Have a Safe Trip
Regardless of your destination, it is advisable that U.S. citizens register with the Department of State (https://travelregistration.state.gov). This makes it possible to contact you in the event of a family emergency or changing safety conditions. Using a professional sport-fishing agent will guarantee a detailed itinerary and provide backup support should you run into trouble with travel connections, hotel check-in or even safety situations. It is not unusual to call a U.S. agent to work out local problems regardless of how experienced the traveler may be. Fred Stephens, owner of Adventure Sportfishing, recalls a new twist for the "client in distress" phone call.
"A few years ago I had a large group fishing from Quepos, Costa Rica - about 36 guys fishing on nine or 10 boats, a large chunk of the Quepos fleet at the time," Stephens says. "I was sitting in the Adventure Sportfishing office in San Diego and received a phone call. The person identified himself simply as, 'We're stuck out here floating in the ocean.' I responded with, 'What ocean?' He replied that he was fishing offshore of Quepos, Costa Rica, and the boat's engine would not turn over. The crew had drained the battery trying to start the boat, and now the radio would not work.
"Since he still had not identified himself, I asked him how he ended up contacting me in San Diego. He responded, 'I found a brochure in my backpack with your phone number on it, and I'm calling you on my satellite phone.' After determining what boat he was on, I attempted to get a position and placed him on hold while I called Marsha at the El Gran Escape restaurant/ bar in Quepos. She picked up and I explained the situation to her. The El Gran Escape has a repeater station on the roof, and Marsha was able to radio one of the other J.P. Sportfishing Tours boats. By luck, the crew on the boat she called could see the stranded boat a few miles away. Marsha said, 'They can see the boat and are on their way now.'
"I went back to my stranded customer who was still on hold on his satellite phone and stayed on the line with him until the rescue boat approached. He was very happy, and a possible disaster was avoided," says Stephens. "Who would have thought that you would have to call 3,000 miles away to let somebody know you are having engine problems, but it happens. Having someone to call when it does happen makes all the difference. I'm sure there are plenty of do-it-yourself travelers out there who will scoff at what I'm about to say, but having sent tens of thousands of anglers on international travel to third-world countries over the past 25 years, I think it's fair to say that having somebody who is looking out for your interests while you are traveling abroad is a good thing," says Stephens.