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!"
Jose and Rafael from Meanieville, USA
These, oh so considerate individuals, left the island and headed in the wrong direction to a different channel 3 miles north of our channel as can be seen by their actual GPS tracker record in the picture.
When we saw this we called and told them to turn around and head south keeping well offshore until they reached our marked channel. A few minutes later we saw they were headed too close inshore. We called again warning them to go further offshore because there are many rocks closer to shore. Even though they agreed over the phone they didn't change their course and ignored our marked channel completely thereby running over the rocks and destroying the propeller.
On arrival they stated that their family had a fantastic fun day until presented with a gas bill of $30 and a prop repair bill of $75. All of a sudden, they came up with some story of how the seats on the boat were slippery and people kept sliding off them. They demanded to be compensated for that inconvenience even though we demonstrated that no matter how hard we tried, we could not get our butt to slide off the seat even by an inch.
They then refused to pay the bill threatening to slam us all over social media. We ordered him off our property and distributed his name to all the boat rental companies in Florida as a DO NOT RENT. Thus he will never be able to rent a boat again.
High and Dry
Ricardo from Hudson
These first time renters where having such a great time on the island they forgot to pay attention to the outgoing tide. By the time they realized there was not enough water to float a boat, it was too late.
By the time our rescue boat arrived it was a LONG, LONG walk to the waterline. The clients were given another boat in order to return to land and our staffer sat waiting on the boat until 1 AM the next morning before the tide was high enough to float the boat.
Of course, this does come at a price, but the client was happy to pay our $250 rescue fee so his family was not stuck on the island all night. (Actual picture shown).
A Bridge Too Low
Kenneth from Pasco County
A repeat customer who needed to get from his house which is on the other side of the Floramar Bridge.
He was convinced the bimini top (shade cover) would fit under the bridge so he didn't slow down.
WRONG! The tide was too high and the bridge destroyed the aluminum frame costing the client $150 for a replacement.
Moral of the story? If you *think* it will fit under the bridge slow down anyway and glide in closer just to make sure your wallet is not going to be a little lighter! It only takes a minute to unsnap the bimini poles and lower the shade top until it is flat.
Actual pictures of bridge and broken bimini top.
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)
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 finally paid the rescue fee... (actual picture of boat beached)
The Tracker Told the Truth
Jim from Dayton, Ohio.
When this gentleman returned the boat we saw the propeller was damaged but repariable so we billed the client our $75 repair fee. He didn't argue and paid up.
However, the next day we saw that he had posted a bad review about us on several review websites saying that we were a rip off and we should expect propeller damage in shallow waters and he should not have been charged as it was not his fault and recommended that people never rent from us.
He didn't realize that our boats are fitted with GPS trackers, so we pulled up his track and discovered that he completely ignored our instructions to stay inside the area marked with a red line. He was more than a mile inside the prohibited area. There is a REASON why we draw those lines on the chart we give clients!!
Bottom line, if you are going to ignore our safety instructions and damage our stuff, DON'T POST BAD REVIEWS, It's not our fault!
Tri-Fecta of Problems
One weekend the Windsong rescue boat (pictured on the left) 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 not 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.
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
Here's another great question from a lady caller: "Do your pontoon boats have air conditioning?"
Windsong response: "Absolutely! It turns on when you put the boat in forward gear!"
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! Actual picture.
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 typicallyuse 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 15 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.
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 lose 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.
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.
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...
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