Sunday, December 30, 2007

Antigua Facebook group

When facebook first started i thought it was another of these silly networking websites for kids just like hi5 and others i had gotten a million emails from. It didn't take long for me to figure out that there were many adults including most of my friends on facebook, and like millions of others i joined up. What was interesting was how many old friends i met up with, and how quickly i could search for old friends too.
It was interesting how many people would use it for email purposes too as if not using any other type of online email program at all anymore. I guess some people figure, that if you are not connected with them then they shouldn't be getting mail from you.
When Google purchased part of facebook i began to become more interested in how powerful a tool facebook could become. Recently i noticed several huge companies using facebook to their advantage in the travel industry and decided today that i would start a Adventure Antigua group on facebook.

For those of you who are members of facebook or become members on facebook please join the Adventure Antigua group. You can add video, photos, comments, suggestions..... tag your friends in photos which are so easy to upload and share on facebook. Its an interesting tool and i hope that it provides some fun to our Adventure Antigua friends all over the world. Click on the image to see what the group page looks like and goto to join up if you want to be part of the group.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Cousin Ross!

I just realized that I have been speaking about Ross in my blog for months with only a tiny explanation of who he is. I need to update the crew list too. Chris will be next, but this one is about Ross.
Ross Alan Bloomfield is one of my cousins who is now working with us at Adventure Antigua as crew on the tours. He is my dad's sister's son and was born here in Antigua as was his older brother Jack. Mary was their mom and was the last of my grandparent's seven children. She ran the Lord Nelson Beach Hotel with her husband Graham and it was where Ross and Jack grew up.
Like the rest of the Fuller kids before them, they spent all their free time snorkeling, fishing, boating and generally messing about on the waters edge or in the sea. Life changed dramatically when Mary discovered she had cancer. Poor Mary fought hard always being positive and upbeat bringing joy into many people's lives. She was a great person enjoying life to the fullest, but like many people she just couldn't beat the disease. So many of us miss her and think about her and her positive attitude all the time. After she passed on, Graham who was originally from England decided to move back to be close to his family there. The boys went to school in England and came to Antigua on holidays. Ross graduated from school and decided that he had to come back "home".

We are delighted to have him back here doing what he grew up doing now as a "job" and spreading some of that upbeat positivity that Mary had passed onto him. Ross loves fishing and has fit into the Adventure Antigua team like it was all part of him from the start..... which it was.

Say hi when you see him on the boat.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

happy holidays to you

.... from all the Adventure Antigua crew: Jill, Nell, Tony, JD, Shamel, Chris, Wan Lovv, Trev, Ross, Kaitlyn and eli.

While sending you warm winds from the Caribbean, we hope to see you all again in the new year and wish you all the best.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

changes and additions

As i mentioned on an earlier blog entry, we have had plans to take school children on our eco tours to show them areas they would not normally see in an effort to help promote eco tourism's importance as a tool of saving the environment. My family have been fighting environmental battles for over 40 years and it seems that although many have been won, many have been lost because the people making the final decisions just didn't understand the big picture. By giving children an opportunity to see for themselves, i am sure that only positive outcomes can come about.

While in the planning stages i was contacted directly by Racquel D'ornellas who said that her teacher had told the class to find an interesting field trip to do. Anyway, it was a little earlier than i had planned to start taking kids but we ended up taking 18 kids form her class out with some of their teachers on a full day in the north sound. The Eco Tour was "a blast" according to some of the kids i spoke with and we are excited about the future trips.
Taking groups of people from the west coast on the 40 mile round trip into the ecological playground that is the North Sound involves conisderable costs both financial and some we can not measure exactly. The whole footprint thing as i spoke at great length about on this earlier blog is something we have to consider too. Buying offsets for our busines from companies in another country is not somthing i have been convinced is a great option. Doing these tours for kids under cost is a better option i think. Our usual cost for the Eco Tour is US $100 and we have decided to offer the trip at a tiny percentage of that for school kids not to cover cost but to cover a % of them and also to give some more value to what they kids are getting. We are in the early stages of speaking with an environmental group about partial funding for these trips as their is international grants for these types of school outings. Our hope is to start full time in the new year with several school outings a month and in order to take all of antigua's kids we will need some of that grant help hopefully.
On another note we have decided to start another new adventure tour offering people a day of exploring and snorkeling in and around Nonsuch Bay. Green Island, Crump Island, the amazing mangrove habitats of Ayres Creek probably containing the largest of these trees on Antigua.
Anyway, to read more about it click on the image and zoom in.

Hotels like Veranda, Pineapple, and Long Bay may be interested in this tour as it highlights the virgin areas nearby that are not accessable by car. We pick up In Jolly Harbour, St. Johns, Dickenson Bay and Dian Bay, but only offer this tour on Fridays and Saturdays currently unless we are doing it as a private charter. If you want more infor about any of this you can call me directly on +1 268 725 7263. Have a good day, eli.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

want some wallpaper for your computer?

The problem with putting large photo files on the net these days is that people end up using them commercially all over the world without permission. I had quite a few imgaes from my private photo collection used that way. Anyway, since it sounds as though its pretty cold and nasty up in North America, England and Europe.... maybe you would like a new computer desk top background. If you click on the images you should be able to get the bigger files. It may take a while so pick the one you want. Then all you have to do is right click and save to your computer. Once saved you can "set as desktop background". Just a thought, and if you like i may do more.Hope you enjoy. Have a good warm sunday! We are off to Harmony Hall to see the new Dragon Fleet of boats there at the opening of the new yacht club there. Should be fun.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas winds are here

Windguru and magic seaweed had the christmas winds arriving earlier in the week and just as predicted, they came with a vengence. There is nothing new with this as each year during the winter and especially around christmas we get strong 20-25 mph winds during many days. Yesterday and today its been blowing hard. Windguru usually lets us know about a week in advance that wind surges are coming and this gives us plenty warning to adjust tours and or snorkeling sites if we have to. Most of the time the winds are out of the east which is perfect for our eco tour. The Xtreme tour has to be modified if winds are up to or above 25 knots. This doesn't usually happen more than one or two times a month during the winter. On those days we stay in the protection of the North Sound after visiting stingray city. Whatever happens we try to make the tours fun and safe. We do cancell tours and did this way too many times the winter before last when the winds and rain squalls were terrible. Windguru also does a very good job of predicting cloud cover and rain. Rain is something that makes it more difficult on tours. We cancel more tours because of rain than for any other reason, and if the forecast turns out to be correct and we wake up before dawn with rain bucketing down, we first check the guadeloupe radar which shows actual rain fall, then we correlate that with various satellite cloude cover maps like this one and then we make a decision. Here the radar image below was taken this summer and shows circular rainfall over the southern caribbean when Hurricane Dean was passing. They had torrential rains in the islands to our south that day.
Of course we put both radar and cloud maps in animation (a collection of images taken over hours) to see if the mass of squalls is going to move on before the tour gets started. Another bit of info that we use is swell maps which are very good when planning pick ups at the hotels. This one shows how big the waves are in the atlantic as well as the direction the waves are coming from.
Some days when we have ground swell the weather can be lovely and without checking the swell maps we would never know that there were 5 foot waves pounding hawksbill beach. If all the bits and pieces of info are within reason then the tours go on as normal, but each week we use this info behind the sceens to make sure you are all well taken care of.
If you know me, then you will know its not all just about the job either. Coming from a windsurfing background, the weather sites also help me plan sessions on the water too. Yesterday i was out windsurfing with some of the Sunsail employees, wadadli cats owner Xabier, and Roddy from Aquafilms. As predicted, Half Moon Bay had massive waves and strong winds. IT was perrrrrfect! JD and Tony said that the eco tour was fun inside the protection of the North Sound, but that it was hard to hold down the salad during lunch. Harriet's lovely salad will be blowing all over the boat this week for sure. I would have put more interesting links and pics but my APUA internet is being a real pain in the tail fin today!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Antigua "super yacht" show.

Antigua is one of the most important places on the planet during the winter months for super yachts also known as "mega yachts". Generally the Caribbean is where many of the world's largest private yachts come to cruise around during the winter months when its just too cold for boating in the Mediterranean.

Antigua, St. Martin and St. Barts are the three most important islands in the Caribbean at the moment for the huge "yachting industry" and when i say yachting i am speaking about the big ones, and not the little ones like they have in the BVI and other islands.
What exactly is a mega yacht or a super yacht? Wiki says that they are very expensive private yachts that are professionally crewed. I think that's too broad of a definition. I think there should be a price or a length in there to narrow it down a bit. For example a private yacht like my friend's that is professionally crewed couldn't be called a mega yacht or super yacht but could i guess be called a "luxury yacht". Its funny because i looked on google for a definition and saw this lame try at it. That made me chuckle. Anyway, according to Jim Gilbert, editor-in-chief of Fort Lauder dale -based ShowBoats International, "Typically, true luxury yachts start at 60 feet, with mega-yachts starting in the 80-foot to 100-foot range and the super mega-yachts at 200 feet and up," Gilbert said. "The 80-foot to 100-foot sizes were overlooked for some time, but are now the fastest-growing segment." The above was taken from South Florida Business Journal from back in 2002 and can only be described as old news. Since 2002 i would think that the 200 foot and up boats have seen the largest growth in the industry. I mean, if your boat isn't 200 feet these days why are you docking in Gustavia or Antigua Yacht Club? Funny...... kinda. Each year some boat comes into port with loads of people straining to get a look at "the biggest privately owned sailing yacht" or the "biggest powerboat" or "biggest single masted yacht of all time". BUT this keeps happening each year like there are people out there trying to compete for the biggest boat title. Anyway, this years Boat Show here was a little less dramatic than it has been over the past few years with some lovely yachts on show, but nothing as crazy as i have seen before. St. Martin's boat show is now going on during the same week in an effort to disrupt ours. Not exactly sure of the reasons but you hear grumbles from some of the yachties down south. I know that over the past few years St. Martin and other islands have sunk hundreds of millions of dollars into their Mega Yacht industry and now are on par or even bigger than Antigua for yachts. Grenada is trying very hard with their Port Louis mega marina this year. They are in every yachting magazine you open. Its big business in the Caribbean. My friends Roddy and Ian over at aqua films have been very busy this past week and have a new promo film out which they have been showing off at the show. It's not on their site yet, but should be soon. You can also see some of their other stuff now if you go there. Cool vids of massive yachts.

I took a walk last night along the Antigua Yacht Club and Marina docks and saw some lovely yachts. The photos at the top of today's blog were taken by me last night and the others last season. While in Antigua over the winter months you should definitely take a drive down and have a look. Lots of eye food.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

LIVE from Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas:

This morning i got an email from a friend of mine who cruises often and who contributes and reads the wonderful Cruise Critic Message boards. It took me a while to find what she described to me, but it was worth it. It was such a wonderful post that i thought i would share it with you. If you want to read more about "BuyREALLYLow"'s adventures live from Royal Caribbean Serenade of the Seas then you can goto
Anyway, i decided to reprint the Antigua part of his cruise report as here as many of our readers may not goto Cruise Critic. "BuyREALLYLow" writes in great detail all about his trip before he leaves his home and all the way down into St. Lucia aboard the cruise. Below, is his description of his Antigua day.
St. Johns, Antiqua – December 4, 2007
Does the road wind uphill all the way?
Yes, to the very end.
Will the journey take the whole long day?
For morn to night, my friend. - Christina Roseetti, 1867

In each of us dwells a pilgrim. It is the part of us that longs to have direct contact with the sacred. We will travel halfway around the world and endure great sacrifice and pain to enter the sanctuary, whether it is a temple, shrine, cemetery, library or Sea.
This is the way that is no way, but a practice.
”It’s not so much what you do,” wrote Epictetus in his study of happiness, “it is how you do it.”
Your practice is your path.

If so, “The Way is uncontrived,” as Lao Tzu said.

It is simply the way of seeing, the way of hearing, the way of touching, the way of walking, the way of being, with humility.
Oh, did we hear, touch, walk, and be today! What a wonderful day! What a fantastic day! What a….. words are superfluous – they do not do justice to what we experienced today! But before the main course, one must have appetizers….. Mornings on cruise ships are glorious.

When should I get up? Whenever you want to.

What should I eat? What you want to. Feel sluggish? Work out. Sore? Soak. I have commented before on how much my wife and I love mornings. We like to take our breakfast in three stages. First, we like to be waked by the call alerting us that our room service breakfast of coffee, juice, cereal and rolls will be delivered. After dining leisurely, my wife begins to prepare for the day. While she does so, I trot over to the Concierge Lounge to grab a bit of fruit and a Latte or Cappuccino. I then do my work online, and then check back in with my wife. IF all is going well, we then will head to the windjammer or the main dining room for some eggs, (maybe an Omelet), a bit of turkey sausage, and sometimes a treat. THEN (and only then), we officially “start” our day. JDid I mention what a day? We signed up for Eli’s Eco Tour for a day of sun, snorkeling, hiking, and quite a bit fascinating knowledge. Eli’s tour gets great press on many a website and chat rooms. I am here to proclaim that is all deserved. Your day begins just a few feet from the boat at Adventure Antiqua, where you board Eli’s Catamaran. They own two of them, a 42 foot and a 52 foot. Today we were on the 52 footer. Departure time is 9:50 AM (Atlantic) The Cat is brought past the ships in port (great photo op) and out to the north side of the island. Along the way, they stop and point out the various hotels, buildings, history and animals of the area. Our team today consisted of Captain Tony and First Mates Wan Lovv and Ross. Wan Lovv looks like a Bob Marley disciple, and is always quick with a smile and a hand. Ross is from Antiqua, has lived in England for some time, and has now moved back to his home. All three were wonderful, helpful, and quick to the task. This first leg of the day takes you approximately 2 hours. At a bit before noon, Captain Tony pulls into a secluded bay on Bird Island. Here, Sea Turtles are plentiful – no less than 5 were viewed while we slowly pull into shore. Passengers are encouraged to disembark and are led on a nature walk by Wan Lovv. It is obvious that Wan Lovv loves his island and loves people and the environment – possibly not in that order. He points out countless plants and animals in our 15 minute climb to the top of Bird Island. Once there, we are able to look out over a large number of small islands just off shore from Antiqua. It makes for beautiful pictures. When ready, we clamber back down. Here we have 20 or so minutes to swim in the bay if one wishes to cool off. The bay is not a good snorkeling spot, as it is full of seaweed (good for the turtles), so it is more of a “get your feet wet” for the swimming/snorkeling that is to come. But if you are a beginner snorkeler, Captain Tony is happy to provide lessons.Now lunch is served. Lunch consists of a pasta salad, a lettuce salad, grilled BBQ chicken, grilled plantations, beverages (cola, soft drinks), and banana bread for desert. It was fantastic!! Fruit drinks and water are served throughout the day. Lunch is devoured by all – it was finger licking good! While the final banana bread is being served, Captain Tony fires up the cat to head towards our next stop – Hell’s Gate.Hell’s gate is a very small island that has two distinctive features. One is a natural bridge that spans a third of the island. Second is a sea cave that leads into the center of the remaining part of the island, exposing a natural blowhole that looks like a whirlpool. Water enters from the Atlantic Side, and then is pulled forcibly out into the Caribbean side. The process is reversed when the tide is going out. The Cat is pulled approximately 30 yards off the shore and then everyone interested proceeds to swim the 30 yards in approximately 20 feet of water to the Sea Arch. Once there, the swells are strong – make sure to keep your wide apart. The rocks are limestone and coral here and very sharp – so make sure you have good sandals or aqua socks with thicker soles. After examining the underside of the arch, you are told to climb the wall on one side to the top of the island. It is a bit of a strenuous climb if you are not athletic or not in good shape. It is not a long climb – maybe 35 feet – but one must use handholds on the coral, which are sharp. So use care here. One is rewarded with more wonderful views, including the ability to walk across the arch for wonderful pictures from below. An important point – if you want your Camera on this island, it will need to be waterproof. There is no way to keep your camera dry on the swim to the island. Once on top, you take a very short walk to climb back down into a cave. The walk in the cave is maybe 40 yards – at a couple of points you will need to duck down to have your rear almost touching the ground (at least this 6 ft 4 in guy did). You are rewarded by coming to the whirlpool. Algae of different colors has grown in this sheltered area making for a beautiful scene. Another quick mountain climb follows to leave the cave. Tough handgrips and footholds again for the less athletic. The group had a few who were very helpful here and helped those less athletic. Only one lady scraped her knee. Once on top, you walk a short way back to the arch, where you clamber down the side wall about 40 feet back into the surf beneath the arch. This was probably the most difficult part for most – but I found it wonderful!! My wife is not much of a swimmer, so she decided to stay on the Cat and was camera lady – she took numerous pictures with others cameras while they were on top of the arch. We then swam back to the boat and got situated to head to our next stop – snorkeling. A side note. It is amazing some times at how certain situations can bring out different things in different people. I believe that 99% of people are good, kind, and caring. People can not be fully aware of how their actions can affect others around them, but for the most part these types of groups take on a family picnic feel – everyone joining together for the journey. There was a group of four (2 couples)on this trip that were bound and determined to snorkel at every opportunity. This was not a problem. Opportunities for snorkeling presented themselves constantly. The husband of one of the couples has prescription sunglasses. When he jumped into the 15-20 foot water near the arch, he somehow forgot to take his glasses off. They of course fell off and went to the bottom. He was embarrassed that he was so “stupid” (his words) and said no big deal. His wife, however, was less pleasant. She began to yell at the staff, saying how important those glasses are and he could not see without them. The husband kept saying no big deal – the wife did not see it that way. Ross and Won Lovv began to attempt to dive to the bottom to see if they could locate the glasses. The wife kept railing on the the staff. Won Lovv did a fantastic job of talking to her to settle her down – finally in a friendly way telling her to go the island and “chill out – your on vacation beautiful lady”. J. Which she did. Amazingly enough, Ross was able to find the glasses after about 20 minutes of very strenuous work. It is just another example of what an excellent job the staff did on this day.Captain Tony fired the boat up again and moved us off shore about 400 yards to an area of active coral for snorkeling. The bottom was a bit churned up and the water a bit cloudy, but for most it was a fantastic experience. The area was filled with small quarter sized Jelly Fish. No stinging – at worst they tickled or itched. But in places they were thick, and it felt like you were swimming through clear mucus. It added an “interesting” experience for some. But nothing too startling for most. We did this for the better part of 45 minutes. It was now bit after 3 PM, and the crew got the cat headed back to port. We were able to see the same scenery on the way back, but the sun was lower in the sky, providing better light for picture taking. We were back in port by 4 PM, allowing one last hour of shopping in port before making it back to the ship before the 5 PM departure. All the shops in Antiqua were right by the ship, so this was no problem.All of this for $90 per person. A fantastic value in my book. It was a glorious day, well deserving of all the accolades it has received. It comes with our highest recommendation!
Once back on board, we were exhausted from our days journies and had enough sun that we simply relaxed in our cabin until meeting in the Concierge Lounge for drinks at 7 PM. We only had an hour to discuss our day – it was TV Tune Trivia in the Schooner Bar at 8 PM. It was a tough crowd tonight – One group got all the answers correct – we got one wrong (a three way tie for 2nd). The prize were small picture books – a nice gift. Then it was off to dinner. BTW, the 2nd place team from Toronto on night one was named Ennio & Christine.Tonight is Caribbean Night, highlighted by the breaded Tilapia. My wife had a Shrimp and Crab Salad, Grilled Chicken off the alternative menu, and then the BBB for Desert (Bailey’s Banana Brule’). I had the Chicken Soup, a salad, the Shoulder Beef and the Tilapia. For desert I had the BBB and the TriCocolate Medley. Ummmm. Yummy!! The waiter staff did a special dance for everyone tonight, finished by making all rise and do the Macrena. Yikes!! JOur after dinner consisted of losing our daily allotment in the Casino, then consoling ourselves in the Champaign Bar before turning in around midnight. We were tired from our day in the air and water. As we fell into slumber, we could hear the sounds of the dance under the stars dance around the pool. The Latino beat did not disturb – it soothed.Some daily details:- Showtime Spotlight was the Comedy of Rick Starr- Win-a-Cruise Bingo – One game only (9:45 p.m.)- The Love and Marriage Game Show was tonight at 10:30. It’s always funny – but we’ve been there-done that.- The already mentioned Dancing Under the Stars Party was tonight at 11:30- The Drink of the Day was “Green Tea”- The Wine Tasting Seminar was at 3 PM.- The Belly Flop Competition was at 4:30 PMOff to bed – tomorrow promises to be another busy day – a tour with Cosol in St. Lucia.

Explorer of the Seas - 03/02Serenade of the Seas - 03/05Radiance of the Seas - 01/06Adventure of the Seas - 12/06Freedom of the Seas - 02/07 Serenade of the Seas - 12/07

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Green is in

There is not a day that passes where i don't hear people speaking about green issues. Even on the tours people remark when they see us separating our garbage. Green is the colour of today and its about time i think. Recently a small organization came to Antigua to see about possibly setting up their very Green company here instead of in Canada. Green Focus asked for a meeting with me to discuss ideas and see how and where i thought they would be able to help environmental causes here on island. Gabe, the creator of Green Focus worked in Antigua during the big gaming industry boom and wants to see if his concept and new organization can make fast and positive strides here in Antigua. I guess using Antigua as a testing ground for Green Focus concepts serves many purposes, but helping create more environmental awareness and action here is something that we all should be excited about. We had a great meeting brainstorming and I think that his idea and company is viable with a little tweaking. Lets hope he does set it up here on island.
On another note i went to Veranda Resort to see how Adventure Antigua and the hotel may work more closely together. They received plenty of bad press for some very bad environmental practices and like many people or organizations that get caught doing bad things, i think Veranda is trying hard to make things right. I think that any development that cuts red mangrove plants in this day and age in Antigua should be severely punished and there is no excuse IMHO.
If you search through my blog using the search function on the top left you will see many posts showing how people do damage to Antigua's environment and mangrove systems. This one for example or this one from a different angle. A few lines up I say "in this day and age" because it was the norm for most hotels to cut mangrove down until very recently. Even hotels and homes next door to Veranda cut mangroves historically so that they could have water access. That being said, they did it recently and have had to pay the price. Boycotts are still being called for and probably making a dent in their bookings. They are now trying harder than many hotels in our nation to be green. A little late i agree but trying nevertheless. Cutting down a basket ball patch of mangroves to build a massive hotel, employing many local people and THEN turning green will always be controversial. What is interesting is how many of their systems and designs are organized in a way to be environmentally friendly. They provide a very large base of employment for local people and the trickle down economic impact of this development is extremely significant. Was Antigua better off without it....? I think so, but that is my personal opinion. Was it inevitable that another big development was going to come along? Yes. In fact, if you have been reading my blogs for a long time then you know that i think there is no end in sight at all for hotel development. Our nation does not see undeveloped beach front land as an asset. Until that day comes along, then i think developers that try to run their hotels in a green manner are better than the alternative. Green Globe is an organization that i spoke about after staying at Carlisle Bay. They are the number one organization internationally that labels hotels as "green". Both carlisle bay and the Veranda are working with Green Globe, and after being to both hotels i agree that their efforts are clearly visible. Does any hotel have to spend money to be seen as eco being eco friendly by an organization such as Green Globe? No. Is it the right thing to do? Yes. The Veranda resort is in its infancy and still under construction while some of the hotel is open. I think it was a terrible mistake for them to have cut the mangroves on that West beach, but they did it and now have to move on. I hope that they can show us how well they are running a green hotel when they are all finished. Stay tuned i guess.
By the way, comment if you want to. I know that there are one or two people who will never have anything but harsh words for Veranda and its management. Comments like those are welcome here if you think it helps the island and it's tourism. I also welcome anyone from Veranda to add links and or news or more info. People don't like it when companies are silent. Use this site to comment if you like.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Accommodation in Barbuda

If you are planning to visit the country of Antigua and Barbuda, chances are that you will be tempted to visit or even stay in Barbuda at some stage of your trip. Currently it isn't easy to find accommodation in Barbuda as there simply isn't that much of it. This summer two of the three big hotels closed down due to various issues leaving Coco Point as the only large accommodation source on the 62 square mile sandy island. The good news is that The Beach House says that they are reopening and there are still other smaller places to stay. In Barbuda's one and only village, Codrington, there are several inexpensive guest houses that offer very nice and simple accommodation, but at the moment there is only one other place apart from Coco Point Lodge where you can stay on the beach.
North Beach Cottages ( is the place. As the link above will tell you, there are few places on the planet as beautiful or as serene and my family and i have been enjoying its enchanting allure since since i was a little kid.
In the "old days" we would just camp there, but back in 1996 after the last big hurricane a small cluster of cottages was built by a local Barbudan. We have selfishly tried to keep it secret for years, but with the arrival of the Internet as well as changing times the secret has gotten out and is being spread.
We are good friends with the owner and when he lost his one and only contract with Coco Point we had to help him attract more people to his lovely place.
There are several ways to get to Barbuda. The most simple way is to
fly commercial from Antigua’s VC Bird airport using Carib Aviation. Book and pay for your flight online at Their flights usually leave Antigua at 8 am and 6 pm and from Barbuda at 8:30 am and 6:30 pm. Flights take 15 minutes. Of course there are more fancy ways to get there with Xtreme's private charter service being a cool option by sea and Caribbean Helicopters being another by air. There is always the option of coming under your own steam as Jimmy Buffet did with his sea plane when he stayed at North Beach Cottages.

If you are coming with Carib then the only way to get to North Beach is by the owner's boat, making it the most secluded and private resting place in our twin island nation.
Reuben, the owner of the property is dedicated to making this endeavor work and work well. There is no doubt that if you understand and appreciate all that NB has to offer that you will return to stay there on your next holiday to the islands.
There are currently three cottages making it the least populated accommodation area in our country and probably in the Caribbean. The property is an unfenced 23 acres with no neighbors or other structures at all within 10 miles. It’s isolated!
You won’t be walking down to the next beach bar for an afternoon sundowner as there isn’t such a thing unless you walk about 17 miles up the beach. All food and drinks are included during your stay and you must order your meals the day before.
Choices for dinner which are served inside the pavillion are seafood pasta, baked chicken, fish, lobster, steak, or ribs all with choices of the usual suspects like rice, potatoes, macaroni, veg, corn, beans etc…… the meals are large and hearty and all prepared by the owner or his helper, both local Barbudans. Mark the photo guy stayed there earlier in the year after making a deal with the owner to bring most of his own food. Mark isn't just a photo guy... he is the food guy too. See his pics here:
Choices for lunch are be similar to dinner as well as things like seafood soup, locally known as “fishwater”, curried conch, salads and or sandwiches. Eating well is a guarantee there, but don’t expect the frilly euro stuff that you will get at most of Antigua’s hotels. This is eating local and very well. I am hungry just writing this. Here is one happy customer (uncle Jim) after a bit too much dinner as you can see quite easily in the bright moonlight.
Reuben says that for b’fast you can pick more traditional dishes like pancakes, eggs, toast and jam, and some fruit but he’ll also have some of the local specialties on offer like conch fritters too. Here my uncle Jim and Alan at breakfast discus where we will fish later in the day.

Of course if you have special food needs then alternatives can be arranged. Drinks during the day will be fruit punch, passion fruit, tamarind, orange, and pineapple with bottled water too. During lunch and dinner he will also have some sodas. From 5 pm special rum punch will be “on tap” for you to help yourself to. There will also be bottles of scotch, rum, vodka and gin. There will be no other liquors or beer available there, but please bring what you want with you. There is a supermarket near the airport where you will be able to collect some beer and other items from before you take the boat ride to north beach.
There are quite a few books there for you to read and reading is something that you will finally have time for there. There are no TVs there and hopefully never will be. You can get cell phone reception there and wireless internet may be an option by the new year. Reuben will organize snorkeling and fishing trips for you as well as a tour of the bird sanctuary. All of these things are very inexpensive in Barbuda and are done by people whose main income is fishing. The people are lovely and very proud of the wild and natural life that is Barbuda. When I am there I always take my fishing rod and casting from the beach is great fun. Good fly fishing and other light tackle fun is a sure bet. This was my fly rod before American Airlines lost it (boooooo). See the pink sand? Lovely!!!
Kayaks and sunfish are available for your use at NB and there is so much to see from them close by. It is jewel.

The cottages are simple but nice wooden structures with private bathrooms and showers. Hot and cold running water is available with their reverse osmosis system. Windows are screened on the cottages and pavilion for your comfort. You will need to keep the doors closed in the afternoons, night and mornings to keep bugs out. There are bugs there! Be advised that this area is very natural and mosquitoes and other insects will be there. Some people who can’t handle any bugs at all should look elsewhere, but if you can deal with keeping the doors closed and using some repellent from time to time then you will be fine.
Beachcombing, swimming, fishing, snorkeling, kayaking, bird watching, shelling, reading, sailing, are some of the activities you will enjoy. If you are with a group then a good game of dominos will keep you busy during the cool evenings. Here is my bro, Ali and cousin Bel with friends during our last stay there.
Don’t expect to see jet skis, water skiers, excursion boats or much else. This place is out on its own and in my opinion just perfect for a select bunch of people kinda like me. It’s where I go on holiday often. IF you need more specific info and I suggest you get more if you are slightly unsure then you can call me direct on my mobile on +1 725 7263. Otherwise get your credit card out and reserve ASAP. Remember there are only three cottages. That’s 6 people. Of course, you can reserve all three if you want to be even more private, but that’s up to you. The all inclusive cost which includes transport from Barbuda’s airport, all food and drinks, the use of snorkeling gear, kayaks, sunfish, and more relaxation than you can get anywhere else on earth is US $400 per cottage (two people). There is a minimum of two nights at this rate and before you come to stay all of your stay will be billed to your credit card. If this sounds like something you would like to part of, then please email my sister Nell who will be handling all North Beach Cottages, Barbuda bookings. Her email address is: info @ antiguaadventures .com
All of the photos on today's entry were taken by me while on holiday in Barbuda. I hope you enjoy them and Barbuda as much as i have done. Lets hope that while people discover Barbuda they understand what makes it special. Small low impact locally run hotels should be the only way the island is developed.
Edited 1/2/08..... Also look here for more info and photos.

Monday, November 26, 2007

the tide is changing

After my last blog entry i figured i better "spill the beans" about some of Adventure Antigua's plans to become more green. In Antigua like most places businesses have to keep a lid on their plans so that other parties don't jump on the band wagon. We have seen some of our business plans copied pretty closely before. In this case however, it may not be a bad thing. One of the many things we are doing to lower our ecological footprint is making plans to expand / diversify into areas where we burn way less fuel. At the moment both of our boats are powered by the most eco friendly motors available to push at the speeds we need to do the 40 mile round trip on the eco boat and the 60+ mile trip on Xtreme. We still end up using significant amounts of fuel. Not much is spoken about the negative effects of fiberglass and other resin laminated boats either. Most boats are built with some sort of composits and the process is not eco friendly at all. Fiberglass boats last forever and are built with non renewable resource materials. With our new venture we will be using sailing vessels to do eco tours in an effort to move away from a heavy reliance on fossil fuels for our tours, but they will also be wooden in an effort to use a renewable material.
As i write this there are people looking into replanting trees in the areas where the wood is being harvested for our new boat. Our new boat which at the moment is still in the planning stages will be a traditionally built wooden sloop. I first spoke with the builders about my plans when they were here during the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta two years ago. These guys have great passion for their trade and skills as boat builders. This brings us to another aspect to the whole green living idea. In our business we believe in hiring local people to work as guides and crew on the tours. Of course, nobody knows the island better than people with roots here, but there is more to it than just that. Using boats built by caribbean people in the caribbean to be used as tour boats owned and operated by caribbean people hopefully will become the norm here at a time when more and more of the tours are owned and operated in a different manner. Since i started my little adventure company i have taken on several small partners and i think I will continue to do so with our new venture. Shamel, who worked as a skipper on my boats will be coming into my business as a small partner in the sailing venture. He is as excited as i am about the changes we are slowly making. There have been many ideas given to me about what to do to be more "eco" and leave less of an "ecological footprint", and i appreciate them all. Our company is not all about making money, but we have to think about keeping afloat for the long voyage ahead. This isn't a get rich quick scheme and these changes are essential to maintain our island/sea lifestyles and the business as a whole. Anyway, i will blog more and more about the new boat as the process goes along. Alexis Andrews who has the lovely coffee table book "IMAGES" is coming out with a new one on Carriacou sloops which outlines the great history, culture and tradition involved in their construction as well as the amazing beauty of these lovely boats. His boat seen here is 40 feet long and quite wide.
Apart from being very fast and beautiful, its type was designed to carry freight between the islands and therefore can carry passengers easily without much effect on performance. I just came back from Carriacou after meeting with the same boat builder who did Alexis' "Genesis".
A deposit has been paid and the boat builder and his three sons start the process this week when they begin by cutting several trees in Grenada. Its a beautiful process, but some changes to tradition have been made by me. One of the changes was that we will be replanting trees which hasn't been done before by any of the boat builders there. The other thing i changed was that I got the first contract signed between a Carriacou boat builder and a purchaser. There had been a few problems with other projects there which is common anywhere in the world, but i convinced him a contract would protect him as well as me. Anyway, our new boat will be ready if all goes well fairly quickly and the blog will keep you up to date on the process of it all. Its gonna be a fun ride and i hope you join us.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Global, Ecological. Moral and Carbon footprints.

Seen above is the footprints of a migratory shore bird on the windward shore. How simple huh? This post today isn't simple at all, and as i sit here about to publish it i wonder if it makes any sense at all or if its just rambling madness. Anyway here goes:
Over the past few years there has been much talk about the "Carbon Footprint", and recently they have become the most widely and commonly used two word phrase on the planet which i guess is a good thing. Over the next few days i hope to explain what a person's or organization's carbon foot print actually is as well as to explain the more important but less uttered "Ecological Footprint". I will also try to show how people and organizations have been trying to control their footprints and more common on the larger scale, "offset" their footprint. It's all very interesting and worth so much more thought and action.

The media has taken on the Carbon Footprint as the main catch phrase closely followed by "Carbon Offsets", and there are probably many people out there thinking of saving the planet only in terms of reducing carbon emissions. What exactly is a carbon footprint? If you look on the web you will find several definitions varying in complexity. The best and most simple definition of a carbon footprint that i have seen is the amount of green house gasses (most significantly carbon dioxide) that a person or organization produces. Of course it gets way more technical than that, but that's a good working definition. To give you a definition of "carbon footprint" that is a little more complex i point you to a fantastic site where they explain it as: "The carbon Footprint therefore measures the demand on bio capacity that results from burning fossil fuels in terms of the amount of forest area required to sequester these carbon dioxide emissions." Hmm.....

Ok so lets just say that we will keep it simple and just say that its all about how much green house gas you or your organization emit. This definition and media obsession with it, is slightly misleading when thinking about the bigger picture which ultimately is described in terms of a person's or organization's "Ecological Footprint". I am going to speak about Ecological Footprint in a moment, but first i should speak a little more about Carbon Footprint. Why do i and many others think that only caring about Carbon Footprint can be a terrible thing for the planet. Lets take the example of Jane Doe. Jane is so happy because she has just purchased a hybrid car that has the lowest emissions of any other on the market. She tells all her friends that they should do like she does and drive a hybrid. What Jane doesn't know is that there are many other ways that she could control the amount of green house gasses being emitted into the environment. There are also way more footprints to think about too. Jane lives on the North Eastern Seaboard in a old house with poor insulation, her heating bill is extremely high during the winter but the house is a historical gem. Its a nice big town only 45 minutes from the city where she works. In the summer she cranks that AC and its lovely. She is very style conscious and actually read about the hybrid she purchased while reading Cosmo. She loves those Italian shoes. Who doesn't right? She gets two new pairs of leather shoes each year. Clothes, and accessories are her weakness she says. She loves Gap fashions too, especially their jeans. I guess because of her fashion savvy she knew about sushi before all her friends and knows all the best places. Each week she eats out and sushi is her fave but she also likes a good steak now and then. Takeout is so easy in where she lives and those handy little boxes the Chinese comes in are so cute. You gotta put the leftovers in zip locks though because the boxes will leak in the fridge if you are not careful. Once in a while she will go for a good big mac too with extra tomatoes. She's not overweight though, because she goes to that nice gym every morning where she changes into her Nike shoes and outfit and works up a sweat, and again in the evening for a swim in their pool. She only drinks bottled water in the day too. She has just booked her flight to Brazil where she has an apartment. She can't wait to be in the real warmth of Copacabana. Rio's hot nights are not to bad though as her place has good AC. Skiing in Vale this year will have to wait....oh yes she has to order those knew skis and boots. Can't go snow mobiling this year though....they release too much carbon. Speaking of Carbon emissions, Jane knows she read something in last month's Cosmo about buying carbon offsets for those long airline trips to Rio. Where is that magazine?.......

Now in parts i have simplified Jane, but being very general and using an extreme case without having to pick apart her life to the ultimate smallest detail, Jane isn't not really saving the planet just because she purchased a hybrid. In fact each aspect that i have spoken about has pretty serious negative effects on the planets. According to, "Ecological Footprint" is a resource management tool that measures how much land and water area a human population requires to produce the resources it consumes and to absorb its wastes under prevailing technology. This means that each of us needs to examine our entire lifestyle to really get an idea of our footprint. Carbon Footprint is just one aspect of the overall picture. Everything in the story above from Gap Jeans, to heated swimming pools, to Tomatoes on a burger has huge environmental impacts. Picking you life apart is important i guess if we are to truly make a difference and making changes is also important. Apart from making changes to lower your "Ecological Footprint", Carbon Offsets and "emissions trading" are alternative ways to make a difference. Some organizations and people simply can not totally become carbon neutral and must do other things to offset their carbon footprints. Another thing to think about apart from carbon emissions and the overall "Ecological Footprint" is the moral footprint. Gap recently mad a big mistake when one of their factories was found out to be using child labour. So apart from the huge Ecological footprint that growing cotton has leaves, and the huge footprint stone washing cotton jeans has, there was also this moral footprint of exploitation. The footprint we all leave is something that we all need to think about and i say WE because i know that i am in need of a good bit of self examination. My company has made many changes in 2006 to try to be more eco friendly, but we have way way more to change. I want to pledge that we are committed to this issue and over the next few years we want to leave a much smaller Ecological Impact. Even with the info that i have read i find the whole topic very complicated and complex. Carbon Offsets and Emission trading are things that i want to look at but i think that there is more that we can do as individuals and as a company. One of the things we want to do is to take more Antiguan and Barbudan children out on the boats to show them the natural environment. Its such a terrible shame that many people grow up here and become adults without ever seeing mangrove or coral reef habitats. We aim to change that in 2008. Anyway, our company's "ecological footprint" is under scrutiny by me and if you have any ideas or suggestions i would love to hear them. As i said a good site is , another is this one . This fantastic article in the New York Times is a good one to end the day with too. Read up because this issue is extremely important for our future.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

antigua, barbados, union, carriacou, return

Hi there, just got back from a quick trip to Barbados where i had a yearly checkup with the skin cancer doc there. Skin damage is a reality if you have grown up living your live in the sun as i have done and still do. I have had many "pre-cancers" cut and burnt off in the past and now i am required to have yearly check ups. Anyway, nothing major to report except for the usual Basal cell carcinomas ( but this time i have been given a 3 week Efudix treatment which sounds very nasty indeed, but it also sounds very effective. I guess i will have to start that next week. Yuk! Anyway, Dr. Blondell Durrant says i am not in any great danger at the moment, and advised me as usual to cover up as much as possible. While in Barbados i jumped on board a tiny plane to go to Union Island which is part of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. From there i jumped on a tiny boat and sped over to Carriacou where i met up with a boat builder to speak about the possibility of getting another boat for Adventure Antigua. It was all very exciting and i will speak more about it soon. If you remember back on this blog's birthday last month, i said we would be embarking on a new project. That is now in the works. Wish us well. The photo above was taken on Sunday afternoon while we had tea off the back of the eco boat in 5 islands harbour. The Caribbean is hard to beat sometimes even with the skin cancer threat....

Monday, November 19, 2007

Fishing report

Like I said in Friday’s blog, JD and Tony were entering the Xtreme with some friends and family and were leaving a bit later that we were. Being a much faster boat they didn’t need as much time as we did to get the chosen fishing grounds. Anyway, back on the Arawak Odyssey we didn’t even get to see the sunrise before we started getting strikes. We had our first fish and our biggest fish for the day, on board by 6 am. Usually when we get a fish on the line before sunrise it turns out to be a King Mackerel, but this time it was a pretty big wahoo. It ended up being our largest too at 50.7 pounds. I think it was Guilli who brought the fish in to the boat as the other crew quickly cleared the lines and planers. We don’t use wire lines which are typically used when fishing for wahoo and instead use planers to sink our mono filament line down about 20 feet. Anyway, Guilli is a big strong guy and man handled that wahoo to the boat. I could tell from the way that the crew worked that if given the chance we would be unbeatable. Everyone worked well and knew what they were doing, so mistakes were not going to happen. Sunrise was slow and colourful as we waited for more action. IT came quickly, but not in the form of another fish. As John leaned over the port side letting out one of the top lines a big dorsal fin broke through a wave almost in the glare of the rising sun. What had I just seen? As I tried to figure that out we saw the dolphins burst out of the crest of our wake. There were several of them playing in the waves and saying good morning to me and my crew. They were spotted I think but I couldn’t get a good look in the glare. They didn’t stay long and the wait for another strike was on again. Sometimes when you get an early fish the wait for the next one can be even worse, but we didn’t have long to wait. In fact within one hour we had a total of three wahoo on board all showing good size. By 8 am we had a fourth. The area where we were fishing has a very steep drop off where depths go from about 100 feet to 900 in a very short distance like an underwater cliff. Wahoo love to feed in areas like these and with the amount of flying fish scattering as we cruised by their schools there was no doubt why. Many frigate birds could be seen nearby as well every now and then dropping out of the sky and catching the flying fish in mid air as they were chased up by predator fish. This of course is a signal to other frigate birds as well as us that there is action to be had. Most of the surface feeding going on was being done by small tuna, but there were bound to be fish feeding on them too. Later in the afternoon when we were back at the dock cleaning fish, Big John showed us a “little tunnie” that he had taken from the belly of a big wahoo.
We were too far to hear most of the other boats over the VHF, and by lunchtime when we had 6 wahoo on board sitting in the fish box with three black fin tuna we knew that we had done well but wondered how well. Our special spot had gotten quiet and we decided to move closer to home and as we did so we could finally make out some of the VHF talk from some of the other boats. IT sounded as though Derek Biel’s Obsession was doing as good as we were and Vernon Hall’s Sky Lark had been busy too. We knew that only when all the fish had been to the scales that a winner would be known. In our last tournament a month ago, we had lost an engine after we reeled in and powered up to come on in. That tournament had been a tough one. I have had a quote from Antigua Marine Services for just over US $10,000 to fix that engine. I wanted plenty of time to get back into Jolly Harbour before the 3:30 “back in port” time, so at 1:45 just after we landed our 7th wahoo we pulled in all of our gear, turned off the engines long enough to check the engine levels, and then powered happily home. Whether we had won or not, we all agreed that it had been a great day of fishing with plenty of action. Our fish were all pretty big and we would be able to pay for our expenses as well as have fresh fish this week. What we needed to find out was whether we were going to be “Best in the West”. Last year it was my dad who won the Best in the West tournament, but I knew he hadn’t done well today after a short phone call on the way in. He had gotten three wahoo. JD texted me to say that he and Tony on Adventure Antigua’s other boat, Xtreme, had also gotten 3 wahoo and a king mackerel. We had at least beaten them.
Back at my uncle’s dock where the weigh in and party were held, there were 28 boats all lined up to weigh fish. There were boats from St. Kitts and Nevis as well as from Montserrat and overall it had been a fantastic success. Sport fishing was alive and well in Antigua. As we downed rum and cokes and relaxed a bit we saw so many wahoos come to the scales. Vernon had caught 9 of them and one of his was the biggest fish so far at 50.6 pounds. It was our turn next and there was a collective moan when our biggest beat his by just .1 of a pound.
The last boat to weigh in beat our with a 57 pound wahoo. As it got dark, Dr. Charles took the microphone to announce the awards. There were prizes for biggest fish by a woman, and second biggest fish by a woman. There were prizes for biggest fish by a youth and second biggest fish by a youth. There was a prize for biggest fish by a man, but no prize for second biggest fish by a man (much to the dismay of our crew). But the big prize was “Best in the West” which was figured by most poundage and went to Vernon Hall on Skylark. I remember my dad fishing with Vernon when I was a little kid, but for years and years Vernon hasn’t had a boat. His boat is just a year old now and the old captain got his grove back and was crowned best in the west. All of us were happy for him. We don’t know what position we came in overall, but judging from our total poundage and comparing it to Vernon’s I figure we would have been 2nd or 3rd. We did well and had fun. This is wahoo time and the 2400 lbs of fish that were caught will surely mean that when people eat fish over the next few weeks in Antigua and Barbuda it will be local instead of the imported fish from Indonesia or Thailand which seems to be so common these days. Wahoo is delicious so when you are here make sure you try some.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Wahoo Season Climaxes

Wahoo, otherwise known by the Hawaiian name "ono" are some of the fastest fish in the ocean. Much has been written about their incredible speeds with many people reporting speeds as much as 60 mph. Imagine something beneath the water getting up to 60 mph. WOW! I totally believe it too because after fishing for them since i was about 12 years old i know very well how "crazy" that can get after getting hooked. Anyone who has gone fishing and met up with them gets hooked too because they are just so awesome. Apart from their incredible speeds and fighting ability, they are a truly beautiful fish too. Streamlined like no other fish, the sleek and slender beauty of the wahoo is complimented by the dark black colour on its top which slowly fades into a thin navy section before suddenly turning silver in the mid and lower sections of the fish. When they are in a excited situation there are dark tiger stripes along their bodies too which just add to their fighting look. These guys are as high up on the evolutionary scale that a fish can get i think. The mouths and teeth are something else to behold. I always laugh when people talk about "razor sharp barracuda teeth" thinking they should check out the wahoo to see what cuda teeth become when they evolve. The row of perfectly shaped teeth seem to never end inside a wahoo's mouth and believe me, these things are actually razor sharp. Great care must be taken with wahoo and i know of several people who have been horribly damaged by active wahoo which have just been brought aboard. You even have to be careful when putting them into a fish box dead or alive as one wrong move and another of your fish will be eviscerated or worse. There is something else about their mouths too which makes it unique and special. They are one of the the only fish or animals that i know of that has a hinged upper jaw. When attacking something large their upper jaw hinges up even more so that they can really get their teeth around their prey. Wow, the ultimate ocean killing machine in my book is this one. But you know there is still more to this wonderful fish. They are simply delicious too which makes the fishing even more enjoyable. There are so many ways to cook them too and if not overcooked the taste is just hard to beat. With so many other fish across the world's oceans being wiped out of course we all should be concerned about how well the fish we eat can put up with commercial fishing. As i said in an earlier blog, Dolphin Fish (mahi mahi) can handle commercial fishing the best, but not enough is known about wahoo to come up with the same deduction. According to this site, wahoo don't face the same kind of commercial fishing pressure that tuna and other species face because they don't school in large numbers therefore making them more difficult to catch in large numbers. That site also says that not enough is known about the life cycle of wahoo either. Another site says that they are very similar to Dolphin Fish with respect to their ability to handle commercial fishing. This site, says that they grow rapidly and reproduce quickly which is very important in this day and age of mass consumption. Unlike Tuna and Sword Fish "Overall, wahoo is an excellent choice for ocean-friendly seafood." Lets hope the website is correct. The Antigua Sport Fishing Association has two tournaments a year and tomorrow is the second one. This is the first time that both of Adventure Antigua's boats will be in a tournament at the same time with some of the everyday Adventure Antigua crew on each boat. JD will captain Xtreme with Tony as his first mate and some other friends and family making up the crew. I will skipper the Eco boat "Arawak Odyssey" with Ross, Big John and a couple others, so it all should be some good fun. The tournament was started by my uncle Nick a few years ago and now is one of the biggest boating events of the year. This is the time of year for wahoo and last year while i was in Brazil, Tony and JD got the largest one of the tournament out on Xtreme. We hope to get some good photos of tomorrow's event and share them on the blog. Whatever happens you know the rivalry will be in full swing over the VHF radio tomorrow. Tony and JD don't stand a chance! hahaha Enjoy your weekend.