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Chartered a boat for a Tortugas trip, didn't get what we paid for.

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Chartered a boat for a Tortugas trip, didn't get what we paid for.

Old 07-10-2018, 03:07 AM
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I run fishing charters. In a couple more years my 14yr old son will easily be able to drive our 44ft boat. If I told him where to hunt for fish he would find them and he would tell you how to catch them just fine. What no 16year old can do though is deal with a serious emergency situation. If the boat runs well, doesn't hit something, the winds stay down etc then everyone gets back alive and the boat is safe again. In other words it is just a potentially dangerous situation for everyone.. Even if there are experienced seaman amongst the clients, who knew how the emergency systems worked on that boat? Who knew how the fire system worked. Who knew how the bilge pump system worked. I wouldn't rely on a panicking 16 year old to be doing the right thing under immense pressure he has never dealt with before, and that is assuming that he even knew the systems inside out
I well understand the pressure that a charter operator can be under to fulfill a charter obligation when something has messed up your plans, especially with non-local anglers who have traveled, but this one to me was very poor judgement. As a client also I would have not left the dock and just asked for a refund. Way too much risk here for everyone involved.
As a comment on the above, I know a young charter skipper who recently lost a person overboard. The person died because they couldn't find him in time. The young skipper is a really good guy who grew up with his families multi generation charter business. Crewed for his dad and grandad ever since he was able. Turns out that when the guy went overboard and brown stuff hit the rotating thing he was out of his depth. Been through all the training, years of crewing experience, grew up in the business, but when the stress levels redline it helps to have a bit more age and experience. He will do better next time. but that's not the way to learn.
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Old 07-10-2018, 05:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Aliboy View Post
I run fishing charters. In a couple more years my 14yr old son will easily be able to drive our 44ft boat. If I told him where to hunt for fish he would find them and he would tell you how to catch them just fine. What no 16year old can do though is deal with a serious emergency situation. If the boat runs well, doesn't hit something, the winds stay down etc then everyone gets back alive and the boat is safe again. In other words it is just a potentially dangerous situation for everyone.. Even if there are experienced seaman amongst the clients, who knew how the emergency systems worked on that boat? Who knew how the fire system worked. Who knew how the bilge pump system worked. I wouldn't rely on a panicking 16 year old to be doing the right thing under immense pressure he has never dealt with before, and that is assuming that he even knew the systems inside out
I well understand the pressure that a charter operator can be under to fulfill a charter obligation when something has messed up your plans, especially with non-local anglers who have traveled, but this one to me was very poor judgement. As a client also I would have not left the dock and just asked for a refund. Way too much risk here for everyone involved.
As a comment on the above, I know a young charter skipper who recently lost a person overboard. The person died because they couldn't find him in time. The young skipper is a really good guy who grew up with his families multi generation charter business. Crewed for his dad and grandad ever since he was able. Turns out that when the guy went overboard and brown stuff hit the rotating thing he was out of his depth. Been through all the training, years of crewing experience, grew up in the business, but when the stress levels redline it helps to have a bit more age and experience. He will do better next time. but that's not the way to learn.
I didn't even think of the emergency aspect of it. I'm guessing that we should have had a briefing on where the emergency equipment was and how and when to use it. I don't even know where the life jackets were on the boat. I guess that's our screw up for allowing it to happen. Like I said, this kid seems like he could be great one day, but now is not that time. Having family numbers and catching fish on those numbers doesn't make a great captain. I'm sure any of us on THT with any boating experience could take those numbers and have an epic day.
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Old 07-10-2018, 07:21 AM
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I'm not on any side of this, just want to provide clarification. I'm not defending or promoting anyone, but this thread may be ambiguous to some to who the mentioned charter was with. The problem with that is there are other very respectable Captains that may have their reputable charters tarnished and their livelihoods could be affected by being lumped in by name alone..

There are three Delph brothers, all have completely separate charter businesses. They have completely different web pages, boats, captains and policies. They are not affiliated with each other in any way.

I think it needs to be clear who this thread and complaint is about as not to affect someones business who had nothing to do with the issue.
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Old 07-10-2018, 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Night Moves View Post
I'm not on any side of this, just want to provide clarification. I'm not defending or promoting anyone, but this thread may be ambiguous to some to who the mentioned charter was with. The problem with that is there are other very respectable Captains that may have their reputable charters tarnished and their livelihoods could be affected by being lumped in by name alone..

There are three Delph brothers, all have completely separate charter businesses. They have completely different web pages, boats, captains and policies. They are not affiliated with each other in any way.

I think it needs to be clear who this thread and complaint is about as not to affect someones business who had nothing to do with the issue.
Well, according to your deduction, it was Billy Delph that dropped the ball. I can't get a hold of my buddy to verify.
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Old 07-10-2018, 08:33 AM
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I didn't realize that there were three different Delphs. Which one is the poacher? I would like to avoid both Billy, due to this thread, and the one that was poaching all of those lobsters, as I don't do business with thieves.
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Old 07-10-2018, 10:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Fishin Blue Water View Post
I didn't realize that there were three different Delphs. Which one is the poacher? I would like to avoid both Billy, due to this thread, and the one that was poaching all of those lobsters, as I don't do business with thieves.
Did a quick google search and the poacher was Michael Delph.
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Old 07-10-2018, 12:27 PM
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[QUOTE=Fishin Blue Water;11595939]I didn't realize that there were three different Delphs.

Mike
Billy
Robbie
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Old 07-10-2018, 01:05 PM
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As an experienced angler the only reason I'd pay for a charter was to get the expertise of someone who I'd deem to be one of the best captains in the business. If his son, or anybody else for that matter showed up, I'm not sure I'd agree to the trip in the first place.
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Old 07-10-2018, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Pure Luck View Post
I didn't even think of the emergency aspect of it. I'm guessing that we should have had a briefing on where the emergency equipment was and how and when to use it. I don't even know where the life jackets were on the boat. I guess that's our screw up for allowing it to happen. Like I said, this kid seems like he could be great one day, but now is not that time. Having family numbers and catching fish on those numbers doesn't make a great captain. I'm sure any of us on THT with any boating experience could take those numbers and have an epic day.
If a charter doesn't start with "here are the life jackets and this is how you fit one" then time to ask or get off. There should then be "this is what you do if there is a fire and this is what you do if you see someone go over the side, this is where the life rings are" Usually then a comment about following the crews instructions (introduce crew at same time) for any other emergency. Also some instructions about where and where not the clients can safely be when the boat is underway. I add in the location of the VHF and to push the ch16 button in an emergency, explain that the EPIRB and life raft will self release of we sink. Finally a briefing about any other particular hazards on that boat and usually a quick briefing on how a marine toilet operates so it doesn't end up blocked. In total takes just a few minutes. For our operation I have been thinking about also making this into an airline style safety briefing video so I can overlay it with several languages to cover our key tourist markets. Always nervous doing this briefing when seeing people nodding vigorously and realising that they probably don't understand me fully, and probably not at all if I have to quickly instruct them in an emergency. That briefing is really my main chance to prepare them to help themselves if something goes wrong in a hurry..
Safety briefings are something that charter operators can become complacent about, and that doesn't cause any problems until the rare day there is an emergency. Then someone can die because they didn't get a 5 minute safety briefing. It is such an easy thing to do, but is so often not done. If you go on a charter that doesn't start like this I would suggest that you take the captain aside and ask about all of the above.
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Old 07-10-2018, 02:13 PM
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I do that on every trip (I am not a charter captain) but I have never ever had a charter captain or guide do that for me.
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Old 07-10-2018, 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by DestinBillMe View Post
I do that on every trip (I am not a charter captain) but I have never ever had a charter captain or guide do that for me.
Yeah, I do that on every trip also. I take a lot of people that hardly boat out fishing, so I feel better if they know where the equipment is, and feel safe. I also give a quick "this is the throttle forward and reverse and kill switch" in case something happens to me and they need to operate the boat.
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Old 07-10-2018, 02:25 PM
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A bit scary to hear that so many professional captains don't do that. That's the complacency happening I assume.
If you do a lot of charters make a list of what you should know before leaving the dock. I would want to know where are the - lifejackets, life rings, Epirb, VHF, life raft (if fitted), and if you know how to use one properly the fire extinguishers as a basic understanding. If I go on someone elses boat privately I do a quick tour for myself when I board to find stuff and then ask the owner about anything I can't find. That might be a little anal but I figure if an emergency happens it helps if more than just one guy on board knows this stuff. Talk to anyone who spends a lot of time at sea (like a charter operator or comm fisherman etc) and they will all have a story or two about when something went badly wrong. Do enough trips and sooner or later you might find yourself wishing you were better prepared.
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Old 07-10-2018, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Pure Luck View Post
Like the title says, my friends and I chartered a boat out of Key West to fish the Tortugas. We thought we were getting the Captain "name sake of the charter" to take us fishing. The night before the trip, we get a call asking if one of us has a captains license. We say yes, and why? He says that something came up, and he can't make it, so he'll send his son to run the charter. No big deal "we thought" until the morning of the charter when a 16 year old kid and his 12 year old brother show up 15 minutes late to take us fishing. We were all like WTF, but decided to go anyway since we were all up at 4am and drove down from Marathon. So we get out into the bay to get bait from their 2 pinfish traps, but they seemed to forget to GPS where they left them. So we drive around for an hour looking for traps. Everyone on the boat was on the gunwales looking. Found one of theirs and one of someone else's, so now we have pinfish. Then we go searching for pilchards. But due to us wasting an hour trying to find pinfish traps, the bait moved up into the grass flats. We got a net or so of tiny pilchards and headed out. For the first five and a half hours of the trip, we catch 2 muttons. One short and one barely a keeper. The problem it seemed, is that "captain" didn't seem like he knew how to set up a drift, nor did he or the mate know the proper amount of weight to use at that depth. The "captain" seemed like he would be a great mate, and has a real future in the business, but at this time wasn't ready to run a charter. The 12 year old was rude, condescending and kept making comments that we were dropping the baits too fast "even though no one had 1 tangle". And the two of them were blaming us for not catching any fish. One of the guys "captains license" with us is a writer for a sport fishing magazine, another one of us is a regional sales rep for a navigation chip company that fishes almost daily with customers in order to sell their chips. I have a ton of fishing experience with a bunch of tournament wins under my belt, and the other 3 on the boat had decent fishing abilities. So after about 6 hours he says that he wants to go in shallower and catch Red Snapper. We limited out on them, so it was about an hour or 2 of actual worth while fishing. The problem with that is, I could have saved a bunch of money on the charter and fuel and pretty much did the same thing out of my boat on our coast. We didn't charter this boat to catch red snapper, we chartered it to catch grouper and a bunch of snapper. This wasn't my first trip out of the Tortugas, and by far it was the worst. I've fished the Tortugas every month of the year over the last 25 years, and every time my cooler was filled, and I left happy. A call to the owner/captain was made, and his reply was "you caught fish didn't you". Am I wrong for being a bit pissed? I don't think we should have paid full price for the charter if the actual captain that we hired didn't show up and one of us had to have a captains license in order to fish. So $1500 for the charter, plus $700 in fuel and $150 for tip "planned on $250 for tip, but it wasn't a pleasant experience", and we all waked away with 2 red snapper each. Not my idea of a good time. Plus, the owner/captain didn't even make an appearance before or after the trip. The whole thing was totally unprofessional in my mind. Also, my friend said that the "kids" fell asleep at the wheel while on autopilot on the way out. Oh, forgot to add that the two sharks that we caught were killed and pitched overboard, and the reasoning was that since they were on their fishing spots, they won't leave now that they ate the fish off of the line, so they have to kill them. That and pitching soda cans over the side while we were fishing. It's a little long winded, but I'm not happy. This happened a week ago.
Can't believe you would go with a 16 year old as captain. You bought it so should live with it....no offense.
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Old 07-11-2018, 02:15 AM
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You have every right to be pissed but it's your/your captain friend's own fault. From the glowing summary of all of your friend's and your fishing knowledge and experience why in the hell did you guys leave the dock? The night before should have been a huge red flag and the next morning I would have been on the phone raising 10 kinds of hell !!!!
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Old 07-11-2018, 04:38 AM
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Originally Posted by jkmjr View Post
You have every right to be pissed but it's your/your captain friend's own fault. From the glowing summary of all of your friend's and your fishing knowledge and experience why in the hell did you guys leave the dock? The night before should have been a huge red flag and the next morning I would have been on the phone raising 10 kinds of hell !!!!
Yeah, we figured it wouldn't be that bad because all we thought we needed were the old family numbers and we'd catch fish. I now know that even if you have great numbers, you still have to have a half @ssed idea how to set up a drift and use the proper tackle. I looked on their facebook page and almost every fish has some sort of jig or lure in its mouth. We got pre rigged rods with a J hook and not enough weight. If I had known the situation, I would have brought my tackle bag and a block of squid and rigged like I'm fishing my boat. I guess we just figured they'd know what they are doing in that area. I just wanted to share our story and see what everyone thought. I'm not losing sleep over it, just thought it was a bit messed up. Hind sight is 20/20, we figured with my/our past Tortugas trip success, it wouldn't be a huge deal not having an experienced captain, but I guess we were wrong. Oh well, live and learn! Guess I have to drive down and talk to different charter captains in order to set up my next trip.
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Old 07-11-2018, 08:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Pure Luck View Post
Yeah, we figured it wouldn't be that bad because all we thought we needed were the old family numbers and we'd catch fish.
So, it still comes down to the fish catching? You assumed the risk of an illegally operated charter, potentially putting lives at risk, denigrating lawful charter operations, and that's still what it comes down to? After all the discussion here, I find that perplexing.
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Old 07-11-2018, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Pez Vela View Post
So, it still comes down to the fish catching? You assumed the risk of an illegally operated charter, potentially putting lives at risk, denigrating lawful charter operations, and that's still what it comes down to? After all the discussion here, I find that perplexing.
Not sure what was unlawful about it and the only real unsafe thing was the kid falling asleep on the way out. So yeah, I just wanted to catch fish.
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Old 07-11-2018, 09:21 AM
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Ralph would not be pleased- truly a great guide RIP
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Old 07-11-2018, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Pure Luck View Post
Not sure what was unlawful about it
Unlicensed captain running charters.
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Old 07-11-2018, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by coores14 View Post
Unlicensed captain running charters.
This and most likely easy to prove negligence in the event something happened.

Insurance is for accidents. Easy way to get punitive damages awarded of which insurance doesn't cover.

I almost can't believe this happened. A 16 year old. WTF!
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