My name is Neil Goodchild and I was born in a small village called Lyndhurst, found just outside Southampton near the south coast of England. My history with boats and boating goes back a long way. In 1979, aged 17, I joined a voluntary rescue organisation called Venturers Search and Rescue. The Venturers operated a small cruiser and 3 large semi-rigid inflatables and we often had our hands full in the busy stretch of water between us and the Isle of Wight. This was my introduction to boats and they’ve played a large part in my life ever since, including regular weekends on Southampton Water with my best mate Dean on his speedboat, where we taught ourselves to waterski, slalom ski and kneeboard.
In 1986, my then girlfriend’s lodger convinced me to book some time off work and share the cost of an apartment he had rented in Los Gigantes. I booked the holiday, my first abroad, and spent 10 days relaxing, traveling and exploring. Although I fell in love with the island during this time, it was the flight home that would change the course of my life forever. Here I found myself sat next to a girl from Santa Cruz who was on her way to Madrid where she was booked on a course. We hit it off and kept in touch by letter and phone and in 1989 I finally left my job and home town of Holbury and moved to Tenerife to begin a new life here. Although the young lady and I went our separate ways after 4 years together (we’re still friends to this day), the idea of moving back to the UK never crossed mind . . .
By 1993 I had a watersports business on Troya Beach in Playa de las Américas, driving various boats towing a 6 man ‘banana’ and ‘teaching’ waterskiing as a sideline. Following this, Dean bought a parascending boat and we worked the summer in Almería in mainland Spain (where the boat was previously operating). After finally being granted the licences to operate in Playa de las Américas, we towed the boat the 450km to Cádiz behind Dean’s old Range Rover, and took the 49 hour ferry crossing to Santa Cruz.
At the turn of the century I started another business with a (then) friend doing the photos on the excursion boats in Puerto Colón and Los Cristianos. In our heyday we had 13 full time photographers and over the years I clocked up literally thousands of hours driving fast boats and ribs (rigid inflatable boats) that we bought to take the staff out to the excursion boats for them to sell the photos. Almost every day I was lucky enough to come across our resident pilot whales, dolphins, turtles and other marine life.
By now I was with a another Canarian girl, my current partner, and we had had 2 children. Because we’re all sea lovers I decided to buy a boat for us to enjoy as a family, and I decided on Zodiac’s top of the range, 24′, Medline lll. I liked this boat because of its reputation for safety (it’s certified as unsinkable!) and because of it’s versatility, stability and the comfort it affords, however I discovered the Medline lll really comes into her own at anchor where she becomes a big comfy base from which to relax, swim and snorkel. The three quarter bimini top gives shade when the sun becomes too much and there’s a swim platform with a ladder and fresh water shower so it’s easy to get back on the boat and rinse the salt off. Also, the engine’s ultra-low emission and low noise technology means there’s a minimal impact on wildlife and the environment, so it’s a win-win!
We had many happy days at sea and at anchor in El Puertito, and the kids loved that the dolphins would come next to the boat or swim in the bow waves. It was these experiences that eventually led to my deciding to go through the never ending hoops necessary to licence the boat for commercial use.
After a lot of hard work we began attracting and serving people looking for an authentic experience and a little more exclusivity. My aim has always been to offer quality, customer-focused charters, and our ideal customers are families or friends wanting a great time together, with quality food and drinks, and not wanting the crowds found on other motor boats.
Now the business has been operating for 5 years and the focus is still on bringing our customers back happy. We regularly have clients re-book another trip or charter during the same holiday, and many more still that come back year after year. This is made easier for me nowadays as I have a terrific skipper, Jorge! He’s a real character and I believe him to be one of the best and certainly one of the most qualified skippers working out of Puerto Colón. Invariably he gets a mention in our TripAdvisor reviews as he’s very knowledgeable but also knows when to keep his mouth shut (he assures me…!).
There have been problems and setbacks – originally due to renting Poker Chip out ‘bareboat’ to those with their own skipper licences (something we now don’t do…), but we learn from our mistakes and are looking forward to taking the steps we’ve mapped out to take the business and our offers to new levels.