The Lost Isle Adventures boat in Morro Bay
Captain Dane Jacob’s positive attitude could not be daunted by a 2020 worldwide pandemic. From childhood he learned to make-do with what came his way.
I love a challenge – being the underdog,” he said. “We grew up dirt poor. We didn’t even have a TV. When my parents divorced, my sister and I split time living with my dad in Long Beach and Mom in Cayucos and we always found ways to enjoy the life around us.”
Dane has always gravitated towards sailing and seaside activities. He spent 10 years life-guarding for the Long Beach Fire Department.
He attended Los Osos Middle School and Morro Bay High School. He was most proud, however, to surprise everyone he knew by graduating in 2011 from Cal Poly with honors. He found his niche while majoring in small business entrepreneurship and sustainable tourism. Active membership in Cal Poly’s Hot House, Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship www.cie.calpoly.edu encouraged his drive to create three successful start-up businesses on the Central Coast.
His first business was Red Anchor Charters out of Morro Bay. He still owns the yacht, but was sidetracked from bay cruising to focus on developing Reef Points Hard Cider with Cal Poly classmate and friend Patrick Martinez, cellar master for Niner Wine Estates.
Dane was also distracted by a girl named Alexis, who managed Blue Sky Restaurant of Morro Bay for six years. Harbor-side, the restaurant was close to where the Red Anchor Charters docked. Their mutual attraction led to friendship, which led to business partnering and a wedding in March 2021.
“I wouldn’t be anywhere without her,” said Dane.
Meanwhile Cayucos-based Reef Points Hard Cider was making industry noise. The hand-to-bottle cider small business had grown to 268 accounts. Patrick was the production partner and Dane loved helping during production but focused on sales and marketing.
They were positioned to grow, but a bank loan was denied. Dane had met Jeff Wade, www.slowmoneyslo.org, through the Cal Poly Hot House. Slow Money SLO is a nonprofit investor group interested in supporting established businesses in San Luis Obispo County’s agriculture and sustainable farm-to-table industries in order to keep small business farming thriving in the area.
Dane explained, “The group looks for owners whose minds are ‘right,’ food/ag related that have potential.” Much like the television show Shark Tank, Reef Points was invited to present to the group and it was accepted to receive funding. Their business grew to 3,000 cases, was recognized as one of the top three hard ciders worldwide by Wine Enthusiasts Magazine and, when offered a buy-out, the partners sold the company and Dane headed back towards Morro Bay-side.
“I love the sea and wanted back on the water,” said Dane. “Lost Isles was for sale again from Thomas Pauly. I asked Alexis if I should buy it. She said I better do it this time.” The timing had not been quite right the two prior times he had looked into ownership of the floating Tiki-Tour boat business.
Dane also purchased a unique whale watching boat. “It rides low in the water so no one gets sea sick,” he said. “Since it only accommodates six people at once it helped us weather Covid.” Captain Dane says depending on the season they will see grey whales and humpbacks.
“Lost Isle Adventures was already established,” said Captain Dane, “but we grew it in 2019. Then 2020 hit and we’ve survived. Jeff (Wade) became much more than an investor for us. He’s a friend. He helped us get the SBA loan to survive Covid and the PPE to continue business. It came back June 5, but we are still only at half capacity — when the weather is right.” Wind and rain determine if they can tour the bay.
Harbor cruises are 45-minutes and very affordable. Multiple YELP reviews recommend the entertaining bay cruise to learn about the history of Morro Bay while tasting 1950s style tiki drinks. The boat also has a full bar.
Dane says his favorite customers are the children. “I’m so grateful for all I have here (in Morro Bay) — what I’ve come through all these years. Being local I know a lot about the bay. I was in junior guards here and sailed for years, so I know a lot about the mammals, sea life and Morro Rock. I love to tell stories to the kids.”
He is confident being on the water learning about the bay and otters is more memorable than sitting at home on Zoom. “Kids love to be silly and they love to learn.”
This columnist hasn’t experience Captain Dane’s bay-dialogue, yet, but has no doubts Captain Dane is all about fun and enlightenment for both kids and adults. Give them a call to book a ride at (805) 771-9337.