So you’re thinking of purchasing a yacht and placing it in charter with Moorings? I had the same thought, but followed up on it, and here we are, 4 years later. Allow me to share my experiences with you, all factual, nothing exaggerated, you can then decide for yourself. I must add that in purchasing the yacht, my intention was to keep the yacht after the charter period, unlike most other owners, who either trade up on a new yacht or sell.
Purchasing the yacht
On visiting the Miami boat show in February 2011, we decided to enter into an agreement with Moorings, whereby we would purchase a yacht for them or a subsidiary company, get preferential financing through their preferred lender, and enjoy a fixed monthly income for 5 years. In addition, we could utilize owners time to charter a yacht rom any Moorings base worldwide, while they took care of insuring and maintaining our yacht. A perfect partnership, or so we thought. On choosing a location, we selected a base with an advanced skill level, believing that charterers will sail the yacht rather than motor from one anchorage to the next, thereby placing excessive hours on the engines.
These are the ‘points’ you use to charter a yacht, the number of points it costs is determined by the season. Different bases have different seasons, plus under certain conditions you cannot make a reservation more that 7 or 14 days out. You try purchasing airline tickets and securing a yacht with only 2 weeks’ notice, it’s almost impossible. Short notice ‘points’ are essentially a waste of time unless your yacht is based somewhere where nobody wants to sail. Besides the points used to offset the cost of the charter, there are other hidden fees, like cross branding, turnaround fees and permits, to name just a few. So your free vacation aboard your new yacht will still have you sending Moorings about a thousand dollars.
What is appealing about the contract, is Moorings take responsibility for insurance docking fees, professional maintenance and any warranty repairs or claims against the manufacturer of the yacht or any of the ancillary equipment. You as the owner don’t have to worry about a thing. Or so I believed. You also have a dedicated customer service representative and booking agent to take care of you.
Two months into the contract
A call form the customer relations manager, your yacht has been in an accident. A Moorings delivery skipper collided with a navigation aid, but not to worry, we (Moorings) will have the damage surveyed, have the insurance adjustor inspect the yacht, and have it professionally repaired. It just so happened I was due to charter my own yacht within the coming weeks. Moorings had effected temporary repairs so as not to lose out on any income, ordered the parts from the manufacturer, and would have everything back together before my next visit 5 months later.
Post Repair Inspection
When I first saw the repair work I was not impressed. I cast my mind back to the contract, specifically the part about work carried out by professionals. This looked like a back yard repair job, more in the sense that is was incomplete, like a DIY job. This I pointed out to the base manager, who assured me the work will be professionally finished as the next haul-out. The other bits of the repair were discussed with the technical manager, who always seemed to come up with an excuse as why things were the way they are. For example, internal furniture movement that was clearly evident. Oh well, the furniture will move. We also discussed certain items that appeared to be damaged for such a young boat, like the Corian counter tops with deep scratches, or the high heel marks on the wooden flooring. All will be fixed at phase-out was the general answer from the technical manager. Of particular interest was the sloppy rigging, with the head stay excessively loose and under sail, the leeward stays looked like cooked macaroni. This is after the replacement of the forward cross beam by the yacht maintenance professionals. Based on what we saw, the decision was taken to send, in writing, a report to our customer relations manager as well as the base manager, detailing all of the items we felt were overlooked by Moorings as part of their professional maintenance agreement.
After about 18 months into the contract, we noticed gelcoat damage to the hard top. We had the technical manager involved, who took photographs and decided to discuss with other bases to see if they had similar issues in their fleet. We also took photographs, but decided to go one step further and engage the services of a marine surveyor. The verdict, a manufacturing defect, but not according to Moorings, they had it as wear and tear, people walking on the hardtop with shoes.
2 years into the contract
We arranged to meet with the customer service manage as the 2013 Miami boat show to voice our dissatisfaction as to the way the yacht was maintained, and to discuss the lack of response every time we mailed a letter to Moorings. We were also armed with the photographs of the gelcoat damage and managed to corner the manufacturer’s representative. In short order Moorings agreed to take better care of the yacht and the manufacturer agreed it was a warranty repair. Oh and while we were meeting with Moorings, they agreed to send us the surveyors report going way back to the collision.
A telephone call from Moorings, there was never a survey done, and the repairs were done at the base. No professionals on the fiberglass or riggers on the cross beam or to make rigging adjustments after replacing the cross beam. At this point we decided to terminate our contract with Moorings by giving them 6 months’ notice. Moorings did offer to reimburse me for my surveyors fee, however after giving them notice to terminate, the refund never reached me. We also requested the phase out be done at a different facility, request denied. We were now orphaned, emails went unanswered and telephone calls went to voice mail.
The factory sent out a team to do the repairs, as the same time I send yet another surveyor to check the first repair and ensure there was no other damage that went unnoticed, as well as check on the warranty repair. Moorings was informed of the surveyors visit, and as luck would have it, my surveyor arrived a day early to do the work. Upon arrival, the yacht had just been placed in the water and was ready to depart the work facility. It was promptly hauled again for the inspection. The first repair job was subsequently given a professional finish, and the yacht splashed again, a few days later.
We used the last of our ‘points’ and some cash to ensure we were the last party to charter the yacht prior to phase out. During this time we inspected every piece of equipment as best we could, collated our snag lists that we sent to Moorings and the base manager over the years and compiled a final snag list from the owners perspective. We were confident we had everything covered, so we believed.
The process started out with a survey in the marina, a subsequent haul-out and bottom inspection along with some repairs to a rudder. The sail drives were serviced and oil seals replaced and the bottom sanded and painted. Oh, and we paid for the bottom paint. The final survey report was sent to Moorings and the base manager, detailing items to be repaired or replaced.
The first pushback we received was from Moorings. Any broken items that need replacing would have to be paid by us. Let’s try to understand this, I give you a new yacht, your customers break some things, and now I have to pay for the replacement parts? The reason, we are buying a second hand yacht as it was in charter, although we already on it. Anyway, we purchased a few thousand dollars’ worth of stuff, delivered it to the base to be fitted by the base staff.
Towards the end we were down to a few items such as:
Slack rigging chafing on the life lines – technical manager says it’s normal and will not do anything
Freezer does not get cold – technical manager added gas and says it’s normal for a 3 year old freezer
Scratched Corian – to remain as is unless we do it ourselves
House batteries – we fought, in the end they stated emphatically that they would not replace the batteries. If there’s a bad battery, it can be swapped for another used battery.
Tired saloon cushions – wear and tear
Leaking hatches – they smeared silicone behind the seal and would not replace hatch seals or lenses
Anchor chain – besides showing signs of rust, will not be replaced.
And so the last goes on. There’s a pattern here, anything costing money will not be done, if it’s labor and a few tools, no problem. After three months, we’re at an impasse, Moorings are not budging on some items, so we decide to cut our losses and move on.
A Positive Note
The base manager did agree to replace the sails, at our expense, keeping the old main sail in lieu of labor. He also replaced the Raymarine electronics that we purchased, keeping the old equipment in exchange for the labor. In the end, we concluded that the base manager was essentially towing the corporate line, and had his hands tied as to what we could spend on the phase out, amounting to very little.
Post Phase-out woes within 12 months
Engine Batteries – Failed due to solenoid isolators, both faulty, resulting in the house batteries drawing down the engine batteries, particularly at night under sail. Cost of repair $1300
Freezer – vacuumed and gassed, expansion valve adjusted, now working as designed. Cost of repair $500
Rigging Tuning by FKG – mast 30cm out of center and port turn buckle chafed badly, forestay extremely lose, they are surprised the rigging did not fail under sail. Cost of repair $1100
House Batteries – Cost of replacement $2200
Sail Drive Water Leak - This I discussed with Moorings soon after taking delivery, they assured me the seal was replaced but may have caught a fishing line between the dock and the marina. Possible, yes but highly unlikely. Coat of repair $1900
Liferaft Recertification – We were boarded by the coast guard and couldn’t produce the life raft documents. Contacted Moorings who said we have them. After we paid for a new certification, they found the documents. Cost of certification $1100
Plumbing Pipes – almost completely blocked, never cleaned by Moorings. Cost of replacement $400
Shower Drain Pump – failed after a few months – Cost of replacement $320
Anchor Chain – Cost of replacement $2200
Windlass – The gypsy is screwed to the clutch cone to prevent freefall as the freefall release mechanism is cross threaded. Moorings say the yacht was delivered this way, the windlass manufacturer says that’s rubbish. Cost of replacement is $2600
LED interior lights – These should have been replaced under warranty, but never were. Instead of submitting a warranty claim, Moorings replaced with cheap alternatives. Cost of replacement $700
Engine Alternator – failed after 6 months only to discover Moorings has replaced the original with an automobile model that rusted apart. Called Moorings about this and they said the original was too expensive, hence they used cheap aftermarket models. Cost of replacement $800
Engine Raw Water Strainer – the lid was cracked, so Moorings glued the crack and glued the lid to the strainer. Cost of replacement $250
Autopilot – The galley faucet failed, dumping water on the autopilot below, rendering it useless. Moorings replaced the unit with a model that was obsolete as the time the yacht was manufactured. The documentation I have does not match the model, plus the replacement is designed for a yacht half the size with half the functionality. This I failed to catch at phase out, and Moorings failed to point it out.
As you can see, there’s a distinctive lack of maintenance and warranty management in spite of the contract stating the yacht will be professionally maintained and Moorings will handle warranty claims on the owners behalf. The contract states the base will provide the yacht master file, detailing all non-scheduled and scheduled maintenance work performed, repairs, warranty claims and anything deemed necessary to document during the course of the yacht’s life with Moorings. This file did not exist, all I got was the engine hours of the last oil change, on a sticky note.
We were treated as if we purchased a used yacht from the Moorings brokerage, did an inspection and now negotiated items to be repaired. It is essentially an Easter egg hunt, if you don’t find it, it won’t be fixed or up for negotiation. Even if Moorings is aware of an issue, which they should be as they are supposed to be doing the maintenance, they will not disclose unless you or your surveyor uncover the issue. For example, Moorings knew about the windlass shaft cross threaded, hence fixing the clutch to the gypsy. Problem solved on the cheap. I had to find this out when I attempted to freefall the anchor.
As you can see I’ve spent over $10k fixing items that should have been part of the scheduled maintenance, and counting. All of the information above is factual, I have emails, letters and invoices as evidence. Moorings are in business to make money from your yacht and the base is there to turn the yachts around as fast as possible, sometimes overlooking maintenance. If something breaks, it is either repaired or replaced on the cheap, with some of the repairs not to standard. If, at the end of a charter, the client does not disclose a problem, the yacht is cleaned and turned around for the next charter. If they do disclose a problem, a temporary fix is made, particularly in high season when all the yachts are booked for months on end.
The purchase process is slick, owners time works say for the short notice bookings, and you will get to sail in some lovely locations if you book well in advance. If you plan to keep the yacht after the charter period, think again. It will be cheaper to buy a used yacht and fix it up, rather than believing your property will be well cared for.