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  Topic Review (Newest First)
06-02-2011 11:19 AM
Vasco 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.
06-02-2011 10:53 AM
twinkles 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.
06-02-2011 01:09 AM
CalebD Or charterers.
06-01-2011 10:00 PM
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.
06-01-2011 08:49 PM
fallard Charter boats see a lot of use over a short time. Things wear out, fall overboard, break,etc. and the older the boat is, the more problems you'll have. There's a reason they charge more for the newer boats.

We've chartered in Caribbean every year for the past dozen years or more and will not charter a boat that is 5 years old again. Even in the better kept fleets, a 2 yr old boat is entering middle age. Next time you charter, don't hesitate to contact the charter base with any kind of problem. The better ones will send out a chase boat for problems like batteries not holding a charge, or refrigeration not working. (Been there, done that, on more than one occasion). It's also a good idea to have a cell phone that works in the area--except for shadowing by the volcanic terrain in places. Make sure you have the base telephone number before you leave.

One of the more important things you can do is to go over absolutely everything before you leave the base. You may be tired from your trip down, but this is important. Make sure the stove works and stays lighted. The refrigeration should be on before you come aboard and you may find a block of ice in the icebox. If not, put one there for your peace of mind, just in case. We've found that a malfunctioning stove or refrigerator is not grounds for a charter adjustment, according to the contract language, but it doesn't hurt to ask for consideration if a problem took the edge off your enjoyment of "paradise".

The best advice is to go with a reputable operation and select a boat that is no more than 2 years old. It's worth the extra money.
06-01-2011 04:50 PM
twinkles Thanks Caleb,

That is the sort of feedback we were looking for. We are just to new at this to know what is unreasonable and what is reasonable, and hate to be whinners.

As far as the boat inspection goes, you are right. We admitted to ourselves that we should have put off our "arrival happy hour" for another hour or so to better inspect things.

Although, the majority of these items where not the type we could have uncovered easily that night. As an example, the freezer was off when we arrived, so we had thrown ice in at the get go. It took about a day before it dawned on us that the freezer had had adequate time to cool down and yet our ice was all melting.

Our checklist includes winch handles, but not oven racks. It includes checking the fresh water tanks, but not hosing down the deck hatches. It includes inspecting the rigging so we know how to sail the boat, but not actually raising the main to see if it catches on anything. It includes starting the engines, but not running them for an hour to see if they overheat the hot water. Etcetera.

When we returned the boat, we mentioned all these items, but didn't ask for anything. Before I give the charter company a public black mark, I want to chat this over with them.
06-01-2011 12:54 PM
CalebD Live and learn.
I'll bet that next time you want to rent a charter boat in the BVI's you will not use that boat or charter company again. Which company was it by the way?
I'll also bet that on your next charter you will do a thorough job of checking out the rental boat before heading out. Even a short shakedown sail would have turned up some of the problems you found.
I would be pissed if I encountered all the shortcomings you found. I hope you addressed all of these issues to them and I would certainly be hoping for a partial refund if not at least a "Sorry Mon".
I'm glad to hear that you were able to work around all the problems without any major mishaps. You may have just gained more experience then you think.
06-01-2011 12:36 PM
wingNwing It sounds like you learned a lot about flexibility and jury-rigging -- not what you'd planned for the trip, but valuable nevertheless. In terms of the poor quality of the boat you were sent out on, I'm afraid you've rather weakened your case. Had you notified the company [using the refrig as the example], they might have said (as you assumed), "Sure, c'mon back to the dock and we'll fix it." To which you could have said, "No thanks, that will waste too much of my vacation time." OTOH, the company might have had a person they could send to whatever marina you were in on the second night. At the VERY least you could have arranged with them that they would reimburse you for the cost of the block ice you were forced to use or the food that wouldn't keep (ice cream?). Worst of all would be if they assumed YOU had broken the refrig, since as far as they knew they sent the boat out in okay condition and you returned it with a major system not functioning.

If they were really a class act they would have offered to swap you to a different boat if the deficiencies couldn't be repaired quickly. IMHO, with the exception of the first 2, these are things that *might* be within the range of to be expected if you were chartering an older boat; less so the newer the boat / the higher the price.
06-01-2011 10:56 AM
Originally Posted by wingNwing View Post
Did you contact the charter company as soon as you discovered for example, that the refrig wasn't working, to give them a chance to make it right, or wait until the end of the trip? How did they respond?
Fair question. No we didn't. Using the freezer/refrigerator as the example, we didn't realize it wasn't working until the second day of the charter. We weren't about to backtrack and spend our precious vacation time waiting on maintenance that should have been done before we arrived. We dealt with each issue and we were able to accomplish our goals.

1. We warned each other when we were going to take showers, to be sure the other one didn't turn off the water pump accidentally.

2. We bot ice and consolidated all the food in the freezer compartment.

3. We fixed the tangled reefing lines.

4. We broiled instead of roasting.

5. We switched cabins.

6. We turned the starboard side of the boat slightly toward the wind when we lowered the sail.

7. We idled the engines at 2100 RPMs (the lowest RPMs where the throttles would stay in place)

8. We learned to control the throttles to keep the RPMs even.

9. The cockpit light didn't really make a difference.

10. We were aggravated that they had marketed the boat as having dingy davits when for all practical purposes that was a deception. We found a spare snatch block on board, tied it to the dingy painter, used a dockline as a rear bridle, and towed the dingy from the centerline of the boat.

None of the issues were fatal, just inconvenient and annoying, but not so big a deal that we were willing to sacrifice our vacation (and objectives) to get it fixed.
06-01-2011 09:31 AM
wingNwing Did you contact the charter company as soon as you discovered for example, that the refrig wasn't working, to give them a chance to make it right, or wait until the end of the trip? How did they respond?
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