ISLAMORADA (CBSMiami/FKNB)– A man destined to be a butcher is now celebrating his 50th year in the sportfishing business as a Florida Keys charterboat captain.
Skip Bradeen arrived in the Keys in late September 1964. He was 22 years old, had just finished a stint in the U.S. Air Force and was destined to become a New York butcher.
The story about how he got to the Keys begins in a Long Island, N.Y., bar where he told friends about plans to travel in his new Chevy convertible to Fort Lauderdale, for a vacation.
A buddy asked if he could go along and share travel expenses, because he had a job offer in Islamorada.
Bradeen took him to Islamorada, dropped him off and as Bradeen walked around the docks, a captain asked him if wanted to go fishing the next day.
There was no money to go fishing, but the charterboat skipper offered him the opportunity to work as a mate.
Bradeen accepted, made $10 the next day and stayed to learn the business.
In 1966, Bradeen purchased that first boat he had worked on as a mate for $3,200, including fishing gear. He’s been a captain leading Keys visitors on sportfishing experiences ever since.
The charter fee in the 1960s for the boat was $60 for a full day and $40 for a half. According to Bradeen, gas then cost 13 cents per gallon. Today, due to soaring costs for fuel, insurance and other needs, Bradeen’s charter fee for his beloved Blue Chip Too is $1,300 for a full day and $900 for a half day.
Bradeen figures he has been involved in more than 14,000 charter fishing trips, with a clientele that has included American presidents, rock stars and sports celebrities.
“What I have taken away from this business is my love for it,” he said. “My absolute love for the charter boat industry in the Florida Keys.”
Will he ever retire?
“That word is not in my vocabulary right now,” Bradeen said. “When (Denver Broncos Quarterback) Peyton Manning lost the Super Bowl (XLVIII) they asked him about retirement.
“He said ‘I’m on a journey, not a destination,'” he said. “I’m the Peyton Manning of this business — on a journey, no retirement in sight.”
(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Florida Keys News Bureau contributed to this report.)
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