From: Patrick Roberts <email@example.com>
Date: January 9, 2009 9:53:07 AM PST
To: Abaco Charters Judy <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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