Friday, March 30, 2007
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Its Trevor’s birthday on Thursday and I got him a ticket for tuesday's world cup match between Australia and The West Indies. It’s was the opening match at The Viv Richards Stadium and the first time a world cup match has been played here. Because it was such a big deal, the PM gave the island a day off from work so that we could all enjoy the cricket. Unfortunately for JD, Tony and Louie, not everyone could have the day off work. Hats off to them for getting the job done yesterday while the rest of us were at cricket. Here is a pic from the aussies playing at "beach 366" in the middle of yesterdays match. I have more from yesterday but internet is acting weird so that will have to keep you going until my cricket report tomorrow. The weather has been crap so the second half of the match will be played today. Am off there now. c ya.
Friday, March 23, 2007
As I have mentioned already this is the time of year when humpback whales are passing through with their young calves. We haven't had the best year in terms of sightings so far but we still have quite a bit of time left before they move on into the North-West Atlantic. This is a series of photos pasted together of a mother catching some air before a dive into the abyss.
While I was out fishing last week we saw many Noddies feeding offshore. You don’t see them here that much until late spring when they start nesting all over the off-shore islands especially at bird and Rabbit Island in the north sound. If you do the eco tour in May and through the summer you will see them then. They love fishing offshore at this time of the year because various species of tuna are also feeding on the surface giving away the location of the tiny bait fish which they both feed upon. I took this pic of a feeding frenzy last week.
Speaking about bait fish...many fish are mating at the moment and by the end of spring the little fish will be hatching out all over the island. Unfortunately for them, it is also the time when many of the colonial birds will be feeding their newly born chicks....and you can imagine what they eat.
This Tuesday we will have the first ever one day international held in Antigua which will also be the 1st time a Cricket world cup match will be held here. Australia will play The West Indies at the brand new Viv Richards Stadium and there is so much excitement around it that the Gov. made the day a public holiday. We will have world cup "super 8" matches here over a 2 week span and I think there is a feeling here that our stadium will prove to be the most exciting. Trevor and I will be in the Party Stand on Tuesday and on Thursday which is his birthday and with most of the stadium sold out already it looks like it will be a great bit of action.
As soon as the cricket is over we will then have the Classic Yacht Regatta
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Dolphin fish is one of the most delicious fishes that you will find in the ocean, and it is extremely important not to confuse them with Bottled Nosed Dolphins, Spinner Dolphins, Atlantic Spotted Dolphins or any of the other species of mammals with "dolphin" in their name. For some reason Dolphin fish (Coryphaena hippurus ) have very different names depending on where you are in the world. In the French islands they are called dorade, in the Spanish speaking areas they are called dorado, in the English speaking areas they are mostly called dolphin fish, and in Hawaii they are called mahi mahi.
This pic shows a large bull or male dolphin that we caught off Barbuda while fishing with my dad. Alan, who is holding it, is one of the best butchers and cooks of wild meat that I have ever known. His fish is the best bar none!
Anyway, dolphin are very interesting fish with a fascinating way of life. Without dolphin frigate birds wouldn't survive, and I will explain why later. Dolphin get their start in the Sargasso Sea or around other floating debris which drifts slowly across the Atlantic in the ocean currents. The mother dolphin fish deposits her eggs on the Sargasso or on any other floating objects which look like they will be a safe place for small fish. Very quickly the little guys hatch out and immediately start feeding. Dolphin fish are some of the fastest growing fish in the sea because of their incredible appetite and fishing skills. Often they travel in huge schools looking for food and they will almost eat anything. Flying fish are their favorite food but they will eat all variety of fish, shrimps, squid, and crabs. Much of their prey lives among floating Sargasso Sea weed or other floating debris, and whenever we are out fishing and see something floating we prepare to hook up with a few dolphin fish. They grow very quickly after they are born and are considered one of the fastest growing fish in the sea reaching weights of up to 80 lbs. Their lifespan is a rapid story of eating, bulking up and reproduction which usually only lasts about as much as 6 years. Within a year from hatching out the hungry buggers can be 3 feet long.
The meat is firm and white and quite easy to cook. The bones are large as well so it makes for a perfect fish to serve. When we catch them we skin the fish before we fillet it, as the skin is pretty tough.
Fighting them on a rod and reel is a load of fun if you like fishing as they are strong and swim very quickly. Actually the words Mahi Mahi translate to strong strong, and they have been recorded at speeds of up to 55 mph while chasing flying fish.
A good giveaway of their whereabouts are frigate birds, and whenever we go deep sea fishing we are always on the lookout for frigates. Once you see them low down you can be fairly sure that there will be dolphin around. Dolphin have the most amazing colours of all pelagic deep sea fishes and for good reason. Frigates are able to spot them feeding from a thousands meters. This is the part I love….:
Frigate birds are unable to get wet and feed only on fish. Their feathers are not waterproof and their long wingspan and tiny feet make it impossible to get out of the water if they accidentally end up in the sea. Sooo they die if they get in the water. 20% of their food is stolen from other birds in mid air usually after a good acrobatic chase in the sky. 1% they find dead floating and manage to use their long beaks to scoop it up as they hover or fly by. 79% involves fish like the dolphin, and what happens is that frigates spot the big colourful dolphin fish cruising on the surface looking for food. They keep an eye on the dolphins following them waiting patiently for the dolphin to start feeding. When the dolphin find a school of flying fish, they accelerate up to 55 mph into the school. The frigate sees this unfolding and begins to dive down close to the water’s surface. As the flying fish leap out of the water gliding away to perceived safety, the frigates grab them in mid air. It is such a fantastic thing to see unless you are the poor flying fish. The frigates which usually are so graceful, gliding up high with their slender bodies…become incredibly maneuverable fighting machines almost like tom cruise was in Top Gun. Anyway, at the end of the day, dolphin fish are a great fish and you shouldn’t feel too bad about eating these beautiful fish. Their populations seem to be doing way better than most of the other species harvested commercially in the Atlantic. Try some when you are here in Antigua. Yum Dolphins are yummy.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Over the next few years the school went through some big changes with instructors coming and going, and eventually an additional partner coming in to run it properly. Nik is a very organized yacht surveyor and lover of xtreme sports. He was the perfect partner to have involved and did an excellent job of turning our hobby into a business. Anyway we had some very bad luck with winds one year and the business didn’t do well enough to maintain itself. Nik was worried and eventually we closed it down last year. Today the school is back open thanks to Alex’s persistence and perseverance and the lessons are carrying on without me or nik being involved. We are all happy that its back up and running though, and Adam teaching most days in between doing his graphics business. The funny (not funny at all) thing is that both Adam and I hurt our knees doing kitesurfing.
The school is still at jabbawock beach and can be found on this website. If you would like to find out about lessons call Adam directly on 720 kite. Its actually a pretty safe sport if you have instruction and don’t think you are a super hero. I though I was a superhero and forgot that I was actually not even a youngster anymore. Lol Its loads of fun and you should go check them out at the very least as its beautiful to watch.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Here is the blog entry introducing Capt. JD (a.k.a. "J-Dog").
Here is an entry speaking about Jason.
Here is one speaking about Wan Lovv (one love)
Here is a blog entry speaking about the all rounder Serge
Sunday, March 18, 2007
This morning the haze isn't as bad as it was yesterday thankfully, but its still there and we won't be seeing Montserrat today on the south side. "Sarah Dust" also known as African Dust comes across the Atlantic every year blanketing the region in haze. Many people think incorrectly that the haze has something to do with Montserrat's, but the world's most studied volcano, Soufriere, has nothing to do with it. What happens is that high winds blow massive quantities of dust from western and northern Africa up into the sky. Millions and millions of tons a year of it comes across the Atlantic passing through the Caribbean traveling on the same trade winds that brought the original European settlers here. The dust reaches the south-eastern part of the usa too. There is loads of info on all of this on the web these days and after googling "african dust" i came across many articles on it. Anyway, what most of them agree upon is that since the early 1970s the mass and content of the dust has changed dramatically. Yesterday there was yet another terrible report about glaciers melting, but equally scary is how the deserts are growing. Extreme droughts possibly to do with the "green house effect" as well as changing land and water use has resulted in more land losing its vegetation. Of course this results in more dust getting into the air, but that isn't the worst of it. Since the 1970's there has also been a change in the composition of the dust. There is now all kinds of pollutants contained inside the dust and many scientists are now attributing much of the decline in our coral reefs to this increase in african dust. It’s quite logical actually because we all know that when coral is covered with silt of any kind in can die, so with african dust filled with pesticides and all the other nasties covering the coral each year, it’s not hard to make the connection. Poor coral! There are so many things killing it off that i think much of it is gone forever. Sadly, i remember when i was a teenager just 15 years ago snorkeling on huge coral forests teaming with life. See the movie Finding Nemo....that's what the reef was like here back then. All of a sudden we had a few mega-hurricanes and most of the reef was gone. Many people blame the hurricanes which were stronger than Antigua had seen in over 2000 years (a fact that i will talk about another time), but the reef's decline wasn't just because of the storms. If you are interested in reading more then bookmark this link on coral and african dust.
I suppose it will take more time and study to find out all the negative effects of this increase in african dust, but there is at least one positive result. Kind of... Using satellite imagery, the NAOAA people predict when we in the Caribbean will get "african dust surges", and we actually know days in advance when it will be hazy. This is an image of dust coming off Africa.
Other issues that you may not think about which are due to the dust have to do with the mess it makes. My boats are covered in brown clay like dust after weekends like this. I know that we will have to clean them tomorrow morning because of this hazy weekend.
My eyes have given me more and more problems over the past few years and i sometimes wonder if it’s due to all the time i spend in the outdoors in contact with this increased dust. According to several studies, an increase in certain diseases can also be attributed to african dust. Great!...another thing to worry about right? If you are one of those people interested or worried about germs...check this out: Sorry:) There is another interesting health report on This one too.
Anyway, there is a hell of a lot interesting info to digest on the whole "Sahara dust" topic and i hope you found it as interesting as i said it would be. It’s a good thing it’s not all negative though. That thing about the hurricanes is gonna make me sleep better in the summer. One of the other cool things that can happen as a result of the dust is the sunsets.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
LAst night i was in the mood for a beer or two after a nice dinner with the Acqua Films crew. I drove down to The Coast where most of the Adventure Antigua team were already soaking up a few, and the place was packed. The Coast disco and bar is adjacent to Kings Casino in St Johns, and it has recently turned into the place to be if you are not liming on the South side. By the way, "liming" is a caribbean word that means hanging out socially.
Anyway, i got home pretty late and was hoping for a nice lay in today, but of course that can never happen when you want it to. At 7 am i jumped out of bed to the smell of burning plastic....i thought at first it was my electrical fan having a melt down but that seemed to be working well. I ventured outside to see a purple haze enveloping the house. Hoping that my house wasn't on fire i ran upstairs only to finally see where the source of this smoke was coming from. My considerate neighbors had decided to burn their garbage which by the way is kept very close to the windward side of our property. What a lovely smell burning plastic is...NOT!!!!!!!
Once i am up its hard for me to go back to sleep so here i am writing my blog. hehe i missed it yesterday as i spent most of the day finishing up the ZAP CAT. My buddie Stevie, came and helped me put the boat on a trailer and attach the motor. We decided to try and start the engine before going to the marina and a good thing too, gasoline poured out when we attached the fuel line. The line to the carbereuator was cut, and we had to do some quick mechinc work to get that fixed. The engine had been sitting for so long that i was worried it wouldn't start, but the 55 hp two stroke fired up after one pull of the cord. We were now in business.
We launched at the Shell Beach Marina and went up into the North Sound for a few hours, and pulled up next to Francis who was ancbhored off Welch Rock doing the last snorkeling session on the Eco Tour. The water was beautiful and the sky clear. Yesterday was a lovely day to be on the sea, and i was sooo happy to finally have the little cat back on the water.
Anyway, after the fire next door had burned itself to death thismorning, i noticed that it wass still very hazy, and I decided to write about the haze that we experience so often at this time of year in the islands. If you are living here or visiting you will sometimes notice how one day is sooooo clear and the next totally hazy. I hear people comment on it and am always surprised how few people know what the haze is. To me its incredibly interesting information and tomorrow i will blog about that. Trust me, if you don't know about it, you will be facinated too. Happy Saturday!
The top photo is of Captain Tony on the way in from a tour during a hazy sunset.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
He will have you "bending your knees and feeling the breeze" in no time. Keep this number 461 WIND (9463) or mobile 773 9463 and give him a call when u are next here. I think his email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Anyway at the least go check it out because Jabbawock is such a beautiful beach, and the kite school is there as well. I will talk about the kite school sometime soon. The top shot is of me in my last race a couple of years ago in the BVI. The other pic is of the windsurfing school and was taken by Mark the photo guy. He's great!
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Anyway, these little boats are only 13 feet long and have way too much power. They are like angry dinghies on iv steroids, and after seeing some of the videos i knew i would love to get involved. Anyway, it was very hard finding one made by Zapcat, and i finally located a copy cat company in the USA called Dux Inflatable who said that theirs were stronger and better. These things need a very unusual design of engine which carries a shorter shaft length than most other motors. Also they are steered by tiller and not by wheel which gives you direct control and feel over the engine. I finally found a us made engine which was only made for export that fit the design specs and got it all shipped.
At the end of the day this was a big toy that could be used as a tender to my boats if needed. Anyway, once i set it up i realized that this was a super high performance machine which wasn't to be messed with. I never used a hand held GPS to check the speed but it felt like it could do 50 mph, but the craziest thing about it was the turns and acceleration. They turn on a dime because of the type of bottom they have, and also float over waves because of the air that gets trapped between the hulls.
The video above and this one were both taken in barbuda during our carnival holiday. lots of silly holiday fun.
The ZAPCAT is a mini catamaran with loads of power behind it. Most dinghies that size have 15 or 20 hp motors but these usually use between 40 and 55 hp engines on them. I could only find a 55. After using it and abusing it for a year i managed to damage the transom (what the engine attaches to) as well as a few other problems. I knew the job was going to be big and during the summer David and i got some of the prelim work done. This past weekend Tony and i used the machined metal brackets i had made to reinforce the transom. We didn't finish and it’s taken me the past few days to get it all bolted together and ready for the engine to go back on. I do have one little leak to fix too and then she's ready to launch. One of the reasons i am excited about getting it fixed up and back on the water is that a couple of friends here now have them and are interested in having races and "poker runs". Should be some good Xtreme fun out on the water on weekends. I will be sure to get some good pics and video when i get it sorted but for now it’s just mpeg video. I hope u enjoy this light bit of fun. The top video was taken by roddy using my little sony cam. He was supposed to throw the tiny anchor into the sand near the reef but decided it would be fun to throw my camera over too. ha ha it was funny afterwards. The snorkeling was great too. This vid below is of crazy zap cat crashes....and stuff that i won’t be doing. ouch!!!
and if you are super bored and want to see one more vid of us going too fast, too shallow and too close to a deserted beach in barbuda check this one:
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Saturday, March 10, 2007
With the fun and jokes of the last post about coconuts i thought possibly it may be time for some serious business once again. I wrote the following article about 2 years ago when things in the North Sound where i live were looking pretty bad. Since then Stanford has decided to stop his plans on maiden island and now is trying to sell the idea of his 2 billion us dollar development to the people of antigua. i went to a 2.5 hour presentation last week that his public relation team was showing which describes in detail his proposals and plans. I will have to fill you guys in on that next week. For now though you can read something i wrote 2 years ago. The observer newspaper decided that it wasn't worth putting in their paper so it never really got anywhere. I had written it to them to try to get people to think about where Antigua was going. To me it still is as important a dilemma as it was back then. It’s a long read, but perfect for a weekend relaxation or as the rastas say "ibration". If you are an antiguan or love antigua please give it a try: http://www.antiguaadventures.com/eco-article.htm
Friday, March 09, 2007
If you are lucky you will be able to take some of the shell out and drink the water. This takes some skill and luck. If it doesn't go well and the water leaks all over the place all you need to do is hit the nut a few more times and start sharing the bounty. I can open a coconut this way in about 3 minutes in a rush. It can be a bit more difficult taking the older and harder coconut meat off the shell once its open, but you can just let them gnaw at is which is what lila loves to do anyway. Hope you had a laugh and will use this guide some day. If you have any questions please use the comment section and i or some other coconute expert will answer.
Thursday, March 08, 2007
My good friends Ian and Roddy started a tiny company called Acqua Films some time ago on a tiny budget with the idea of making DVDs for huge charter yachts. These DVDs would then be used by yacht charter brokers to help them find charter guests. Some of the yachts are still relying on print media to sell their charters, and the idea is slowly catching on.
With Ian's extensive experience in video and tv, he managed to bring to acquafilms the expertise needed to provide professional quality video to the end user.
Although they have done wedding, hotel, tour, and other DVDs their main focus is still entrenched in the yachting industry which bases itself in the Eastern Caribbean during the winter.
I had spoken with Ian about getting a little promo video done for my Xtreme Tour some time last year. He had already done a bit of filming from a chopper one day on the way back from another job, and i thought that with a bit more we could come up with a fun little vid. He had an old friend in town from Canada during the summer and took her out on the tour to see the sights and to shoot some more film. What came shortly after was this promo film which i immediately used at Sandals resort. It's taken me some time but i finally got him to convert it to a youtube readable format so that we can see it on the web. I uploaded it 2 times without sound for some reason, and started getting stressed. My cousin, Richard, in the uk said "youtube is a bit shit sometimes....delete the vid from youtube and upload it again". I tried it and finally got volume. Yay!! Here is the vid enjoy!
Also, if you want some video or photo work done please contact them on +1 268 726 2782 or goto their site
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Anyway, let’s get back on track. When my knee was very bad this time last year, i took quite a bit of time off driving the boats as was recommended by my Dr in London. Of course when you have little or no cartilage in the knee, standing all day while driving a rocking boat is painful. However, i couldn't stand being away from the water, so took up fly fishing with my uncle Jim.
Last year i caught about 5 of them and spent a hell of a lot of time out on the flats trying to catch more. Fly fishermen can be happy just seeing them.
Now for the second fish and the main purpose of today's blog. My uncle Jim isn't as interested in Bone Fish as he is in Permit.
Permit are much larger fish feeding on some of the same stuff that bones do, but specifically like eating crabs. The type of crabs that they go after are not much larger than an inch and seem to live under small rocks and pieces of dead coral on the shallow flats beds. These fish are much larger than bone fish and on average must be about 20 lbs in Antigua. They feed in the same areas though and are as strong as bone fish. They get easily spooked too and you have to be exceptionally quiet and move ever so slowly when they are around. You stalk them like you see a lion stalking a gazelle. One false move and the permit is gone as the gazelle would too. These fish are even more difficult to catch on Fly and i doubt there is a more difficult fish to catch anywhere. I think my obsessed uncle has been hunting and stalking them for about 5 years without ever catching one. There have been many interesting articles on how they feed and why it’s so difficult to catch them on fly. One theory is that they inhale the fly and spit it out in one split second motion once they taste or feel that it’s not a real crab. I have had them follow my fly (fake crab) dozens of times and even had they try to bite it, but have never caught one either. You see them on the shallow flats when their tails or fins stick out when trying to get crabs from under a rock. They also don't particularly like to chase a moving fly which poses a problem. Where we find them, there is usually plenty on the bottom to get snagged on, so if you let your fly fall to the bottom you are in trouble. To avoid this you have to be ever so careful to retrieve the fly slowly enough to make it look like a crab and not too slow that it gets snagged. It’s a mission which is why so few people have caught them. In fact, i don’t think anyone has ever caught one in Antigua on fly until yesterday.
My uncle Jim and a friend of his today finally scored one on fly. The friend had fished all over the world trying to get one and was elated to finally get his glory. The fish wasn't that large but it was a permit and that's what counts. Jim's wife Mossy told me that the two great hunters came home grinning and joking like two teenage kids. Congrats jimbo!
The pics are of Jim holding a bonefish before we had the booger grip and the other is of a permit that was inside stingray city for a while before they let it go. IT was huge!