322-6016