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I can remember not so long ago, in the early 1980s and 1990s, how we captains prepared to take our boats for a long trip to faraway places. We simply stocked our vessels with everything we thought we needed and headed out to sea. Checking the weather was done from our side band radio for the most accurate report. Also, we used the latest paper charts available to us, our handy parallel ruler and dividers and a wristwatch. A big trip for us back then was a 600-mile run straight across the Gulf to Cozumel, Mexico. It was a relief to see the tip of the Yucatan on our radar, showing that all our set and drift, and dead reckoning navigation done with our charts, wristwatch, and dividers proved to be on course. Keep in mind the boats back then would be considered primitive compared to today’s high-tech, high-speed long-range rigs. Come to think of it, that has been 30-plus years. Boy, times have changed! 

The days of just showing up at your destination are long gone. The G.P.S., satellite communications, Wi-Fi and instant information are the norm for any traveling boat, taking away any guesswork for navigation. I have met crews, however, that I hope never to lose their electronics, if you know what I mean! Though, boats nowadays are often shipped rather than driven to their destination. 

In most places you go today, you must have reservations, and you’d better make them way in advance. I’m talking, for some locations, like a year in advance! That’s not all. Different countries have different licenses, different permits and different fish limits to keep up with. Not to mention all the COVID restrictions. If you are headed to Panama to fish the fall and winter bite, and plan to stay on the Pacific side till spring, hire an agent and start signing up for all accommodations and marinas that you want to visit at least six months in advance. Don’t wait too long to get a slip. Keep a good relationship with your agent in Panama because he can also help with the information needed if you want to head north to Costa Rica. Just be prepared for mounds of paperwork because it’s just part of the process. 

The days of just running across from South Florida to Nassau, Bahamas, to spend a couple of days, without reservations for a slip or marina, are long gone. But there is always your trusty old anchor. You can forget trying to get into St. Thomas during their season without prior arrangements. The same can be said for Isla Mujeres, Cancun and the Dominican Republic, just to name a few. With today’s long-range and high-tech boats, we can go further and faster than ever before. More and more people are enjoying fishing and boating in many faraway locations. So call ahead, well in advance, to make your reservations, or you might just have to throw your hook! That’s my two-minute warning. Fraz.

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