Friday, January 30, 2009
Read a lovely review that some of our recent sailing guests wrote on the Cruise Critic site. Here it is:
We just returned from a visit to Antigua last week. We too love snorkeling. We've heard lots of excellent reports from others re: Adventure Antigua eco-tours (Eli and company). We elected instead to try his Classic Sail tour. In a word -- outstanding! My wife had a less than good experience with a dive tour the previous day and was reluctant to go out. After motoring out to Cades Reef, we snorkeled. It was fabulous! Eli skippered the boat. His two crew, Jason and Serge were in the water with us (one other couple besides us) and kept an eye on things. The reef is offshore and is great. The boat is a traditional wooden boat built in island tradition. Heavy construction so it doesn't have the bobing motion of more modern sailboats. After reef, motor into a nice little harbor for lunch and more snorkeling. Then change location and more snorkeling. Then the sail for home. Yes, real sailing as in shut the motor off, put up the sails and go. Not as fast as a catamaran (9 knots surfing downwind) but a great solid sail back to the ship.Of all the tours (7) on last weeks cruise in the southern Caribbean, this is the one we'd do again (probably more than once even).
Thursday, January 29, 2009
JD called in sick today with a bad flu, so last minute i was on Xtreme with Chris and Serge. The winds had been blowing super hard all day and into the night and the seas were pretty rough. We had 18 people on board and we all had a nice time. Seems like Greedy Bob isn't there at Stingray city anymore and the rays are free to come and go as they please. Green Island was lovely as usual and the people on board got more sight seeing than normal when we passed alongside a large yacht that had several nude female crew members enjoying themselves. Needless to say my crew members were slightly thrown off :)
Despite all the doom and gloom withing the yachting industry, Nelson's Dockyard and Falmouth Harbour seemed to have plenty of yachts. Rendezvous Bay was rougher than normal and was crowded today with three people! They didn't seem to like clothes either. Anyway, it was a great day on the water and fun was had by all. Here is the old vid of the Xtreme tour done by Iain of http://www.acquafilms.com/ I love the music!
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Once again the Japanese Government have succeeded in influencing our government, press and our people. Like in the past this manipulation comes in the form of (free $) fisheries grants. We have had several large fisheries plants designed and built by Japanese here in Antigua. With no proper study done on the type of fishing that would be sustainable and profitable these Japanese plants were quickly errected after feeding the politicians a pile of propaganda about how good they would be for the people of Antigua. Since the ones here in Antigua have been finished there has not been in increase in production. In fact our depleated fishery with it's terrible lack of funding for proper management has suffered as a result of these things. If a fraction of the money was spent on careful management then Antigua would be be better off. Ask our fisheried why the protected area within the NEMA have not been protected. Simply because they don't have the money to get it done. Meanwhile Japan calls the shots and tells our leaders simply that the construction of these plants will help the fishermen. People rent stoor rooms in the fisheries plant at Urlings to stoor household items and little boats tie up there to do the same type of non sustainable fishing that they have been doing for generations. There is no fish exported properly from there. Gill nets still are set in the reefs and in the mangrove habitats, fish traps are dumped wherever the fishemen want with no proper monitering of their movements. "Protected areas" are not protected and generally our fishery suffers. The areas where sustainable fishing is possible are not promoted to our fishermen and at the end of the day the only people winning are the Japanese. Why are they winning?
All of the support Japan gives to Antigua financially and otherwise is purely done to buy our country's vote on international whaling at the IWC. The IWC (international whaling convention) was set up as an international body to regulate international whaling (whale killing). Antigua was always against the killing of whales until the Japanese government started giving the Government millions of dollars for its vote. Tens of millions of US dollars (over 50 million) have been given to Antigua's governments (both ALP and UPP) in the forms of fisheries related "grants". I wasn't able to dig up clear stats but you can read more from their site here. And more here. Some of that official info is a total fabrication too in order to fool their own people. The Japanese government has also been involved with a propaganda war using the media both printed, web and televised to almost brain wash the people of these islands. You sometimes see full page ads where they speak about whales killing the fish that local people make money from. PURE BS! I hate seeing educated people (nations in this case) manipulate people because of their lack of education. They always use the arguement that we have to protect the right of our people to use their fisheries how they see fit. I agree with that notion, but my idea is based on facts and not on profit making manipulation. Education is the key like in most cases i guess. Most Antiguans don't know much about any of this in the same way that most don't know we have whales passing through our waters each year. Propaganda is a tried and true way of fooling uneducated people. Speaking of Japanese propaganda check this site. To really learn why it is crazy that our leaders talk about being "Green" and speak about sustainable development and sustainable fishing check this very interesting article that tries to put some of these issues into perspective. One of groups they speak about out there trying to stop the Japanese slaughter of whales is Sea Shepherd. Two people here in Antigua that i know very well worked on that boat. It's very upsetting to know that our government is out there taking money from Japan so that they can kill more whales. I think we should send money (if we have a bit extra) to that mad man on Sea Shepherd to counter the efforts of our Government. Don't get me wrong I do think Sea Shepherd is a crazy organization, but I am glad that there is such a bunch of crazies out there taking photos and videos of this dark and horrific practice of whale slaughter. I'm also glad that the Animal Planet network is doing the terrible things the Japanese Government says its doing by showing Whale Wars on TV. It's a shame that Greenpeace pulled out this year.
Monday, January 26, 2009
Hi Eli, I hope you are well. I was astounded by the recent problems you've had with comments made by some cruise ship clients - I thought the email you sent was very restrained and hopefully should avoid you losing any more business. But the PM is really to voice support for your company. We (Tracey & I) took one of your trips back in 1999 when we first visited the island (with Sunsail). (A few years after that first visit we bought on the south finger, overlooking the marina channel.) We took that first tour based on the recommendation of Sunsail and other guests - it was brilliant and far exceeded our expectations. Since then we have been on many of your trips - both Eco and xTreme and have never been other than pleased - you and your staff are always warm, friendly, well informed and very considerate of the needs and expectations of your clients. Even though we've gone on trips a second (or more!) time we always seem to find out something new! We have recommended your trips to family and friends of all ages and they have always been very pleased they took our advice. In fact in all the years since we took that first trip we have never ever heard anything other than praise about you or your company. I think you were very unfortunate with those cruise ship clients - they seem to be in the minority that doesn’t want what you’re delivering. So hang on in there you're all doing a great job! We would have absolutely no hesitation in recommending your trips and you are free to publish/post any or all of the above. Kind regards Anton & Tracey Szklarek
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Okay I'm going to be real honest here because your husband seems to have some concerns. Everyone raves about Eli's tours because if it's what you're looking for it's great. We were on the tour with several families with teenagers and many people hated it, especially the kids. I enjoyed the tour, but my husband absolutely hated it except for Hell's Gate which is awesome by anybody's standards. Our problem was we were on a boat surrounded by the most gorgeous clear water you could ever imagine and we couldn't get in it! It was over 3 hours from the time we left dock until we were able to get off the boat and swim. These 3 hours were spent hearing about every luxury hotel on the island, the famous guests that stayed there etc. For some people, this is important but we could care less and we wanted to snorkel or hike or something!
We did get to see some neat things-a mangrove area with interesting things in the water and an island where many pelicans where nesting in the trees. The babies were sticking their heads out of the nests which was really cute. Hell's Gate was great fun too. The second snorkel spot was incredibly rough because it was later in the day and the waves were whipping up so don't plan the tour based on snorkeling.
On the positive side, the guys on the boat were nice and worked hard. The lunch was also good. If you're someone wanting to basically sit on a boat most of the time or take a walk up Great Bird Island then this is a great tour. If you're leaning toward a more active tour you may want to look at his extreme tour which is more expensive.
I would love to do this tour again if they skipped all the hotel lectures which basically took up the first 2 hours or so of the tour. I would've liked to have had more time at Hell's Gate and done the snorkeling first instead of last when the waves were so rough.
Here are a few photos of the tour:
And of Hell's Gate:
Almost immideately after that review appeared on Cruise Critic we have had people cancel their trips and more have emailed their concerns. One such email is here:
We are a group of 7 people booked on Friday February 6. The email you sent us describing your tour is very different from the thread on cruise critic, http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=910813
They said they spent time collecting other people and it was 3 hours riding around before they were able to swim.
You told us in your email: “After we collect you from the ships dock, you would spend about one hour doing the tour and talk of Long20Island, Maiden Island, Guiana Island and then you head to Bird Island where you get off the boat and do a short walk/hike up to the top of the island, where the views are absolutely stunning of both the Atlantic and the Caribbean Sea and your guide will be pointing interesting things out to you on the way. When you come back from the hike, which lasts from start to finish about 35mins, there is a short snorkeling lesson to those persons that are not up to date with their snorkeling.
So how exactly will our tour be run? We like to snorkel and hike. On the way to these places we would enjoy hearing about flora and fauna. We signed up for the tour as you described it. If it is more like this participant’s description, we do not want it. We are an active group and thought we were choosing an active, intellectual tour, not a laid-back “cruise.”
Please let us know the itinerary and timeframes of the tour, which is what I asked you for in my first email to you. I will discuss it with the others in my group (we booked individually).
Here is my email reply:
Louise, the review was warped and damaging in its misleading and untrue descriptions. We collect passengers at the cruise ship dock at minutes to 10 am. At the very latest (even if we do have to pick up any other guests, which sometimes happens), we will be stopped for drinks at Long Island (Jumby Bay) by 11:15 am. Here (since it's an eco tour) we speak about the ecological aspects of the island including the turtles, reef, flats... etc.
Then, as we pass the interesting Maiden Island we speak about its ecology and history, then we’re off to Guiana Island’s mangroves to speak about the habitats and history there Following our exploration of the mangroves, we cruise through the myriad other islands pointing out anything of interest as we pass and arriving at Great Bird Island at noon or very shortly after. This is where we get off the boat to do the nature walk. That wasn't and will never be 3 hours. 10 until 12 in my book is two hours of sight-seeing and education which are some of the things that have made our Eco Tour the #1 selling tour on Antigua. After the nature walk or "hike" as some call it, we come back down to the shore where people are encouraged to take part in the snorkeling lessons. That's probably at about 12:30-12:45 pm. Those who don't want to take part sit on the boat and have drinks, swim, snorkel from the boat, chill on the beach or explore the island some more. This only takes 15-20 minutes. Then we are back on the boat to have lunch. At 1:50 pm, after lunch, we do the short trip to Hells Gate where at 2 pm there are 5 choices every day as follows:
1) Go snorkeling with a guide
2) Go and chill in the "jacuzzi" (tidal pool) at hells gate
3) Follow the guide into the caves of Hells Gate
4) Swim around the boat
5) Chill on the boat.
For 8 years those have been the choices at 2 pm on the Eco tour. Many have their mind so set on checking the caves that they don’t hear the skipper’s instructions about the other things but they are read out every time at 2 pm.
At 2:30 pm we shoot back over to Welch Rock for the final guided snorkeling. Here you have two choices: snorkel with the guides or stay on the boat. Most of the time it is calm there but we haven't figured out how to control the weather and occasionally it can be choppy in Antigua. The review made it sound as if it is rough in Antigua every afternoon and we punish our guests by only snorkeling in the rough afternoons. So strange! Anyway, after a good 30 to 40 mins of snorkeling (if you get in the water with the guides instead of taking a while to get in the water) then we pull the anchor and start heading back into the ship area in St. Johns where we get in at the very latest at 4:15 pm. On the way back there is no stopping for turtles dolphins or other points of interest. We just cruise straight back enjoying traditional rum punch and other drinks.
Our tour is very rigidly structured according to this timeline because we have to fit everything in and be back at the cruise ship dock for 4:15 pm. We have never been late and we try to do it without ever appearing to be in a rush. As I said earlier, this tour is #1 for a reason and we are not going to change much. The vast majority of people love this tour because it has a good mix of both ecological and historical info mixed with the usual suspects like snorkeling, swimming, beaching and sight-seeing. There are some people who couldn't give a dam about the turtle nesting season or about the US Army base stationed here during World War 2. Some people just want to snorkel and nothing else, some people just want to sit on a beach and nothing else, some people don't hear enough about the mangrove habitat, some people don't get to drink enough booze since we only serve alcohol on the way home, some people would like to hear music (we don't usually play any at all). We aim to please everyone who comes out with us and I personally think we do an excellent job of accomplishing that goal. It is never a 100% and there are some people who are not happy. Those people who "hated" it recently were the first I have heard of since I started running the tour.
I am sorry if I sound upset, but I have to admit that I am slightly annoyed with the review. I had a feeling we would be getting emails like yours, and I hope you have a better idea now of what to expect. Please email this to the other people in your party or to anyone else who is concerned. Thanks again for booking with us and for taking the time to email us instead of cancelling, Eli.
If anyone out there is worried about their booked tour. Please email me on elifuller @ hotmail. com or call me on +1 268 725 7263. I am available most of the time to speak about Antigua and my company and assure you that you will not "hate" the eco tour.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Friday, January 16, 2009
The reason I knew about it was that years ago when many of us here on the island were protesting the way the ALP leaders were giving dolphin import permits to a dolphin park here an activist called Rick O'barry (website) came to Antigua to speak about the whole captive dolphin argument. Well he tried to come here. He was actually taken off an American Airlines flight just before take off in Miami and told that the Antigua Government would not permit him to step foot in Antigua. Anyway, he came to Antigua via telephone conference and then years later came properly to tell us about the whole concept of Dolphin captivity including the method of how many dolphins were captured. One such way was shown in his bloody video taken in Teiji. Check it here. Back then he was a radical who was taken off flights and labelled as a trouble maker. Since then info that he tried to get out has spread throughout the world and there is now a movie about the Japanese Dolphin Slaughter about to be launched worldwide done by a new more aggressive breed of Radicals. One of them is a friend from Antigua who like me owns and sails one of the beautiful Carriacou Sloops. Charles missed a few regattas over the past few years because he was deep undercover making this movie. "The Cove" is already gaining critical acclaim internationally and you can read more about it here and see a trailer here. Charles is the guy with the "goatee" you first see.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
There isn't a much better way to spend the day than sailing on a Caribbean build wooden vessel. "Ocean Nomad" and her crew will take you on an educational cruise with all the adventures you would expect from Adventure Antigua including snorkeling and turtle watching. For more info you can go to the sailing website http://www.sailing-antigua.com/. Hope you like this cheap and cheerful movie.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
It’s gonna be Golf.
I can imagine many of you shaking your heads, but I have always been interested in the technical and tactical aspects of golf. In fact, in the old days many of my friends on the pro windsurfing tour would play golf whenever they had time off.
A few months ago I was in the San Juan airport in Puerto Rico and noticed with excitement a new Carl Hiaasen book. I have read every book he has written and immediately snatched this one which was called The Downhill Lie. Little did I know this book was something entirely different than his usual crazy environmental and crime ridden works of fiction. There were no snakes being dropped on to cruise ships, there were no former governers living in the bush and eating road kill, there were no captive dolpins killing the bad guys by trying to copulate with them. This was just his golf memoirs. I got duped just like many others into buying a book completely about golf. Oh well, he is a funny guy and I decided to read it. While reading it I visited some friends in London who had recently purchased the Nintendo Wii game that came with the Wii Sports. After seeing them play golf using their remotes like clubs to whack imaginary balls towards a green, I knew I had to give it a try. Wii has revolutionized what I call “video games” by adding physical action to what has always been a true couch potato activity. Check this random video of some guy telling you about it.
The game is way better than he makes it look btw. Anyway, it was silly and fun, but actually taught me what a par was! In fact it taught me plenty as I had no idea about the game even though I was reading a book about it. The next thing I knew was that I had a Nintendo Wii and was playing golf back in my home in Jolly Harbour. Of course this wasn’t the steady activity that I was hoping for, but it was a good bit of silly fun. Most of the Adventure Antigua crew has been over to play Golf and Tennis. Trevor who is one of the best cricketers and tennis players with the AA team sucked at Tennis but was far better at golf. I guess the rum and cokes didn’t help for tennis too well. Anyway, the next thing I had to do was to get some proper lessons. For Christmas my mom got me some golf lessons and yesterday I took my first one at the Jolly Harbour Golf Club. The pro there, Ulrich Francis, admitted that although he has given a huge number of lessons, he had never taught anyone who hadn’t held a golf club before. I was the most inexperienced beginner he had ever taken onto the course which didn’t sit well with me. Isn’t a beginner someone who hasn’t played before? Well anyway, I was the most legitimate beginner he’s ever taught and it wasn’t easy for either of us. I had to learn how to hold the club (a sand wedge), I had to learn how to bend my back properly, how to position my feet with weight in the right places, how to bend my knees properly and push my ass out correctly, I had to learn how to swing, had to learn how to release and hold it, I had to learn how to twist my hips the right way and most importantly I had to turn my right leg and foot towards the left. There were other things too and this was all before I could begin worrying about hitting the blasted ball. JEEZ this was not nearly as easy as I thought, but then again I had just read a book about how insanely hard the game was even for experts. After 30 minutes I was sweating and there were balls all over the place. With the club that was too short for me I think it didn't make much difference. I dug some nice holes (divots) and made a couple of hits where Ulrich seemed to be happy with. He was concerned about my obviously broken arm and about my knee pain, but was optimistic that me playing a round of golf may happen some day. Lesson two will be Thursday. My good friend Andre Phillip who I taught how to Kitesurf before he became one of the best kitesurfers on the planet has been harassing me to get these lessons so that he can have another person to play with here. Since he is leaving on Saturday, I think he will have to wait until he comes back from his next international kitesurfing adventure. Wish me luck tomorrow and by the way I am way better than the guy in the vid. lol
PS. Mom, thanks for the golf lessons....... i think.