Ten Questions: Tom Ellsworth will meet you on the seas


Tom Ellsworth is a lifelong boater who has turned his hobby into a vocation.

One of the nation’s most prolific Riviera dealers, Ellsworth draws upon his own deep passion for boating to craft an ownership experience for his customers that transcends their expectations. This includes offering boating experiences such as the annual Ellsworth Marine Mag Bay Bash, ongoing instruction in boat operation and game fishing, and other opportunities to interact with fellow boat owners.

Ellsworth has a bachelor’s from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He recently founded the Eastern Pacific Yacht Club aboard the M/V Pacific Provider, which he hopes will provide new ways to explore the Pacific along the outer reaches of the American, Mexican and Central American Coasts.

What brought you to La Jolla?

My wife, Laurie, and I grew up in San Diego and, for the first 10 years of our marriage, we lived in Mission Hills. She had always wanted to live in La Jolla, close to the beach. We moved to La Jolla in 2004.

What keeps you in La Jolla?

Everything we could possibly need or want to do can be found in and around La Jolla. We have a great group of friends and our girls really enjoy the neighborhood.

What inspired you to turn an old crabbing boat into a country club on the seas?

The idea of owning a private yacht is changing. This is only more exacerbated by the present economic conditions. I have owned many boats personally over the years but it seemed as if manufacturers were beginning to charge excessively high for their product with no offer to support or keep them working safely at sea.

Complementing this reality was the fact that more people with less experience are getting into boating and just want to experience how much fun it can be without the hassle and responsibility of private boat ownership. So the question became obvious, “How can I deliver the highest quality boating experience without boat ownership and at an affordable price?” The price is relative to location and at the height of my new yacht dealership we were selling yachts for an average price of $720,000.

In contrast, by joining the Eastern Pacific Yacht Club, our members can access waters from Southern California to Panama without the responsibility of owning a boat for $35,000 a year and a one-time refundable deposit of $140,000. They don’t hassle with the fishing tackle, the scuba equipment or even have to think about what to eat, drink or how to fix anything that breaks. They just get to enjoy their families and the experience of boating together.

What can guests aboard the yacht expect to experience?

We offer everything that there is to do on the water. Since many of our members are into fishing, we are additionally equipped with a 33-foot game boat and a 26-foot near shore game boat. We also offer a full complement of dive equipment, kayaks, snorkel gear and surfboards.

Some of our members fish in the morning and take surf in the afternoon. It really depends upon the individual. Our executive chef Drew Deckman is a big part of the culinary experience. While he prides himself on pulling flavors from all over the world into his food, our members can also enjoy a cooking class if they like. The whole environment we are trying to promote is a small and enjoyable boating package where members can feel special while enjoying the company of their friends and family in a casual atmosphere.

What do you like best about sport fishing and boating?

What I like best about sport fishing is that I’ve never had to actually catch a fish to have fun. Fishing is an individual sport that you can enjoy with friends, but the real experience is to be on the water and try to read all the signs of life throughout the day.

If you can concentrate on what the surrounding sea and sky are telling you, it can be a rather Zen experience. All other thoughts are replaced by the single focus of what a symphony of life is playing out right in front of you. They all mean something different, such as where the current is coming from, which birds are in the air, animals in the water and how is it constantly changing.

Fishing is essentially spending vast amounts of time reading the tea leaves of nature. For me I really don’t see any difference between fishing and boating. They are one in the same.

If you hosted a cocktail party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?

Well, assuming I’m one of the eight, I would invite Ernest Hemingway since “The Old Man in the Sea” has been one of my favorite books since I was a kid. I would invite Jacques Cousteau for obvious reasons. Thomas Jefferson would add spark on the recent financial mess we have created. Lee Kuan Yew would be a shoe-in as well, since he probably is one of the most forward-thinking men of our times.

Can you imagine the conversation he and Thomas Jefferson would have?

Zane Grey would also have to be in the room with Ernest Hemingway. I have an extensive original collection of his works and others such as Michael Lerner that bring incredible stories to life of what the ocean used to be. J. Craig Venter. He’s done an enormous amount of good in pushing the human genome project forward. He is also very interested in marine conservation and science. Last on the list would be my mentor and father Peter K. Ellsworth. He is perhaps the most principled and insightful man and friend in my life.

What are you listening to currently?

I recently grabbed a bunch of blues music from chef Drew Deckman. It’s a compilation of 146 songs from all sorts of artists such as John Mayall, Mofro, Muddy Waters. I’m old school in my taste for music. There are a few new artists like Coldplay and Jason Mraz, but for the most part I’m into classic rock ‘n’ roll and blues.

What was the last thing you read?

“The Rosetta Stone.” It’s a fiction piece, however, most of what I read is trade related and industry news. I still read the newspaper seven days a week - no mater where I am. I also like to keep up on technology and current events.

Describe your greatest accomplishment.

My greatest accomplishment was to become a father in 2003 and again in 2004. Through a lot of soul searching and extremely difficult circumstances, we were both rewarded with two amazing kids. We’ve been tested as a couple and we were rewarded for our perseverance. No single other accomplishment even comes close.

If I was to pick out a non-family event it would have to be reeling in an estimated 1,100-pound black marlin in Australia with my Dad, brother, nephew and best friend on a seven-day Great Barrier Reef fishing experience.

I chose to release her because she came up in excellent shape after an hour and a half. Her eyes were as big as grapefruits and full of life. She kicked away strongly and hopefully is still swimming strong today.

What is your motto?

Keep going forward no matter what the odds. Standing still is the same as going backwards.