Special Article:

Behind the Scenes, Sportfishing in Puerto Vallarta, Changes Coming!

People come to Marina Vallarta all the time and tell me they had no clue the Marina was ¨Here¨ even though it is only a few hundred yards away from the Marriot Casa Magna Hotel, Westin Hotel, Mayan Palace Hotel, Melia Hotel, Embarcadero Hotel and Velas Hotel! That’s right, the hotels don’t clue people in and they think the ¨Marina¨ is the Cruise Ship area! I guess I can’t blame them, as you turn into the Marina and head towards the hotels on Paseo De La Marina, you will not see one boat, no mast, no water, just condos that line the Marina like a golf course is surrounded by condos. So visitors for up to ten or more years will one day discover the Marina just a day or so before they leave for home again. You see there is no real promotion of the Marina. With more people walking around the Marina there would be more traffic and hence more opportunities to offer fishing trips to clients, sell shirts, etc. The hotels don´t want to promote Marina Vallarta because they are not interested in having hotel clients confronted by time share guys or have the client realize they can eat in Restaurant Row in Marina Vallarta! Expensive Yachts, Restaurants, shops, Dentist, Real Estate (lots of that), Hair Salons, Massage Spa’s, sports bars, you name it!

Another reason Marina Vallarta is not as well known as it should be, being in the top ten private marinas in the world(!), the company that owns the marina is broke… It´s the same corporate mix up, one company owns this company, even though the original company set up the lower company that went bankrupt. So the original company is now at the end of the twenty year lease period. Actually this period ended two plus years ago and the docks, boats and people have been hanging for years on when or what was going to happen.

Previous attempts to auction off the marina failed due to the mind numbing fact that the people handling the sale would only open the books for five days prior to the auction. So to put this in perspective, they cooked the books, like you would expect, they don´t want to allow anyone to dig too deeply into the numbers, then want it to be a sealed bid auction. I had a group of investors and this one person told me that for five thousand dollars I would be given the number for the winning bid and would be able to steal the auction! Sounds kinda shady, but you may consider an offer like this using an American mind. I came back with an offer of fifteen thousand dollars after we won the bid, never heard from those people again. After all, they were going to sell my high bid to all the either investors as well, again and again….. This is how you get screwed in Mexico, by actually thinking you know something, is when you learn you don’t!

So they are now going to give this auction thing another try. I’ve heard those in the know expect it to go for six million dollars. I hear other rumors the federal govt. of Mexico wants who ever winds up with Marina Vallarta to put in twenty two million dollars, not pesos, in upgrades and improvements. This may all be positioning by rumor or it could be accurate. But I know this, you or I should say they, will never know all the details until the deal is over. But there are some obvious changes coming that anglers, boat owners or vacationing fisherman will not like, .. Increased cost for everything to start with. That’s right folks, sooner than later we will see the entire complexion of the Marina Change.

For one thing, Marina Vallarta needs a lot of attention. Docks are rotting out from under your feet. Electricity meters are nonexistent, yet your electric bill is 300 bucks a month! Now water meter or readings, but your water bill is 250 bucks a month. Dock owners pay a maintenance fee of thousands of dollars that seem to vanish into thin air. There is no cable service, Internet service for Yachts, poor electrical conditions and hook up, most yachts run on generator power! Yet we are a protected, Hurricane Resistant Marina, one of the best private marinas in the world! So these conditions are coming to an end.

I have several friends who are heading up a group who will make an offer on the Marina. Now these guys are not doing this to be a nice guy or save Marina Vallarta. They plan on ultimately charging Cabo San Lucas rates or three thousand dollars a month for a fifty foot or so dock! You take the average charter boat owner who will have to either purchase his dock or lease his dock will see a drastic rise in his monthly and daily expenses!

Dock prices go for about 500 to 1000 bucks each month, larger slips going for more of course. Now imagine you’re paying 500 bucks a month for your super panga slip….  Now it´s 2,000 bucks, plus water and electricity?! If this super panga goes out twenty times, he has to raise his prices $75 dollars just to cover his new expense! Twenty times for most is unrealistic. Most hope to go out ten times a month, and that would be $150 dollars this boat has to kick its price up to break even in his pocket. This makes a normal $275 dollar, eight hour trip to $425. If the poor boat owner wants to make any money for his pocket, he has to pack this price to pay for his family, home, normal stuff like you and me! Tack on inflation and hopefully everyone improves their standard of living, then you are looking probably more of a super panga price of $525 for eight hours. That is close to double the original price before the pending sale at $275. If you draw parallels between pangas and larger boats like a 32 ft Luhrs Express for example. You are now looking a bigger boat, naturally this means more expensive boat, more expensive cost of operation, Insurance, Fuel, maintenance and the list is as long as your arm. I am sure you can see where this is going.

But there is a scary trend in Marina Ownership, and that is commission sales. Those I have talked with want to control all the Sportfishing that comes in and out of the Marina. Those operating a charter business could find himself in a situation where he will need to pay the Marina a commission on all money generating fishing trips, etc. This is a business twist that many say will never fly, but when you own the docks, you make the conditions.  Cabo conditions are going to spread amigos, this is just the latest scare to the fishing charter business up and down the coast and beyond.

If we are lucky, they will not change that drastically, but when was luck your best friend?  This will make you think and it seems I am the only person bringing up the subject for discussion. The sale of Marina Vallarta will affect anyone and everyone doing any sort of on the water type business. With the inherent business nature of Sportfishing expenses, customers already thinking Sportfishing is way too expensive will be cut out of the loop in PV. One interesting issue we have in Puerto Vallarta is we need to go twenty five miles just to get out of the bay! This is a daily and hard run on motors. Nothing like Cabo San Lucas where once you are out of the Marina, you´re dropping lines five miles out! Hell these boats never break an idle. Price wise, comparatively speaking, most Good Quality Companies will run you 800 to 1000 dollars for a full day of fishing to Corbeteña (35 miles out) or El Banco (50 miles out). Cabo for an 8 hr day will run you more money on smaller boats (31 ft Bertrams mostly) for comparison. Big difference when you´re looking at money coming out of your pocket. You can only imagine the differences in the fuel cost to run fifty miles at top speed or five miles on idle…..

Lately with the press harping swine flu and now screaming how the sky is still falling in Mexico and to stay out, people are realizing it is not like this at all in central Mexico. No comparisons to the USA, but they are too obvious for those researching recent events in Mexico, all of Mexico when talking about cities like Detroit, Chicago, New York, ….. Another thing the press is forgetting to mention is that the number of deaths in Mexico, drug related, has steadily declined since 1997 and are now down by 30 percent over that time frame. So the news they are broadcasting on the news services like CNN calling it the Blood Bath In Mexico is less than accurate. Now how does this affect us in PV? Well, like the swine flu, it is all centered in one location along the border. So be safe, don´t go there! Go anywhere else it strikes your fancy!

Back to the issue, the reports of recent news events is killing the ability of businesses, not just Sportfishing, ability to earn a living, stay in business and feed their families! Down town is a ghost town to its previous self. Hotels are moderately full, but even a 30 depression is serious for a location like Puerto Vallarta where 100% occupancy for the last ten years has fueled the timeshare industry! Mexico is looking at diminished tourism in the summer, so if you are looking for a deal and still want to go fishing, I would suggest looking at August time frame, there will be plenty of fish and lots of discounts being thrown around. This is the real opportunity, but it won’t last into next year!

The los Penas Marina is changing also. The international laws now state that all commercial on the water companies must be five hundred feet from Cruise ships. Well, the Los Penas Marina, the original Marina Vallarta is slated to be upgraded and reworked heavily. The Booze Tours, Snorkeling, Whale Watching, and more trips will be leaving from this area. Maybe even fishing charters, no telling at the moment. I kinda think this would be a good idea to have a public dock where fish can be cleaned and no pick-up or drop-off issues. May be a good thing, who knows? But this is another factor that could affect Sportfishing companies.

I hear the Marina is supposed to go up on the Auction Block sometime in June, but this will be a moving target and will probably change several times. With the La Cruz Marina being smart and promoting itself nicely, I am just waiting for the day there are some people walking around the place to open a shop there. Nuevo Vallarta marina has no fuel dock and is mostly for Sail Boats, but things can change and they are only fifteen minutes from Marina Vallarta by boat. Right now the owner of the Nuevo Marina is not allowing the operation of charter boats from that Marina except for the boats he personally owns. There is also talk of other marinas in Barra Navidad or Manzanillo, all rumors to me at this point, but may be solid plans….

What will happen remains to be seen, but this is the present situation OF Marina Vallarta and no matter how things turn out, one thing is for sure, everything is going to continue to get more expensive.

My suggestion would be to hit PV and get fishing before it gets too expensive and reaches the Cabo rates soon. One this is a fact, Sportfishing, Big Game Fishing, Deep Sea Fishing, whatever you want to call it, it has never been cheap and never will be. Just make sure you spend your hard earned vacation or Big Game Fishing funds wisely ……

That’s all for now, Until next time don’t forget to kiss your fish!

Master Baiter’s is now all over the place. Stan Gabruk post articles as a feature writer in publications, web sites, Vallarta Fishing Experience host and member of better known fishing social networking sites. As the Premier Fishing Company in Puerto Vallarta, we pride ourselves on service and value to our customers. All boats are insured and have correct and legal operational licenses. Feel free to contact Stan at: CatchFish@MasterBaiters.com.mx. You can also purchase one of my famous shirts online now at: www.MasterBaitersGear.com   Blog: www.masterbaiters.wordpress.com   Facebook: www.facebook/masterbaiterstan.com and look for me on Twitter: www.twitter/MasterBaiters.com  OnLine T-shirts: www.MasterBaitersGear.com

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