Hi, Iím a long time member
but mostly a lurker..
Iím looking for advice (and I know itís never short on here!) and want to check my perspective on a sailing charter
My inexperienced girlfriend and I ( I do have several sailing courses and have chartered multiple times ) chartered a sailboat from a small chartering company in Mexico
(It has several sailboats, an RV and property for rent)
I booked a charter
with them and we agreed on a date and was told to book my flights etc. Once I arranged everything, time away from work
for both of us, flights, car rental, hotels etc. He said he had made a mistake and given our week away already. I had to rearrange everything for a different week. We did without complaint.
When we arrived at the dock
to board our charter it was discovered the boat
we had chartered had serious engine
problems and the engine
was inoperable (I can understand that this occurs from time to time in the charter world). They offered us a slightly larger boat
that was booked for maintenance
that week but we could take it out in place of the original one. There were several things that required repair or replacement they said but they could all wait. We went ahead and provisioned for the week.
During our boat orientation, their man on the ground had stated he had the boat out several weeks earlier and he warned us that the chain may not run freely. He indicated to us that we may have to give it a kick once in a while to make it run freely like he had to. He said it would work
just fine then! (He said the chain was due for replacement that week as it was in bad shape).
Long story short, we arrived at our first night anchoring
point, with a half hour of light left and could not drop the anchor
. The chain was so rusty it would not run past the windlass
, nor would it come out of its pile. It was essentially rusted into a giant rust-ball. The windlass
solenoid was also inoperable and had failed (although we had tested it at the dock
prior to leaving)
During our anchoring
escapade we drifted into about 70í of water
and even with all this weight (40í of chain and the anchor
out) the chain still refused to run freely. To get it to go through the windlass, I had to crawl into the chain locker and lift
the chain up while my girlfriend pulled the chain past the windlass. We finally set the anchor in 20í of water
about an hour after dark. We contacted them that evening (and this was not without problems either). They said they would drive out by truck in the am and we could pick them up by the beach. They diagnosed the solenoid failure and bypassed the solenoid temporarily to operate the windlass. We had a discussion about the chain and I said it is not safe to use and stated Iím not going to use it like this. (Their man on the ground agreed it was not safe, so he offered to accompany us for the next 5 days, I gratefully declined and told him that would be like bringing my ex mother in law on my honeymoon! )
I told him that I was returning the boat back to the marina that morning (3 hours motoring time). We even discussed where to go in Mexico
for the balance of the week as we would not have the boat. He suggested a place 300 kms away.
After returning to the dock and us unloading the boat and leaving the marina, the boat was apparently repaired in short order as they had the chain and solenoid available to them. They tried to contact me on my Canadian cell phone
and left a message (I never turn it on in Mexico because of the $5/min roaming charges, except for emergencies). I never had a discussion with any of them about repairing the boat nor did they tell me they had chain before I left (otherwise I would have either told them to change it out before initially leaving or to bring it out by truck and install it where we discovered the problem)
The next morning, when I had access to Wi-Fi, I emailed the owner (the only way I have ever communicated with him) and confirmed I had returned the boat. I said his man on the ground in Mexico had all the details. In subsequent several emails to him I reiterated with him why I had returned the boat. The only reason I returned the boat was because the chain was a safety
In these emails hereís what the owner of the boat accused me of:
- Getting to my anchoring place after dark and trying to set the anchor in the dark. (false)
- Being seasick is why I returned the boat. (false)
- Being dehydrated from being seasick is why I returned the boat. (false)
- Having my girlfriend being scared is why I returned the boat. (false)
- Of having a broken arm is why I returned the boat (to be fair I had previously fractured my wrist but in no way did it impact on my ability to sail. My Dr. was even debating if I should have a cast but he decided to err on the side of caution.) (false)
- Not liking the weather is why I returned the boat. (false)
- He did say that when he had chartered in the BVI previously the boat he was charting broke down and it took them 5 days to fix his boat so I shouldn't complain.
- He said I could have docked every night at the marina instead of anchoring out and go for day sails as that is what a lot of people do. (I never had intentions of this as we had arranged for a dive master though him for diving out in the islands)
- He accused me of abandoning the boat at the dock, yet I told both of his employees, included his man on the ground, that I was leaving the boat at the marina. (I told the Spanish speaking mechanic to take all of our provisions as we had no use for them anymore)
My position is that we were sent me out on a vessel with a known problem, the known problem resulted in a safety
issue. With everything I know now, it would have taken an hour to replace the chain prior to my leaving. He made a judgement call not to replace it and it was subsequently proved to be the wrong call. I believe that his problems shouldn't become my problems and as such, I should be fully refunded all monies that I paid him.
I have never asked him for my provisioning
costs nor for my costs to rearrange my flights etc.
He refuses to answer any emails from me nor has he even returned my fuel
deposit. (Approximately 5 weeks ago)
Is my expectation of a full refund out of line?
What options do I have?