In the Florida Keys, Bud n' Mary's Marina weathers a stormy economy

Richard Stanczyk, owner of the Bud N' Mary's Fishing Marina since 1978, can't remember working this hard.

After 63 years and at least 25 skin surgeries, he's put off retirement at the landmark Islamorada fishing hub and sent in his eighth set of renewal papers for his captain's license.

Where once Stanczyk could count on waiting lists for a fleet of nearly 20 offshore boats charging more than $1,000 a day, now Bud N' Mary's rents out rods at $15 a piece for people wanting to fish off a bridge.

And while Stanczyk used to rely on big spreads in Field & Stream and Outdoor Life to bring business to the rugged fishing compound just south of Mile Marker 80, now he's convinced captains to offer commissions for hotels, travel agents and corporate meeting planners sending charters Bud N' Mary's way.

''I certainly thought I was going to be retiring,'' said Stanczyk, who breaks up his schedule with a midday nap. ``It could come to where I actually have to start guiding again.''

As the white-haired father of two grown sons considers resetting the clock on his 40-year arc from boat captain to marina patriarch, he's facing the same kind of reckoning forced on countless businesses across the country.

With normal revenue sources dwindling or drying up in what's likely to be the longest recession since the 1930s, businesses are scrambling to find new customers and profit centers.

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