June 23, 2005, Dana Kerby, Andrea Lynn, San Felipe, Mexico Panga Mothership History and Recommissioning Story:
By Dana Kerby
The story of the Andrea Lynn began in 1978, when Gustavo Velez of today's Baja Sportfishing, Inc., had 16 shrimp boats operating out of San Felipe, Mexico.
About 1976, Gustavo had decided to diversify his business and go into the business of tourism and sportfishing when he bought the Santa Monica for his late father. His father passed away and Gustavo was approached by Tony Reyes to team up and operate the Santa Monica as a sport fishing boat. They did so, until 1982, when they went their separate ways.
In 1980, Gustavo decided to build a steel-hulled boat, the largest ever built in Mexico as a sport fishing boat. In the little area near the shrine where boats were built in San Felipe, the keel for the Andrea Lynn, named after Gustavo’s daughter, was laid and the building began. The boat was 125 feet long with a 30 foot beam.
In 1981, the Mexican government nationalized the shrimp business and took all of Gustavo’s boats. He was able to keep the Felipe Angeles and Santa Monica. Mothership panga fishing was pretty rustic to begin with, but the business evolved into boats with restrooms, showers and air-conditioned bunk rooms.
The year 1982 came along and the peso devalued by 400 percent, and all work stopped on the boat, and the hull of the Andrea Lynn was left as a monument to the corruption of the administration at that time. Gustavo was left with a handful of IOUs from the government worth 400 percent less than they had been the year before. For many years, the hull of the Andrea Lynn sat in the little harbor.
In 1988, knowing he couldn’t finish the Andrea Lynn as planned, Gustavo traveled to the Netherlands where he found the Norvander, which was later christened the Erik, after Gustavo’s youngest son. So he had the Felipe Angeles, the Santa Monica and the Erik.
In 1995, health problems besieged the Velez family when Gustavo’s wife Barbara was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had an operation, chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
In 1996, Gustavo slowed down the mothership operation in order to address the problems. Fortunately, after a year of therapy, Barbara was recovering and is still doing well 11 years later. During that time the gossip was rampant: "Gustavo is out of business," some said. "Gustavo is in jail," others said. Fortunately, that was not true. Gustavo struggled to fill his boats and decided to shut down the two older boats, the Felipe Angeles and Santa Monica, due to their age, feeling that those older wooden boats were not safe, and he concentrated on the Erik, a very seaworthy boat, built originally as a research vessel in the North Seas.
In 1995, Gustavo had sold the Andrea Lynn to a group of Mexican investors who put up over $2 million to have it finished. It was launched on June 1, 2000, and sat in San Felipe for about a year. The boat was then moved to Puerto Vallarta and later to Puerto Penasco. Last year a fire took out the top structure of the boat, but did not damage the hull or engines and refrigeration units below decks.
Now Gustavo has reacquired the boat and it will be in San Felipe to be refurbished and put into service again.
It will have 10 large staterooms for two or three people, all on the main deck level, and each stateroom will have its own bathroom and shower, something none of the other San Felipe panga motherships have. There will be a large galley and dining room on the top level, as well as a bar.
The primary use of the Andrea Lynn will be as a mothership panga fishing boat, but it will be equipped to handle kayaking, as well as dive trips and whale watching. There will be a large, live bait well on board. She will carry ten new 23-foot pangas, which will be equipped with new 75 h.p. outboards. There will be live bait wells on the pangas and each guide will have a radio to stay in communications with the mothership, as well as fish finders and GPS.
Plans are in the works for the Andrea Lynn to depart from San Felipe for part of the year, then Puerto Penasco, Magdalena Bay, and Puerto Vallarta during their seasons.
Injured, but not dead, the Andrea Lynn has come back to the town where she originated, San Felipe, and where she will be renewed and readied to go back into operation as a mothership early in the summer of 2006.
It is strange how things go full circle; after 25 years, this boat will be back with her originator. She will have first class dining, the crew will be in uniform, and she will be on a par with the top of the line sportfishing boats.
(Related San Felipe articles and reports may be found at Mexfish.com's main San Felipe information page. See weekly fishing news, photos, and reports from the major sportfishing vacation areas of Mexico including the San Felipe area in "Mexico Fishing News.")