Join Date: Dec 2003
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You might be interested in my own recent experience with ABC this past Novemerb 2003: See letter to charter company as below: An old proverb comes to mind: if it sounds to good to be true it usually is.
Abaco Bahamas Charters
In response to your letter informing of us of the additional charges and requesting comments on the services provided by your company, we felt it was important to write.
Our overall experience with your company was one of disappointment. Beginning with your web-site, the photograph of the Newport 33 listed as a 1989 boat appeared to be well maintained with all safety equipment, bimini, dodger, etc. Our expectations were to see a boat of that level of care and maintenance when we chartered with your company and this was not met with the Mariposa (or the Paloma). The appearance and specifications posted were misleading, particularly the age of the vessel and it was essentially devoid of any creature comforts.
Once aboard, our disappointment continued, from the lack of cooking equipment and kitchen essentials to the water stained and damaged interior, and general dated appearance of the onboard equipment, (limited and rusted tools, stained and uncomfortable cushions). Basic safety equipment such as the life ring was also missing on the boat. Our first substantial rainfall revealed additional problems; 7-8 leaks that caused some minor damage to our personal belongings, (mildew). Numerous pots were employed to catch most of the water infiltration until the next day when we (and I stress we) repaired the leaks with caulking provided by your company. It was clear that the boat had leaked for some time from the state of the interior. This was the first of many frustrating episodes on the Mariposa.
Some specific concerns:
The limitation on movement north/west of Whale Cay: in our first contact with you, it was agreed due to our experience of sailing in the Abacos, that the passage around Whale Cay would be part of our itinerary weather permitting. Had it not been an option, we would have chartered elsewhere. Upon arrival, this initial agreement seemed to still be up for discussion and in retrospect the limitation of restricted sailing area that only your company employed may be in place due to the reliability problems with the boat. This was born out with the following events.
The engine failure in the first week of charter that created 2 days of concern for us; the first day when it occurred we were forced to sail and anchor without an engine backup, the second day when the supplies in the freezer were thawing and being without a means to recharge batteries, basic house lighting etc was becoming an issue.
Each morning when starting the boat for recharging of the batteries and refrigeration system, we kept our fingers crossed hoping the engine would start. The battery conditions were such that if the engine was not run for 40 minutes twice daily, the engine start the next day would be in jeopardy. We were extremely frugal at all times with house usage of batteries to no avail.
The refrigeration system did not operate properly, frequently not commencing on the first, second or even third attempts. You indicated this is problematic with the boat, after our first week in charter, but one would expect long-term problems such as this would generate satisfactory solutions. It certainly would have been prudent of you to describe the idiosyncrasies of this boat to us before we had encountered the problems we had.
The swim ladder did not function properly, (frozen in position), and it was necessary to purchase a tool to repair the sliding pipe, which locked the two segments of the ladder in place which then allowed for reentry from the water back into the boat. We discovered this problem while in the water and had it not been for the dinghy we would not have been able to climb back on board. You should have cautioned us about the difficulties with the ladder and supplied the necessary equipment to affect a repair or, ideally, provided a properly functioning swim ladder.
The inflatable dingy was also a problem, requiring air to be pumped into it on a daily basis for proper flotation and towage.
The boat had not been rigged properly at the start of our charter. It was necessary to reconfigure some lines running aft so that they were functioning properly through the cleats, the reefing line for the mainsail was unattached to the sail, some slides were off the main sail tract requiring lowering and removal of the mainsail so as to re rig the main properly, the outhaul was unattached and the bimini was in an extremely derelict state requiring reinforcement at its attachments. These defaults were discovered when we first tried to set sail and took some time and effort on our parts to repair and make the boat more seaworthy.
The main sail continued to be a problem as the slides kept jamming in the track when lowering it requiring two people to complete the maneuver; one on the halyard repeatedly raising and lowering it and the other hauling the main sail down. The jam occurred at a welding point of the mast, which was a rough repair from a break. This was a potential serious safety hazard, especially if one has to lower the main sail in a less than optimal weather conditions in an expedient way. Single-handers would be in a lot more trouble.
The head failure on the second last day was a significant inconvenience, but given the timing that it occurred on the second last night, we did not demand that you affect repairs. As such, we were very perturbed in receiving a notice of additional charges for that repair. I can understand being charged for a repair that was a result of our incompetence or misuse, or negligence. This was not the case. The head simply gave up. It was wrong to charge us for a maintenance issue especially when we returned the boat in a clean state and in a more sea worthy condition than when it left. You should have at the very least acknowledged our time and energy to correct the boatís many deficiencies, which in turn saved many hours of your own time.
Our previous chartering experience with another chartering company in Canada was very pleasant. The boat was a similar vintage but was well maintained and well equipped. We were expecting a similar product from your company but perhaps in our naivety assumed that all charter companies are managed in a similar vein. In lieu of the above issues we would not choose to charter with you again.