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Hi everyone, we chartered with a company in the BVI in 2013. I don't want to name the company we used, but at the end of the charter, we were billed for diesel required to top up the tank. Fair enough, except that the number of gallons the charter company claimed we used was way more than we estimated it to be. They don't have a tank and pump at the dock, they fill using 5 gallon jugs, so we don't see the total until we get billed.

Any tips to deal with this? Often the boats I charter are not brand new, and the fuel gauge may be suspect. I was thinking of dipping the tank at the beginning and end, but depending on how the tank to deck connection is set up, it may be difficult.

Or, finding someplace to fill the tank ourselves just before we return the boat.
 

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Water Lover
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If the company didn't have its own fuel dock, maybe the price was higher because they charged a service fee? Or just maybe they were sloppy about recording from a previous charter or confused different boat fill-ups, or who knows what; and yes the gauge could have well been way off. Many companies probably would love it if you topped off on the way back into the base.
 

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Land lubber
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Did you call or write the charter company with your concerns? Were they responsive to you? Start at the source. They may be willing to 'make it right' with you. If not, suggest that there are many charter companies to choose from and you will choose another next time.
 

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I've filled up at Soper's hole, headed to Norman island where we spend the last day/night before returning to the moorings base. I honestly don't recall getting an additional fuel bill at the end of a trip.
 

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Old as Dirt!
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I have yet to see a diesel engine without an hour meter on the panel. Record the time run when you're going through the boat with the Charter Company rep at the start of the charter and have him/her initial the entry. Do the same at the time of returning the boat so you will know the total hours run during the charter. For engines in the 50hp range at normal operating speeds--say 2500 RPM--one can safely figure a consumption in the range of .9 gal per hour. With that, assuming a 7 day charter at 5 hours of running time a day one is looking at about 31.5 gallons consumed. With fuel in some areas at $6-$7 per gallon you'd be looking at, roughly, $221 (USD) for fuel although some companies may ad a 15% service charge as well so, a max of $254 (USD).

FWIW...
 

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Freedom 39
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Oh I doubt that. They make a good amount off the sale of fuel.

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Huh? So let's say 100 gallons are needed and the evil charter company marks up fuel by $3/gallon. They have to pay somebody to fuel the boat so maybe they make $280. Is that a good amount off of a charter in the $5k range?:confused:
 

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Oh I doubt that. They make a good amount off the sale of fuel.

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You're talking about a fuel bill in the low three digits, at most, on a $2k-$4k charter, with a very small profit margin on the fuel, and they have to do it by lugging 5-gallon jugs? No, I think they'd be glad to have you top it off.

I agree with the poster above who mentioned recording your engine hours. That's really the best way to get a reasonable estimate of your fuel usage, if you can't top it off yourself.

For what it's worth, our small NC charter operation handles this in much the same way. Each charterer starts with a full tank. They can either top up before returning the boat (fuel dock is ~6 miles out), or I can top it off after their charter, by jugs. I do include a very small premium in the price per gallon for the time and trouble, so they can choose whether or not they want to save a marginal amount of money by stopping on the way in. It's rarely more than 10 or 15 gallons, as most are on the boat for a week or less, and hopefully sailing. We also log engine hours between each charter, but I doubt many of the charterers pay any attention to it. Never had any complaints about the fuel bill being out of line.
 

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You're not alone, Preserved. Last charter we took, we did fill the tank on the way back and notified management. After running the engine only in the harbor while docking the boat, we completed the final inspection without any issues.

Once we got home, there was a $100 fuel charge on our credit card, leaving us with the decision whether to challenge it or not. In the end, we didn't bother, but in retrospect, I wish we had insisted they top up the tank while we disembarked. It would have saved us a hundred bucks.

Maybe it's simply a sign that we're dealing with a somewhat unscrupulous company or employee. Caveat emptor!
 

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Tips, yes, pour gravel in the tank and you won't need as much fuel to fill it.
(Who said that?!)

Or you could check the gauge and use a dipstick when you take the boat, after all you should be at least checking that there's SOME fuel aboard. Note how much is in the boat, or take it to fill and note that with them, PITA, yes.

Then on return, you'd have to fill it and check it again, and sign off to agree on it.

Of course, if anyone knew which charter company you had problems with...it would be easier to say "Just deal with folks who have earned a better reputation."
 

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How much more do you think you paid than if you topped off yourself? I would pay an extra $50 to $75, maybe more, without thinking twice, to avoid the need to top off on my way back.

For starters, unless you get in very early, everyone else is fighting for dock space at the pumps. I don't like racing in on my last day and I typically have a ferry or flight to catch, so fewer variables is more relaxing. Given the many thousands that the vacation cost, a few extra bucks to make it go more smoothly is worth it to me.

Some charters always include fuel, but clearly you will pay more for the boat itself, eg Moorings. Others have an optional service to top your fuel for you, eg Horizon.
 

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Freedom 39
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Good points. It is all a numbers game and the bottom line is that you are paying for convenience. Whether you pay upfront and don't realize it or pay at the end and it is broken out, you are still paying for it. The policy at the charter company I'm at requires the guest to fill with fuel just before coming to the base. The receipt is viewed and fuel quantity is compared to the engine and generator hours. If there is a discrepancy between the two, dock staff will take 5 gallon jugs out to confirm the tank is indeed full. If more than a gallon or two goes in, fueling fees will come out of the damage deposit. That ensures that the next charter guest starts with a full tank and keeps it fair for all. If a guest is in a hurry or is uncomfortable taking the boat to the fuel dock we will do it for a fee plus actual cost of fuel. What we do not want is for people, like the OP, to feel like they were taken advantage of.

PS No ferries needed here Minnewaska. You are in charge of your own personal ferry to and from the BVI. That removes a variable because you are in control of your own schedule. Ten minutes to or from the airport. We will even have our taxi driver waiting for you with a sign saying Minnewaska if you want even moor convenience. Just sayin'...
 

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...PS No ferries needed here Minnewaska. You are in charge of your own personal ferry to and from the BVI. That removes a variable because you are in control of your own schedule. Ten minutes to or from the airport. We will even have our taxi driver waiting for you with a sign saying Minnewaska if you want even moor convenience. Just sayin'...
Send me a link and I'll definitely think about it this winter.
 
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