This guy has caused me so much unnecessary trouble that I’ve decided to devote an entire blog to him, and to provide others a place to share problems they’ve had with him. Bill Chamberlain is the manager of Saint John’s Yacht Harbor, and he’s taking the business with him into a psychotic downward spiral. The marina is owned by a group of investors. The idea behind this blog is that they will read here a compilation of horror stories written by people who have had the unfortunate experience of dealing with Bill Chamberlain.
Here’s my story:
I moved to the marina in February 2015 and rented a slip there for two months, at a cost of about $1000. During most of that time I had very little contact with Mr. Chamberlain, but was warned by the community that he was an anti-social loose cannon. In mid-March he communicated with me through his dockmaster, saying that we would need to either provide proof of insurance and sign a 6-month lease or leave by April 1st. The cost of doing so would have been about $2000, not my idea of living on a boat, so I met personally with Bill in the marina office and asked if we could work out an agreement in which I’d pay to use the marina facilities while living at anchor instead. This was supposed go be a good arrangement for everyone, as I would have access to dingy dockage and showers, and the marina would be profiting from it without risk.
And so I moved the boat to anchor a few hundred yards from the marina and bought $1000 worth of equipment to become independent of the power grid. After a couple weeks of not hearing back from Bill I became suspicious. Considering his troubled reputation, I chose to communicate with him by email in case I should ever need a record of our conversations.
from: Garth Kiser <firstname.lastname@example.org>
date: Wed, May 27, 2015 at 10:38 AM
Subject: Distant Drum
This is Garth and Sarah from Distant Drum, the black mast currently anchored south of the bridge. You probably remember that we left the marina at the end of the last month due to insurance/lease costs.
(irrelevant small talk removed for brevity, saying I took a job nearby that would last until at least the next year)
We would like to continue living at anchor regardless of income, and this spot is obviously great for me getting to work. A month ago I had asked you about using the marina services while at anchor. You said it was fine, and I asked to pay for the services. You both said you would get back to me but I never heard anything. I thought maybe this was because you were busy, or maybe because you are not supposed to make such arrangements with boats at anchor.
So, can we continue to use the facilities? If it does indeed pose some kind of policy problem, would it be possible to offer some service to the marina? I mean that if I was to work part-time in exchange for access to the property, then I would be there as an employee rather than a boater at anchor.
I would really like to make this work out somehow. I have plenty of great references and my own basic tools for light construction. You can contact me by email or (phone number removed).
Mr. Chamberlain responded cheerfully the very next day:
Glad to hear that you will remain in the Charleston area for the next year!
You are correct, as I have been extremely busy as the season is well underway and we are nearing full capacity at the marina. I’m sure we can come to an acceptable agreement to let you guys continue using the facilities.
I’ll get back to you by early next week, as I will be busy the next few days with my daughter’s wedding.
Thanks, and congrats on landing a full-time job!
Bill Chamberlain, CMM
St. Johns Yacht Harbor
No response came that next week, nor the following six. Although I saw Mr. Chamberlain multiple times each week, he simply put his head down and walked on by, usually not even responding to “hello.” As this was his customary behavior, and considering his positive email, I assumed he was still busy. I expected that once he’d decided on an agreement, I’d backpay for all the time I’d spent using marina facilities while living at anchor. The price didn’t really matter, because I’d discovered by this time that I preferred the privacy and solitude of the open water, as opposed to being surrounded by other people and boats, no matter how lovely they were.
As July approached, horror stories concerning Mr. Chamberlain intensified, his increasingly erratic behavior causing a number of safety issues and frequent annoyances among the marina population. And then came his breaking point:
The bridge leading to the marina collapsed just before the weekend of July 4th, trapping some 100 cars in the parking lot for several days. Half of the bridge had been roped off in a state of disrepair for quite some time before the collapse. It had been known for years actually that the bridge was severely troubled, though Mr. Chamberlain had ordered no repairs during his two years as manager. And now he was feeling the brunt of his inaction, enduring an endless stream of attention from angry residents. His severely anti-social personality went into overdrive as he shooed away reporters and even marina residents attempting to take photos of the bridge. Those attempting even to walk over the temporary bridge were threatened with expulsion from the property, and a dozen or so signs in large red block letters repeated this threat. It is clear, Mr. Chamberlain should have been an evil insurance company claims lawyer, not the manager of a vibrant marina community.
Next, Mr. Chamberlain targeted his quiet rage directly at me in this email.
On Jul 15, 2015 8:49 AM, <email@example.com>wrote:
As you are no longer are renting a slip as a long term transient guest, I can no longer allow you or Sarah to utilize St. Johns Yacht Harbor facilities. I have been receiving numerous inquiries from slip tenants asking why I am allowing non-tenants to use the facilities.
Due to the increased awareness from the tenants, I am now instructing you to no longer use the courtesy dock, bathroom/shower facilities, and Captain’s Retreat lounge area. Failure to comply with this directive will leave me with no choice but to consider you trespassing on marina property, with appropriate action being taken.
If you would like to rent a slip for a month, and can provide proof of insurance coverage on your vessel, we will certainly consider this an option.
Thank you for your cooperation.
Bill Chamberlain, CMM
St. Johns Yacht Harbor
Had Mr. Chamblerlain explained his extreme reversal, or simply offered a one-sentence apology then I would have left in peace. But instead I received a threat, which forced me to take time off work the very next day to move the boat. Due to Mr. Chamblerain’s irrational whims I’ve been suddenly uprooted from the marina community I’d come to love, and I’m now lying at anchor in potentially hazardous territory until other arrangements can be made. Certainly I’m not the only one with a Bill Chamberlain horror story to tell.