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BVI Funsail review: Harry J Birch Yacht Fairwind

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1:49 am EDT
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I recently had the misfortune to book a Skippered Charter with Harry J Birch of Funsail BVI on his "luxury" crewed yacht Fairwind. I booked and paid on the understanding that it was a bone fide charter company licenced to operate in the BVI and that Captain Harry was a RYA certified comercial yacht skipper. On arrival I was met by a man well into his seventies clearly stressed distracted and unprepared for a sea passage. The yacht Fairwind devoid of crew and was old tired, worn out dirty and no longer fit to go to sea; much like Harry himself in my view. Hiarrys charter licence ran out years ago and his comercial skippers license proclaims hima sprightly a sprightly 62 year old while his pasport puts him at least a decade older. When I expressed my concerns about skipper and vessel I was told to take it or leave it, no refunds. None of my party could bring themselves to spend I night on this wreched old boat much less a week so we left it.

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Update by Nic43
Apr 11, 2011 2:48 am EDT

Fairwind Inkerman Way St John Woking Surrey YK

Beware of Captain Harrys deceptively smiling face on his website to charter his yacht ‘Fairwind’ otherwise you will be sorely disappointed and stony broke like us.
We went out to Jamaica to crew for him with a pre-arrangement of all expenses paid.
We flew out to Jamaica to meet him, after meeting him in this country. He seemed very plausible.
The tender was extremely primitive. We had to throw our luggage and get ourselves into the boat, a six foot drop from a pontoon. When we got on board the yacht and Harry opened up the companionway the stink was overwhelming and our hearts sunk, but after paying all that airfare, we decided to make the best of it and tried to clean it up. Next day we had to go shopping as there was no food on board and nothing to drink.
We later found out after setting sail to Cuba, he had done a runner from the Jamaican Marina without paying some $1, 200 s in fees for anchoring for three months there. He almost managed to sink the yacht when we were leaving, as he had not closed the hatches in preparation. He had decided to leave without telling us.
During our night passage to Cuba, we discovered there were no life-raft, no dan buoys, no life-jackets, no ASB or SSB; no EPIRB, no tri-navigational light and no VHF radio on board his boat. The engine broke down three times, the water-pump kept failing and the water-tank was splitting. The heads would not flush and the shower backed up. Also the oven did not work, the battery was pathetic and there was no air-conditioning.
In Cuba we arrived without pre-warning the authorities, due to a lack of radio. Seventeen officials and a dog boarded our yacht and all at the same time. The dog went frantic when he entered our cabin. Later Harry informed us that some guy that had been using our cabin had been busted in Jamaica for possessing Cocaine and was given a prison sentence. We were nearly arrested. Had we been convicted we would have had been executed by shooting. Cheers for that Harry.
Harry continued to demand money off us for everything and even lied to obtain more. He refused to pay the officials and criticised the regime of Fidel Castro and was extremely abusive to the officials. He had an extremely vile and vicious temper.
He went out and we packed our bags and left the boat. Because we had to go through so much officialdom, he arrived back and became extremely obnoxious towards us and tried to attack us both.
I hope this information helps someone else avoid this hideous experience with Harry Birch of the yacht ‘Fairwind’

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