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Mid-Life Career Change: From Corporate World to Sport Fishing Captain

Some men have mid-life crises. Others, like Mark Lamborn, the new owner/skipper of the St. Thomas-based
charter sports fishing boat, Prowler,
have mid-life career changes.

A native
of Lancaster,
Pennsylvania, Lamborn
worked the last twenty years as a respiratory therapist and clinical sales
specialist. “I specialized in pediatrics, infants and children, setting
up home ventilator programs. Often, I had a caseload of 70 kids and worked
100-hour weeks due to being on call,” says Lamborn.

Yet, Lamborn always made time for sports fishing. “My
parents owned a boat on the Chesapeake.
After I got out of school, I started running boats out of
Ocean City, Maryland.
Every weekend for 20 years and all 6 weeks of my vacation each year, I spent
running private yachts like a 32-foot Trojan, 39-foot Topaz and a 50-foot
Viking, chasing marlin and tuna.”

Lamborn participated in many tournaments, too, such as the
White Marlin Open held out of Ocean
City, the Virginia Beach Red, White and Blue and the
Mid-Atlantic $500 out of New Jersey.
The year 2003 was particularly a banner one. He captained the winning boat in
the Ocean City Tuna Tournament’s Single Fish Division with a whopping
220-pound big eye tuna and he was at the helm of the winning boat in the
Rolex/IGFA Offshore Championship.

The seed
for the idea to fish professionally in the Virgin Islands
was sewn over a decade ago. “In 1993, I came down and went out on a
charter aboard Prowler. Bill McCauley
owned the boat and he is from the same area of the states that I am. After
that, I always knew I’d eventually move in this direction. Then last
year, after 20 years in the corporate scene, taking the world on my shoulders
watching children die, I knew it was time to make a change,” Lamborn says.

In
preparation, he began evaluating charter operations and found that
Prowler
was for sale. “The
four-year financials looked good and I saw that
St. Thomas had a strong tourism industry,”
Lamborn said.

He put
much of his belongings in storage, sold his house and moved to the
Virgin Islands in April 2005.

Starting
any new business is a challenge and Lamborn has had
his share of ups and downs.

“We
were busy in April and May, lots of tuna, dolphin and wahoo
off the south side. Then, we were the first of the local fleet to catch a blue
marlin for the year,” he says.

He adds,
“Marlin season saw us with 26 hook-ups and 15 fish landed. We could have
done more, but it was frustrating. I had a major breakdown on July 7 and had to
rebuild my port engine and starboard transmission. That took six weeks and took
me out of some of the prime fishing time.”

When Lamborn isn’t running the boat, he’s marketing
it and doing the bookings himself. “One thing I’d recommend for
someone else making this transition is not to do it alone. Many of the other
charter boats are run by a couple where someone handles the shoreside
operations,” he says.

Still, in
spite of the challenges, Lamborn is optimistic about
the future.

“Here, I am in a world class fishery competing against some of the
best in the world. It’s an adrenalin rush just to be out on the water
here each day.”

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