Welcome to the
Windsong Hall of Shame! These are absolutely TRUE stories of silly things
our clients have done. Name and places have been changed in order to
protect the not-so-innocent and save embarrassment for the guilty party.
By reading this you will hopefully learn something, otherwise you too,
might land up in the Windsong Hall of Shame! New stories are
added to the top of the page as and when they occur, so keep coming back
to check out the latest addition to the Windsong Hall of Shame!
So let's start
with this one, a question from a prospective renter: "So, do the
boats have automatic or manual transmission?"
"No, they don't have either and I assume you will be hiring a
captain to take you out for the day!"
from Wesley Chapel
repeat customer with a good track record called us saying that
the boat won't go forward anymore. We asked if he checked the
prop to make sure there wasn't anything wrapped around it. He
indicated that he had and there was actually no prop.
"What do you mean by no prop?"
"I trimmed the engine up and there is no propeller on the end."
"Wow! Did it perhaps spin off the shaft?"
"Actually there is no shaft... anymore."
"Let me get this straight. There is no propeller and there is
ALSO no prop shaft? Did you hit something?"
"Guess I must have..."
Windsong rescue boat found the client drifting about 30 feet on
the wrong side of the rocks outside the marked channel. Not only
was the propeller and shaft gone but all the gears and in fact
everything thing inside the lower unit was missing including
most of the skeg below the prop. In our experience when you hit
rocks hard enough to take out the entire lower unit, you pretty
much know you hit something. Very, very, hard!
unit was un-repairable but we were able to source a used one off
eBay thus reducing the client's bill from over $2000.00 to about
the story? As Jimmy Buffet said to Alan Jackson in that great
song - It's Five O'clock Somewhere: "Stay between the
navigational beacons!" (Actual picture shown)
another great question from a lady caller: "Do your pontoon
boats have air conditioning?"
response: "Absolutely! When you put them in forward gear!"
Jane and Buster the dog from Michigan.
lovely couple and their dog called to say the boat got beached.
Apparently, according to them, the tide went out 2 feet in just
15 minutes. Interesting, because that day we have a 3 foot tide
swing over a 6 hour period, which means 6 inches an hour and not
2 feet in 15 minutes!
we would have to take another boat out to them and our staff
would have to babysit the boat waiting on tide for 6 hours (as
the tide at this time was only half way out). Our charge for
this is $250. They refused to pay as according to them "you
didn't warn us about the tides". Strange, as our standard
procedure is to go over the tides twice - once at the desk and
again on the boat. Both desk staff and check out staff confirmed
they went over the tides.
said they didn't want to wait for us and were going to abandon
the boat and get a ride back in from another boater. Which is
not only very silly because if anything happened to the boat
after abandoning it they would be fully responsible - and it's
also illegal - US Coast Guard does not take kindly to people
abandoning boats simply because they are impatient and want to
go home and not wait an hour for the rescue.
the rescue fee... (actual picture of boat beached)
weekend the Windsong rescue boat (pictured on the right) was sent out THREE times due to
"broken down" boats.
- Wrapping Things Up - client called saying the boat would
only go in reverse gear no forward. Windsong asked if they had
raised the engine to check the propeller. Client insisted that
he had and there was nothing wrapped around the prop. Rescue was
dispatched. On arrival we asked the renter to raise the engine.
He said he had done that already, but we insisted. And saw a
crab trap line wrapped tight around the prop. Once removed the
boat ran just fine. The client was suitably embarrassed, but the
cost to Windsong was 2 hours of our time wasted and $25 in fuel.
Boat #2 -
Back to Front - client called to say engine was revving
up but boat was not going anywhere and an alarm was sounding.
This is clearly a symptom of grass caught on the engine so bad
it was overheating. We instructed the client to put the boat in
reverse gear and back up to get the grass off the engine (which
is actually part of our safety speech during the boat check out,
but the client had not paid attention to this).
the problem but the client called back within seconds to say
that the boat was now jammed in reverse no matter which way he
moved the shifter. We sent the rescue boat out to tow them in.
Next day the mechanic discovered that the client had jammed the boat
straight from forward into reverse without pausing in neutral to
wait for RPMs to drop and thus sheered off the shift rod. Cost
to Windsong - 3 hours time wasted, $25 in fuel and $250 in
Boat # 3 -
Hot Under the Collar - the next client called to say the
over heat alarm was screaming as they were leaving the island.
Rescue boat went out and verified that the engine was indeed
over heating and thinking it was a mechanical breakdown the
clients were towed in and refunded for their inconvenience. When
the mechanic arrived the next morning he discovered the water
cooling passages were jammed packed with sand which caused the
over heat. Clearly the clients had revved the engine up in
extremely shallow water and sucked up beach sand blocking the
Windsong? $25 in fuel, 3 hours time wasted, $100 mechanics fees
and a $150 refund we should never have given.
Where No Man Has Gone Before
Jenny and Family from New Jersey
(right about when the boat was due in), we received a call from
Luke saying the boat was beached. We dispatched our rescue boat
but it took us well over an hour to find them because between
Luke and Jenny they couldn't really seem to agree on exactly
where they were, coupled with the fact that the (incorrect) GPS
co-ordinates they gave us put them clear in the next county.
our crew finally found them inside the east end of
Anclote Island, an area clearly marked on our chart as
prohibited due to extremely shallow water.
from client over the phone when trying to find them: "You MUST
be able to see us surely, because we are the ONLY BOAT HERE!"
are, and there is a reason you are alone there - no one else
with common sense would go there!!
somewhat mosquito bitten, the family was returned to the dock
safe and sound and the $250 rescue fee was paid.
Family from Pasco County
an hour before a boat was due in we received a call asking for
directions as the client had gone up the wrong channel. After
being instructed to turn around and proceed back out the channel
head 3 miles south to the correct channel the client said: "Does
this means I am going to be late and have to pay a late fee?"
responded: "That is correct, but you will probably only be 30
minutes late and at $10 per 15 minutes that is only $20."
driver, hoping to avoid the late fee, decided not to follow our
instructions and cut across the flats instead of going back out
the wrong channel and down the correct channel.
And hit a
rock destroying the propeller beyond repair.
result? Late Fee $0, Propeller replacement $175.
There is a
reason why there are channel markers!! >>>> Actual picture
the Door of Opportunity
of College Kids, Tampa
were celebrating the summer holidays and rented our party limo
28 foot pontoon for the day. On returning all seemed well,
alcohol had definitely been flowing, judging by the unsteady
gaits as they walked up the dock, but the driver was sober, so
no problem. Kids off loaded gear and were about to leave when
our dockhand tried to close the side door to the boat only to
discover it was completely missing!
satisfactory explanation of how the door broke and where it even
went was ever established, simply because the guilty person said
he could not remember (he also could barely stand up, so this
was not a surprise!) After much argument a wad of cash was
collected as each person went through their wallet to raise the
money for the damage. A replacement door has to be specially
ordered from the manufacturer.
however prompt us to check the boat a little more closely and we
were not in the slightest bit surprised to discover that the
propeller was completely trashed as well! Good thing we
collected that cash! Below are actual pictures:
the story - if you are going to open a door of opportunity,
don't loose the door itself!
from Grassy Hills, FL
was this guy! When he returned the boat our staffer noticed an
anchor line hanging over the front of the boat. Thinking that
the anchor was dangling down just below the surface of the
water, the staffer began pulling it up, and more and more and
more anchor line just kept coming. Until finally the anchor
itself appeared looking like a huge ball of grass!
Gary had dragged the anchor behind the boat
ALL THE WAY BACK FROM THE ISLAND, picking up a ton of grass and
bouncing along the bottom. It is quite remarkable the anchor did
not catch on anything which would have brought the boat to a
very sudden stop.
Gary is an experienced boater and a repeat
customer. He proceeded to chew out his friend who was supposedly in
charge of the front anchor, but had not noticed that it was not
on board. A very clear case of bad anchor management!
We were not surprised to discover that the boat
had used almost twice the amount of gas than it would typically
use on a trip to the island and back.
Anchor Management Part II - 2 weeks later
Gary rents another boat 2 weeks later.
This time when raising the anchor, THE SAME
FRIEND manages to get the line wrapped around the propeller
while the boat was in gear. In some unique twist of fate the
anchor line was undamaged, as were the blades of the propeller.
However, the propeller hub (the strongest part of the propeller)
was severely damaged by the anchor line.
In 8 years we have NEVER seen this type of damage
to a propeller, so Gary gets another first place in the Windsong
Hall of Shame.
After paying the $50 repair fee, Gary was over
heard telling his friend that he was never coming boating with
him ever again!
Here is a picture of the actual propeller - click
for larger version.
Sam and Sandy
from Sandusky, New York
This lovely young couple became the very first
renters at Windsong to loose not one, but TWO anchors on the
Windsong: "So what exactly happened?"
Sam: "Well, we were between Anclote and the North
Sandbar and threw out the front anchor, but the anchor line
broke. Sandy jumped over board to try to grab the line and save
the anchor but it
sank too quickly. She couldn't find it."
Windsong: "And then?"
Sam: "So I threw out the back anchor, but it
wasn't tied properly and the line disappeared over the side, so
I jumped in to try to catch it, but it also sank too quickly and
the current was very strong"
Windsong: "So who was left on the boat, to pick
you guys up?"
Sandy: "Just the dog..."
Windsong, raising eyebrows: "Okaaaaaaayyyyy..."
Windsong thinks: The line did not just break,
it's three strand nylon braid and we tie all anchors using
bowlines which NEVER come undone. Plus when Sam docked the boat
coming in we noticed he had forgot it in gear, which is probably
what he did offshore and drove over the anchor line cutting it
with the propeller. Probably TWICE. But said instead politely:
"Well, I am glad you are still alive in that case. But in terms of our
contract you are still responsible for losing the anchors."
Sam: "Aw, c'on, man. Give us a break, it wasn't
Windsong thinks: Like hell it wasn't. But
says: "Sorry, guys. Rules are rules, but seeming you are
the very first rental in Windsong's history to loose two anchors
in one day, we are going to give you an award and only charge you for one anchor."
Client departs $50 lighter in their wallet.
THOSE DARN KIDS
and family from Lakeland, Florida
family rented our Party Limo 28' Pontoon for the day. As a self
confessed highly experienced boater who knew the area, of course
we were not worried about damages or losses to our boat!
checking the boat in at the end of the day, the 5 year old
daughter could barely contain herself before bursting out:
"Daddy drove off with the ladder down!"
sibling chipped in: "We tried to tell him, but he wouldn't
Old: "I saw it sink."
brother, not to be put down then added: "Yeah, and I think Daddy
then hit something too, I felt the boat bump."
smiling: "Uh... let me just check the prop before you guys
betrayed by his own family, by now just wanted to get the hell
out of here. But not before he was presented with a $350 bill
for the lost ladder and trashed propeller.
Mike, Macy and Friends from Manchester,
Very nice group of British tourists rented a
pontoon boat for the day. At about 3 PM we received a call.
Mike: "We seem to have a small bit of a problem."
Windsong: "How small?"
Mike: "The engine died and we drifted ashore."
Windsong: "OK, we'll send out our mechanic to get
you going again in no time."
Mike: "Weeeellllll, that's not really the biggest
issue. The boat is kinda stuck."
Mike: "Yes, in the sand. The tide went out."
Windsong: "Did you not throw an anchor out when
the engine died? Or at the very least jump overboard in shallow
water and hold the boat so it wouldn't drift onto the beach?"
Mike: "Well, there were too many waves, we
couldn't hold the boat."
Windsong: "Waves? Where are you? There are no
waves at the sandbar."
Mike: "We're on the West side of Anclote Key."
Windsong: "You were told NOT to go West of the
barrier islands, even the chart we gave you has this printed on
it in big red letters."
Mike: "Umm... we just thought we'd come over for
a look see, the beach seemed so pretty."
We dispatched our rescue boat, picked the clients
up and returned them to the dock after leaving one of our staff
members to guard the boat until high tide. We were not the
slightest bit surprised when the boat started first turn of the
key. Sometimes stories are really easy to see through.
Moral of the story: there is a reason why we
don't permit our boats on the West side of Anclote, even though
the beach is very tempting - when the sea breeze kicks up, so do
the waves, get too close and in no time you are bouncing on the
bottom. The clients learned this lesson the hard way and paid an
extra $250 for the rescue.
LAZINESS CAN BE EXPENSIVE
Joe Johnson from Jonesboro, Arkansas
A Windsong staff member was catering a beach BBQ
at the sandbar when he noticed that another Windsong rental boat
was starting to get a little shallow as the tide went out. The
driver was alone in the driver's seat reading a book as his
family strolled the island.
Windsong Staffer: "Excuse me, Sir. Tide's going
out pretty quickly, you probably want to move the boat out a bit
before you get stuck."
Joe, looking up from his book: "Thanks,
buddy, I'll get right on it."
Without even looking over the side to gauge the
water depth, Joe hit the trim button down, fired the engine and
backed the boat out in a cloud of mud. Looking very satisfied
with himself, he cut the engine and went back to reading his
The staff member walked back to the beach BBQ
shaking his head. And then called Windsong to warn them to order
a new propeller.
Joe was very shocked when the dock staff charged
him for a new prop. "But I didn't hit anything, I swear!! I
don't know how the prop got like that!"
Yeah, buddy. Me neither.
Partridge from Pinellas Park, Florida
addition to renting boats, Windsong also rents out trailers for
people who own their own pontoon boats but don't have a trailer.
Peter is one such client and was transporting his pontoon boat
down the I75 when he hit a bump and the trailer broke loose from
the tow vehicle, broke both safety chains, overtook him on the
highway before flipping upside down in a ditch.
been one hell of a bump, because hitches don't break loose on
their own, EVER! He blames a faulty hitch. Possible, but the
boat was a little too big for the trailer making it back heavy
substantially reducing the tongue weight, and in order for the
chains to break, he was probably driving way too fast.
his boat was severely damaged, our trailer was just fine!
of guys from Tampa, FL.
A group of
10 guys having a bachelor party rented our big party limo boat
for the day.
#1: They arrived on a Sunday at 8 am expecting to pick up beer
at the local market. There are no beer sales before 11 am, so
they spent the first 3 hours of their rental sitting on the boat
at the dock waiting for 11 am! A bachelor party without beer is
just not on!
#2: Returning to the dock at the end of the day after many, MANY
beers, the leader of the pack could not find his car keys, cell
phone or wallet. Somehow convinced that he must have thrown them
into the dumpster by mistake with the many bags of empty beer
cans, so began almost 2 hours of dumpster diving. After digging
deep into the smelly mess and not finding anything he decided
the only way was the get all the guys to tip the 500lb dumpster
over and completely empty it in the parking lot. All the guys
began routing through the garbage.
By now all
of Windsong's boats were back and the crowd grew watching the
to say the elusive keys, phone and wallet were never found, and
the guys spent another hour cleaning up and putting the garbage
back where it belonged!!
from Brooklyn, NY
people do not realize that we are not only a boat rental company
but also a CHARTER company - meaning that we have captains
taking clients out on pontoon boats and sailboats.
Which means if you are out there and think you
are out of sight from Windsong, you are probably wrong! Like
One of our captains came back off a charter and
told us that one of our rental clients was driving the boat he
rented around in circles around the island doing donuts and just
having fun driving around for over an hour. Which is OK, no
problem, we don't mind, the captain's only comment was that the
client clearly was not worried about gas consumption.
When the client came in he was presented with a
bill for the gas he used which was 9 gallons. He said angrily:
"No way, I am not paying that, all I did was drive to the
island and back. You guys are trying to rip me off."
On being told that our captain observed him
driving around for an hour doing donuts he shut up immediately,
paid the bill and left without another word!
Big Brother is watching...
of 20 somethings from Pasco County
of young adults booked Reel
Ponty (pictured here) for a full day as a birthday
celebration. On being taken down to the boat the birthday boy
was not happy and returned to the desk saying that this boat was
"nothing" like the pictures and in fact was a "Hoopty" boat and
he was not getting on a hoopty boat. As usual Windsong was fully
booked that day so we did not have another boat to show the
upset young man who started getting very belligerent about the
behind him was another gentleman who had walked up on the off
chance we had something available and immediately shouted out
"I'll take it, looks like a great boat to me!".
REALLY ticked off Mr. Hoopty and he started shouting insults at
the Windsong manager handling their contract. We then exercised
our right to refuse service to anyone, especially rude and
obnoxious people so we ordered the party to leave our premises
immediately and gave the boat to the walk up client instead. Mr.
Hoopty was still heard shouting insults but even his friends
finally told him to shut up before they all got arrested.
the story: If you are that concerned about the aesthetics of a
vessel come down and ask to see it before making a reservation.
AND if you want a fun day on the water DON'T insult our
equipment or staff, you will NOT be leaving the dock in one of
from Clearwater, FL
family decided to rent a boat for two days and nights to go
camping on the North Sandbar. Day One - no problem! Day Two, not
so much! In the afternoon one of Florida's famous instant
thunderstorms rolled in blowing high winds and rain for about 45
minutes. Their tents blew down and because there was a strong
outgoing tide the pontoon boat got beached, as they did not pay
attention to the tide chart we gave them.
in and the family called the US Coast Guard for assistance,
apparently unaware that the Coast Guard has more important
things to do than come out to un-beach a boat on a perfectly
safe island, especially as the tide had just turned and the boat
would start floating again in a couple hours. As always happens
in non-life threatening cases, the Coast Guard called us which
is the first we heard about it.
contacted the unhappy family who then demanded that we come out
immediately and un-beach the boat as they'd had enough and
wanted to come in right now even though they had booked the boat
until 1PM the following day. We indicated that it is impossible
to un-beach a boat that is high and dry and that they only need
wait a couple hours for the tide to come in. This was
unacceptable to them because that wanted in NOW. We said we'd be
happy to come out, pick them up and leave a Windsong staff
member behind to wait on the tide and bring their boat in, but
this of course would be subject to our usual $250 rescue fee.
was shocked at our "attitude" because we should really do this
"out of the goodness of our hearts". They hung up on us - twice
- when we tried calling back. Right before sunset, after we had
closed for the day we received a text message from them saying
they were coming in, clearly having waited on the tide but not
prepared to spend another night camping. By coming in after
sunset they not only broke our company policy but also broke the
law by running at night without navigation lights.
forced our staff (who had already worked a 13 hour shift) to
stay on for another two hours to bring them in and wait for them
to unload a very full boat of camping gear. The family then
wanted a refund because they came in early. When we refused the
refund the family got extremely belligerent and started calling
us names we cannot repeat on this family friendly website! There
was no thanks to the staff who now worked a 15 hour shift
because of them.
Guard said the family claimed to have called us over and over
again with no answer. Strange, because our phone company's logs
indicated that the only calls to their number was when we called
them at the Coast Guard's request! Neither were there any
it should be noted that this was a holiday weekend, not only was
the sandbar packed but Windsong had 11 other boats at the
sandbar at the time of the storm and not one of them called the
Coast Guard or us - all 11 other boats arrived back on time
without an issue or complaint.
a boat is not something this family should consider in the
future, it's clearly not within their bailiwick!
the story? If you see a storm coming, take down your tent or put
something heavy like a cooler on it, and ALWAYS watch the tides.
NEVER call the Coast Guard unless you are in a genuine LIFE
THREATENING situation. If you are stranded the Coast Guard will
simply refer you to the closest commercial operation, such as
Windsong or Sea Tow and if it was YOUR fault, be prepared to
take out your check book!
Areas our New Port Richey location is close to:
Boat Rental near Tampa, Boat Rental near Clearwater,
Boat Rental near Clearwater Beach, Boat Rental near St. Petersburg,
Boat Rental near St. Pete Beach, Boat Rental near Palm Harbor, Boat
Rental near Tarpon Springs, Boat Rental near Holiday, Boat Rental near New Port Richey,
Boat Rental near Port Richey, Boat Rental near Hudson, Boat Rental near Spring Hill,
Boat Rental near Hernando. Hillsborough, Pinellas,
Pasco and Hernando counties.
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