I've been reading with some interest some of the comments in
relation to organising pelagic trips where the organiser goes for free. As
someone who has organised pelagic seabirding trips totally over 100 days at sea
and over many years I would like to add another perspective to those already
From the start, my opinion is that I don't and have never cared or asked if any
organiser of any birding trip that I have gone on is paying, going for free or
making a profit. If they can organise a trip where they go for free, whoever
they are, good luck to them.
What many people don't realise is that the organiser is the one that often pays
MORE then the participants. I've organised the Newcastle Pelagic trips with
Phil Hansbro since 2000 and have NOT EVER had one free trip in that time. The
figures are fairly simple. $1000 for the boat for the day, thats 10 people at
$100. In addition to the $100, I also have to buy $30 worth of burley and $20
worth of Tuna Oil. So far thats $150 a trip, minimum EVERY trip. Then people
ring up and pull out the night before. I've had two seperate people ring up
the night before a pelagic trip and withdraw for medical reasons. As I had
people flying in from interstate I decided not to cancel the trip. I paid the
boat owner their part, plus mine and paid for the burley, all up $350 out of my
own pocket so we could all have a day at sea and know one ever knew. This has
happened on at least 10 occasions on Newcastle trips where the organiser (me)
has paid for a
person that hasn't turned up out of his own pocket. I wonder how many people
think I go on the Newcastle Pelagic trips for free?
The other point that no one has considered is that often the organiser goes for
free but pays in other ways behind the scenes that participants never find out
about. I've organised trips where I've gone on a long pelagic for free but had
to pay for equipment/permits etc to make the trip happen. One trip I had to
buy $3,500 worth of fridge freezer for the boat to keep the burley etc frozen
for the length of the trip as the boat only had a tiny freezer which was
required for food.
As already has been mentioned by others, there's the time involved. Each one
day pelagic generates between 30-60 emails and there's no fuel compensation for
having to drive across town to buy the burley.
Finally, what does the organiser do on these trips? Have you ever seen the
organisers of the Southport, Port Fairy etc pelagics inside doing crosswords
and chatting about the footy? No, of course you haven't, the organiser, rain,
hail or shine is at the back of the boat all day, chumming and spotting birds
for those on board.
Then there's the cost of the free birding trip. A quick calculation of the
number of hours taken organising, leading, writing the trip report etc
multiplied by my hourly rate in my 'day job' reveals that I should be getting
paid over $4,000 for the day and I'm sure the hours are the same for the
organisers of all Australia's pelagic trips.
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