Summer's almost over. School's about to start. But there's still time for one last hurrah.
You could pack the kids into the minivan and head to the water park like you've done a dozen times before. Or you could do something completely different. Hint — it involves the word "party."
But to be clear, the word is not used as a verb, but an adjective, as in "party" boat.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the vernacular of the docks, a party boat is not a booze cruise. On the contrary — it is good, clean fun.
A party boat, also called a head boat, is a fishing vessel that charges by the person, or per head, and for the average angler there is no better deal. A private, for-hire boat will cost more than $500 for a half-day offshore charter, whereas a party boat typically charges around $50 per person, with kids usually half price, for the same trip.
Party boats — you will find them in Tarpon Springs, Clearwater, Madeira Beach and Pass-a-Grille — are also roomier than your average sportfisherman, which is a big plus for kids, who like to walk around.
But before you book a trip, there are few things you need to know. For starters, every party boat has its regulars, hard-core anglers who fish every week. Some of the older operations, such as the Florida Fisherman that runs out of Hubbard's Marina on John's Pass, have customers who don't measure their tenure in years, but decades....