Sportfishing Puerto Vallarta or all of Mexico, What you don’t know can hurt you No. 2 in the Series.
Written By: Stan Gabruk, owner of Master Baiter´s Sportfishing & Tackle
Recently in the news there have been several accounts of Booze Cruise (etc.) tours in several places in Mexico, Hawaii, Jamaica and other popular tourist destinations. Stories of how people go out on chartered boats (of all types) have some sort of accident, the boat sinks with everyone on it and inevitably people get hurt or worse. The logical assumption is that the boats are insured with liability insurance just in case such a thing should happen. Only to discover that there is no insurance, the people who own the charter or tour company pulled the wool over the eyes of the local officials. Or worse they paid off the “guy”, who of course isn’t there any longer and can’t be found, blah blah blah…. That means you start looking back upstream, to the vendor who sold you the tour or charter or what ever. The person who believes that everything is in order as far as the business and insurance necessities are in place, is the guy who’s held liable for this “accident”. I mean after all, these companies handle anywhere from hundreds of people per year, to hundreds of people per day. This includes every sort of tour from helicopter tours, boat tours and of course Fishing Charters.
As an owner of a Fishing Charter company, and being a “Gringo” in Mexico, I have to make sure that everything is in place on the charter boats and tours I send people out on. Or naturally, I leave myself liable for legal action if something should happen. But things like insurance, certified captains, safety equipment, etc cost money, a lot of money. Of course these expenses are passed down to the customer who gladly pays the price of a ticket assuming these sorts of basics are covered in the price of a ticket. Well friends I’m not here to burst your bubble, but what you don’t know can hurt you, or worse, your family!
Having said all that, owning one of the largest charter companies in Puerto Vallarta, (Master Baiter’s Sportfishing and Tackle Est. 2000), we’ve sold hundreds of tours and charters yearly to reputable, safe and experienced companies who are also sold through Hotels in the area. But when a person comes into my shop looking for a fishing charter, they start quoting the guy down the way with the ridiculously low price for a full day charter thinking it’s going to be their leverage to get me to drop my price, after all “They’d rather go with me, but only if the price is right”. The clients only concern is the price, naturally assuming the quality is equal to the service I offer. But they don’t really know what they’re saying when they confront me with competition issue on price.
As a Charter Company owner and broker of other boats as well, it’s my responsibility to look out for or protect the clients from themselves. There is no way the client can know a fraction of what I know when it comes to my area of expertise. People like this will visit some forum on the internet and read about how to get the best deal here or there and what they need to do to get it. So they come in the door thinking they’re armed with knowledge that will make me succumb to their negotiation tactics and that lower my prices. Well folks, that can’t happen because I sell safe charters, with safety equipment the law calls for and then some.
Now I’m not saying I won’t budge on price, my prices aren’t fixed so I can. But you just can’t get around the minimum expenses for a charter. Fixed cost means if it cost me more in maintenance, fuel, INSURANCE, than I’m going to make at the end of the month, then I’m out of business. So when I see, or rather hear these people talk these crazy / stupid prices from Pedro down the way or the guy who now is brokering charters when just six months ago went out of business selling broasted chicken, it makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
The obvious things to look for would be quality of the boat, the quality of the equipment and the quality of the people. What isn’t obvious and doesn’t come to mind is how safe is this boat you’re putting yourself and your family on to save a few bucks? You have to ask yourself “What am I not getting for this really cheap price”? I guarantee you they don’t think a bit about their safety or the emergency procedures that exist, or I should say doesn’t exist?
You see in Mexico there is no Coast Guard to come to the rescue! The only safety people that will come to you are the people the captain can raise on the radio, if there’s anyone in range when you’re fifty miles out. Even then it will most likely be an hour at best before any help gets out to you!! It will probably be some beat up boat with a captain who will want money from you to cover the expense of fuel and to line his pockets or swim home, it’s your choice! This is the choice you made which goes all the way back to the point of you looking for the cheapest tour provider amigos. At this point, you made the most expensive choice you could have possibly made and you risked you and possibly your families life in the process. The person who booked you on this boat had no concern except for the commission he would get, so he met your price and now if you’re unlucky, you’re swimming in waters where there are animals that will eat you!
I recently saw just this sort of thing happen in Cancun on CNN. There were like sixty people on a Booze Cruise just off shore and the boat started taking on water. Guess who the first people off the boat were, the CREW! No concern for the clients, it was horrible. There was a death and the “rescue” boat was a private boat that went to get the crew, nobody else. There were some injured people, everyone was panicing and guess what, no insurance, nothing. They did have safety jackets though, so at least people could float and the water was warm. But if you know anything about that area of the world, there are sharks and Man o War Jelly fish with 100 ft or longer tentacles that can kill a person.
Another problem when it comes to safe boats are the guys who sell or rather the guys who try and get you into a timeshare presentation. Their only goal is to get you into a presentation and will put you on a cheap boat and tell you that there are Marlin 100 ft off shore. There are those who believe this B.S. and will go out on what they’re told is a safe boat. But these guys in Puerto Vallarta are prohibited from selling anything, let alone a charter. Many of the third tier or lower boats will work heavily with these guys because that’s the only way they can get business. They’ll tell you all kinds of things and in the end, you’ll discover you were duped and wound up on a fishing nightmare. If there is an emergency, you might as well be on Mars without a space suit amigo. Now I’m not a doom and gloom kinda person, but when you walk in my door and tell me Pedro just offered you a fishing trip for a full day for less than half what I would charge you for the same trip, ask yourself, why would Pedro be so cheap and Master Baiter’s is more expensive. That’s because at Master Baiter’s “We Won’t Jerk You Around” even if you want us to! Be safe, have fun and remember for the same money as a Jet Ski goes for on the beach per hour, you can have a safe half million dollar boat with fifty thousand dollars worth of fishing equipment. You’ll have the time of your life and you’re safety will never be in question!
If you have any questions feel free to contact me at Master Baiter’s Sportfishing and Tackle at Catchfish@MasterBaiters.com.mx I’ll do my best to answer any question no matter how simple or complicated…. Because that’s what I do!
If you would like to have some questions answered or need information about Puerto Vallarta or Mexico in general, feel free to contact me with what is on your mind.
I have a facebook page now, MasterBaiter Stan or you can send me the friend request to: MasterBaitersPV@gmail.com and you will get my weekly fishing reports, photos, Fish of the Day Pic and other interesting things daily on your computer.
Master Baiter´s is also selling it’s world famous T-shirts online at:
Remember, there are imposters out there using my trade mark protected name of Master Baiter’s Sportfishing and Tackle ®, so don´t be fooled.
Master Baiter´s has changed locations in Marina Vallarta between docks A and B on the boardwalk.
I am not dead as my competition would have youbelieve! The Tax Man did not close me down . For some reason my competitin doesn´t want you to talk with me about fishing here in PV. Mabye it´s because we´re the only American owned and operated fishing company in Puerto. We are located in Marina Vallarta, on the Malicon or Boardwalk just down from Victors Café Te Cuba between Docks A and B. If you ask where we are, you will hear I am dead and out of business. The last time I checked, I was breathing, so call me or email me before you come in to get the living instructions to me…..
Until later, don´t forget to kiss your fish…..