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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What about the weather?
    If the weather is good we cruise, if it's bad we don't. If the weather is "iffy" we give guests the option to opt-out at anytime no charge. If inclement wx is expected, we will send you a text message the evening before or the day of your trip, just as a "heads up". We usually won't make our final decision to cancel until shortly before departure time. BUT once we send you that text, YOU can make YOUR own decision at ANYTIME, with NO CHARGE, even just prior to departure. If it rains, we will get wet. Racing back to the dock doesn't get us any less wet, and the shade canopies do nothing for the rain. If it's windy (depending on the direction) we may see splash and spray in certain areas, or modify our route to stay dry or get "less wet". Sometimes heavy splash and spray. (winds over 20mph are grounds for cancellation with very few exceptions). When it's cold (below 50 degrees) , we will send an "cold" warning text. We don't play around with thunderstorms. Some days we might have just a 20% chance of storms. If it looks ok at departure, we may offer to go. We give everyone a "no-charge, opt-out" choice, but if we go, we are all committing to the idea that it's still a chance of thunderstorms. We only have 2 "ditch out" spots in a storm. Memorial Park, and our dock. So we could be up to 30 minutes away from shelter if a storm "pops up". Sometimes your captain may get "a bad feeling" with respect to weather, and cancel when it may not look bad to you. We have experienced the wind, waves, rain, and thunderstorm effects first hand, and know that sometimes, it's just not worth the risk or discomfort. Many times, I've had ppl tell me, "we don't care about the rain" or "I'm not made of sugar, I won't melt in the rain"....and then once they are soaked, clean clear down to their underwear, like they had been swimming in their clothing....their attitudes change dramatically. The people who care the LEAST about getting wet, are DRY people. The people who care the MOST about getting wet, are WET people.
  • How long are the tours?
    Our tours are about 2 hours long. Sometimes a little longer. One of the things that can make a tour run long, is finding dolphin near the end of the trip, after we have exhausted all our time. Or if we had to search a little farther than normal for a good view of ponies. That's why it's nice to get a feel for guests interests, so we know how to best manage our time.
  • Do you have life jackets for my child?
    Yes we do! We are USCG certified licensed and inspected charter captains (Master Captains actually). As such, we are held to a higher safety standard than typical recreation boaters. We carry enough USCG approved "Type 1 PFD's" (life jackets) for all passenger and crew. A couple things to know: -The type 1 PFD's only come in 2 sizes: For people over 90# and for people under 90# -These are the orange rectangle style life jackets. They can be uncomfortable, and cause a lot of whining from children -We also try to carry some more comfortable "type 2 PFD's", for your children. They are more of an actual vest style, and are usually easier to deal with with your children. We carry these in addition to the required Type 1 PFD's. While these do not fulfill our charter requirement, they would be perfectly acceptable on a recreational boat. -If you already have life jackets for your children, that they are familiar, and comfortable with, I recommend bringing them if it's convenient. It can be easier getting them into something they already know, than doing something new for the first time. -The whole issue may be moot. Children under 13 are required to wear life jackets at all time while onboard recreational boats, but since you are on a commercial charter, with a USCG licensed captain...... life jackets are at the discretion of the Captain, and the parents. Capt. Dan usually ends his life jacket briefing with "If your kids make you nervous, put a life jacket on em. If your kids make me nervous, we're putting a life jacket on them.
  • Where do you go?
    Capt. Dan and Capt. Ray created their "Around the Island Tour" route back in 2006. To see our map click here Our standard route encircles Chincoteague Island, while viewing over 25 miles of Assateague Island in Virginia. On some trips, we may end up near the MD/VA line on Assateague. Be advised: Some inclement weather (high winds, ocean swell), may require we modify our route, to stay in calmer waters. SW winds over 15mph on a rising tide we don't go around the southern end of the island. (Wind driven swell backed by the tide, good chance of heavy splash and spray.) NW winds over 15mph we cant get up the west side of the island (from #1 to #12 on the map). In that situation we can go around the bottom of the island up to the lighthouse (#8), or maybe as far as halfway between #9 and #10, but then have to double back. (Wind and waves on the side cause continuous heavy splash and spray over the side.)
  • Is there a bathroom on the boat?
    Sort of. We do not have a "bathroom". BUT we do have "portable chemical potties, with pop up privacy curtains". They are not elaborate, but will function for all your #1 needs. Capt. Ray says the privacy curtain is "enough to protect your sense of privacy, but not your sense of decency". All potties take a few minutes to set up, and it could take us a few minutes to get somewhere to start setting them up. We say a 10 minute warning is great, we might be able to work with 5 mins......any less than 5 minutes, there will be no privacy. Just don't wait until the last minute. We do have a new boat on order for Capt. Doug, we hope to have it in service by July. It has a "rigid, hard walled, potty area with a real door". We may change that design for the 2025 season, but once it arrives it will be available thru the 2024 season. We do have a couple porta-potties on our dock for you to use as well. We try to keep them locked when we aren't around. So as far as porta-potties go, they are usually relatively clean.
  • Is the boat shaded?
    All of our boats have double bimini tops to provide shade. With 2 tops, we can shade some of the boat, and keep another section sunny. Be advised: The angle of the sun as we cruise means the shade will move around. It's a good idea to put on some sunscreen too. On a sunny day, shade makes it feel 10 degrees cooler. The motion of the boat makes it feel 10-15 degrees cooler. When it's 100 degrees outside, it feels like 75 degrees while we cruise. We sometimes remove our front tops in the early and late season, when its regularly too cold for shade. When winds are high (over 15mph), we may need to keep the tops closed so they don't rip off the frame (15mph wind, plus 20 mph boat speed, feels like 35mph wind) Our bimini tops WILL NOT keep you dry in the rain. Rain will come in from all sides, and will roll off the tops, and down onto you. IF IT RAINS YOU WILL GET WET.
  • Do you charge for infants?
    Yes. The USCG puts a max headcount on our boats. That headcount doesn't consider size, weight, or age. So a person is a person, and we charge for everybody. On our 6 passenger boats, 6 ppl is the max. If you book for 6, and show up with 6 and an infant, that's 7, and we cannot legally take you. Someone will have to stay behind. If the whole group decides not to go at that point, our 24 hour cancellation policy is enforced. If a pregnant woman delivers while on the tour, they will need to pay for the baby, and hopefully it doesn't bring us over 6 passengers. 😀
  • Is the boat handicap accessible?
    Sort of. Capt. Dan designed and purchased a gangway and floating dock system to make it easier to get guests to the boats. Our 16 passenger "public tour" boat has gates wide enough to accommodate manual wheelchairs, and we have a set of trough style wheelchair ramps. That makes a 5' ramp, that raises about 2 feet. So the ramps are steeper than ADA requirements, and there will be as much as a 4" gap between the boat and the loading platform. If you can negotiate that slope, and that 4" gap, we should be OK. For our 6 passenger boats, 3 small steps are required to get onboard. Unfortunately the gates on the 6 passenger boats are too narrow to get a wheelchair thru. We keep a wheelchair on the dock to help assist guests get down to the boat. Our floating dock is 100' long, and sometimes it's easier for folks with mobility issues to be wheeled to the boat. If you will require assistance getting onboard, or if you need the wheelchair ramp for the public tour, please shoot us a text or an email after you book, so we can be prepared. This is a short youtube video of our gangway, floating dock, and wheelchair setup from 2022. Its only slightly different now.
  • What's the best time to take a cruise?
    Anytime. We see all the wildlife equally though-out the whole day. It really has more to do with your personal preference. Serious photographers seem to prefer the sunset trip for it's "golden hour" of lighting. If we are going thru a drought in July and August, pony viewing can sometimes be a little better in the morning. But if we are getting regular rainfall, anytime is fine. When it's really cold (under 55 degrees) , we may try to move the late day guests to the mid-day, for warmth. In the heat of the summer, the midday trip is surprisingly cool. With the shade from our canopies, and the wind as we cruise, a 100 degree day can easily feel like 75 degrees.
  • Will we see ponies?
    We see the ponies on well over 90% of our trips. The route Capt. Dan and Capt. Ray created back in 2006 covers over 7 miles of pony viewing coastline, in both the northern and southern herd areas. They were the first and only tour boat to cover this coastline for over 5 years. If ponies are the main focus, we may be able to search an additional 7 miles of pony coastline too (depends on everyone's interests on the boat). If we hit every pony viewing coastline possible, we will search nearly 20 miles of pony coastline (14 unique miles), for a trip that travels almost 40 miles. For reference: we operate 3 to 4 trips a day, from April 1st to November 30th. In 2023, out of roughly 700 trips, we had 12 trips that we did not see any ponies at all (or so far away, we didn't consider it a sighting). So there are trips we don't see them, but it's very rare. We could say "98.2% chance of sighting ponies".....but that's just weird......we like "over 90%" better.
  • Do you guarantee pony sightings?
    Capt. Dan discontinued his "Money Back Guaranteed Tour" in 2018. It was a time-slot, scheduling issue. But Capt. Dan is a gambler at heart. If you want to go "double or nothing", as an individual, just let him know at the start of the trip. Be advised, you may feel weird when at settlement, when you are paying double what everyone else is.
  • Will we see dolphin?
    We say we have a 50% chance of seeing dolphin from late June to October. Once the dolphin show up, we can see them anywhere we go on our route. Under the Assateague Bridge, in the Chincoteague Channel where you board our boats, even up in the Chincoteague Bay in 4' of water. Capt. Doug will do a specific "dolphin tour". He searches the areas around the inlet, at the edge of the ocean and finds them over 90% of the time. If you have a singular focus of dolphin, we recommend booking a private tour with Capt. Doug on our 6 passenger boat, or booking our "Dolphin Tour". Be advised, out by the inlet you will be subject to ocean swell. If you are prone to motion sickness, this may not be the trip for you. When Doug searches hard for dolphin, that will likely mean there won't be time to cruise "Around the Island", and/or search for ponies. The search for dolphin can be affected by the weather. If it's too rough near the inlet, that will severely limit Doug's main search area. Sometimes a "dolphin tour" may default to a "Around the Island Tour" because it's just too rough near the inlet.
  • Can I bring my animal?
    Sort of. Having animals on board may require we "fundamentally alter the nature of our service". For that reason, animals are only permitted on private tours. This includes service animals. In the 16 years we've been operating, we've only had a handful of incidents. But experience has taught us we need to operate our boats differently when animals are onboard. There is a local pet sitting service on the island, and she is highly regarded, Anna's Pet Sitting call direct at (757) 894-5114.
  • How much does it cost, how long is your season?
    We operate from April 1st to November 30th, weather permitting. Pricing varies and depends on: How many adults/children Which boat (6 passenger or 16 passenger) Private Credit or Cash All that info is available on our rates page or booking site.
  • What weather app does Capt. Dan use?
    Our biggest enemy is wind. For hour by hour wind information, Capt. Dan uses Windfinder In general, winds over 20mph are cause for cancellation. But wind direction is also a factor. NW winds over 15mph prevent us from getting into the northern herd area (too rough/wet coming thru the Chincoteague Bay) . SW winds over 15mph with a rising tide may prevent us from going around the southern end of the island (too rough/wet near the inlet). We try to modify our route to stay in calmer waters whenever possible, to avoid cancelling your trip. For rain/thunderstorms, any app will do. Capt. Dan uses weather-bug on his phone or NWS on the desktop. Remember, a chance of showers and thunderstorms is a chance of showers and thunderstorms. In those situations, you can opt out at no charge, right up until departure, but if you decide to go, you are committing to the idea that it could rain, or storm while we are out. If a storm "pops up" certain portions of our trip could be up to 30 minutes away from shelter.
  • How do I cancel or reschedule?
    Since all reservations are now made online, you can cancel or modify your reservation yourself, up to 24 hours in advance, using the link in your confirmation email. Cancellations made with less than 24 hours notice are subject to the full charge. But the more notice we get, the more opportunity we have to rebook your seats. Since all our reservations are now done online, we don't answer the phone regularly. If you need to make a short notice cancellation, PLZ TEXT 757-894-0103. We will need: name and reservation time/date. If we send you an inclement wx notice, it will include instructions for cancelling your trip with less than 24 hours notice.
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