Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Alameda, Ca
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Re: What's up at the Moorings?
Wanted to contribute as I've used the Moorings and Sunsail since the early 90's all around. Wanted to add as there is not too much out there in review.
Currently building a custom Perry 60 monohull, so have a pretty strong understanding of boat systems.
Did Moorings St Lucia to Grenada in 1992 on a Moorings 50 Monohull. 7 days. Generally good experience and good equipment. Very responsive bases to troubles on the way (captain managed to wrap the prop, tear the p-strut from the hull, and initiate a near sinking. Nothing was Moorings fault and they were helpful in getting us back to base.) No comments on the captains skills....
Moorings BVI in 1997. Beneteau 440 Monohull ("Club" level boat category). 7 days. My wife and I ended up owning and living aboard this same model about 13 years later. The one for Moorings was equipped with lighter gear (the traveler parted on us) but overall the 1997 trip was a good experience and the boat was in decent working condition. Base seemed chagrined and understood that the traveler was undersized. I got the feeling it had happened before.
Tonga in 2000 with Sunsail Beneteau 37. 7 days. That was first and last time with Sunsail. Boat had 'been on a reef' with the previous charter and was missing 1/3 of it's rudder. Kinda got the 'tough luck' from the manager. No price reduction and a boat that sailed like crap. Outboard that wouldn't run. A generally run down boat.
Didn't do a charter for awhile as we owned and lived aboard during the early 2000's, so got our fix that way. So generally missed the 2008 downturn and how it may have affected the company through those years.
St Lucia again in 2011 in a Moorings 3900 Cat ("Exclusive" level boat category). 10 days. Brand new boat just delivered from South African. So in near perfect shape. New design freezer/refridge system that actually made ice. Some recurring trouble with the starboard AC unit - very much a 'working-out-the-kinks' kind of thing. Moorings base very helpful. This charter left me feeling like I would probably always use Moorings when chartering as things went so well. Completely blown away by the new base at Marigot Bay.
Tahiti in 2013 in a Moorings 3900 Cat ("Club" level boat category). 10 days. An older boat but mostly well maintained and prepared. Boat bottom was a bit fouled and motor would overheat at the same RPM's that produced hull speed on the previous 3900 we had chartered. So motor cruising was slower. Masthead wind speed transducer failed in the middle of the night during a 40+knot blow at anchor. Staff came on a launched the next morning and replaced. So overall a great experience even in an older boat and a great base manager (Violetta - who should be a model, not a charter base manager, but I digress). Again, affirmation of my good experiences with Moorings.
In fact, at this point, my wife and I where considering purchasing into the Mooring fleet.
Greece in 2015 in a Moorings 4600 cat ("Club" level boat category). Just completed a 14 day in Greece from the new base at Zea, Phireus sailing the Cyclades. I may need to come down a little, but currently I'm not sure I'll use Moorings again. Now, I will acknowledge that the Cyclades are a challenging place to sail. I have raced on the SF Bay for decades. It blows a Beaufort 6-7 many days under the gate. A challenging place to race. I just experienced a Beaufort 10 on this charter. 55+ knots and an angry Aegean. This is not uncommon for this area apparently. That being said, the standard charter boats of the Mooring fleet have no business being chartered to people without equipment upgrades (which Moorings categorically does not do).... and this boat was tired.
We booked the charter a year in advance. At the time, the base was at Lavrion - which is closer to the Cyclades cruising grounds by a half day sail. 8 Months latter, they sent a rather generic 'by the way' letter stating they had changed the base to the Athens area Zea Marina. Apparently we were lucky to receive this e-mail as the Zea base manager commented that some charters hadn't even been told and showed up 30 miles away at the closed base. The manager (and staff) had several other beefs with Mooring corporate. Mostly about the lack of boat turn around time, maintenance time and lack of maintenance budget.
the Moorings only does the Greek charters from Saturday to Saturday to maximize usage. And the boats are in full usage. Charters are off-boat at 0900 and on boat at 1530. This gives the staff 6 1/2 hours to repair and turn around and repair 23 boats (and do briefings) in an environment that is wearing at best on this vessels. They are said to want to add 12-22 boats next season. In short, the work doesn't get done. Word of advice - make note of issues - particularly hull and structural damage. The walk arounds are fast.
Issues included a slightly torn genoa (that became a 24" tear and unusable). Normally, I would have lowered the Genoa the evening after I saw the tear and sew on some sail tape. But when the Meltemi starts to blow - and it did for us for 10 days, its 23+ knots at night even at anchor or med moored. So lowering a big genoa in that is hard to impossible (Particularly without a crew of really experienced sailors). The main issue was a mis-matched chain gypsy to the chain. It slipped chronically from day one. Eventually, the slip-grab killed the motor - with a fouled anchor in a tight marina with 30 knots blowing. The Base WAS good at getting us a new winch shipped (by ferry) and installed(by second party technician) over the next two days (which severely altered our cruising plan). The technician was completely frustrated as the new winch gypsy didn't match the chain(after I had watched him carefully measure when he ordered it from base). The old gypsy didn't match the chain and another gypsy we went and bought wouldn't match. (3/8" didn't, 10mm didn't). Now I understand matching gypsies and chains can be voodoo, but what kind of chain was in this boat? What pissed me off was when the base manager berated us at the end of the trip while saying 1) we should have told him there was an issue with the winch and gypsy right away (we assumed it was just worn like the rest of the boat) 2) He had just had his best captain on the boat the week before and HE didn't mention a problem, so we must be the problem (his best also didn't mention the torn genoa, the torn 1st reef line, the failed and dangerous gas spring on the winch locker cover, the worn genoas sheets so necked they wouldn't lock in the camloks (I swapped sheets end-for-end to get by), or the major de-lam of the port transom from an impact). 3) He had records for 4 years stating there was never any issues reported with the winch. - but BTW, he just ordered a new chain for the boat. WTF??? why order a new chain if everything was in perfect working order and why berate us like there wasn't an issue? There were several other issues and arguments. I've never had an argument with a Moorings base before.
So the bottom line from this rant is that the boat(s) were very worn - we talked to other charterers and a number of technicians too. The technicians all offered there frustration with the situation while looking over their shoulder. The base is over-booked. The boats are under equipped (the windlass is the same size as the 3900 windlass). Sails are not re-enforced for the weather they see. Docking and mooring gear was dangerously worn. Boat bilge smell of head (all older boats get that 'head' smell) but this was extreme. Main hatches leaked - onto beds. Hard Targa top pulled out of it's forward frame sockets and almost blow off - during hard wind when this would have been most inconvenient. Tool kit was abysmal (no blade in the hack saw. No allen wrenches - needed to re-secure the targa. crap tools).
My bad experience may just be this specific base related. I do plan on trying to contact corporate with my issues just to gauge their reaction if nothing else. From what I've read here, not to hopefully. But we've spent a fair amount of money with the Moorings over the years and would hope they haven't become too corporate.
The category of boat does make a difference for sure (exclusive vs club) so if you can afford it, you get what you pay for in that area.