I finally have a few minutes to send this message. As stated we had a wonderful holiday. Here is some constructive feedback:
I spent quite some time deciding on the charter package which combined the necessary elements for our group, including the model and age of boat, the location and the price. However it is also of great importance that one should feel comfortable with the charter broker, and that one can establish a position of trust. On this front I must thank you for your great service on all fronts. You were always very friendly, helpful, efficient, professional and courteous. In addition to locating the right boat and package for us you also went out of your way to assist with the necessary documentation for money-transfers, visas and also made local arrangements on our behalf for mooring bookings in the likes of Lipari (which worked out perfectly, by the way!). You also mediated with Gulliver on the issue of the deposit, and the cheque system worked out well in the end. Thank you for this excellent service; Intercharter will be my first stop next time around.
The boat was exactly where we agreed to collect it. Vittorio Mango called me the day before and when we arrived he and his assistant (wife?) were there to meet us. They were very friendly and helpful and super efficient, and I can only praise them for their professionalism. Vittorio’s wife even took some of our crew to the shops with their private vehicle so that they could start getting supplies whilst we went through the hand-over process. Everything was perfectly clean and in working order when we received the boat, and the hand-over process was very professional and detailed. In addition, they worked very hard to complete the cleaning and handover early, so that we were in a position to get underway by mid-afternoon instead of only after 18:00. Similarly, the hand-back process also proceeded very smoothly and efficiently.
Whilst we had very little other interaction with Gulliver, I am gratified that they “made a plan” to find a solution with the deposit requirement in the absence of their having a credit card facility on hand. (I propose that they find a solution to the latter.)
The boat was all that was promised and as expected. It is a fantastic, modern charter boat, with the space and amenities to ensure a great vacation. I always liked Lagoon, and their use of space and lay-out remains in my view the best of all the catamarans. Pascha sails very well too, and all the systems worked as one would expect on a new boat. All the equipment that was needed was there. Of course it helps that it is still a relatively new boat, but I am sure that under the capable management and care of Mr. Mango it will be in good condition for a long time to come, so perhaps we will even charter exactly the same boat again.
When it comes to the boat there were a few minor points I should like to offer as feedback or as constructive criticism:
1. The little tender provided is impractical for this size boat. It is a very pretty (and probably quite expensive) little tender, but it is simply too small, too low in the water when loaded with people, and too under-powered. It is perhaps good enough for a private family holiday but not for charter purposes, especially when one considers that with 8 adults on board every shore excursion required multiple trips (as one could only ferry 3 people at a time). In addition there was very little space for shopping bags, etc, and if another boat passed by or the water was even slightly choppy it often resulted in wet bums and clothes (and one drowned mobile phone) – not pleasant if one still needed to explore town or go for dinner. For charter the tender should perhaps be more of a work-horse, and I recommend a larger size tender with a little more power (15hp+) and with an open deck (i.e. hand-steering instead of a steering wheel and gear system, which takes up a lot of space). I think most seasoned sailors would agree.
2. The linen provided was not enough and also not of great quality or standard. I understand that there was some confusion in that Mr. Mango received the message that we wanted a double set of linen too late, resulting in too few pillow cases and not a complete second set, hence the need for us to spend extra time and an additional Euro 65 to have it all laundered in Lipari. But apart from the sheets and pillow cases being too few, it was also of poor quality and a mix of different patterns and materials. I would propose simple white cotton through-out, and enough to go around for a two-week charter. The towels were fine.
3. Ditto for the cutlery and crockery provided. Maybe the owners are concerned that charterers will break or steal these items, but I think that for this price and quality of boat the plastic cups, knives and forks and plates were of very poor quality and below the required standard. In fact, a number of the plastic yellow handles on the forks broke off within the first two days. We went out and bought a quantity of proper steel knives and forks and a cutting knife, as well as a few sets of glasses (for wine and water). Whilst this was not a major expense it was an inconvenience and we should have liked proper quality utensils as part of the package (as for the linen). I would also recommend proper coffee cups instead of the thin plastic ones supplied, and perhaps an ordinary kettle to boil water in for tea drinkers. We took our Nespresso machine with, but it was awkward to boil water in the weird little aluminium pot for the tea drinkers.
It is a great boat with super equipment and gear, but the kitchen utensils and the linen was not on the same standard.
4. On the exterior there were only minor issues, which I brought to Mr. Mango’s attention.
(i) The anchor chain counter on the upper deck (at the steering position) under-reads, showing approximately only 30% of the issued chain in meters. Once we understood this it was easy to manage, but the system clearly requires some calibration. A very minor inconvenience, but I would recommend 5 m chain-interval markings on the anchor chain anyway.
(ii) The German reefing system on the main sail works fine (though we did not get to use it much for lack of decent wind!), but it does complicate the sail plan in that the 3 reefing lines do not seem to run smoothly through the boom and then interferes with the hoisting of the main sail. In addition, one of these lines regularly got caught between the boom and the plate on the end of the boom. Possibly one simply needs to live with this, but it does make for a messy top deck when the sails are down. Maybe the internal rollers need servicing to ensure the reefing lines run free when hoisting and stowing the main..
(iii) The generator worked perfectly (if a bit noisy) the whole trip until the very last night when it stopped working. This was no problem as we did not really need it but I did bring it to Mr. Mango’s attention. It could simply have been the impeller that was blocked.
(iv) The water hose on board did not have a connection that could be used for the deck water supply system; this meant that we could not wash down the boat unless we were in port and had access to shore water.
(v) I would recommend the installation of a VHF repeater on the bridge deck next to the wheel. It is not good seamanship to go below to speak on the radio, for example when entering a port and especially with the number of ferries around.
Please Note: None of the above-mentioned issues spoiled our fun, so I simply raise it here as feedback; Gulliver can consider how they can utilise this information to offer an even better package.
Lastly, the cruising ground:
The Aeolian Islands is a fantastic place to visit by yacht. It is incredibly beautiful with lots to do, pretty towns and villages, excellent food and wine, friendly people and great variety between the islands. The sailing is very easy (mostly line-of-sight) and the islands offer great anchorages irrespective of the weather. We liked all the islands, but Salina, Filicudi, Panarea and Stromboli were the hi-lights (if we HAD to choose!). The weather was great, with my only complaint that we did not have enough wind to do much sailing. In fact, whilst we had the sails up on most days it was often simply to assist the motors; there were only a handful of really good days for sailing, with winds only occasionally reaching above 12 knots. Perfect, private and quiet anchorages in secluded bays, clear warm water and dead calm evenings all contributed to an unforgettable holiday. I can highly recommend this area to all yachtsmen, and would gladly advise any prospective client of yours should they wish to find out more – simply give them my e-mail address.
So to conclude, we had an excellent vacation on a fantastic boat in a spectacular part of the world. Thank you for your great service Francesca, and please convey my thanks and appreciation to Gulliver as well as Mr. Mango for their huge contribution to making our charter a success.
Jacques Le Roux.
PS: I attach a few of the thousands of pictures – my wife and I in front of La Canna rock, anchored close inshore on Lipari, and sunset over Filicudi.