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WINDSONG HALL OF SHAME

Phone: (727) 326-7391    Email: Contact US

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?"

Windsong answer: "No, they don't have either and I assume you will be hiring a captain to take you out for the day!"

On the Rocks

Wes from Wesley Chapel

A 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.

Windsong: "What do you mean by no prop?"

Customer: "I trimmed the engine up and there is no propeller on the end."

Windsong: "Wow! Did it perhaps spin off the shaft?"

Customer: "Actually there is no shaft... anymore."

Windsong: "Let me get this straight. There is no propeller and there is ALSO no prop shaft? Did you hit something?"

Customer: "Guess I must have..."

The 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!

The lower 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 $1000.00.

Moral of 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)

Hot Flashes

Here's another great question from a lady caller: "Do your pontoon boats have air conditioning?"

Windsong response: "Absolutely! When you put them in forward gear!"

Beached

John, Jane and Buster the dog from Michigan.

This 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!

Naturally 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.

Then they 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.

They paid the rescue fee... (actual picture of boat beached)

Tri-Fecta of Problems

One weekend the Windsong rescue boat (pictured on the right) was sent out THREE times due to "broken down" boats.

Boat #1 - 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).

This fixed 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 repairs.

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 water flow.

Cost to Windsong? $25 in fuel, 3 hours time wasted, $100 mechanics fees and a $150 refund we should never have given.

Going Where No Man Has Gone Before

Luke, Jenny and Family from New Jersey

At 6.30PM (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.

However, 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.

Comment 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!"

Yip, you are, and there is a reason you are alone there - no one else with common sense would go there!!

Although somewhat mosquito bitten, the family was returned to the dock safe and sound and the $250 rescue fee was paid.

Cutting Corners

Local Family from Pasco County

About half 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?"

Windsong responded: "That is correct, but you will probably only be 30 minutes late and at $10 per 15 minutes that is only $20."

The 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.

The result? Late Fee $0, Propeller replacement $175.

There is a reason why there are channel markers!! >>>> Actual picture >>>

Opening the Door of Opportunity

Group of College Kids, Tampa

These kids 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!

No 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.

This did 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:

Moral of the story - if you are going to open a door of opportunity, don't loose the door itself!

Anchor Management

Gary from Grassy Hills, FL

Then there 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.

ANCHORS "AWAY"

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 same day!

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 our fault."

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

Bert and family from Lakeland, Florida

This large 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!

On 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!"

Windsong: "Oh, yeah?"

An older sibling chipped in: "We tried to tell him, but he wouldn't listen."

5 Year Old: "I saw it sink."

Older brother, not to be put down then added: "Yeah, and I think Daddy then hit something too, I felt the boat bump."

Windsong, smiling: "Uh... let me just check the prop before you guys leave."

Bert, 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.

HIGH AND DRY

Mike, Macy and Friends from Manchester, England.

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."

Windsong: "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 book.

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.

TRAILER TRASH (actual picture)

Peter Partridge from Pinellas Park, Florida

In 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.

Must have 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.

Although his boat was severely damaged, our trailer was just fine!

DUMPSTER DIVING (actual picture)

Bunch of guys from Tampa, FL.

A group of 10 guys having a bachelor party rented our big party limo boat for the day.

Mistake #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!

Mistake #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 entertainment.

Needless 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!!

Having a Gas!

Bubba from Brooklyn, NY

Many 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 this guy.

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...

The Hoopty Boat!

A group of 20 somethings from Pasco County

This party 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 hoopty boat.

Standing 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!".

Now that 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.

Moral of 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 our boats.

Sad Snot-nosed KidUN-Happy Campers!

Family from Clearwater, FL

This 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.

Panic set 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.

We 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.

The family 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.

This also 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.

The Coast 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 voicemail messages.

Finally, 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.

Camping on a boat is not something this family should consider in the future, it's clearly not within their bailiwick!

Moral of 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!


Phone: (727) 326-7391    Email: Contact US

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.

We are 2 hours drive from Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando.

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