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Quepos Disaster 2008

May 29, '08

Since there are no marina facilities or breakwaters to protect the Quepos boats, when a storm of this magnitude comes through, most seek shelter in the Quepos river estuary. The scene is as many as 30 boats tied together 3,4,5,6 boats wide and anchored against the west side of the river about a half mile upstream of the mouth and hanging on just a few anchors and a mooring ball…a comical if not too intelligent method of riding the storm out and normally more or less out of danger.

The river was flowing with such a force now that the two had combined and there has been word of a wall of water rushing downstream hammering whatever was in its way when the act that really started the whole thing occurred. One charter boat had been tied alone up ahead of the rest of the fleet and broke loose from its mooring. The ‘captain’ though on board, was unable to do anything before the boat drifted downstream and directly into the bows of the rest of the boats and was sitting on top of their anchor lines with the current pushing slamming it into their bows…this was just the start.

The 'captain' decided it’d be best to drive out of the situation cutting everybody else’s lines with his propellers and freeing the fleet while doing so. Now we have a 20 boat raft of boats ranging from 25 to 36 feet floating downstream, breaking apart and taking out other boats in its path. The ride is a rough one with boats getting hung up along the sharp rocks on the west side and caught on the sandbar to the east, both just getting hammered by the waves. And as bad as this sounds, the ones getting hung up were better off than the ones that just drifted out into the waves to get tossed around like toys, sunk and busted into pieces.

A couple boats were able to break through the heavy surf and get to the safety of the open water and 8 hours later as the tide was rising, there were the last of the ‘lucky ones’ fighting with the waves on the sandbar and struggling with lines and machinery to drag their boats from the bar and back to safety. The final count was 10 boats destroyed and another ten or more with substantial damages.

The sad shame of this is that it could have been avoided with just a little common sense.

These boats are up to 36 feet and made up a large part of the Quepos charter fleet which will deliver an even heavier burden on the remaining boats this year and will certainly mean less available charters so those thinking of fishing Quepos this year do not want to wait to make arrangements as there is a major shortage of boats now and after the great season we just had, more people are coming back to Quepos. - Chris

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