It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but Adam Elliott said selling Crystal Waters Boat Tours has been a relief for him.
Elliott grew up in Pasadena and while he’s called Fort McMurray home for many years, it’s a goal of his to come back home to live.
Four years ago, he started on a path he felt would make that a reality.
“My goal was to move home and be self-sustaining, have my own company that I could survive off.”
Elliott has a boat at the Bay of Islands Yacht Club in Corner Brook that he uses in the summer. He loves boating and thought he’d like to get into the tour boat business.
Crystal Waters, was based out of the yacht club, and Elliott made a deal with the previous owner, Randy Hunt. He put a down payment on the boat with a plan to return the following spring to complete the sale.
As he was getting ready to fly home the wildfire of 2016 hit Fort Mac.
“And I had to take my family and run out of town here and try and find somewhere for them to live,” he said by phone.
“It was a crazy experience.”
He bought a used camper, set his family up in a park and flew home to take over the tour boat and start the season.
On top of the expenses related to the fire, getting the boat ready to go back in the water cost about $10,000 (that would be a yearly expense).
“So, right off the hop I’m sunk another $10 grand on top of what I just spent on the company.”
There was also a trip back to Alberta to get his family.
He found himself competing with a lot of little tours, ones that aren’t regulated by Transport Canada, and he had to contend with a rumour that the company had been shut down.
Year two saw cutbacks at the company he worked for in Alberta, but Elliott still kept the tour boat and the business seemed to do well.
Reflecting on it now, he said he bought the company because it was something he wanted to do.
“My mind told me that this is probably not a good idea … I just kind of went with my gut hoping for the best.”
He had plans to expand the operation and to be a part of the onboard entertainment.
“I really, really wanted to do good with it and I wanted to be involved with the community.
“But it just seemed like the customers weren’t there.”
This year he had to raise the prices for the tours, but couldn’t keep competing with those smaller private tours. And so, he decided to sell.
He tried to find a buyer in the area with hopes the tours would continue.
But that didn’t happen and Elliott would only say that he sold the operation to a tour company out of the east coast of the province and the company will be relocating the Crystal Waters’ boat, the Holly & Ryan, to there.
Undaunted by it all Elliott blames no one for what happened and is very thankful for everyone involved with the operation and who supported the tours.
“I’ll take what I’ve learned from it and move on. I don’t suck on a sour grape.”
And he’ll still come home.
Editor's note: This article has been edited for clarification.