Floating Fishing Lodge in Alaska- Help me out

3 Replies


 For the past 5 summers, my dad and I have been going on fishing trips in Alaska and the past 2 we have had the opportunity to stay at this incredible lodge in Thorne Bay. It was just a little mom and pop operation owned by an old logger and his wife. Now what made this place stand out from all the others we had ever stayed at, was this one was actually a traditional float house. The property consisted of 1 large cabin that can sleep 4-6, 3 small cabins that can sleep 2-4, a common lodge area for the guest and a house that the owners stayed in that could sleep 6-8, all tucked away in a private cove right off the main channel of the bay. The lodge is only accessible by boat or float plane.

Anyway my dad just got back from a fishing trip there and he mentioned  that the couple are looking to sell because the husband is in poor health and the property is getting too much for them to handle. I told him he should buy the place, but i was just joking because I was for certain the asking price would be way out of our budget. However it turns out the numbers are ALOT more reasonable than I thought. Here are some rough calculations.

Asking Price: $220,000( could possibly offer lower considering they are motivated sellers) 

15% down payment: $33,000

Owner Financing 15 years at 5% (I figure a conventional loan would be out of question for this property): $1,479

Insurance: ???

Maintenance: ???

Management: ???

Capex: ???

Vacancy: ???

Estimated total monthly expenses (including P&I): $2800

Yearly holding cost: $33,600

So as you can see I still have some big gaps to fill in but with a property like this I have no idea what some of the numbers would come in at.  I figure Insurance will be something ridiculous because you have to protect the house from sinking and additional liability insurance in case a guest injuries themselves or maybe even drown. Maintenance is another huge concern. The property is in great condition but it is by no means a 5 star resort. It is rustic just as a Alaskan fishing lodge should be, but with that rust comes upkeep required to keep it operational. And i'm sure we could get a ballpark figure from the current owners but as of now it is TBD. I love alaskan summers but alaskans winters are a different story and being from Texas this is especially true. If we were to buy this property there would be no way me or my dad would spend the entire year there, which means we would need to find a local to manage it and  keep an eye on it during the winter. And i would be willing to bet they wouldn't do it for free. This brings me to Capex, which for a regular house would be no problem but for a 40 year old floating house, I have no idea. And now finally the biggest question of them all... vacancy. Like i said earlier, this is just a small mom and pop operation. They didn't have any big marketing campaign or advertising budget, all of their bookings either came through their facebook page or word of mouth.  I'm sure I could find out by asking the owner but even then I would assume their numbers would be drastically understated due to their outdated technique.

Now if you haven't already stopped reading by now, this is where things get interesting. As you know not many people want to go visit Alaska between the months of October and March, meaning you would only have mid April to mid September to make your money. We'll call this 115 days.  And I would say a fair occupancy rate would be 50% (58 days). On my dads most recent trip, he and his buddies stayed in the big cabin and paid $800 a night for 5 nights. I would assume the smaller ones would rent for $400 a night. To simplify this already very complicated deal we will just average the 2 for a final nightly rate of $600. 

58 days * $600/night= $34,800

Not too bad for only 3 months of work. This would leave us with a profit of $1200 once you factor in  holding cost. I know this is pretty poor cashflow but these are very rough estimates so  more accurate information could  help out a bit. And at the end of the day cashflow isn't my number 1 priority. Right now I'm just trying to make this deal makes sense to my dad, which means making sure the revenue out weighs the expenses.  

I doubt many people will make it this far, but if you did, congrats! I know this is a unusual deal but if anyone can help fill in the missing pieces or have any additional input it would be greatly appreciated. 


I am saying if you want it in your family as a great place for you all to be whenever you want it then I say this.  Find someone who would like living there year round.  Offer him/her the smallest of the cabins.  Rent out the two bigger places and the other small ones increasing you money. 

IF you think you can get people to rent by using Facebook or any other means and you know you have vacancies you would offer a discount to get it filled.  People love going to these untouched areas.  I think that your numbers are a little low all around.  

Ask the owners their yearly incoming and outgoing amounts.  I don't think they will be as low as you think and finding someone who would want to live in this area in the winter might not be as hard as you think.  I think you should get the numbers from the current owners and then come back to us here.  Tag me with the information so we can help you weed through it.  

@Blaine Alger Its hard to get a real feel for this property without seeing it firsthand. If you can take me on your next trip I can give you better info on what to do with it.  

Seriously though. It sounds like an awesome property. As a builder I have to wonder what happens to the structure when that water freezes. I have only built as far up as Bethlehem Pa so that is a little out of my wheelhouse. You say you have been going now for 5 years? How much new wood do you notice each time you go there? Like patches and stuff. This could give you some idea on the capex maybe. Insurance should be easy. Just ask for receipts from the current owners. If they are motivated they should be happy to comply. 

Best of luck an let me know when you need me to give you my first hand opinion lol.