Charter Boats--acceptable v. unacceptable defects - Page 2 - SailNet Community
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post #11 of 14 Old 06-01-2011
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Originally Posted by twinkles View Post
My wife and I are new to sailing. We have taken ASA 101, 103, 104, and 114. And in the past 14 months we have done three charters in the Bahamas and BVIs.

So not much experience.

1. The most dangerous issue was the absence of a backflow preventer on the water heaterís supply line (obviously there was not a thermostat regulating the temp of the hot water, either). The residual heat of the engines heat water well beyond scalding. The absence of a backflow preventer on the water heater supply line allows that scalding water to enter the shipís cold water supply system. If a sink or shower valve is opened while the water pump is off, steam within the water heater forces scalding water through the supply line, into the cold water system and out the open faucet or shower head. Both my wife and I burned our hands this way before we discovered the problem. Fortunately, neither of us was in the shower when it happened.

2. The most annoying issue for us was that the freezer/refrigerator did not work. We managed our refrigeration needs the same as our great-grandparents, but unfortunately the iceman no longer delivers, so we were forced to go ashore and buy ice to keep our food and drinks cooled.

3. The next most annoying issue was that the reefing lines had become twisted and knotted inside of the boom preventing the sail from being fully raised and causing a crease. We spent considerable time while underway diagnosing this problem and correcting it.

4. There was no rack in the oven making baking or roasting impossible. We managed to broil by supporting a baking pan on top of an unused sauce pan.

5. The hatches over the stern port and the bow starboard hulls leaked. Since there were only two of us onboard, we were able to change cabins when drips from the leaking hatches woke us.

6. The lazy jack lines were so old and brittle that they snapped when we performed a jibe. My wife was manning the main sheet to control the boom, which put her in the line of fire, and the whipping lazy jack snatched her sunglasses off.

7. The throttle friction plates were so worn, that it was not possible to run the engines at 1600 RPMs to charge the batteries as were instructed to do. When the throttles were placed in neutral at 1600 RPMs, they immediately fell back to idle.

8. The throttles were so out of adjustment that when pushed forward evenly, the port engine ran at 500 RPMs faster than the starboard engine.

9. One cockpit light was burned out.

Dingy Davits

Dingy davits may not be an important issue to charterers who come down to motor between snorkel, dive, beach, and sightseeing opportunities. But they were a significant factor in our selection of this yacht. As mentioned, sailing is a relatively new hobby for the two of us and we most enjoy working on our sailing skills during our charter trips. We deliberately selected a yacht with dingy davits so that we could work on our skills without the drag of a dingy pulling us to one side or the other.

When we arrived at our yacht for an evening start, the stern was up against the dock. Another vessel was in our slip in-front of our yacht, so our dingy was tied to a bow cleat. During our yacht briefing, we mentioned that we would want to install the dingy on the davits before pulling away. Our briefer told us to simply call the dock master in the morning to have the blocking vessel pulled out of the way, so that we could pull our yacht forward sufficiently to raise the dingy on the davits. We did as instructed. When the dock personnel arrived, we were chastised, because we were not ready to leave immediately. We tried to explain that all we wanted was to have the vessel blocking us moved so that we could pull forward sufficiently to raise the dingy on the davits. As the dock personnel untied our mooring lines and tossed them onboard they shouted that the davits were unusable. So as our yacht began to drift unmoored within its slip we were first informed that the promised dingy davits were simply marketing hype with no practical use. I tested the davits that evening. The dock personnel were correct. With no winch to run the lines to, I could not budge the dingy at all with the simply block and tackle that was supplied.
1) Why were you shutting the water pump off? Was it cycling? Water so hot it can burn coming out of the cold side is a serious safety issue.

2) Every charter contract I've read says something like "failure of the refrigeration system to work.....not refundable etc. Since you chose not to contact the charter company before the end of your trip, it's hard to expect a refund for this. Was there an operations manual onboard? Did you try and troubleshoot the system? I know you shouldn't have to but just asking.

3) How did you correct a twisted line inside the boom? Not being able to raise the sail is getting closer to some compensation IMHO but I'm going to repeat myself and suggest that not giving the charter company the opportunity to help you before the end of charter doesn't garner much sympathy.

4) Very creative. That would have been a hard one to find unless you or your briefer lit the stove and oven during your briefing. Did your boat have a charcoal grill too? Would that have been an alternative?

5) That just plain sucks. No way for you to find that before departure.

6) That sucks too.

7) As you know, they shouldn't do that but it shouldn't have been that hard to rig something to hold them in their proper place.

8) That isn't uncommon on even new catamarans and not an issue. There are tachometers so that you can equalize the rpms.

9) One nonfunctioning cockpit light makes me assume there were others. Either way, it's incovenient but not really an issue.

Davits) From your comments it seems that you were on a four cabin cat. It would be hard for me to believe that the typical charter boat dingy tied on to a stern cleat would cause enough drag for you to even notice which corner it was tied to. Back to the comment "As the dock personnel untied our mooring lines and tossed them onboard they shouted that the davits were unusable. " Why didn't you stop right then and there if the davits where so important to you?

There clearly where many issues with the boat you were on. That is very unfortunate since you are new to the chartering world and hopefully won't spoil your view of all charter companies. You made a choice not to give the charter company an opportunity to provide you with a resolution before the end of your trip. Would they have been able to fix everything with a minnimum of disturbance to your vacation? Who knows. Maybe, maybe not. They should at least have picked up your ice bills.

Did the charter company do any kind of a debrief at the end? Did they ask about any issues you had with the boat? If so, what was their response?

As an analogy attempt----If you had ordered a meal and cleaned your plate, would you expect a refund or credit when the bill came and then, for the first time, you mentioned the meat was undercooked?

You might consider visiting traveltalkonline dot com and view some of the threads about chartering there and do some research as well. You may even wish to move your post content to that site for input too. Many of those people are frequent charters.
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post #12 of 14 Old 06-02-2011
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Or charterers.

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post #13 of 14 Old 06-02-2011 Thread Starter
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Thanks guys, I got the feedback I was looking for, these defects exceed the usual and customary.

Like I mentioned above, I don't look at issues such as this as "legal/contract" issues. It is a customer service question. Does the vendor want a customer who has done three charters in the past 14 months to be happy or to shop around for their next charter.

But since so many want to talk about contracts, and the law, and mitigation of damages, and opportunity to cure, and the like, I will quickly address those issues. Although I see them as completely irrelevant.

The following does not constitute legal advice. If you have a contract question, you should contact your own counsel.

A number of people want to examine the contract to see if it addresses these issues. Well, if I were putting on a lawyer hat, I would no doubt take a look at the contract. If I didn't like what it said, then I would fumble around in my law books and I might stumble upon the concept of "fraud in the inducement." If there was "fraud in the inducement" then what the contract says might not matter. So, what is "fraud in the inducement?" It is more than Puffery. We could spend 100s of pages exploring the distinction, but instead we will skip ahead and see if there are any facts that might be more than puffery and might rise to the level of "fraud in the inducement."

The boat was represented to be a certain age. In fact it was a tad bit older than represented.

The boat was represented to have been maintained "to rigorous standards." Res ipsa.

The boat was represented to have "freely accessible dingy davits." Literally true, but substantively false.

Talking like a lawyer here, I think those will get us past a motion to dismiss. Which gives us something to talk about.

What other tools might we have available? Well, there is "unfair and decptive practices" claims which we would base on the above facts. And then there are false advertising claims. I think we have enough to work around the contract.

Now that we have found our path to possible liability, we need to explore whether the vendor has a defense by the failure to provide an opportunity to cure. Someone proposed the analogy of a resturant meal that was fully consumed. Let's run with that for a minute. Suppose I am in trial and the judge granted us a 45 minute recess for lunch. I run down to the cafeteria and order a cheeseburger, french fries, and a coke. The french fries are frozen. I do not have time to wait for them to cook the french fries (I don't even have time to point out that they are frozen). I simply eat the cheeseburger drink the coke and throw the french fries away. Should I have to pay for the french fries?

I think a better example might be a chef who ordered prime tenderloin for Saturday night. His butcher sends over select meat. (For the benefit of non-U.S. readers, U.S. meat grades are Prime, Choice, Select.) There isn't time to send it back and get the prime meat. So the chef serves steak tartare using the select meat instead of filet mignon. Should the chef still have to pay for prime meat because he made do with the select meat?

Our analysis was that the cost (the value of our time) of affording the vendor an opportunity to cure would have exceeded the value of that cure (a working refrigerator). We, in effect, mitigated our damages. Should we still have to pay for "prime meat?"

In the real world, I am probably just as obnoxious. Occupational hazard.
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post #14 of 14 Old 06-02-2011
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You certainly got more than the usual problems that might occur on a charter. You should have called the company after finding each and every problem. Most companies will at least reimburse the cost of ice (not inconsequential in the islands). You got a bad boat with a company that's not too responsive. Name the company and then move on.

Rick I
Toronto in summer, Bahamas in winter.

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