How many people do you know who would sell their home and business, buy a 37-foot sailboat, then — leaving the shore in the rear view — head out for a life at sea. Well, if you know Marc Blackburn, owner of Ocean Surfari in the U.S. Virgin Islands, you can say you know at least one.
Marc and his wife Wendy have a story that reads like a novel. Born in Columbus, Ohio, Marc grew up in Syracuse, NY, and had a life changing experience at the age of 14. Marc’s dad took the entire family for a beach vacation to Fort Meyers, FL. Renting a Hatteras fishing boat, they set a course past Sanibel Island, and ventured 100 miles out into the Gulf of Mexico. Suddenly, they got into some grouper and the family began reeling in fish after fish. “The deck was covered in grouper and snapper,” said Marc. “We filled the holds with fish and ice, until finally, the captain told us to stop as he could not hold any more fish. We landed over 1,400 pounds of fish that day, and that is when I decided I wanted to be a fishing charter captain.”
At 19, Marc earned his captain’s license and has been living the dream for more than 35 years. After a short career in the grocery business, then running a successful charter fishing business in Florida, sailing all the way to Australia and back and living (to this day) on a boat, Marc took an opportunity to work for Kurt Richardson, the man behind OtterBox and LifeProof cell phone cases, at his charter business in the USVI, Ocean Surfari.
After a few years as team members, Marc and Wendy Blackburn decided it was time to own a business again and bought Ocean Surfari, growing it into one of the most successful charter companies in the Virgin Islands. With charter fishing, the islands newest snorkel boat and a line of apparel that practically flies off the shelves, Marc has realized the dream he had at 14 many times over. “I have taken tens of thousands of happy clients fishing,” he says, “At Ocean Surfari, we keep clients coming back by always treating them fairly, and like friends. Letting them experience our island life. A life that doesn’t require shoes – although, I think I do have a pair, somewhere. A life that flows with the breeze and the waves. But also, a life that can be very exciting at times. We offer a taste of this wonderful life on every excursion with Ocean Surfari … and thankfully, it keeps clients coming back for more.”
Capt. Marc Blackburn says his grave marker will read “No Could’a, Should’a, Would’a.” That’s because he will have no regrets, having done all he could have, seen all he should have, and tried all he would have. Marc and his crew at Ocean Surfari run the fishing vessels Hitman and Backlash and the snorkel boat Reef Surfari as well as the apparel shops at Red Hook Harbor and Havensight Mall.