Fishing Trip From HELL
A bad day fishing is better than a good day working!!
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La Paz...July 7, 2005 to July 12, 2005
Annual Bringuel Outing to Baja
Before you start to read about our trip, I want you to know that we did receive a $400 refund because of the problems we had.
Baja Pirates Fishing Fleet.
Well Folks, after fishing for well over 50 years, I have had the fishing trip from HELL!!!!
At the Sports Shows in Sacramento and San Mateo, there was a booth for the Baja Pirates Fishing Fleet, an outfitter that serviced the La Paz area. They had a package that was for 3 days fishing and included, as we were told, Transportation from L.A., transfers to and from the Hotel, Lodging, Breakfast each morning and fishing, with all gear included. I was concerned with the condition of the gear and was told the rods and reels were relatively new, OKUMA reels and SEEKER or Tiger rods. The reels came from OKUMA and were sent to OKUMA at the end of each year for servicing and/or replacement. Based on that, NO need to take any gear and it would sure make traveling easier. Because there were four of us and we only get together on trips like this, we wanted to be assured we had a Cruiser so we could fish together and were assured we would have a Cruiser and one of the guys at the show was the Captain of the Cruiser so we could be assured of a great trip. About two months before the trip we decided to add one day to the trip and called to be sure the Cruiser was available. It was so we booked an extra day. All things were ready, Transportation, Hotel, Breakfast, new Fishing Equipment, a Cruiser, the best Captain and hopefully the luck to make it our best the trip to Baja we have ever had.
We were scheduled to leave L.A. on July 7 and return on July 12. We had to provide transportation to L.A. Both my brother Ron and I made sure the Airline that we were gone to take to L.A. would check our baggage from our home area to La Paz. I selected United and he selected American. Andy, my older brother was flying American but had to claim his baggage in L.A., then recheck it to La Paz via Aero California.
Due to the impending tropical storm bearing down on the East Coast, Andy elected to leave Atlanta a day early and stay in L.A. overnight to be sure he would make the connection to Aero California. He got to L.A. with no problems and got a Hotel for the night.
Fun for ALL?
When he gets up in the morning, he gets a call from home letting him know they had a problem. Apparently the Tropical Storm came through their area and generated what he called Wind Sheer. As described, it is like a small tornado. It dropped a tree on his front porch, tore the straps on his pool cover and FLATTENED all the trees in his back yard. He lives on a 7 acre parcel. Later that day, he was told the tree that had fallen on his porch also put 3 holes in his roof. He felt the damage was already done and his son's were helping his wife so he elected to continue on the trip.
RON and DAVE
They got ready to leave, went to the San Jose Airport and went to the American Eagle desk for check in. That is when they found out they would not be able to check their baggage from San Jose to La Paz, even though they were assured they could when they were in the process of buying the tickets. Now they would have to claim their baggage in L.A., including 3 large coolers, and carry them to Aero California for recheck in to La Paz. What a pain in the you know what.
I was the one who made all the arrangements, so everything should have gone exactly by plan for me. WRONG!! I went to the Sacramento Airport and went to the United Counter. I provided identification in the form of my Passport, checked my baggage, got a boarding pass and went to Security to have my bags checked. At Security, I was asked for a Picture Identification and my Boarding Pass. I provided my passport and was told everything was OK. Proceeded to the next Security Check Point and again provided my passport and boarding pass. Then on to the X-Ray machines and carry on baggage check and again provided identification. Everything was great and I had over one hour before it was time to board the plane. As I was sitting in the waiting area I thought I should take my baggage claim tickets and put them in a safe place because I was going to change airlines and did not want to misplace the claim tags. When I looked at the claim tickets, the name on them was David Brink. Who the hell is David Brink? Then I checked the boarding pass and it also had the name David Brink. Now, I went through 3 check points and provided identification and a boarding pass each time. Not one of them stopped me from passing as they should have. The boarding pass did not match my passport!! Now I had to go to the gate desk and ask the person there what to do. I did not want to get to La Paz with baggage claim tickets that did not have my name. The security there could have stopped me from collecting my baggage because I was not David Brink. The lady at the desk told me she would take care if it in a minute but in a minute she told me I had to go back to the main desk downstairs to get the problem resolved. Now time was getting short. I went back down stairs, and was told, in so many words it was my fault because I did not tell the check in person that I had checked in via the Internet. Actually I did tell the original person I not only checked in on the internet but also had a boarding pass. Well, they ran around and finally after about 15 minutes a lady came back to the desk with my baggage. I was given a new boarding pass and the bags were retagged, with my name. Now I had to go back through the entire security process again. By the time I got back to the boarding gate, the plane was just about ready to board. Guess it was not too bad, it kept me busy which made the time go by faster than just sitting and waiting. The real problem is, WHERE IS OUR SECURITY? If I was trying to down the plane, they would not have had any idea who I was. They identified me as David Brink. What a great system.
AT La Paz
We made it to La Paz and transportation was waiting. When we got to the Hotel, we asked how to get breakfast in the morning. We were told breakfast was not included but we would have a box lunch waiting in the morning. We told them that was not good enough, we needed breakfast and finally they told us to talk to someone in the Restaurant and they would take care of us. We went to the restaurant ordered dinner and asked about breakfast. We were told we could have breakfast but not until 7:00 am. Unfortunately, we were set to go fishing at 6:15 am.. To make a long story short, they finally agreed to have someone get breakfast for us at 6:00 am. We had a very nice dinner, went to our rooms, set the clock for 5:00 am and went to bed.
FIRST DAY FISHING
Got up in the morning, had breakfast and went to the front desk for Transportation to the Marina. Transportation was waiting. I thought our troubles were over and the rest of the trip was going to go like clock work. WRONG!! First we were told Francisco, our captain, had a death in his family and was in Cabo for the day. OK, things happen. We got to the marina and the cruiser was ready. We had a Captain, deck hand and gear. Sorry, the gear was not as advertised. The gear was not in good shape, rods with eyes missing, other rods with no ceramic in the guides, OLD poorly maintained reels and reels that the drags did not work. They was not relatively new OKUMA reels and Tiger Rods. At that point I thought we had made a big mistake by not taking our own gear. Anyway, we were there and could do nothing at that time so we boarded, left the slip, got bait, $30 US, and proceeded to leave the Marina. SMOKE!!!! After going about 200 yards, we looked in the cabin of the cruiser and it was full of smoke. The Captain and the deck hand were on the Fly Bridge and we hollered at them to let them know we had a problem. They did not seem to be alarmed but did come down to take a look and immediately started back to the dock. When we got to the dock, we were told they didn't have another cruiser so we would have to go out in two smaller boats. At that point they assured us a cruiser would be waiting for us tomorrow, either this one working or a replacement. We asked them to have the two smaller boats stay close together so we could communicate. They assured us they would stay in close proximity. WRONG!! My brother Andy and I went in one boat and Dave and his dad Ron went in the other boat. The gear was not any better. It really was not serviceable but at that point we did not have a choice. Andy can speak Spanish so we had an advantage. Dave and Ron speak NO Spanish. We transferred the bait to the small boats and were off to the fishing grounds. For the first hour or so we were very close to each other but didn't get any fish. Then, Ron and Dave moved out very quickly to a location close to shore. During the day the Captains talked almost continually but there was no communication in Ron and Davis's boat. Andy and I had a relatively good day. We landed two Dorado and 10 Bonita, while Ron and Dave didn't get a bite. Apparently at some point early on, Ron or Dave tried to communicate with the captain. They thought they were asking about the types of fish that were in the area and the captain thought they wanted to fish for something else. They asked if Pargo were in the area and they fished for Pargo, when they asked about Rooster Fish, they fished for Roosters. They just had a terrible day and no matter how they asked, they could not find out how Andy and I were doing. When we got to the dock we told the outfitter, BAJA PIRATES, we did not want to have another day like this. They told us the original cruiser was not repaired but they would have another one waiting in the morning.
Sorry we did not take fish pictures today.
SECOND DAY FISHING
Everything started like clock work. We had breakfast, met the transportation and went to the Marina. Another Curser was waiting. It was far, far below our expectations. It was old, slow and had it's own gear. Again the gear was sub-standard, reels that looked 30 years old, drags that did not work, rods that were held together with leader material and rods with not guides or ceramics in the guides. We really didn't have a choice so we went out for our second day at La Paz. At least, we were together and were looking forward to a great day of fishing for Dorado (Mahi Mahi). The only problem is that the Captain had a different idea. He wanted to fish for Marlin and we could not talk him out of it. He trolled 12” lures and went to all the Marlin haunts. No matter how many times we told him we wanted to fish for Dorado he just tell us we were on our way to the Dorado spots. We did catch two Maco Sharks. This was the first time I had seen a shark caught while trolling. We checked out their teeth and wanted to keep the jaws but it just was not feasible. Finally about 12 noon we put out some Dorado lines and just as we were getting comfortable the captain told us to pull up the lines because we had leave to be back at the dock at 2:00 pm or before. We had a heated discussion and told him we were not to be in until about 3:00. Finally we did continue to fish for Dorado but didn't catch a thing. We got to the dock about 3:15 and guess what? Our transportation back to the hotel had left without us. The other captains told us we could wait an hour or so, until they were ready go and they would take us back but the shuttle was NOT coming back for us. We called a cab and $23 later were in our air conditioned rooms at the hotel. Needless to say, I was not happy so I called the office and talked to Leonard in the U.S. We discussed the problems we were having and were assured things would be better on Day 3. We were also told to go to the rod locker and take our choice of rods and reels for each of the remaining two days of our trip. Initially I told him we would not go out on the same boat, the NO Que NO. But no other cruiser was available so our choices were to go out on the NO Que NO or go out on two smaller boats. Reluctantly we agreed to use the same boat.
THIRD DAY FISHING
Today we were ready for anything. We went to the Marina, selected our equipment, only Dorado rods and reels, got on the Cruiser, got bait and told the captain to go South, where we got fish on the first day. We also told him in no uncertain terms that we were not going to fish for Marlin!! We started going south, got about half way to the place where we got Dorado on the first day and they spotted a Marlin. You got it!!! He turned the boat and went after the Marlin. Fortunately we did not get him so we started south again. Again we told him we DID NOT WANT MARLIN. I think he finally got the picture. We got to the area where we thought the Dorado were hanging, about a two hour track, and started to fish. By about noon, we had landed 5 nice Dorado. Then the Captain told us we had to leave because he was told to have us in at or before 2:00. Again we had a heated discussion and finally he agreed to keep fishing. Thank God he did, by the time we picked up our lines we landed 4 more Dorado for a total of 9 that day. Not a bad day fishing. At that point, the deck hand started to clean the fish and we started back rather slowly. After the fish were cleaned, the captain opened the throttle and we were off to the races. Or were we? The engine on the boat started to miss. The farther we went, the more severe the problem. At one point, we didn't think we were going to make it but we did. We got back to the dock, had transportation waiting and were told either they would fix the problem with the engine over night or they have another boat at the dock I the morning. In either case, we would be fishing a cruiser tomorrow. If it were not that the trip was fully paid, I would have cancelled the last day and went home. So far this was NOT a fun trip.
FORTH DAY FISHING
With apprehension, we went to the Marina for our last day on the water. As we approached the Marina, we saw that the NO Que NO was waiting for us. That meant the problem was fixed. We got fresh rods and reels, boarded the NO Que NO, got bait and were off to the fishing grounds. We started the day like all the others by telling the Captain we wanted to fish for Dorado. You guessed it, they still wanted to fish for Marlin. Today it was not as big a problem but WHY did we have to go through that everyday? We went south again but it was windy. Apparently the wind makes the fish go to deeper water. As we were heading south, we listened carefully to the engine and it was running like a top. We fished all the same areas we had fished for the last two days but today we had a surprise. We landed a Barracuda about 3 feet long. That was the first time any of us had seen a Barracuda in real life. He was the first fish of the day but not the last. Then my brother Andy started to feel nauseous. He was breathing fumes from the engine or from the cleaner used after they repaired the problem last night. After a while, he had to get away from the back of the boat and sit on the Fly Bridge. He did not fully recover before we got back to the dock. He was nauseous for the rest of the night and for the trip home the next day. Anyway, by about noon, we had landed the Barracuda and 3 Dorado. You guessed it, “pull up the lines, we need to be back at the dock at or before 2:00”. Again we discussed the situation and continued to fish. We only got one more Dorado before the bewitching hour but 4 Dorado and a Barracuda is not a bad day.
Sunset From our Room
Got up at 4:45 am. Had to finish packing, have breakfast, get the fish in coolers and be ready to board the shuttle to the airport by 6:30 am. Everything was going great until 6:30. NO SHUTTLE. Finally about 6:45 a Toyota Sedan came down the road in front of the Hotel and in jest, my brother said, “here is our ride”. Not far from wrong. It was not our ride, it was the shuttle driver. He informed us that he tried to start the shuttle bus but the battery was dead. Since he could not start it, he hired a cab that would be at the hotel momentarily. We waited just a few minutes and sure enough, a van (taxi) pulled up. We loaded our bags and the fish and were off to the Airport. The driver was a piece of work. He didn't stop for any of the stop signs. I guess he knew we were running a little late and did not want us to miss our plane. Well, maybe that was not the case. We came up to a gas station and he pulled in. He paid the attendant 50 pesos and proceeded to put a little gas in the van. 50 pesos is about $5.00 U.S. not much gas but I guess he needed it to be sure we got to the airport without running out. We got to the airport with plenty of time to spare and we all made it home.
My brother Andy still was not feeling well and finally he went to the Doctor, only to find out he has Herpes Encephalitis, a potentially life threatening virus. He is in intensive care and will remain there for an undetermined time. This disease causes the brain to swell and can have long term affects. He is currently in a semi comatose state and we will just have to wait for the results.
I am not a religious person, but my brother is. If your are, I am sure he and his family would appreciate your prayers.
July 26- Brother Andy came home. He is not fully recovered but he is home and able to function. He still has a lot of work to do before he is fully recovered. He will continue to take medication and will have to go to theropy for some time to come.
I would like to take this oportunity to thank all the doctors and their staff for the wonderful work they have done. Life is a wonderful gift and because of their dedication and experitse, the Bringuel Brothers will be going on fishing trips together in the future. I am also sure the family appreciated your prayers, thank you too!
In conclusion, I have been hiring guides and boats and traveling to different parts of the States and other countries since 1970 and this was one of the worst experiences I have had. Not one day went by without a major problem. Guess it just was not meant to be!