Captain Dakotah Gutierrez was born and raised on Marco Island, a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico off Southwest Florida, linked to the mainland by bridges south of Naples. Captain Dakotah worked for Dreamlander Tours as a high school student and now owns the business, which includes two Carolina Skiff boats in its fleet. We talked to him to learn more about his life on Marco Island, his business, his family and his Carolina Skiff boats.
Tell us about your business, Dreamlander Tours:
Dreamlander Tours is a small, family-owned, family-operated business. I started out as an eco-tour guide for Dreamlander when I was in high school. We take guests out on dolphin tours and shelling trips through the Ten Thousand Islands and offer backwater fishing excursions, as well. Being born and raised on the island, I learned that if you don’t like water, you’re in the wrong spot. I grew up on boats and have been on the water my whole life. I worked for Dreamlander Tours from the time they opened. When I graduated, I went right into captain’s school, and then I captained their boats for a few years. When the season would end, I’d travel to continue to use my captain’s license. I worked in Illinois, Alaska and Massachusetts, where I met my wife. While I was there, I got my ENT and paramedics certifications. Several years later, we moved back here, and the former Dreamlander owners contacted me and asked if I would like to take it over. It was perfect timing, and was a dream come true. I’ve been running the business for about five years and am also a full time fire fighter. I have captains that help me run the business. Dreamlander Tour’s expeditions through Ten Thousand Islands combine wildlife viewing, eco-education and the simple joy of being out on the water.
Tell us about the Carolina Skiff boats that are part of your Dreamlander Tours fleet:
We have a 1999 Carolina Skiff 238 DLV and a 2006 Carolina Skiff 258 DLV. I personally selected both of these boats for the business when I took it over. These are cool boats that just get the job done. The smaller boat isn’t my preference on days that the water is a little choppier, so that’s one reason we got the bigger boat, too. A guy I know is always finding boats, and he had the 238 DLV – just the hull and console. I got a deal on it, painted it, added custom bench seats and a new motor and we’ve been running that ever since. It’s a little bit longer and handles rough water a little bit better.
I found that 258 DLV in a similar way. A guy had it, and it had just been sitting. I put a new four stroke (engine) on it…it had a two stroke (engine)…and put some new seating in it. The 26 is my favorite boat. The hull has more of a V in it, and it handles the rough water really well. But both of these boats run skinny. That’s something we really need down here, because of how shallow the water is. In low tide, we can be looking at water that’s only six inches to three feet deep. But these boats can take it.
Depending on how we are running, we can get a little wet on the 23, because of the configuration. The gunnels aren’t that high. But that boat has seen some stuff and it’s still running great!
Any special stories you’d like to share about either of your Carolina Skiff boats?
One time, we were out on a shelling trip and a guy came up and started asking me some questions about the 258 DLV. The guy seemed to know all of this stuff about it…turns out, he was the original owner of that boat! There were little things about it that he recognized…small changes he had made, things he had done. He told me about all the things he had done to it and different outings He would take it 50 miles off shore. When I got it, there were stress cracks in hull because he took it off shore and really beat it up. But that thing is indestructible. I eventually redid the fiberglass it’s all white and clean and looks real nice. And it still runs great.
Are you in the market for a new boat, or will you stick with your current Carolina Skiff vessels?
To be honest, the 26 is my favorite. Someday, I’d like to get into the 28 foot because it’s that much bigger. It would allow me to spread out a little bit. We can fix six guests in each of our boats. Obviously, the 26 is rated for more, but we follow the coast guard law down here that limits six per boat.
What changes or modifications have you made to your boats?
I found a guy that was selling old airboat seats and added them to the 26. So now that boat has these really fancy and comfortable bench seats. I’ve added other little custom touches like that here and there to make these boats really cool. That’s the thing about these Carolina Skiffs, you can customize them however you want. It’s a giant big bathtub, and you can make it your own however you want.
Speak about the dependability and reliability of your boats.
You can run these boat so hard, and they just keep going. Most of my modifications have been more for looks. I redid the fiberglass on the one boat to make it look nicer, but I think it will run forever, regardless. I am pretty sure these boats are unsinkable. We certainly put them to the test. We run year-round and run two to three groups, six days a week. We are fortunate to be that business, and I know these boats can handle it.
Anything else you’d like to add about Carolina Skiff?
I’ll probably stick with Carolina Skiff forever. I have owned and experienced all kinds of makes and models of boats. Carolina Skiff boats are just the best boats for tours, fishing, or to pull up on beaches. You can do anything on them. They take a beating and they just keep going.
At Carolina Skiff, building one of the best quality boats for a great price has always been our goal. Whether you’re looking for a pleasure boat, fishing boat, runabout or commercial/work boat, Carolina Skiff delivers the most in value, quality and style. Find a Carolina Skiff dealer near you today or visit https://carolinaskiff.com/ to learn more.