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Frequently Asked Questions
(We'll answer a bunch. If you have more, just call or write.)

What is a typical cruise like?
You'll drive to the waterfront residence of Captain Aram Nersesian, where the boat is docked. It's best to show up about a half-hour early, so you can load your gear onto the boat without cutting into your sailing time. Aram will have the boat ready to go. You may use the "facilities" in his home if you wish before departure. It's all very relaxed, friendly and informal.

What should I wear?
First of all, footwear. Soft soled shoes, NO BLACK SOLES of any kind (which can scuff the decks). No fancy shoes, leather bottoms, high heels, etc. Any kind of sneakers or boat shoes are fine, (with no black bottoms). Check the temperature predictions for the day. Even a seemingly warm day can be cool on the water. Bring layers, so you can put on or take off as necessary. A few extra articles of clothing for warmth is worth the effort of carrying them along, even if they stay in your satchel. Sunglasses and suntan lotion are a must. A hat, if you like. If it's going to be really warm, of course light clothing, shorts, light shirts, bathing suits... We have a fresh water hose available we call "the spritzer," for cooling down. If there is a chance of rain and you have your own foul weather gear, you may bring that. We carry sets of lightweight rain gear that will fit most people.

What should I bring?
For the normal $500 Daysail, you will bring your own lunch, snacks, and soft drinks in your own cooler with ice, as you prefer. For the $590 Daysail with Lunch, we will provide fixings for sandwiches, (ham and turkey), with an assortment of breads and condiments, and also soft drinks to include a wide variety of regular and diet sodas, and plenty of bottled water. If you wish to have anything else, feel free to bring it with you. You will need to bring your own towels, for drying yourself if you spritz off, or for lying on the decks if you use suntan lotion. (Getting lotion on the decks makes them slippery and dangerous.) If you feel that you will need seasick prevention medicine, please bring your own and take it according to directions. We carry Bonine and Dramamine aboard, but by the time you need it, it may be too late.

What about motion sickness?
The Chesapeake Bay is a relatively well protected body of water and it is rare that waves will kick up to the point of being uncomfortable. Seasickness is unlikely and uncommon. Also, Heron is a very stable, heavily ballasted and comfortable boat. That said, some people are prone to motion sickness. We recommend that if you think you may get queasy on the sail, that you chose a prevention medicine such as Bonine or Less Drowsy Formula Dramamine and take small doses ahead of time, according to directions.

Who decides whether a trip will be cancelled?
Trip cancellation is at the discretion of the Captain. We will sail in light rain, and in winds up to 20-25 knots. On Heron, unlike smaller boats, these conditions make for a fun and exciting day. In the event of stormy weather, heavy rains, or mechanical issues, the Captain will cancel the sailing day and the charterers will be allowed a refund, or the option of rescheduling for another day. If the Captain can decide a day in advance, the phone call will be made to the contact person for the charter group. If it's a decision that is made the morning of the charter, an 8 a.m. call will be made to the contact person for the charter group, discussing the options for cancellation or rescheduling. Through communications before hand, the Captain will have an idea about what kind of sailing day the charter group is hoping for, and that will be taken into consideration. We all want to work towards having a successful, enjoyable day on the water.

How do I make a reservation for a daysail, and how do I make a payment?
Once all your questions are answered and you wish to reserve a sailing day aboard Heron, you will email or call to see if the day you would like is available. If the day is available, you will secure that day when you make full payment. You may do this through PayPal on our "Contract/Payment" page, directly on our website, or by check. We will email you a contract for you to sign. One person may sign the contract as a group "spokesperson," but Liability Waivers must be signed by each person coming aboard, and that will be done the day of the charter. You will return these to us with full payment, if not already made. If using personal checks, these must clear our bank before the charter is considered paid and reservation is firm. Please note: Reservations are not firmed up until payment is made. Charter days are available on a first come/first serve basis, meaning whoever pays for the day first, get that day.

What about refunds?
Unlike most other charter companies, we will allow a refund for a reserved daysail if that charter group requests the refund three weeks (firm) or more in advance of the reserved day. The refund of the full amount, minus a processing charge of $100, will be made either through PayPal, or by a Schooner Heron Charters company check, depending on how you paid. NO REFUNDS will be made inside that three week window before the reserved date, unless the Captain cancels the cruise.

What about last minute reservations?
A last minute reservation (within seven days of the desired sailing date) for a sailing day made be made with special considerations. If the boat is available for the charter day requested, payments will be made in full prior to the day of departure, preferably using PayPal (see our "Contract/Payment" page) or with cash. The contract and Liability Waivers will be filled out and signed and delivered before departure. All other terms will apply as described above.

Taxes:
There are none. Charters are not taxed in the State of Maryland. If you purchase t-shirts, hats, etc., those purchases will have a sales tax applied.

Protection from the weather?
If the sun or wind, or even rain get to be too much, you may enjoy the comforts below decks. The pilothouse provides protection with all-around visibility. The main salon, below, has plenty of comfortable seating. A stereo can provide music with mp3 players.We also carry foul weather jackets and pants in all sizes for you to use if we have intermittent rain.

What about if we hit bad weather?
With today's forecasting abilities, with radar, and with our own eyes, we will be able to see what's going on weather-wise on the Bay. Heron is a strong boat with an easily handled rig (sails), so anything that comes along can be dealt with quickly and easily. Not to say a squall rolling through won't give us a sporty bit of sailing, but nothing that is dangerous or worrisome. The more wind there is, the less sail area you have up. The less wind you have, the more sail area you fly. With an easily reefed mainsail, and her other working sails on roller furling equipment, Heron can easily accommodate whatever conditions we encounter.

Toilet facilities?
There is a legal marine head aboard in a separated and private compartment. There are special instructions as to its use, and these are provided when you are aboard. No need to be concerned or shy about these natural needs.

What safety equipment is aboard?
We have all the required lifejackets, fire-extinguishers, whistles, etc. In addition, we have a few comfortable inflatable lifejackets for those who are non-swimmers, or who are simply a bit nervous. The boat is equipped with radar, marine VHF radios, and several GPS and chart plotting navigational devises. An EPIRB (emergency position indicating radio beacon) is aboard. There is an aluminum hulled inflatable with a 20 hp motor hanging on davits off the stern of the boat which can accommodate everyone on board in an emergency, and there is a new Winslow Ocean Rescue top-of-the-line liferaft mounted near the foredeck. One pull of a rope, and this liferaft will inflate and be ready to accept everyone on board in relative comfort. (I asked to have a bottle of vodka and a portable dvd player packed in with the liferaft, but they wouldn't do that.) The Captain is CPR and First Aid certified, and an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) is aboard for cardiac emergencies. Man-overboard equipment is installed at the stern rail of the boat to assist in retrieving a person who has fallen overboard. Safety instructions will be given to the crew as we begin our sailing day. One member of the crew will be shown how to use the marine radio. Another will be shown how to handle the engine controls. We'll have a fun day, but safety will be our foremost consideration.

What about lifejackets for children under 50 pounds?
The Coast Guard does not approve lifejackets for children under 35 pounds, so you must provide these for yourselves. Also Maryland law provides that if a child is under 4 years of age, OR weighs under 50 pounds, the child must at all times wear a PFD (personal flotation device) with specific additional safety features including: a strap that is secured between the child's legs to fasten together the front and back of the PFD; an inflatable headrest or high collar to keep the child's head above water; and a web handle to ensure the ready accessibility of the child from the vessel. These requirements require that the child be wearing this PFD at all times, except when moored or anchored, or if the child is below decks. BE ADVISED, THAT IF YOU SHOW UP FOR YOUR CHARTER AND DO NOT HAVE THE APPROPRIATE LIFEJACKETS FOR YOUR SMALL CHILD(REN), YOU WILL FORFEIT YOUR CHARTER WITH NO REFUND. Of course, you may drive into Solomons to the West Marine store and buy the correct PFD, but that will cut into your sailing time.

Can I help work the boat?
This help would be welcomed. While the Captain can manage the boat alone, it is always helpful, and more fun for people to be involved. Something as simple as steering the boat while the sails are going up or down is a tremendous help. Tacking sails requires letting loose the sheets (ropes) on one side of the boat and winching them in on the opposite side. One person can do this and it's a bit sloppy. When others are helping, it goes very smoothly and the teamwork is rewarding. So, your choice is to help out or sit back and relax. As you wish.

Can I bring a cooler with wine or beer?
You may bring alcoholic beverages, beer and wine, if you wish in your own cooler. Hard liquor is discouraged. It is, however, the Captain's discretion to disallow drinking of alcoholic beverages if one or several of the charter group behaves in a manor that is unseemly or dangerous to him/herself or others.

Does an infant or small child count as one of the six people allowed on the charter?
Yes. Coast Guard regulations allow up to six people to charter this boat, and that includes small children and infants. No exceptions.

Can I smoke aboard?
Yes, outside only, and downwind from others for whom the smoke would be uncomfortable. No cigarette butts on the decks, and you flick your ashes overboard.

Can we anchor and swim?
Not according to my insurance policy. And once we come to the end of June, the nettles (stinging jellyfish) come into the Bay, making swimming rather unpleasant.

 

 
 

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