Hi, I'm Captain Stef
I'm also known as Stephenie Jansen. I am the owner and captain of Raro Reef Sub.
Because it's unusual to see a female captaining a boat, I'm often asked to share my journey with my passengers, so here goes!
I'm a single mother of a wonderful little boy. I come from Tauranga, New Zealand. My work background is ten years law enforcement - mainly in south Auckland, then in later years administration. Late in 2014 I started to feel that I needed to stop working for "the man" and buy a business. I wanted to be the author of my own destiny. I not only wanted to do well financially, but needed to be able to spend more time with my son. I looked and I looked for a business in Tauranga, but they were always overpriced or risky. Every now and then I would see the Reef Sub's add come up and I would think - how wonderful would that be for someone.
After months of searching, curiousity got the better of me and I enquired about it. One thing led to another, and after a couple of weeks of intense due dilligence I bought it!
It was very scary! I have never really driven a boat before! I'd never owned a business before! I'd never even been to Rarotonga!
So big question - what posssesed me to do this? ...
For the last 20 years my main focus has been on getting ahead financially and ensuring that I have enough money to retire one day. I had a bit of an epiphany while looking at buying the Reef Sub. It's all very well working hard and scrimping for retiriement, but what happens if I kick the bucket before I got there - or right afterwards? Would I be content with my life doing the same old thing day after day, or be kicking myself for not being more adventurous and actually LIVING my life? I thought about my son. What lesson would he learn from this? I'm hoping he will learn that calculated risk is a good thing, and that life is there to be lived. Rarotonga is also a fantastic place to bring up a child!
It's funny really, during the decision making process, when I was questioning my sanity, a couple of quotes appeared on my newsfeed. These quotes helped me to find the courage to proceed. They were "If your dreams don't scare you, they're not big enough" and "life begins outside your comfort zone." Richard Branson.
On 1 April 2015, I took over the helm of Raro Reef Sub. Under the expert tuition of the previous owner (and without too many mishaps) I learned to drive the boat, and began running the business. I am still learning new stuff every day.
My son is enrolled in the local primary school and is loving spending lots of time with Mum. His favourite thing to do here is fishing off the wharf - which is great for me when I'm cleaning the boat. He comes out on the boat once a week and is Mum's right hand man. He loves telling people about the different types of fish they are seeing, and generally chatting to the passengers.
Right, so that 's where we are right now. We are living the dream. I won't pretend that I didn't have moments in the first few months when I didn't want to pull the sheets over my head and assume the fetal position, but I can say - it was definately worth it! I now feel I have the best office in the world, and love going to "work".
Thanks for taking the time to read this and hope to see you aboard sometime.
Above - Capt'n Steph and Tour Guide Luke
History of the Reef Sub:
The reef sub was constructed in "the shed" in Matavera, Rarotonga in 1998 by Simon Roycroft. Simon is the son of Terry Roycroft (the inventor of the aquatic car). She's made of steel and has very thick glass windows in the hull.
She had a re-design in 2006 by a qualified boat surveyer, which has served her well. Every year she is removed from the water during the cyclone season and is meticulously painted and serviced during this time.
Safety is a priority for us. We will do all we can to make you feel very safe when taking a tour on-board the Reef Sub. She is a steel hulled pontoon semi-submersible which "can't sink" (I know it's been said before)! There are approx 30 lifejackets stored in the front hatch, and a throwing ring at hand. A VHS radio is onboard and staff have current first aid certificates.
Why Eco Tours?
We care about the marine environment, and work very hard to keep it prisitine and protect the creatures within. To this end we clean up as we go - any rubbish we see is picked up and disposed of properly. We take class trips out and educate them about marine ecology (at heavlily discounted rates), and we contribute a percentage of our profits to the Te Upukarea Society (a NGO with conservation at it's core).