By Kimber Fountain, Photo by Christa Schreckengost
“They may not be bright blue or crystal clear, but these are healthy waters.” That is the observation and assessment of Captain John Wilson as he guides the “Troublemaker” deftly through the dark blue harbor, admiring the scene around him. Not only does the northern shore of Galveston teem with industry and commerce, droves of pelicans surf the winds around the ships, dolphins frolic in their natural habitat, seagulls scan the piers for the next handout, and scores of fish swirl around and far beneath the hull of his boat. “The ecosystem here is thriving,” he concludes, “and so is the business in the harbor. This really is a great time to be in Galveston.”
A licensed captain for six years now, John Wilson comes from a family of boaters and fishermen, and spent much of his life on the water as a pleasure boater during his thirty years in the medical profession. Upon moving to Galveston he was working privately as a captain, but after the previous owner chose not to continue with Caribbean Breeze after Hurricane Ike, Captain Wilson stepped in and reopened the business in 2010. “I was able to turn my passion into a business, and the best part is that the customers are always smiling.” He laughs as he jokes, “After so many years of dealing with patients, there are no sick people here! If someone is sick, they call and say they can’t make it today.”
Indeed Caribbean Breeze is all about the fun, which has expanded exponentially with their recent location change that occurred in the off-season of the past year. Previously their ramp was located just off 61st Street on Offats Bayou, “but people would come back after an hour or two, and ask, ‘what else is there to do?’” John remembers. “Now we have bigger water, more water, and more open water.” Boaters and fishermen now have access from the Caribbean Breeze boat ramp to all of Galveston Bay, and a direct line to offshore and the harbor.
The change is also much more convenient for their most popular excursion, parasailing. Named “Paradise,” the 30 foot custom-parasail boat has always launched from the harbor, and (weather permitting) sends people flying down the Gulf coastline. “Paradise” is designed specifically for parasailing, and its hydraulic mounts eliminate the need for risky beach landings, allowing ‘fliers’ to both take off and land directly from the boat.
The total Caribbean Breeze fleet numbers about twelve vessels, and also includes various fishing, cruising, and pontoon boats, as well as jet skis. In addition to the motorized craft, they offer rental use of several non-power vessels, including kayaks, canoes and a sailboat. “We do let the customers drive their own boat and we do rent to beginners,” Captain John says. Of course drivers are required to demonstrate that they know how to operate the craft, but Caribbean Breeze also offers hands-on, personal training for novice boaters. “We probably do more training than anything else,” John says, “We really stress the importance of safety first.” And safety is by no means limited to boat operation, Captain John and his crew are also very observant of the weather, and take the utmost precautions when deciding to execute outings.
Members of the Caribbean Breeze operating crew are all Coast Guard Licensed Captains, each with their own specialty. Captain Kristy is a specialist in recreational boating, parasail shuttle operations, and pleasure cruises, while Captain Britt is trained in parasail operations. Captain Jeff is also trained in parasail operations, and is also a sport-fishing specialist. Customer Service Specialists JJ, Jordan, Zach, and Nick are experienced dock attendants and knowledgeable instructors who provide the safety training for rental boats and jet skis on site at the Galveston Yacht Basin. Rounding out the Caribbean Breeze staff are CJ, Cesar, and Jon; they assist customers with rentals and tickets sales, and serve as attendants on East Beach at the jet ski and kayak rental kiosk.
This experienced crew of professionals, together with a diverse fleet, makes Caribbean Breeze quite literally a one-stop fun-shop, with entertainment for families, friends, kids and couples. Hire a captain to guide your excursion, or learn how to navigate it yourself. From the novice to the natural, from the flier to the fisher, from the sailor to the sightseer, Caribbean Breeze gives locals and visitors alike one of the best opportunities to fully experience Galveston’s waters.
715 N. Holiday Dr. (on the boat ramp at Galveston Yacht Basin)
Open Daily Sunrise to Sunset