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Not enough life preservers - Canoa Aventura tour

Atlanta, Georgia
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Not enough life preservers - Canoa Aventura tour

On Sunday December 2, 2012 , my wife and I went on the Unique Cano Negro tour of the Canoa Aventura Company leaving on a bus from our hotel in La Fortuna. We got to a river about an hour or so from La Fortuna about mid morning on a bus of 27 people, and when leaving the dock for the 2 hour + river voyage I asked the Tour guide if they had enough life preservers, as the life preservers were visible under the boat's roof above the our heads.

There were only 10 preservers for 27 adults and one baby (about one year old).

When I complained to the tour guide , he came back to my wife and I, and leaned over, and said "Dont be afraid my friend, the boat will not sink".

I said "it is serious that you do not have enough life preservers" . A woman (not my wife) across the aisle said " I have a charter boat Captain's license, and I agree".

He then made a joke of it by asking everyone for a "show of hands" of who was over age 55. He then said " Well, we have enough life preservers for these people"

And he added " The water is only 8 meters deep" (!!!!)

My complaint is that boats of course do sink frequently , for a variety of reasons - engine fires, hit by other boats, metal hull (pontoon) sections fails, steering fails etc. I am in the over 55 crowd, but swim well and have owned some small boats since I was 16 years old. I was not "afraid", but think that a commercial business operating a boat should provide one life preserver (including proper sizes for teenagers and children) for each passenger.

This boat had only adult sizes.

That river has a good fast current and I don't think the mother of the small child , even if she could swim, could manage a child well if the child and mother were not in a life preserver. Many tourists these days are not in good physical condition for various physical or health reasons.

We had been on two other activities the two days before, with different CR La Fortuna companies - a big zip line, and then River rafting - where the companies really were very very safety conscious, so I was surprised at this situation.

Even if it is not a Costa Rica law or regulation, it seems it would be "good industry practice" to provide them.

If 28 people pay US$50 each 6 days a week that is a gross income of $8400 a week. Some should go to purchasing life preservers.

Most people expect life preservers- if you told them ahead of time that there would be no life preservers do you think they would book that tour?

Atlanta, Georgia
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11. Re: Not enough life preservers - Canoa Aventura tour

I did send an e mail (two actually) to the canoe adventura company about 7 days ago, also one to the tourist board ICT.

I have not heard from either yet .

Media, Pennsylvania
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12. Re: Not enough life preservers - Canoa Aventura tour

thanks for posting heading down in a couple weeks

Atlanta, Georgia
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13. Re: Not enough life preservers - Canoa Aventura tour

I received this reply today.

It had two pictures with it of a boat using lots of olive drab Army type life preservers. the 10 preservers on the boat I was on were simple Wal Mart type blue and white preservers. What is he saying about the life preservers?

The Captain on our boat was more of an operator only - he never said one word, tour guide did it all.

Hola que tal Doña Laura, Don Justin y Don Wayne.

Gusto en saludarles.

Con respecto a la queja del señor Wayne Harwicke el tiene toda la razón ya que ese día el compañero capitán olvido poner más chalecos debido a que el llego unos minutos antes del tour me informa.

Nosotros normalmente manteníamos los chalecos en los botes pero debido a que se nos robaron algunos en los últimos meses, se dio la orden de que mantuviéramos solamente diez chalecos en cada bote y que si venían más de diez clientes el capitán debe sacar los que faltan de la bodega y si necesita de niños. Bueno el capitán olvido poner los restantes ese día y claro el señor Wayne se quejo con toda la razon del mundo.

Te comento que todos nuestros botes están diseñados para que si por alguna razón se hace un hueco en los tubos del catamarán el mismo se llena de agua pero solo una pequeña parte ya que los tubos están bien separado o divisiones cada tres metros.

Yo estuve hace dos días en Caño Negro en una reunión con mis compañeros y se hable de este tema o más bien de este error de parte del capitán y él me prometió que nunca le había pasado y que se iba asegurar que no se le iba a olvidar otra vez.

Yo también me reuní con operaciones aquí en la Fortuna y les di una orden de que cuando lleváramos mas de diez clientes se le recordara a los compañeros de Restaurante el Caimán para que se organicen y no se los olvide ir a la bodega y recoger los chalecos que hagan falta.

Adjunto te envió una foto donde pueden ver que cuando tenemos más clientes se ponen salvavidas de sobra.... Te comento que en otros ríos por ejemplo el san Carlos siempre usamos los chalecos puestos en cada cliente ya que el rio es un poquito más movido y que los botes son tipo panga y no catamaranes.

De mi parte si te digo que me siento apernado porque esto no nos habia pasado antes y no debería pasar y te prometo que tomare las medidas necesarias para que estos no nos vuelva a pasar en el futuro!!!

Saludos y cualquier cosa que pueda servirles por favor hacérmelo saber.

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14. Re: Not enough life preservers - Canoa Aventura tour

He's saying that they normally keep only 10 onboard because of theft problems. When they have more than 10 passengers, the captain is supposed to get more from storage. The captain was apparently late that day, and forgot. He is acknowledging that you had a legitimate beef, and it shouldn't have happened. He promises it won't happen again.

I'll give him credit for owning up to the problem.

Atlanta, Georgia
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15. Re: Not enough life preservers - Canoa Aventura tour


Yes he did own up. Seems people would steal the 10 also?

The "restaurant we ate at was 200 feet from the boat dock- would have been easy to get the life preservers. I think his guide did not handle it well. The guide was in charge it seemed, the "captain" only drove the boat.

thanks again.

Grecia, Costa Rica
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for Province of Alajuela
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16. Re: Not enough life preservers - Canoa Aventura tour

Gotta give credit where credit is due, they own the problem, explain why it happened, apologized, and promised it would not happen again. Good on them.

Uvita, Costa Rica
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for Uvita, Ojochal
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17. Re: Not enough life preservers - Canoa Aventura tour

Everyone can make mistakes to me the difference is how the management deals with the issue, in this case to me it sounds the employee (s) messed up and they put measures to prevent it in the future.

Web translated of the letter above (optimised):


Hello that such Doña Laura, Justin and Don Don Wayne.

Nice to greet you.

With regard to the complaint by Mr. Wayne xxx he is absolutely right that on the day and fellow captain forgot to put more vests because he arrived late for the tour.

We used to kept our jackets on boats but because some got stolen in recent months, the order was given to us to keep only ten vests in each boat and that if more than ten clients came the captain should take the missing of storage and if needed for children. Well it is clear the captain forgot to put the remaining on that day and Mr. Wayne is right to complain.

I mention that all our boats are designed so that if for some reason it is a hole in the tubes of the same catamaran filled with water but only a small part as the tubes are well separated or divisions every three meters.

I was two days ago in Caño Black in a meeting with my colleagues and discuss this topic or rather of this error on the part of the captain and he promised he would never let it happened and that he would ensure that he was not going to forget again.

I also met with operations here in Fortuna and gave an order that when customers take her over ten be reminded to the Cayman restaurant partners to organize and do not forget to go to the cellar and collect their lifejackets as required.

Deputy sent you a picture where you can see that when we get more customers lifeline to spare .... I commented that in other rivers such as the San Carlos always wore vests made on each client as the river is a little more upbeat and are kind panga boats and catamarans.

From my part I would like to say that I am very sorry because this had never happened before and we should not go and I promise that we will take the necessary messures so it never happen again in the future!

Greetings and anything that can serve them please let me know.

Edited: 10:56 am, December 19, 2012
18. Re: Not enough life preservers - Canoa Aventura tour

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