Join Date: Feb 2009
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Here is an issue charters should be aware of.
So I charter a yacht from Sunsail. When I get there my boat is full of problems and defects.
Their website and brochure states
"A well maintained yacht is key to the satisfaction of our charter guests, whether it is fresh out of the factory or approaching the end of the contract period. Therefore, instead of allowing technical problems to build up during the season we run a programme of preventative and ongoing maintenance, catching problems before they occur wherever possible and thereby reducing the chance of equipment failure during your sailing time.
However, recognising that the marine environment will always conspire against the ideal of a perfect yacht, Sunsailís trained engineers are a phone or VHF call away and can swiftly come to your aid in a fast support boat should a problem occur, getting you back underway with the minimum of disruption.
Our standards are clearly evidenced in the presentation of the yachts at our bases and by the attentiveness of the staff who greet you each time you visit."
At the dock on arrival my "well maintained yacht" a 41 foot cat, had holes in a more than worn trampoline. The wind indicator did not work and could not be fixed. The rudder indicator and thus the autopilot did not work and was not fixed. The lazy jacks were so worn they looked like they would break at any moment. ( I have photos). The main halyard block retaining pin was bent to the point that putting up the main was a complete pain and I expected it to break at anytime. (this should have been inspected and fixed from the previous charter). The dinghy had no lifting bridal to attach it to the davits making it impossible to hoist. (Discovered this when the weather became too rough to tow the dinghy). The painter u bolt broke in the rough seas and I had to jury rig a lifting bridal from a dock line. Recovering the painterless dinghy in rough conditions was a lot of fun. You have to be able to swim like a Navy SEAL. If you come back without your dinghy, that will cost you thousands.
All of these issues should have been taken care of prior to my arrival, after all, (see above), they claim, "...we run a programme of preventative and ongoing maintenance, catching problems before they occur wherever possible and thereby reducing the chance of equipment failure during your sailing time."
Also in their brochure they have this: ( note the dinghy is excluded, and don't you dare loose it)
Sunsail Four Hour Guarantee
By maintaining our yachts to the highest standards we ensure that you make the most of your vacation time on the water. We strengthen this promise with our Four Hour Guarantee. (don't forget, that's YOUR four hours, not theirs)
Should you experience a breakdown/technical problem during your charter, we will complete repairs within four (4) hours of notification of our nearest base, or we guarantee a credit towards a future Sunsail product, based on the daily flight exclusive charter fee.
The Sunsail Four Hour Guarantee covers all equipment considered essential to the operation of the yacht
* Standing and running rigging
* Battery and alternator
Excluded from the Sunsail Four Hour Guarantee are cellular phones, VHF, refrigeration, air conditioning, CD player, marine toilets, water pump, dinghy and outboard, depth and speed instruments and any other items that do not prevent yacht being operated.
Note the "guarantee a credit for a future Sunsail product.
Why fix something if you can wait till it breaks and get the most out of it. Just send a chase boat and fix it on the charter's time. It is YOUR 4 hours not their's and why should Sunsail fix it in four hours if they can guarantee you a credit for a future charter and have you come back and give them thousands more for another charter. Think about it. It is actually in their favor NOT to fix it in four hours. And you won't get any money back for YOUR lost time that you paid for, you will just get a credit to do it again. Think about it, this is no guarantee in your favor. Did you pay for a yacht that needs repair? No, you paid for a "well maintained yacht"
My 'well maintained yacht" was the second wreck I got from Sunsail. The previous charter, a 50 foot Beneteau, had duct tape holding the wood work together in the main cabins, (DUCT TAPE!) and a lot of it. When I unfurled the
headsail, it was so torn, I had to return to the base the next day and lost an entire day while they removed it, had it repaired and put back on. The starboard water tank leaked so much that the bilge pump would not stop running. I was told by the manager not to use that tank.
Now I understand that things break on boats and I don't expect perfection in a used charter boat but I have been sailing for 40 years, chartered all over the world, and I can't find any excuse for claiming to have well maintained yachts that are broken when you get there. The charter contract that you and Sunsail sign states the yacht will be fully commissioned and ready for service on the date you start your charter. I don't know about you but when I pay for something I don't get, I expect a refund, not a chance to give them more money for something I might not want!
I don't think there is a charter company anywhere that does not have it's issues. Some are much better than others. You should get what you pay for and not a scam.
In the interest of being fair, Sunsail on Tortola has some of the nicest, friendly, helpful dock personal anywhere. Their boats just need to be 'well maintained".