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From: "Patrick Roberts" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: December 25, 2008 8:29:15 AM PST
Subject: Engine failure on Eclectic Lady
We are presently at anchor near Dickie's Cay off Man-O-War. We are not well situated because we were forced to drop anchor when the engine failed and we could not restart it. I understand that we should, and we have attempted, contact Sherman on Ch 16, but he explained that we would not be able to reach ABC by radio until after Boxing Day. I'm emailing you because I would like to get the word out so you may contact him if we lose power by the 27th because we cannot recharge our batteries with the engine.
We got off to a slow start on Christmas eve, in part because the engine battery needed replacement. When we were leaving the Hope Town Harbor, the engine stalled, and we quickly dropped anchor in the entrance to stop our drift. Fortunately, we were able to restart the engine and proceeded under sail to Man-O-War. Because of our concern about the reliability of the engine, we did not attempt to enter the harbor at Man-O-War, but were seeking good anchorage north of Dickie's Cay. The engine stalled on our approach, and would repeatedly fail after restarting until we could not restart it, so we anchored exposed to wind and chop for the night. The engine has been able to start cold, but stalls after 10-15 minutes and all throttle positions. The problem is difficult to diagnose because we have no gauges, but there may be a low oil or overheating problem as possibly indicated by the warning lights.
We have two more nights before we can expect a response from ABC, so we will attempt to weigh anchor and move to Fisher's bay at Guana Cay. There, the entrance is broad enough that, if the engine will not take us in, we will be able to sail to a more secure anchorage than here at Man-O-War. The present state of the engine will make impossible to enter the Hope Town Harbor and pickup a mooring. We will continue to try to contact ABC on Ch 16 through the holidays, and try to read any email with instructions when we go ashore on Guana Cay. Of course, you understand that this is a major mechanical failure and we will expect a pro-rated refund beginning Christmas eve. We are doing our best to make the most of a difficult situation and we hope that ABC can get assistance to us soon after the holiday.
Regards, Patrick Roberts
From: "Patrick Roberts" <email@example.com>
Date: December 26, 2008 05:27:55 AM PST
Subject: Re: Engine failure on Eclectic Lady
We are now anchored at Fisher's Bay, Guana Cay. We have no engine and no electrical, so we cannot use the radio to contact ABC. Please respond.
On Saturday, December 27, 2008, at 06:22AM, "Patrick Roberts" <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Dear Jim & Judy Montgomery,
We have been chartering "Eclectic Lady" since Dec 22nd, and we stayed in Hope Town the first 2 nights to see the island and allow the weather to calm. Shortly after our departure, on Christmas Eve we had engine trouble, and the sequence of events, and our response was discribed to our only email contact, Vicky, below. The boat is still at anchor, disabled and without power, in Fisher's Bay, Guana Cay. We have taken a guest room at Grabber's until we can resolve this problem. We have repeatedly attempted to contact ABC by VHF Ch 16, but without success because of the holidays. Since yesterday we have had no power for the radio on the boat, and the marina has been kind enough to attempt calls for us, and our attempts at using the local telephone has only returned a busy signal.
Since we have only two days remaining of our charter, we assume that there will be no solution to continue the charter. Repairs on "Eclectic Lady" would have to be extensive to restore my confidence in her as she has proven to be in disrepair and unsafe after we took her out (unreliable engine, main boom catches on back stays, head intake nonfunctional, etc). I am convinced that taking here into a confined marina such as Hope Town without an overhaul of the engine (or a tow) would likely result in damage to property and/or personal injury. We are now expecting return to Marsh Harbor by ferry from Guana Cay and recover a portion of our payment for the charter. Please respond as we have had no contact with your company in 3 days. Also, please also inform your Hope Town base of our situation. We will now try again at the marina to make contact with your Hope Town base.
On Saturday, December 27, 2008, at 06:13PM, "Patrick Roberts" <email@example.com> wrote:
Dear Pattie Toler,
I talked to you earlier today on the telephone about our engine failure on "Eclectic Lady" and asked for your help to try and contact our charter company, Abaco Bahamas Charters (ABC). On your advice (thank you), we contacted Vernon's and asked to contact the ABC, which they happily agreed to do. Unfortunately, we received no response, and are still waiting for contact to determine our next move. Our charter ends on Monday, Dec 29th, but it will be impossible to bring "Eclectic Lady" to her mooring in Hope Town without an engine.
Please announce on the Dec 28th Cruisers Net the following message:
"The charterer of 'Eclectic Lady' requests that anybody who can contact the management of Abaco Bahamas Charters please notify them that our engine failed on Christmas Eve and we are currently anchored without power at Fisher's Bay, Guana Cay. We need assistance and require a discussion about how to return of the boat to Hope Town. We can be reached at Grabber's, Room #4, 365-5133."
To fill you in on our story, we have planned this trip for several years, as I sailed through two seasons in the Caribbean including a couple of crossings in my twenties. My wife learned to sail more recently and after some group bareboat excursions, we finally were ready for a sail with just the two of us.
We got off to a slow start on Christmas eve, in part because the engine battery needed replacement. When we were leaving the Hope Town Harbor, the engine stalled, and we quickly dropped anchor in the entrance to stop our drift. Fortunately, we were able to restart the engine and proceeded under sail to Man-O-War. Because of our concern about the reliability of the engine, we did not attempt to enter the harbor at Man-O-War, but were seeking good anchorage north of Dickie's Cay. The engine stalled on our approach, and would repeatedly fail after restarting, until it would not restart at all, so we anchored exposed to wind and chop for the night. The engine had been able to start cold, but stalled after 10-15 minutes in all throttle positions. The problem may be an overheating problem as possibly indicated by the warning lights.
To find a more secure anchorage with the SW wind, we managed to sail off the anchor and move to Fisher's bay at Guana Cay. There, the entrance is broad enough that we were able to sail to anchor. The engine has not restarted since Christmas eve, and we have lost all electrical power, making it impossible to enter the Hope Town Harbor and pickup a mooring. We have been to trying to contact ABC on Ch 16 through the holidays, and to contact them by email for instructions whenever we are in range of Out Island Inter.Net. The only addresses that we have available are: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. We are doing our best to make the most of a difficult situation and we hope that ABC can get assistance to us soon.
Thank you for your assistance, Patrick Roberts
Date: Sun, 28 Dec 2008 07:01:44 -0800> From: firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Fwd: Re: Engine failure on Eclectic Lady
Dear Jim & Judy Montgomery,
We made contact with Sherman this morning and he is now aware of our situation. He suggested that we put out a second anchor and we will leave the dinghy tied to the Grabber's dock in Fisher's bay. We plan to return to Marsh Harbor tomorrow, but we would like to have a direct discussion with you about how to settle the deposit and refund for the charter. I hope that you will contact us before we move to Marsh Harbor. I will continue to check my email, so I suggest that you write with a contact number before we take the ferry to Marsh Harbor tomorrow afternoon. We can then call you from Grabber's bar. Or, you can try calling us at Grabber's (room # 4), 365-5133.
I expect that we may need to visit Hope Town this week to finalize our agreement, and obtain a receipt for crediting our credit card. Let me know if you have other suggestions. We will be in Marsh harbor until Thursday of this week, but this should be settled before the New Year's holiday.
On Sunday, December 28, 2008, at 09:34AM, "Abaco Charters Judy" <email@example.com> wrote:
This is Jim Montogmery, I am sorry for your charter problems and I assure you this boat has not had a history of failed charters, in fact the last couple who was 75 years young had a great time on the boat and not experienced any problems.
We have a built in sensors which will tell us if the boat has experienced over runningof the engine, over heating etc.
This boat as all others, can not be run at full throttle for any length of time or it will fail, this has been a problemw with a lot of boats, this is a 2 knot boat under power and a lot of people find this is too slow for them, until they settle down to Island time.
I am arriving on the Island late Sunday, Vicky is on vacation until January 2 in Kentucky but Sherman is the man on duty at 366-0530 in Hopetown.
VHF service will not transmit from Guanna to Hopetown, most boat transmitters are 25 watts by law,not powerful enough to reach Hopetown.
I cannot commit to any refund until we investigate the boat when we get it back to Hopetown, dive the bottom looking for new damage, and research the engine problems, we can tell the engine problems in about 10 minutes.
This boat has been in the fleet for about 10 years and has a good track record, if it is treated with care and the engine is not run at full throttle for any lengh of time, mosty peo;lel want to go fast and this boat was not designed for motoring speed whereas it is a sail boat.
I would suggest that you make your way home and when we get the boat back to Hopetown, depending on time and weather, we will contact you and report to you our findings.
All conmmunication regarding this matter will be handled by myself at the is e-mail address. I have been diagnosing boat problems for 49 years now and have a good sense of what happened shortly after I inspect the boat. Sherman has been doing it for 29 years.
I promise this matter will be handled as quickly as possible and you will have fair treatment, but if you ran the engine at full throttle you will have to be responsibe for any engine damages as stated in your contract.
Best regards and Happy New Year.
Date: Mon, 29 Dec 2008 07:05:23 -0800
Subject: RE: Engine failure on Eclectic Lady
Thank you for your response. We have secured "Eclectic Lady" in Fisher's Bay with a second anchor, as requested by Sherman, and tied the dinghy (Betty Jane) to Grabber's dock on the beach at the high tide line.
Before we left "Eclectic Lady" I inspected her hull below the waterline and saw nothing amiss. I could not see anything clogging the intake for the head, so that problem is either mechanical or internal. We were not supplied with a bucket and brush for cleaning the deck, so we made due with a pitcher we found onboard. Another problem to report from our first day of sailing was the port reefing line was not secured on the mainsail, so when we hauled it tight, the line came through the boom. The line is now coiled and stowed in the cabin.
When you inspect the engine, you will find that we added very few hours (perhaps less than one hour). To help your diagnosis of the engine, I will describe the symptoms as they arose.
I have a "go slow" policy, particularly in unfamiliar waters, so I doubt that we ever reach full throttle. You may recall that the throttle on "Eclectic Lady" is somewhat sticky, so that it is difficult to push it to full. A nice, though accidental, safety feature.
After Sherman replaced the engine battery, we started the engine and completed our final preparations for departure. We motored through Hope Town Harbor at nearly idle to quarter speed to maintain steerage in the wind, and increased to half speed as we rounded the corner of the entrance channel. At about the second green channel buoy in, I slowly increased to about 3/4 speed, and this is were we first lost power. It sounded like a simple rundown, like a lack of fuel. We quickly dropped anchor to stop our drift, and fortunately the engine restarted in the first try. We then continued at half speed out of the channel and raised our main.
On Christmas eve, the wind was SE at about 15-20, making for a comfortable reach towards Man-O-War. With such a favorable wind, we needed no help from the engine. Shortly after we raised the sail and confirmed the safety of the rigging (the main boom catches on the back stay on jibes, but otherwise all is sound), we shut down the engine. We proceeded under mainsail alone for an hour or so.
When we reached the entrance to our intended anchorage, we dropped the main and started the engine, and ran at idle speed until we lowered and secured the mainsail. Since the engine had failed as I increased beyond half speed, and since we were entering unfamiliar waters, I kept the engine speed slow. However, within 15 minutes, the engine failed. We dropped anchor immediately, and worked on getting the engine reliably running to try and pull in to a more sheltered position. Several starts-and-sputters later, we weighed anchor and made for safer water. Unfortunately, the engine failed within a few minutes and we dropped anchor again for the night.
After several more attempts, the engine would not turn over, and the indicator lights were too ambiguous to diagnose the problem. Although I have several thousand miles of experience under sail, I am not a mechanic. I expect that you and Sherman will be able to find the problem, and resolve that the engine failure was not due to our mishandling of the vessel.
We tried to reach ABC on Ch 16 while we were anchored at Man-O-War, and went ashore to get an internet connection to contact our only email contact that we had. We were not given a land line contact number. We had been informed by Sherman that we would not get help from ABC until after Boxing Day, so to bring the boat to a safer anchorage for the next 2 nights, we sailed without the engine to Fisher's Bay. When we arrived at Guana Cay on Christmas, we attempted Ch 16 again, but as you mention, we were likely out of range. By Boxing Day morning, we were out of electrical power, so we went ashore, and Orchid Bay Marina attempted to contact ABC by radio on our behalf. They also looked up the ABC contact number, but it was the number of the previous management. On the 27th, We attempted contact again on Dec 27th, by all means that people here could think of, and finally made contact on the 28th.
I am happy to hear that you will handle this matter as quickly as possible and trust that we will have fair treatment. Please keep me informed of your progress, and we will continue to be in contact by email.
On Dec 29, 2008, at 8:03 PM, Abaco Charters Judy wrote:
Thank you for your detailed message, we will go get the boat tomorrow on the 30th, however it will take 3 men to tow it back and most of the day.
I regret the charter went so badly for you and I offer you another weeks sail at 40% off the regular price, we should have "Lady" answers for you by the 31st.
Subject: Re: Engine failure on Eclectic Lady
Date: Sat, 3 Jan 2009 08:42:20 -0500
We had expected an update on the condition of "Eclectic Lady" several days ago, but have not heard from you yet. We did hear from one of our contacts that a 2-person delivery crew managed to start the engine and motored out of Fisher's bay earlier this week. Unfortunately, it appears that they were not informed of the location of the dinghy, or for some other reason left without it. I had written in our previous email, and informed Sherman by telephone, that the dinghy was secured to Grabber's dock at the high tide line. Sherman agreed that was a good location for it.
I thank you for the offer of another weeks sail at 40% off the regular price for the inconvenience and added expense caused by the engine trouble and lack of response by ABC. I doubt that we will have the occasion to accept the offer, but I appreciate the gesture. We assume that the offer is in addition to our contractual agreement for pro-rated refund of the charter fees for each 24-hour period when the boat was disabled.
Please respond at your earliest convenience as to the state of affairs.
From: Abaco Charters Judy <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: January 3, 2009 6:17:39 AM PST
Subject: RE: Engine failure on Eclectic Lady
Happy New Year,
Your informant was not giving you the complete story, we had to send a chase boat and 3 people up to Fishers bay to recover the boat, but the conditions did not allow us to do it until Wednesday, New years eve day.
The boat had a dead battery only and we found the starting battery switch left on, which will kill the starting battery, because it is connected to the house battery Shermans states he advised you turn off the starting battery so when you drain the house battery you can always start the engine and recharge the house battery.
It was a costly recovery for us and we had the chase boat tow in the dinghy, no problem with that, but the crew left Hopetown at 8AM and returned at 1:30 PM, the cost was $70.00 per hour for 3 people, $1155.00 and $100.00 per hour for the chase boat $550.00, total cost of $1705.00
Obviously you did not fuel the boat and fill the water tank, we have not done so to this date, but will advise you of the cost for fuel and water, which we assume you will put on your credit card.
I can provide you with sworn affidavits from the mechanics and Sherman, first stating the condition of the boat engine, battery situation, and the switch configuration they found when they arrived at the boat, and finally Shermans sworn word he advised you to manage the batteries in a way we feel you did not do.
We have no reason to misrepresent the facts, but his boat goes out twice a month without problems as long as the batteries are managed, when we picked up the boat we put in a fresh batterry and off it went all the way to Hopetown, no problems.
As you can see we have a large expense here to deal with and we have not yet dived the boat to look for fresh bottom damage, we will doso this week and report to you.
Consider what we have found to date and I will follow up very soon.
From: Patrick Roberts <email@example.com>
Date: January 3, 2009 2:48:04 PM PST
Subject: Fwd: Engine failure on "Eclectic Lady"
I promised to keep you informed about our experience with Abaco Bahamas Charters, and I'm sorry to report more bad news. ABC did not send a chase boat until after we had left Guana Cay so we were not present when they inspected "Eclectic Lady." Although we were told by Jim Montgomery to expect an update on the situation by the 31st, we did not hear back until this morning, after we returned to Oregon.
The message from Jim (below) informs us that the boat only had a dead battery, not engine trouble. In addition, he states that the dead engine battery was the result of our leaving the engine switch in the "on" position. His message then lists the charges accrued to recover the boat amounting to most of our deposit of $2000. He has ignored our proposal of reimbursement for lost sailing days, a reimbursement stated in our contract. He has only offered us a 40% discount on a future charter.
I can hardly believe my eyes when I read Jim's message because our sailing skills were repeatedly tested by the recurrent failure of the engine. In addition, we are certain that we left the engine battery in the "off" position, having discussed and double checked the switch before we left the boat. Our attempts at restarting the engine are what likely drained the battery. Finally, Jim proposes to charge us for recovering the boat when ABC did not send a chase boat from Dec 24th, when the engine failed, through Dec 29th, the last day of our charter when we could have returned the boat if the engine was repaired and/or battery replaced.
I expect honorable treatment from any chartering company, and I am thoroughly shocked by the behavior of ABC's management. I feel that this is not only a considerable financial loss for us, but a potential danger to future charterers. Sending boats out with mechanical problems, and then denying that engine trouble exists, will eventually lead to serious injury for other charterers who do not have our sailing skills.
We do not know at this point what recourse we have to recover our deposit and to be reimbursed for the days of our charter when the boat was disabled and we stayed in a hotel. Do you have any suggestions of anything we can do from Oregon? Or, is there anything that CrusiersNet can help us with in this matter?
I am now developing a web page to give an account of our experiences in Abaco, both good and bad. I particularly wish to warn others about ABC so others do not wind up in a similar situation, or worse. I will send you the link to the page so that you can include it with information that you pass on. And again, you are free to forward any communication I have with you.
Thank you for your help, Patrick
From: Patrick Roberts <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: January 9, 2009 9:53:07 AM PST
To: Abaco Charters Judy <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Engine failure on Eclectic Lady
We were both shocked and disappointed at your most recent email. Shocked because of you misrepresentation of the facts, and disappointed because until recently ABC has had a respectable reputation. In our previous emails, we have described in detail the events that occurred on our charter, events that contradict your explanation that the only problem with the boat was a dead battery. In addition, this morning we received a report that "Eclectic Lady" had two service calls on the previous charter, one for dead battery, the other for overheating. That report, from an reputable source in Abaco, is in direct contradiction with your previous email statements about the condition of the boat.
The following summarizes the essential facts for the record.
* The state of "Eclectic Lady" upon arrival: Aside from the fresh linens, the boat did not appear to have been prepared for charter when we arrived on Dec 22. Essential equipment was missing, the battery needed replacement, and the ice box needed repair. When Sherman demonstrated the engine, he commented that it sounded rough, but we assumed that it would be OK for the charter.
* Failure of the engine: The engine first failed on exit from Hope Town Harbor on Dec 24. Then, after sailing with the engine off for an hour, we restarted the engine and it failed again several times until it did not start at all. If the engine battery ran down, it was because of repeated attempts to start the engine while anchoring. The engine did not fail because of a dead battery caused by our actions, the battery could not be charged because the engine failed.
* No functional means of contact was provided: Two methods were provided to contact the company, VHF 16 and a land-line number, and only the first was mentioned on our arrival. We were told by Sherman that the company monitors VHF 16, but we never got a response after we left Hope Town Harbor. A land-line number for Abaco Bahamas Charters is in the telephone directory and is provided in the Charter Agreement. This number returned a constant busy signal and was likely disconnected. Pattie Toler at Cruser's Net clarified that the listed number was for the previous management and would not work. There was no response to our emails, and we only were able to contact the company through Cruser's Net.
* No assistance was provided: In retrospect, I feel that it is appalling that a charter company would leave their guests stranded and in distress on Christmas. If the company will not work on holidays, then they should not be chartering boats on holidays. However, we gave our verbal agreement when we were told of the policy on our first day on the boat, and were perfectly willing to wait until Dec 27th for assistance. But, even after we made contact, no attempt was made to send a chase boat to assess the problems while we were present. Instead, a towing crew was sent after we left, on a day when the weather forbade towing, and the management appears to be charging us for the expense. If the problem were only the battery, then timely assistance would have saved the expense of the towing crew.
* The state of the engine battery switch upon departure: I have been obsessively turning off engine battery switches on sailboats for 25 years. Sherman informed us, as he should have, that the engine needed to be isolated from the cabin circuit when not running, and we made a continual point of turning the switch off. If fact, when we made our final visit to the boat, we discussed the engine battery and double checked that it was in the "off" position. Finally, as I stated above, a dead battery does not explain the engine failure that occurred several days earlier.
I do not know why you, or your employees, would misrepresent the facts, unless it is a new policy to leave charters with faulty equipment, then refuse to respond until after they leave the island so that they can be charged for repairs. For our part, we only wished to spend our holidays sailing in beautiful islands, and pay a fair price for the opportunity.
We are currently exploring actions to recover our charter fee and security deposit if you do not respect the terms of our Charter Agreement. The mechanical failure occurred on the evening of Dec 24th, disabling the boat for 4 24-hour periods. At a pro-rated rate of $1925/7days = $275/day, we expect a return of $1100 for the mechanical failure. In addition, we will be expecting our security deposit ($2000) in full because I have inspected the hull and we know that we caused no other damage to the boat. We are in contact with others who have had unsatisfactory dealings with your management, both in Abaco and in the States, and will continue to pursue this matter. Please do the honorable thing in our case, and return the charter fee and deposit.
Sincerely, Dr. Patrick Roberts
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