SSA/Pacific Star Charter Cancellation

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Posted by Terry Fitz on November 15, 2009 at 12:32:57:

So, I signed up for a 2-day charter (11/14-15) to San Clemente on the Pacific Star. I was stoked about the charter because San Clemente is one of my favorite island destinations, and I’d heard really good things about the boat. I was therefore disappointed and surprised to get a call Friday afternoon (11/13)from Rusty at Scuba Schools of America (SSA) advising that the charter was cancelled due to expected bad weather. He read me the weather forecast which called for 5 foot seas and winds of ~20 knots—not exactly impending hurricane conditions-- and I listened to this in astonishment in Marina del Rey under a cloudless sky with slight breeze. The decision to cancel was described as the boat captain’s, and I am wondering if anybody else has had a similar experience—i.e., cancellation of a Pacific Star or SSA charter based upon this level of projected weather a day in advance. I’ve done many multiday trips on both LA and Ventura boats, and the only cancellations I’ve experienced have involved: (i) marginal conditions (e.g., small craft advisory or worse) actually existing at the time of the cancellation; or (ii) the boat leaving harbor and the captain deciding that seas just weren’t acceptable.

I respect a captain’s “go/no go” decision based upon the need to protect passengers’ safety, but the above-described cancellation situation strikes me as grossly overly conservative if not purely ridiculous. I also understand that target destinations are just that—- targets. They are not guaranteed, and diverting to another location is always a possibility. I have therefore have no idea why we didn’t at least try for the primary target destination with another locale (like Catalina, which was planned as a day 2 destination anyway) as a fall-back. A low number of trip sign-ups would normally strike me as one strong possibility, but weather was the reason given. Luckily I was able to scramble and make alternative arrangements for a day trip to Catalina on board the Magician, and we had stellar conditions with 60-70 foot of visibility at Eel Cove. I saw the Sea Bass loading for a trip while we motored out of San Pedro, and the Great Escape out at Catalina itself, so conditions pretty clearly weren’t too “rough” for everybody.

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