Monday, April 29, 2013

Not a Sparkling Adventure

Alright, let’s try this again… hahaha

I changed jobs recently, and can now access Facebook, blogs, and such.  I may not be the most PRODUCTIVE employee, but I’m much nicer these days.

So what’s been going on for the last 5 months?  Work, work, work, work, sailing in the Caribbean, work, work, work.

I assume that out of those options, the sailing might be the most interesting.

In February, myself and 19 other Toronto sailors chartered a few boats from Sparkling Charter out of Guadeloupe.
The adventures started during our overnight stopover in Montreal, where we found a bar in Dorval and got incredibly drunk.  One quick pint at 10pm turned into closing the bar at 3:30-ish full of whiskey.  The hotel in Guadeloupe was alright, a bit quiet and more expensive than we’d expected.  But the food, drink, and swimming pool were appreciated.

The remainder of the holiday was what nightmares are made of:
1.        Our boat had leaking water tanks, and after 2 days of using our smaller tank, we moved to the bigger one and discovered that it had leaked.  We could not find fresh water for the remaining 5 days of our week.  We called the charter company, and they gave us incorrect information on where to get more water.  Cuts got infected, and we were dirty for the holiday.
2.       Our foresail was worn when we got the boat, and it tore in a gust on the 3rd day.  Sparkling Charter refused to bring us a replacement (violating our contract), and this forced us to limit our travels. 
3.       There were many other minor problems with the boat that added to our frustration, but not as big as the other 2.
We gave up and returned the boat a day early, to ensure that we had enough time to discuss the failures.  Also because we were desperate for a shower.

The charter company was friendly and apologized profusely for the failures on the boat.  On the Saturday morning, they arranged a taxi to drive us to the airport.  As soon as we cleared customs, they phoned us saying “where are you?  We didn’t know you’d left.  You owe us 4000 Euros for the damaged sail!”

While we were disputing it, they managed to take the funds from our credit card.  We’ve written them disputing the charge, but with no response.

An awful end to a terrible holiday.  For any search engines that find this:  DO NOT RENT BOATS FROM SPARKLING CHARTER.  READ THIS POST FOR DETAILS.  OUR DAMAGE DEPOSIT WAS TAKEN IN AN UNETHICAL MANNER WITH NO RECOURSE.  It turned a $3500 boat rental into a $9000 disaster.

As far as Guadeloupe in general, we found the majority of people were friendly if you spoke French, but condescending and rude to Anglophones.  We were asked to leave one store because we weren’t fluent enough, a pharmacist refused to give me something for the infected cut on my hand, and a waitress stole money from me and denied it while the cash was still in her hand!  It wasn’t all bad – the staff at the hotel had some friendly people, and Terre-Haute on Iles Des Saintes had one fantastic restaurant/bar (whose name eludes me) that we frequented as often as we could.

High Point of the trip:  Motor-sailing (because we had no foresail) from Dominica to Iles Des Saintes.
2nd High Point of the trip:  The shower I had on the 2nd last day, once we returned to Point-a-Pitre.
Low point of the trip:  Realizing that we were washing our dishes in the seawater in a mooring field with no ‘holding tank rules’, where people dumped their toilets directly overboard.  I was also putting my hand with the open cut into that water every time.  But for the record, we poured bleach on the cups and plates after washing, just to make sure they were clean.

I will never ever go back to Guadeloupe.  I was actually glad to come back to work after that trip.

No comments:

Post a Comment