Wednesday, May 27, 2009
As many of my friends and readers may know my girlfriend and I decided that we are going to get married. We have gotten the blessing of our parents, families, friends and the Adventure Antigua crew and have been trying to organize the wedding. It's not been that easy for me for a number of reasons. First of all, I think I am starting to agree with my other half that i have ADHD or something like it. I simply can't concentrate on anything for long enough to get some productive wedding planning done. I mean, i started trying to organize things back in March but got slightly disturbed by a sailing trip down to St. Barts to hang out during the Bucket Regatta.
That didn't last that long though. I got back into the planning at the start of April and then started thinking about The Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta.
As you know our team did very well in that, but when it finished i got back to the task at hand. Wedding planning! Invitations: what they would look like, what they would say, where were the people being invited to, who would design them, where would they be printed, how many did we need... etc are all questions that bogged down the actual process and then there was the West Indies Regatta down in St. Barts. I got distracted big time on that one and concentrated hard enough on that topic that we actually won the regatta. On the sail back with winds blowing like mad I thought about the wedding planning again and was determined to get stuff done as soon as i got back. Those winds! The winds blew so nicely when i got back that i started thinking about the HIHO windsurfing regatta in the BVI again. I have had more first place finishes in that regatta than anyone else and had promised Andy who runs it that Adventure Antigua would send a team again this year. I dusted off my windsurfing gear and went sailing.
While out there a few miles off shore on my way down to Jolly Harbour I started thinking about the invitations again. Man, i needed to get this thing done. We still haven't figured out where we were going to have the reception either. The next day calls were made and during the week we were very good and wedding planning. We decided we wanted to do a post card as our wedding invitation and took the tripod down to the beach three times to get the right image. I can't tell you how difficult it is (and funny) trying to take a photo of your and your bride to be walking down the beach! Anyone watching would have scratched their heads and thought we were totally nuts. I think they would have been right too!
Anyway, after weeks of trying and far too many hours spent on photoshop we came up with a design and got it printed up. It's not the one above but has the same kinda theme. We are both happy with it and i finally feel like we are getting somewhere. We have had about three months of discussions with a place for the reception and we are just about to make a deposit on that. There is still plenty to do and when a boy asks a girl to marry him, he doesn't think about all the things you have to do before you get married if you are going to even have a small wedding. Wow!
The most important thing now is getting a list of all the people we need to send invitations to and then to start sending them. There is one slight problem though..... There is a fishing tournament this weekend and all i can think of is that huge blue marlin Team Xtreme is going to be looking for.
As the full time readers of this blog know, we are very much into our sport fishing. This vid was taken last week:
Anyway, my ADHD and all the distractions won't stop me from wedding planning next week as we are doing a wedding shopping trip to NYC. Got cheap tickets and a place to stay and wedding planning and action is gonna happen next week!
Monday, May 25, 2009
Please read more on what exactly a FAD (Fish Aggregating Devise) is here by clicking this link. From what we have seen and from what we have been told by fishermen who own them simple FADs here in the Caribbean can have a two mile radius of marine species which are all attracted or "Aggregated" by the FAD. Under the water you usually see a scene like the one i shot around this floating net some time ago:
From the very unscientific research that i have done i would guess that there are close to one thousand FADs stretched between Trinidad and Puerto Rico concentrating fish stocks around them so that fishermen can harvest a dwindling supply much easier than simply "blind searching" for fish like they did in the old days. Many of the FADs are government sponsored or subsidized too.
In the waters around Antigua and Barbuda there are dozens and dozens of FADs. A few of them have been set by local fishermen but the practice isn't common here for a number of reasons. I suppose the biggest reason is that there are not that many people in Antigua fishing for pelagics like tuna, marlin, dolphin fish, and other species that concentrate around FADs. Another reason is that most Antiguan fishermen don't know much about FADs and how they work. I think if they did then we would see more Antiguans setting them and more Antiguans fishing the French FADs in our waters. The French island of Guadeloupe is only 50 miles away and with more commercial fishermen there per capita than most islands they often find themselves into our large economic fishing zone. In fact, on nearly 100% of my fishing trips into the Atlantic I come across fishermen from Guadeloupe. Sometimes i see them just off Antigua fishing, some times i see them 25 miles east of Antigua and some times i even see them east of Barbuda. Almost all of them use FADs and have them set mostly on the Atlantic side of Antigua way out in the deep. We have found French FADs 30 miles east of Barbuda and have seen the little French commercial fishing boats catching tuna there. These small boats will easily make a two mile round trip while fishing FADs. Their methods are specific and carefully carried out. Here is a short video we shot on the weekend showing the simple markers used on a French FAD. Notice that they are not intended to be there to show everyone where the FAD is. It is very important for the FAD positions to remain secret and if you want to upset a FAD fishermen then all you have to do is fish his FAD.
I have some friends from St. Barts who also put FADs in our waters off Barbuda and tell me that there are over 100 of them out there. Each commercial fishermen uses boats like this one which is typical of most of the commercial French fishermen in the Caribbean.
Most of them will have four or more FADs in a particular area which they work. Research has shown that tuna and other species will feed around a FAD for a short time and move to the next FAD and then to the next one almost making a circle around FADs in a particular area. The same can be true for Mahi Mahi (also known as Dorade, Dorado, and Dolphin Fish), sailfish, blue and white and Marlin. The fishermen know this and do exactly the same thing. Over the past two weeks we have been out fishing and have seen these boats on every trip. Of course they are in our waters and fishing illegally using FADs. What they do is motor quickly towards a FAD and stop to catch the mahi mahi first. If there are none they will try to catch small tuna which also concentrate around FADs. Once they have a little tuna they will then attach it to a line and drop it back over live in the hope of catching a big yellowfin tuna. I have spoken with French fishermen who have told me that they have gotten as many as 18 big yellowfin in one day doing this method. In all my life the most tuna i have ever seen any Antigua boat catch in one day is about 5 and usually boats catch none. It's a rare event for an Antiguan boat to catch a yellowfin tuna these days. As soon as the FAD fishermen thinks the FAD isn't productive they power up and quickly move to the next FAD which is usually within a few miles. They do the same thing there. We estimate that the average fishermen who fishes here in Antigua from Guadeloupe has at least five FADs. I think that we may have 150 French Fads in our waters, but this is just based on the reports from my friends in St. Barts and on the numbers of FADs we have randomly found out in the Atlantic. It is also my opinion that there are huge environmental, social, and economic implications by all of this. There are no controls and no study of FAD fishing in Antiguan waters. Those who know about Antiguas fishing know that there are no proper controls on any of our fishery but least of all on illegal pelagic FAD fishing.
FAD fishing is exponentially getting more and more common and the Caribbean is one of those places where a huge number of unregulated FADs have been set. There can be no doubt that they increase the catching rates for those who use them. I think that if more fish are concentrated or lured in around FADs and more catching is being done there then there are fewer fish everywhere else and fewer fish being caught away from the FADs. It's not just fish either. We noticed a turtle feeding off of a FAD on the weekend. It won't be long before the fishermen start using nets on these FADs as they do in the Pacific and then we will have a much bigger problem. There are huge environmental implications and since there is no study or control of FAD fishing in the waters off Antigua and Barbuda I think this is something that the Japanese funded Fisheries ministry here in Antigua needs to think about. It's not like they don't have the money!
Saturday, May 23, 2009
One week from now Team Xtreme of Adventure Antigua will be on the way to start fishing on Day 1 of the 43 Annual Sport Fishing Tournament. Over the last week there has been plenty of trash talking with the winners of last year's tournament, Blue Rapid, with skipper John Fuller (my dad) saying that they will win easily and beat us any day any time. hahahaha not this time. They scraped through to win last years tournament with two young kids on board and a bunch of geriatrics limping around behind them.
The "chairman" says that our team won't be happy with some of the changes they have made and talked plenty of trash in the feeble attempt to try to throw our concentration off.
We went back out East of Antigua several days ago and found four Guadeloupean FADs which are excellent places to catch marlin. In five minutes we are leaving once again to go look for both marlin and Fads in one last practice session. Like the kids say "Its on like Donkey Kong"!
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Today is another one of those days when the boats stay in port. It's not because the weather is bad, but it's because there just were not any bookings. Things are as slow as is expected at this time of year before the all the kids and their families are finished with school and after the main tourists and sailing seasons are all done. Of course it is even more quiet with all the doom and gloom that has been constantly broadcast in the media about the world economy. It's finally hit here in Antigua and to try to stir up some business and work for my crew we are offering larger discounts for our tours booked through our website.
Monday, May 18, 2009
May and June are the good months for Blue Marlin fishing in Antigua and although this season seems very slow getting started we managed to get our first Blue this past weekend. It was our second time out looking for them and although we had caught some lovely mahi mahi the first day we had seen no marlin then. Day two was much better with four mahi, one tuna and a nice release of a blue marlin. The blue was not even hooked as the hook was just looped around it's bill. We released the 150-175 lb fish to fight another day. Here the little movie shows part of the Xtreme Team having some fun.
The biggest tournament of the year is being held in Nelsons Dockyard at the end of the month. For more info and even some photos you can check their site. It's the 43rd year this tournament has been running and Adventure Antigua has done many of the recent ones.
Will let you know how day three of our practice sessions goes later in the week.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
In fact, by the time the start line for the final race was set, both "Tradition" and "Alexander Hamilton" hadn't set their sails. I think they were more set on enjoying the wine and relaxation than racing. Summer Cloud had also opted for the delicious attraction of rosé back at the beach. That didn't mean it wasn't going to be a battle between the racers left and as you can see from these photos taken just before the start, it was tight.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
After clearing in and getting some food in us we decided to take the tender over to the famous "Shell Beach" where we could have a long swim and cool off. With almost no wind we were overheating quickly. Shell Beach didn't disappoint and Guilli and Jason who hadn't been to St. Barts were blown away by the new beauty of it all. It wasn't just the pretty shells that caught their attention. Later that afternoon we hung out on the pier where all of the boats were docked stern to and watched slide shows which presented old photos of the traditional boats sailing and carrying cargo to and from St. Barts as well as the Carriaco Sloops presentation done by Alexis. One of the sponsors was The Grenada Chocolate Company which also showed a video of their excellent "green" company. The chocolate was very good too. I think i would like to get some to offer on my tours in the future. After a BBQ right there on the dock we migrated over to Baz Bar for some "ti punch" and some great NYC live jazz. It had been a long night and day and with all the excitement it didn't take long for us all to be tired and ready for bed. There was racing to be done the next day...