Advice to Novice
and Rental Boaters
The “Hub” area of Abaco is perhaps one of the most delightful cruising grounds in the tropical Atlantic. From Treasure Cay southeast to Little Harbour, the boater can find shallow, sheltered water, numerous waterfront communities, each with its own ambience and charm, beaches, reefs, and an astonishing and delightful array of colors. Each year thousands of experienced and novice boaters travel to Abaco to enjoy the “on the water” experience. During pre-trip planning, many find their way to the Abaco Forum, and post questions relevant to their anticipated boating experience. This article is a collaboration among several experienced boaters and frequent Abaco visitors who are all regular contributors to the Board. Its purpose is to anticipate those questions and to provide information of use to visitors who will be boating in the area.

Rental boats are available in many Abaco communities, including Marsh Harbour, Hopetown/Elbow Cay, Man-O-War Cay, Guana Cay, and Green Turtle Cay. The “Hub” of Abaco is generally defined as the Sea of Abaco and adjacent waters southeast of the bar that runs from Treasure Cay to Whale Cay, and north from Little Harbour. Green Turtle Cay lies outside of this area, and some rental companies may restrict transit through Whale Cay Passage or the shoals southwest of Whale Cay. There are rental boat companies at Green Turtle and Treasure Cay who will obviously allow you to explore their local areas. Access to the ocean through the various passes may also be restricted; this varies with the experience of the boater and the rental company. Information about rental companies is available in many of the cruising guides as well as at Rental Boats on this web site..

Perhaps the single most useful tool available to the visiting boater is Steve Dodge’s Cruising Guide to Abaco. The Guide is published each winter and contains a wealth of information that all boaters will find essential. We urge all visiting boaters to obtain and study it in advance of their trip!  A great resource for all sorts of charts and guides is Blue Water Books and Charts in Ft. Lauderdale. New or inexperienced boaters can find information about “hands on” and online boating courses at Boat US. In addition, the U.S. Power Squadron has programs in many locations that offer boat handling/safe boating courses.

Anyone boating in Abaco should take advantage of a great VHF radio program heard every day on channel 68 at 0815. The “Cruisers’ Net” will give you a comprehensive weather report, including marine and Gulf Stream predictions, as well as all kinds of local news. Most of the restaurants and bars will announce their business hours and any specials they’ll be serving. It’s the best way we know of to stay in touch with “what’s happening” in the area, and we urge you to listen each day.

We are frequently asked to answer questions from prospective rental boaters who have no boating experience. If you have never run a boat, do not expect a rental company to teach you safe boat handling skills. Most of the companies will brief you on how to operate their specific boat (in a mechanical sense), and will go over the geography of the region. It is not their place to teach you how to run a boat, and they won’t do it. Please anticipate your needs and get some boating experience before you come to Abaco.

If you fall into the category of  “limited experience,” there are several aspects of boating which you will want to brush up on prior to your arrival. These include:
  • Planning a day on the water and anticipating the needs of the crew,
  • Reading a chart and using a compass, plotting and following a course,
  • Knowing how to pull away from a dock or slip, and safely navigating through a crowded anchorage,
  • Anchoring, especially next to a beach,
  • Tying up in a slip or at a dock,
  • Using a VHF radio,
  • Using your vision to gauge water depth and understanding tides,
  • Knowing how to safely traverse an ocean pass, and knowing when not to try it.
We’ll have specific comments about each of these issues. They are all covered in great detail in Chapman’s Seamanship and Boathandling, which we also strongly recommend.

One more thing: the word “Cay” is pronounced “key,” just like the islands in Florida or that thing that starts your car. The word has Lucayan and Spanish roots; pronounce it “Kay” and everyone will know you’re a newbie!

Plan Your Day
At the beginning of your day, make a plan. Figure how long you’ll be on the water and where you’ll want to go. Discuss the day’s plans with your crew: who wants to do what? Sit down with a chart or guide and decide on the day’s route. Figure the bearing and distance to each destination. Dodge’s and Wyatt’s Guides provide course lines to many popular destinations; make sure you can translate the routes they give you into a compass course, and know how to follow it.

Make sure you anticipate the needs of your crew. Carry an adequate supply of sun block, and encourage them to apply it often. Most visitors to Abaco do not have a “base tan,” and as such are extremely vulnerable to sunburn. We have heard many stories of visitors who sustained a severe sunburn on their first day out and essentially lost the rest of their vacation. Please do not underestimate the danger of the tropical sun! Carry at least one gallon of fresh water and a cooler with some ice; this is your first aid for all kinds of bites and stings. It’s useful to carry a tube of steroid (cortisone) ointment to put on jellyfish stings, etc. Carry some Band-Aids; if someone sustains a cut, wash and dress the wound immediately with peroxide or alcohol, and apply a little Neosporin or other antibiotic ointment. Have everyone bring a hat and a shirt, and socks will help prevent blisters on the feet of your snorklers. Divers with thinning hair, remember to put some sun block on the crown of your head. We often carry a second jug of fresh water to use as a rinse when we finish swimming and want to go into town or to a restaurant. You don’t need $3.95/gallon water for this, just some from a spicket on the dock. Your crew will really appreciate the quick relief this provides from sticky salt water, especially if you leave it in the sun and let it warm up.

There are a lot of windy but otherwise nice days in Abaco, and this can present a challenge as you try to plan your day on the water. Here’s a useful three-point strategy:
  • Determine the wind direction (it often remains the same all day) by listening to the Cruisers’ Net in the morning and by walking out to the end of your dock or other open area with a compass,
  • Examine your chart and find places you can visit that will be out of the wind,
  • Plan your route so as to avoid long runs directly into the wind.
For example, you’re staying in a cottage in Hopetown and have rented a boat for the day. Your kids want to snorkel and your wife wants to explore a “perfect island beach.” The wind is blowing 15-20 knots out of the SE, and parts of the Sea of Abaco are really roiled up by the wind. What’s your plan? If the wind is from the SE, that means that beaches that face north through west will be relatively sheltered. Dive spots near a shore to SE should also be sheltered.  A quick check of your 200X Dodge (find the page with fishing/snorkeling/SCUBA locations) will reveal several possibilities. An example of two great snorkel spots that will be sheltered on a day like this are Mermaid Reef on the north side of Marsh Harbour and the little cove SE of Lubber’s Quarters on the west side of Tilloo Cay. There’s a gorgeous beach on the north side of North Pelican Cay that will also be relatively sheltered. Thus, with a little consideration of weather and geography you have saved the day and become your family’s hero!
Getting Started
We are frequently asked about “sample” day trips, dive spots, beaches, and the like. This is the province of the cruising guides, and they do a wonderful job of describing the fun and interesting destinations that visitors enjoy. We provide this summary as a preliminary sketch; please read about these places in detail in your guide.

Island Communities:
  • Marsh Harbour
  • New Plymouth
  • White Sound, Green Turtle Cay
  • Guana Settlement
  • Treasure Cay Resort and Marina
  • Man-O-War settlement
  • Hopetown
  • White Sound, Elbow Cay
  • Little Harbour

  • The beach/cove at the NW end of Manjack Cay
  • The beach/sandbar on the S end of Green Turtle
  • Treasure Cay Beach
  • The beach on the NW extreme of Guana Cay
  • The bar at Tahiti Beach
  • Beaches on the Pelican Cays
  • Small beaches on the west side of Lynyard Cay

Dive/Snorkel Spots (in all these areas make sure you proceed cautiously and have good light; please don’t strike a coral head!)
  • Mermaid Reef on the north side of Marsh Harbour (great spot for beginners)
  • Reefs in the Fowl Cay Preserve
  • Reefs in the Johnny’s Cay area
  • Reef east of Sandy Cay in the Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park
  • Reef area on the north side of Little Harbour

Many of the guides provide GPS waypoints, and we are frequently asked about GPS. We would rather you navigate by siting landmarks and following a compass course. You can go anywhere in the Hub area using this method. We are aware of boaters who have run into other boats or rocks at high speed while they were fumbling with a GPS unit. It is useful to have another person following the GPS unit while you run the boat, or vice versa. The course lines featured in the guides are generally safe, as long as you closely follow a course from one waypoint to another. However, if you are out in the middle of the Sea of Abaco and decide to go to Nipper’s, you cannot count on a clear course to the waypoint at Guana settlement. Abaco is full of coral heads, shoals, and sandbars, and the skipper has to keep an eye out for these hazards. GPS will not see them, and it won’t keep you off of them. Always, use your eyes!

Some rental boats will have a “hardwired” VHF radio. Some companies will issue or rent you a handheld model (it’s definitely worth the small additional charge). It’s not a bad idea to bring your own if you have one. Make sure the rental people show you how to work the radio, and follow the radio rules of etiquette. VHF is still a major mode of communication in Abaco, and radio traffic can be quite brisk. Listen before you transmit, try not to “step on” someone else’s message. If you need help, use Ch 16. Make sure you know your location. If the rental company doesn’t respond, ask if someone will forward the call. If you are calling another boat, find a working channel such as 69,71,or 73; listen for a moment to make sure it is clear, then call your party on 16 and shift to your working channel. Make sure you understand how the squelch control works, and please keep children away from the radio.

Be aware of the tides; there are tide tables in Dodge and Wyatt. Remember: an outgoing tide against an onshore wind can pile up the ocean passes. If you keep your boat overnight, allow enough slack in your lines to accommodate a 3-4 tidal range. You may have to check your boat a few times as the tide changes to get this right. Try not to get stuck on a shoal or sandbar on a falling tide; you may wind up sitting for several hours waiting for the tide to float you off.

Thunderstorms and squalls periodically move through the area. These can cause a lot of excitement, but they usually don’t last more than an hour or so. As you move about, keep an eye to the weather; you’ll usually be able to see the dark clouds and rain as they approach. When this happens, round up your crew and find a safe place to ride out the storm. Try to figure which way the wind will be blowing (although it can and does swirl and change direction), and then anchor or tie up next to an island such that you’ll be out of the worst of it. If you have time, run into a nice harbour like Hopetown or Marsh Harbour or Treasure Cay Marina. Most people will let you tie up for a short time to escape a storm. Make sure the boat and your belongings are secured; if you anchor, it’s a good idea to visually confirm your set.

Boat Handling
If there were one simple rule that we could stress above all others, it would be this: SLOW DOWN! The great majority of boating accidents could have been avoided or the damage and injury minimized had someone just not been going quite so fast. And this is doubly true in Abaco. The very reefs and shoals that fascinate us can also destroy our lower units and hulls, as well as cause our crew to be thrown overboard or into sharp or dangerous objects when we suddenly strike them. Please use your eyes and those of your crew when you’re motoring about the area. If you can’t see the bottom clearly, slow down. Likewise, when you’re in an anchorage, when you’re near bathers or divers, when you’re pulling up to the dock, slow down. You’re on vacation, don’t be in a rush. Don’t injure someone or wreck your boat in haste. Two special warnings: we know of no rental boat company that will allow you to run their boats after sunset. We have heard a number of stories about people who took rental boats out at night to visit a waterfront restaurant, and returned to the boat only to find that it had been disabled or returned to the rental company. Abaco is a small area, and word quickly gets around. Finally, make sure your judgement isn’t compromised by too much beer or rum!

Occasionally “slow” can be worse than fast. Many boats produce a larger wake at 8-10 knots than they do at 25. When you first put your boat in gear, watch your wake with the boat at minimum throttle. Slowly bring up the throttle and watch the wake grow; even in a 22 footer it can reach two feet, which is capable of causing all manner of misery to nearby boats. When you’re in a congested area, run the boat at minimum throttle, and keep an eye on your wake. Remember, you are responsible for any damage it produces!

Many novices have difficulty with docking maneuvers. Boats don’t have brakes, but you can stop a boat traveling at idle speed by shifting into reverse and giving it the proper amount of throttle. When you approach a dock or slip, do so at idle speed and time your reverse so that the boat speed dies just as you reach the dock. It’s a good idea to practice this before you take off on your first day. We have heard stories about rental boats that have not been ideally maintained. It is possible that shifting into reverse may be sluggish or may, on occasion, not even happen. Practice this with your boat before you attempt docking maneuvers. And remember the old saw: “Never approach a dock faster than you would be willing to hit it!” Have your dock lines prepared before you begin this maneuver. If you’re pulling alongside a dock, have at least one line cleated to the bow, and one to the stern. It’s a good idea to have another line on a “spring” (middle) cleat. Approach the dock at an angle, and have a crewmember on the bow with line in hand. A few feet out, shift into reverse and give it enough throttle to slow the boat to a stop. Turn the wheel toward the dock; this will pull the stern in that direction (green arrow in illustration below). If done correctly, this will leave the boat dead in the water, parallel to and a few inches from the dock. You can then tie up; this type of docking is called “side to.” Run a line from the bow forward to a cleat or pile on the dock, and run one aft from the stern. If there is a current or wind that wants to move the boat forward or aft, run a spring line (tied to a middle or aft cleat) in the direction of the current or wind (red lines). When it comes time to pull away, have a crewman or someone on the dock push the bow away, then slowly motor out.
Sometimes there won’t be enough room on a dock for you to tie side to. This happens frequently at eating or drinking establishments on the waterfront, like Harbour’s Edge in Hopetown. If you want to tie up and there’s only ten feet or so of dock space, you can tie “bow to.” Before you execute the maneuver, stand off and make the necessary preparations. Take your anchor and it’s line (rode) to the stern, and make a loose tie around a stern cleat. Tie a line to your bow cleat. Slowly pull the bow into the area where you want to dock; when you get within 25-30 feet of the dock, throw the anchor off the stern. Make sure the rode doesn’t foul on the prop. Shift into reverse a few feet from the dock, so that you come right up to it. A crewmember can step onto the dock and make the line fast to a cleat or pile, while you tighten the anchor rode to keep the boat in position. You may need two lines on the bow, one to each side, to prevent the boat from drifting into adjacent boats. When you leave you can slowly motor away from the dock, or leave the motor in neutral while you pull the boat toward the anchor. Again, don’t foul the prop. Some boaters prefer to tie “stern to;” the procedure is similar, you back into the dock stern first and pay out the anchor from the bow. We strongly recommend you tie “bow to” as you eliminate the risk of damaging your motor. Make your transitions into reverse gradually so as not to throw your crew into the water.
Anchoring can be tricky, especially if it’s windy or there’s a stiff current. The sheer weight of the anchor resting on the bottom is not what holds the boat in place. The flukes of the anchor must bury themselves in the sand or grass in order to hold the boat. Check your anchor rode before it’s time to anchor. Untangle the line and estimate how much rode is available. When you deploy the anchor, pay out about five times as much line as the water is deep. For example, if you are in water that is 10 feet deep, let out about fifty feet of line. If you don’t, the upward pull of the rode may dislodge the anchor and you’ll drift. Don’t attempt to throw a heavy anchor; drop it straight down. Once you have your line out, give the motor some reverse throttle; this will usually bury the anchor flukes. Then watch the bottom for a few moments to make sure the anchor has set and you’re not drifting. It’s always a good idea to put on a mask and dive down to inspect the anchor to assure it is buried. Once anchored, keep an eye on your boat, you don’t want to drag into another boat. Conversely, watch the other boats in the area, they may drift across your rode or into your boat. Never anchor directly on a reef! Figure the current and wind, then anchor in the sand such that the boat will drift over or near your target; this way your anchor and chain won’t damage the fragile coral.
Anchoring at a beach or a sandbar presents a special challenge. It’s tempting to run the bow up onto the beach and bury the anchor on the dune. This leaves the stern and the lower unit vulnerable to waves and wakes from passing boats, some of which can be considerable. This can result in the boat being swamped, or the lower unit being damaged by repeatedly crashing on the bottom. The proper way to anchor in this situation is “stern to” the beach, with the bow pointing out toward the water. This requires two anchors; always ask the rental people to let you have two anchors. There are a number of ways to perform this maneuver, and how you do it depends on the water depth and your crew. Usually the water just off the beach is relatively shallow, and you won’t want to back into it. If possible, drop a crewmember into the shallow water near the beach at the position you want to anchor, and hand him the stern anchor and rode; do not run your prop into this person! Have him plant the anchor in 2-3 feet of water while you motor about 50 feet off the beach, drop your bow anchor, and carefully back to within ten feet or so of him, using him as a guide to your depth. Kill and tilt the motor up, and take the anchor rode from him. You can pull the boat forward if necessary to achieve sufficient depth such that the hull won’t bounce on the bottom, but allowing your crew to enter the water from the stern. Again, be extremely careful when backing toward a crewmember. If you are sure you have sufficient depth close to the beach, carefully back up and drop the stern anchor after first setting the bow anchor. It should be shallow enough to allow you to physically adjust the position of your anchors once you’re settled, assuming the boat is 20-22 feet in length and you’re in less than 6-8 feet of water.
One of the first things a new boater in Abaco must learn is how to visually gauge the depth of the water. Don’t rely too much on your depthsounder, you can crash into a coral head while the stern (where the depthsounder transducer is located) is still in 15 feet of water. To visually assess the water depth, you need polarized sunglasses and adequate sunlight. Your ability to read the water diminishes as the sun drops or as clouds accumulate. The water in the Sea of Abaco usually ranges from 5-15 feet, and appears as a pale green. This is usually due to grass on the bottom; sandy areas will appear lighter, deeper areas begin to appear blue. Rocks and coral heads are usually brown; remember the phrase “brown, brown, run aground!” Sandbars and shoals become a light brown or beige as the water depth decreases. It may help to have a crewmember stand on the bow as you slowly work your way through shallow water. There are times when you’ll try to get across very shallow water; tip your motor up (but not out) of the water and proceed very slowly. If you bump, take the motor out of gear immediately. If it just gets too shallow, stop the motor, tilt it all the way up, and physically pull or push the boat into deeper water. If you hit a coral head or rock while you are running, immediately stop and inspect the lower unit and the prop. More than one Abaco visitor has paid to have a prop repaired or replaced. Water depths directly relate to the state of the tide. Dodge’s book has tide tables; look at them every morning before you go out, and pay particular attention to the time of low tide.

Advanced Issues
Good fishing can be found off just about any of the near shore. Getting to them requires that you navigate one of the passes from the Sea of Abaco out into the ocean. Check with the rental company before you do this or when you are first making your reservations. There are six ocean passages in the Hub area, and we will present them from Northwest to Southeast with a few brief comments. Dodge and Wyatt discuss these extensively. For all of them: do not attempt to run a passage into the ocean if you see breaking waves! Loggerhead Channel is the eastern leg of the Whale Cay Passage and lies west of Great Guana Cay. It is well marked and usually navigable. A strong north or northeast wind, or a distant storm can create large waves that may break across the passage. North Man-O-War Channel is a deep wide channel west of Man-O-War Cay. It is very useful, just make sure you stay in the center and take it slow. South Man-O-War Channel lies on the east side of Man-O-War and is tricky in that there are rocky shoals that can be difficult to see on both sides, but moreso on the west side. If you aren’t pressed, use one of the other passes. Tilloo Cut is a shallow narrow pass between Elbow and Tilloo Cays. A strong outgoing tide can rip against the prevailing 15-knot SE winds and really pile up the swells in this cut. Be very aware of the state of the tides and wind before you try this pass, it can be very dangerous. On a calm day or on a slack or incoming tide, it’s often quiet. North Bar Channel lies just north of Lynyard Cay and is wide and deep; watch for the shoal on the south side. The passage is straightforward, just watch for breaking waves on an outgoing tide against a SE or E wind. The pass at Little Harbour is very tricky, there are reefs on both sides, and they actually overlap. Unless you have great conditions, use North Bar instead.

Experienced boaters crossing over from Florida for the first time will find excellent coverage of this topic in both Dodge and Wyatt. We strongly recommend the use of GPS backed up by “dead reckoning” for these long passages. West End is the gateway to Abaco, and is a convenient first stop for boaters departing from Lake Worth Inlet, a distance of 56 nautical miles. The passage is complicated by the presence of the Gulf Stream, a giant “river” 15-20 miles wide. The axis of the Stream lies about one third the distance from Florida to West End, and the northward flow often reaches 4 knots. This has two implications: if you are traveling in a sailboat or slow powerboat, you will be carried northward at speed half to two thirds the speed of your vessel, and you will have to make an appropriate southerly correction. Second, a 15-knot North or Northeast wind creates the equivalent of a tide rip 15 miles wide! We have experienced this first hand, and it’s no fun. The swells can reach 8-10 feet and they are steep and tight. If you are sitting in port contemplating a crossing and the weather report predicts a brisk N or NE wind, go find a bar and have some rum; postpone your crossing until the wind clocks around to the east.

Your responsibilties, and commentary from company owners and employees
For those of you who are renting, there is one more issue to consider. We have stressed safe, informed boat handling from the standpoint of safety, but it also relates to your personal liability. Boats are valuable, expensive vehicles. Import taxes and the logistics of getting replacement parts to Abaco make repairs quite expensive. Most rental companies will have you sign an agreement acknowledging your responsibility, and some may take a credit card imprint as a guarantee. Should you damage a rental boat you are therefore liable for the repair, and it is potentially sizable, as in many thousands of dollars. Use your boat with care, and should you suspect you have damaged it we recommend you stop immediately and contact the owner. It is prudent to inspect your boat before you leave the dock, and to confirm with the rental people written acknowledgment of any pre-existing damage. This is particularly pertinent to the motor's lower unit and prop. It is not our intention to frighten or discourage you from renting a boat; on the contrary, it is perhaps the best way to experience the wonderful islands and waters that are Abaco. We want you to do it in a safe and enjoyable manner, and your prudence will go a long way toward assuring a great trip.

From Chris: "I have worked for 2 different boat rental companies in the past and have dealt with all of the boat rental companies in Abaco. They all follow the same rules (1 day is 9-5 unless pre-arranged by renter and company to be returned at 9am not 24 hrs later.) There are no 24 hr rentals as none of the rental companies allow their boats out after dark and since most close at 5pm that is the latest they can come back. If the boats come back after 9 or after 5 a second day will be charged to the renter. This is because if someone comes in to rent the boat, they are unable and since the boats are daylight hours only if they take it later than 9am you lose a great amount of usage time. None of the rental companies rent 1/2 day and day rentals are a lot of work. They have to be checked out, checked in, made sure there are no problems, if there are they need to be repaired, there are customers waiting and upset if they don't get their rental on-time and want to be compensated etc.... 3-4 day and weekly rentals the companies prefer as the turn around is not as bad, however Saturday is what the rental companies refer to as "Hell Day" as most if not all of their fleet comes in at 9 and has to go back out immediately (and in many cases they come back late, damaged, filthy dirty etc and there are usually clients waiting and some are upset that their boat is not there or ready yet.). Also, if one reserves a 1 day boat mid week or whenever and then someone wishes to rent or reserve for a week, it causes the company to lose the week because there is a reservation for one day. That is why none of the rental companies will reserve for a day and it is only available on a first come first serve basis.

All boats are suppose to go out full of gas and oil, but the renter is responsible for the fuel, so when it is returned, the boats are filled and fuel and oil is charged to the renter. I can understand your frustration, and I hope this helps you and others in the future when they plan to book a boat on how the process works. There obviously was a miss-communication on the part of the rental agent, however it has been my experience that most clients want to get out on the water quickly and sometimes don't take the extra effort to listen carefully to the entire schpiel the agent is telling them (kind of like how many of us really listen to the airline crew when they are going over the safety list before take off) and miss some key points."

From Local Knowledge: "As owner of Sea Horse Boat Rentals a well established boat rental Company I would like to correct a couple things Chris has stated in his post above – so far as my Company is concerned.

We do allow 24 hour rentals but night use is prohibited – for safety reasons. You get the boat 9:00 am today you can return (no later than) 9:00 am tomorrow. That’s one day. So if you reserve a boat beginning Noon on Saturday ending at Noon the following Saturday you pay for seven days, not eight as some people do. We do half day rentals, beginning at noon during the busy season and anytime during the slow season. Now some comments in general.

I agree, one day rentals are a lot of work. So we price accordingly. Our stats show that one day renters average 4.6 hours running time versus weekly renters who average 1.2 hours per day. More wear and tear, more $$ you pay. That’s only fair.

We do not take one day rentals in advance – for just the reasons Chris stated. We will accept a three day in advance. So if you want only one day you have to get here first then call around. Some one will have a boat.

Saturdays are “Hell Day” during the season. Our record is 17 turn arounds in one day at one location (MH). So you have the renter who has the boat booked “Noon to Noon”, he returns at 11:55 AM meanwhile the next renter who has a reservation for Noon has already arrived and is ready to go but now has to wait another hour or so for the boat to be gassed, cleaned and checked for damages/problems. Relax Mon you on Island Time now! Most people understand and most people return around 10 or 11 and most folks arrive mid afternoon so mostly not a problem.

We never charge in advance for gas so I don’t think BIA is referring to SHBR but I have some comments about the subject. Here is a common scenario. Mr. Renter attempts to fill up his rental boat before turning it in. He thinks the rental Co. is going to gouge him like the car rentals do if he don’t fill the tank. WE DON’T, we charge the same as the gas dock. Also Mr. Renter has a pile of luggage in the boat, the boat is off level and the tank cannot be filled properly so it overflows but is not full. Now Mr. Renter checks in, the boat is unloaded and now the gas gauge needle shows movement. “ I’ve gotta go fill your boat up before we can settle up Sir” “Why? I just filled it up?” “Yes Sir but you see here, the gas gauge needle is moving and it was not when you got the boat” “Oh no, the tank wasn’t full when I picked up the boat last Saturday” “Well Sir why didn’t you bring that to our attention right away?” “ Ah, because I didn’t notice it till Monday morning when we were down by Sandy Cay Reef” and so it goes. I suggest this strategy for anyone renting a boat (or car) anywhere that is supposed to be “full” when you receive it. If you are in doubt as to whether the tank is full or not, go to the nearest fuel dock IMMEDIATELY after receiving the boat, fill tank till it overflows, get a time and date stamped receipt (like a credit card) then you can go about your business or vacation with peace of mind that the tank is full and you can show the people you rented from that the boat really was not full when received and here is the proof, the receipt. Works like a charm no matter if you are the Rentor or the Rentee!

Chris is spot on about Mr. Renter not listening to instructions when receiving the boat for whatever reason. Jet lag, stressed about travel or the job (or both) kids whining the list goes on. I don’t know how many times we have had to go out and show Mr. Renter how to start his motor the second or third day he has had the boat. They listen then."

We hope you have found our comments useful. You are welcome to email me with your questions; experience has shown you’ll find most of what you need in Dodge or Wyatt. Have a safe and enjoyable trip in Abaco!