We chartered a Comet 50 for a week using yachtcharterfinder as the broker who arranged the yacht with Media Ship Charter
in Castellamare di Stabia, near Naples, Italy
. The yacht was 3000 euros for the week. I paid in full 6 weeks before departing and received paperwork from yachtcharterfinder to confirm this. They also sent through a voucher to be presented at the marina. The website gave the impression of a sizeable company and I had no reason to doubt their credentials.
When I arrived on Saturday at the marina (basically a gated pontoon leading off the main road) I was met by two representatives of Media Ship Charter
, a man and a woman. The man spoke no English
, the woman however did. She informed me that it would not be possible for me to take the boat as no money
had been received from yachtcharterfinder. She said that they had never heard of them before and despite many many emails to them asking for payment and for our details none had been received. I showed her all my documentation
but that made no difference: we couldn't have the boat unless we paid again in full. I was horrified as at this point I had 3 teenagers with me and the rest of the party were en route
in the air from the UK - 8 people expecting a week's holiday and with nowhere else to go.
I tried to ring yachtcharterfinder but their office was closed for the weekend. The yacht owner turned up eventually and it was finally agreed that I would give them a print of my credit card and agree to pay 1248 euros at the end of the week if yachtcharterfinder did not pay up in the meantime. I was surprised that yachcharterfinder had charged 1752 for their services, the end broker only getting the smaller amount. Clearly I was going to have to start calling them on Monday.
The yacht looked good and we proceeded. The check out was difficult as the man (the technical one of the two) spoke no English
and we did most of it by sign language. They left - there was no office on site. This is not a marina as anyone in the yachting world would understand it. Problems began to come to light.
There was no hot water
on the boat and the generator
would not start. I called them (the first of many calls). They turned up on Monday morning with a couple of workmen (we had no hot water
for two days by now) and fitted a new thermostat to the water heater and did something to the generator
. We had hot water but the generator would only run for 3 minutes and then it flashed an error and shut down. We decided to sail anyway because by now we were heartily sick of Castellammare. It's not an attractive town, very run down, heaped with rotting garbage and not very safe especially at night. Not what you imagine the romantic Bay of Naples to be like.
We sailed for Ischia and that night in the harbour there was an explosion and the water heater blew up in the saloon! The boat now had no water at all. We called them again and they came out on Tuesday afternoon and fitted another new thermostat. Couldn't fix the generator though or some of the other problems that had emerged: the main galley
tap was literally hanging off and an accident
waiting to happen, the speedometer on the yacht was non functioning (irritating rather than anything else) and there was a major leak through the light in one of the bathrooms which led to flooding whenever it rained or we sailed. The oven
was a 4 ring gas hob with gas oven
. Only one hob unit worked. The other 3 and the oven itself didn't work at all, so hot food
was difficult to produce. The dinghy engine
was completely non functional even after being stripped down my my husband an experienced mechanic
. This meant we had to row everywhere which was not very secure in the windy conditions of late October. Obviously because of the non functional generator we had to run the engine
more than usual. The water gauge didn't work either - we ran out of water on Tuesday morning despite no one having had a shower
by then due to having no water available anyway. This is an example of how well the boat had been prechecked and set up for us.
I managed to get hold of yachtcharterfinder on Monday morning and explained the problems with payment to them. There was not an apology for our distress
and trouble, just denials that they had been at fault. Two days later I received confirmation from Media Ship Charter that they had received the payment from yachtcharterfinder and that I would not have to pay for the yacht again. No apology either and I never did find out who was telling the truth. MSC were adamant that yachtcharterfinder hadn't paid them, yachtcharterfinder were adamant they had.
We determined to raise all the problems with MSC when we got back to dock
at the end of the week but when we did we were met by the non English speaking man and his girlfriend who told us quite brusquely that we must get off the yacht immediately as they had to sail it to Ischia. The fuel dock
was closed. No discussion was possible. We were forced to pack very hurriedly, no check out of the boat and bundled off. We sat in a cafe waiting for the time to go to the airport
and 5 hours later the yacht was still at its berth so obviously the "sailing to Ischia" was a lie.
A week later I found a charge for £127 for diesel
on my credit card a last present from MSC. I've been trying to get it refunded from either them or yachtcharterfinder ever since but no luck at all. Yachtcharterfinder don't feel they have any responsibility in the matter despite taking 1752 euros out of the total fee for "their services". MSC just don't respond.
I've chartered yachts all over the world and never had an experience like this. Anyway, learn from my problems, there are lots of charter companies in the Naples area, do your research
and pick one via a reputable broker who is a member
of an association and not a complete cowboy outfit like yachtcharterfinder and Media Ship Charter.