In June a group of friends and my family went to the Moorings in Belize for a charter. We had wanted to sail legendary cays of Belize. I am a lifelong sailor having sailed much of the South Pacific in my own sailboat.
We chose the Moorings as they had generally a good reputation and had a good presence in Belize according to reports. The charter was a nightmare and we unilaterally terminated it early. I did have what was called trip insurance and therein lays the rub.
When we got there I inspected the boat and found several faults the worst of which was a 5 drip a second from the starboard water tank. The staff fixed this and I asked them to refill the water tank that was almost empty. Other problems were corrosion on the mainsail track making it very difficult to raise the main and very poor refrigeration causing our food to rot in 36 hours while in the freezer.
That night I charged the batteries for 1.5 hours as instructed before bed. At about 0100 the low voltage alarm went off. I got up and charged the batteries for an hour and went back to bed. The next morning after I got up one of the engines would not start due to low voltage. The other engine was not on the cabin batteries and started. I only mention this because the cabin battery was significantly discharged after 6 hours of 3 cabin fans operating off it. I noticed the refrigerator was warm and the freezer was about 10c. That day we motorsailed to Laughing Bird cay. Midday we ran out of water in the first tank. I tried to change it to the second tank but the water did not flow. When I called the base they recommended we return to the base to get it fixed.
On the morning of the second day at the Moorings base we were greeted by a fowl smell that turned out to be our food rotting. After 20 minutes of consultation with someone on the radio the dock staff fixed the water problem. This turned out to be a design problem in the water system that allowed a gas bubble to block flow to the pump. The office staff person said I should have known this. This seems inconsistent when their dock maintaince guy had to get a consultation on the issue.
After discussion with the other members of our party we elected to terminate the charter early for safety and comfort concerns.
All these issues, although annoying, were forgivable. Things happen. In any system the likelihood of a system failure is proportional to the complexity of that system. The most infuriating issue is I have now sent 2 letters by mail and faxed one to the number provided to the Moorings Corporate headquarters in an effort to either get a partial refund or credit on another charter. They have not sent any reply or attempted to contact me in any way. I spent about $4500.00 on the charter, $400 on food in Belize and $1000.00 for food and lodging while driving to Placentia from Mexico.
Chartering is a great concept. It is a major pain to get your own boat to the best cruising grounds. I had planned to go back to Tonga next summer but I will not use a charter company therefore I will not go. I have no reasonable way to get my boat to Tonga for a 3 week vacation.