Friday, July 24, 2009

Adventure Antigua Eco Tour reviews

Someone sent me this link to a not so nice review on trip advisor. IT's review #10 and doesn't do the tour justice at all. The funny thing is that right at the same time they did the tour this person did the tour too:

From: []
Sent: Thursday, July 23, 2009 12:28 AM
To: Adventure Antigua
Subject: Re: AA-Booking Eco Tour Confirmation July 13th x2

Hi All,

Just wanted to say thanks for an absolutely incredible tour. My wife and I went out on the Eco on Monday 7/13 and have not stopped talking about it since - definitely a highlight of our trip. The sightseeing, snorkeling, and the swim/climb to Hell's Gate were unforgettable. The crew of Chris, Alex, and Tony was awesome!! and they had us learning and and laughing the whole time out. It felt like we were saying goodbye to friends by the time it was all over (although a few cups of the rum punch may have had something to do with that!) We know some folks headed your way in a couple months and we will make sure they book their tour(s) with Adventure Antigua. Only bummer was there were no T-shirts left. Let me know if you get more in - i'd be happy to pay to have one shipped.

Top notch experience - thanks again !!

Scott & Cathy

That was such a positive review. After reading several reviews where people voiced their dislike of hearing about the hotels on the way up the coast I made some changes. The thing is that we have to pass these hotels in order to get to the North Sound's islands and people will always ask about them as we pass them. We have been doing this tour for 10 years and if you don't speak about them so that the whole boat can here the crew just get called over by guest after guest to tell them what was the hotel we were just passing. I guess we will just tell people what they are while we pass with some very basic info.
Today another lovely review came in and I am going to try to remember to post them as often as i get them.
From: Andrea Birdsall []
Sent: Thursday, July 23, 2009 8:18 PM
To: Adventure Antigua
Subject: RE: Adventure Antigua Eco Tour

Hi Eli

I just wanted to drop a note to say what a great tour we had with Chris, Jason and Chantel (sp?) on our visit to Antigua. All three were very nice, extremely knowledgeable and great tour guides. We had a blast! The trip to Hell's gate, the snorkeling, climbing to the top of the mountain and the mangrove 'nursery' were fabulous. All were top notch.

Thanks again and tell Jason I still want to know what he puts in his rum punch! I have the rum but need the mixers. Perfect to sit in my pool and dream of being back there...


Many of the people who email nice reviews don't put them on forums or travel sites, so i will put them here for all to see. Thanks for coming out on our tours and thanks even more for telling people about them. We are not hooked up directly with any hotels, cruise ships or travel companies so your reviews are what sell our tours and we thank you!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Sailing down to the BVI from Antigua

At the end of June three of us sailed Ocean Nomad, our Classic Carriacou Sloop down to Virgin Gorda in the BVI to take part in a week long windsurfing regatta and sailing adventure. HIHO (which stands for hook in and hold on) is a world famous windsurfing event that has been going on now since the 70s. This year was the 25th time the event has been put on and with our own sloop for accommodation and transport was looking forward to the adventure.
With just three of us, preparing for the trip was easier than other similar trips i have been on. The last time we wend it was pretty much the entire Adventure Antigua team and more! This time we packed all of our gear the day before and had a fairly relaxed departure before sunset bound for St. Martin just over 90 miles down wind from us. I love cruising down wind at night as there isn't many things as relaxing and peaceful in decent weather. The weather was more than decent with very little cloud cover and a nice 15 knots of wind to keep us going. Neither of my crew were experienced sailors but both were very experienced power boaters and I felt very confident with them on board. Since we were going to be away from home port in Jolly Harbour for two weeks and there were going to be several big crossings we prepared a "grab bag" which most boaters have close by when sailing in open ocean. We had a small inflatable dinghy on the deck, the EPIRB and all the other regular safety equipment.
Our grab bag was huge and we decided to tie it to the tender which was on the forward deck ready to go in case of a dire emergency. The bag had enough survival stuff in there to last a long time. We all felt as though we were going too far with the safety preparations but ya never know. A guy i used to deep sea fish with as a kid always used to say "its better to say here it is than where it is" and I always think that's the right way to prepare.
As soon as we sailed out of Five Islands Harbour we were full of smiles and eager anticipation. David "Choppa" Mendes who has worked with Adventure Antigua on and off for years was on board and even more excited than usual (which is hard to imagine). The African dust in the air was pretty extreme and within a few miles Antigua was hard to see.
In fact, by the time Mykl hooked into her first fish we could hardly see Antigua. It was a Spanish mackerel and we released it. We already had dinner sorted out and there was no need for fresh fish this time.
Sunset was a strange one with the dust in the air and you could look directly into the sun while it was still high above the horizon.
As it got dark some stars managed to push through the haze and it got brighter and brighter as the moon came up. The winds backed off a bit but it was still enough to push us quietly along at 7 knots on a very broad reach towards SXM. We took three hour shifts on the tiller and with all those stars, the phosphorescence, and the "Just cruising" play list on my IPOD I was in heaven holding on to the tiller.
At one point in the night while i was steering I saw the most amazing shooting star i had ever seen. It started off above my starboard side and shot down towards the sea in the north breaking apart like a big "Stanford" firework that we used to see at all the 20 20 cricket matches. Mostly it was white but there was green also as it broke up. The whole boat lit up as it fell and although i was excited to have seen it, I was sorry that the other two who were fast asleep at the time had missed it. David took over afterwards and before dawn Mykl took her turn. As you can see, the sunrise was as strange as the sunset with all the dust making the sun almost look like a rising moon.
Within a few hours we would be in St. Martin ready for some more provisioning and a huge creole lunch with some friends there. Clearing in and out of immigration at Simpson Bay was a breeze and we actually bumped into AnnP of and and many other tourism and travel related sites. She had just come back from Anguilla next door. During the day we got some bits and pieces for the boat including a nice fan for the forward bunk and some new lights for the head. St. Martin is always cheaper than Antigua for marine parts as it's a duty free port. We replaced broken or tired bits on the boat and had a big dinner before pulling anchor and heading out to sea once again, but this time it was dark when we left. As we pulled out of Simpson Bay we could tell that the winds had dropped and as we set the main we realized that we would be lucky to average 3 knots without the engine on. We immediately decided to motor sail and off we went at 6 knots. The sea was so calm that it felt strange to be out in the open ocean and hardly rocking at all. Not long after we left we saw a huge search light on the horizon come on for a minute and then go off. I couldn't tell how far away it was as we have no radar but I told David that the coast guard must be doing something out there. Since we hadn't slept much the night before and had been running around a very hot St. Martin we were very tired. Once we were on our way and everything was settled it was my time to go on watch. We decided we would try three hour watches again I only managed about an hour before i started to fall asleep. I struggled but with it being so nice and calm it was even harder to keep my eyes open. Mykl had told us to have a nap before we left but we had decided that we needed to be on the move to the BVI. She was right. We should have slept! I woke David up and told him that he had to give me an hours nap. He didn't even last an hour before waking up Mykl who ended up steering for several hours. Girl power! While she was steering i heard the some talk on the VHF and Mykl said there was a spot light on a few miles away. As we listened to the VHF we heard someone say "This is US Coast Guard west of St. Martin, can the boat in the spot light please identify yourself and your flag". They were inspecting boats out there and Mykl said this was the second one she had seen get the spot light treatment. The US coast guard was out there without any navigation lights, creeping up to boats and hitting them with the flood lights. We were sure we would be next and for the next few hours we kept looking over our backs. Mykl said that before she had heard them on the VHF she had this weird feeling that there was a boat next to us, and i am sure she wasn't far off. With night vision equipment and all the high tech gear that they have, I am sure there was a good reason why we didn't get searched. Our boat is so unusual looking that i was certain we would have been of interest. Anyway, we didn't come under the spotlight and powered on to Virgin Gorda. Like the day before sunrise was slow and not as bright as it usually is.
With about 5 knots of wind the sea only had a small chop and we cruised along. Several unfortunate flying fish had managed to get stuck on the boat during the night and i returned them to the sea as we spotted Gorda in front of us. As we approached the reefy channel just south of the famous Baths we had a dolphin come and play at our bow for a few minutes until it got bored and swam off into the blue once again. What a nice welcome to the BVI!
nose spray
We were all tired and felt like a swim before going to clear in with immigration and customs at Spanish Town. What better place to have a swim in the Virgin Islands than at the Baths in Virgin Gorda? It was so refreshing that within no time we were ready to enter the islands officially. It had been a lovely trip down and a week of BVI Adventure was in front of us.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Antigua Yacht Club uses classic sloop to teach kids

Antigua Yacht Club uses a Carriacou Sloop like ours to help teach kids about larger boats. The boats are perfect for teaching as all the lines are outside the mast and can be followed and figured out.

For more info on our sloop check

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

More praise for Adventure Antigua

A lovely message in the mail today:

From: []
Sent: Tuesday, July 14, 2009 7:24 PM
To: Adventure Antigua
Subject: RE: Adventure Antigua Tour Company

Hi Eli,

I want to thank you for an outstanding trip! JD and Chris were great. The only thing I could think to say at the end of the day other than thank-you was that they exceded my expectations. JD's seamanship and knowledge of the waters was exceptional. Chris is both a local historian and naturalist. He was always
sure to point out anything of interest. Chris guided me on the best snorkle trip I have ever experienced. He was always finding interesting sea life and corals and directing me to them. Both of JD and Chris did an
excellent job of representing your company and providing Teri and I with many wonderful memories.
My complements to the chef for the delicious lunch. The banana bread was fantastic!

Best regards,


Monday, July 13, 2009

A happy ending for the Bullfinch family

Before sailing down to the BVI on Ocean Nomad recently I took some of my family out day sailing for fathers day. Blogged here what I didn't mention was the story about the bird's nest. When we were pulling out of Jolly Harbour i noticed a small nest tucked up under the boom below the sail cover and deep into the sail. There are so many birds constantly trying to make nests all over the place in Antigua during the spring months just like most places around the world and we had already had a few try to make nests in and around the house. I took a quick peak as we motored out between the channel markers and found that the now mobile nest had three small eggs inside it. Since we left kinda later we motor sailed using just the head sail up to Cades Bay. In the afternoon we knew that something had to be done about the nest and little eggs as we would be sailing properly outside the reef and back to Jolly Harbour. I carefully picked it from between the folds of the mainsail and placed it into a bucket which we stored below for the sail home. None of us knew if the nest had been abandoned long before as the boat hadn't been sailing for about 2 weeks. We just figured it was silly to abandon hope of saving the little birds. My family is like that when it comes to animals and there are countless other rescue stories about birds, dogs, cats, horses, goats, turtles, whales, dolphins and others that i could mention.
The sail home as i mentioned in the other blog was lovely and we forgot about the nest as we spotted huge green turtles on the sail home. I think we counted 30 big greens.
There is a special spot where we see them on every trip. Anyway as soon as we pulled on to the dock where we keep the boat two bullfinches appeared reminding us about the little nest. The chirped desperately looking to see what we had done to their nest. My bro (the new father) Ali, went below and got the nest out of the bucket and grabbed a bit of green net which Mykl had been decorating our outside light with. He cupped the nest inside the net and hung it in the back of the furled main below the boom. The birds kept trying to get in there but didn't seem to be able to make it. Ali moved it more out into the open and the birds could see it but didn't get in. The next morning when Jason came to work on the sloop i told him about the birds and told him to keep an eye open for them. Neither of us saw the birds actually enter the nest but they were buzzing around and still interested in it. I was losing hope about this nest and with our plan to set sail in four days on a 200 mile trip across the ocean to the British Virgin Islands, the prognosis wasn't good. At the end of the day i caught a glimpse of the bullfinches alternately entering the nest and figured it was a good time to move it off the boat. When i went to remove it from the sail i notice that a tiny inch long pink thing with one feather had hatched out inside the nest and with amazement i let out a surprised laugh. On the wooden deck i had an old rusting BBQ and figured I would hang the netted nest off of it somehow. With the birds chirping and watching from the neighbors balcony i tucked it behind the bbq hanging it in a way the feathered parents could see it and get in if they still wanted to. The boat was going sailing and there was no other way. The next morning I had a quick peak and noticed another almost lifeless chick in there. I still wasn't sure about their chances.
On Friday, we set sail for St. Martin where we would pick up some stocks for our two week trip before doing another 90+ mile sail.
After about 500 miles of sailing and motoring I arrived back in Antigua to find out the good news. Mykl who had flown home a few days before told me that two big chicks had been making a hell of a noise chirping and that they were full of life. I guess the third egg never made it, but i was pleased to hear about the two others. I went to have a look and smiled when i found an empty nest. They had already left the nest. While cleaning out the sloop i caught a glimpse of the mother bird having a bath on one of our coolers. It had just rained and i quickly got the camera out to shoot a few snaps.
She had a good bath before flying off to make more noise next door.
I know this blog seems like plenty of words for not much of a story but it made me smile thinking about it. I haven't told my family yet and am sure they will get a smile out of it too. Out sailing that day, we didn't think the little eggs had a chance.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

More news from the Jolly Harbour Yacht Club

"Following a couple of great weeks on North Beach with dinghy racing, beach BBQ with food & booze to your choice, it is clear this has become a fun social afternoon for the Yacht Club. We shall be there again this coming Sunday and everyone is welcome. The first 2 weeks have given us a good idea of the format for the future. If you wish to race it is a meagre EC$5 per race for Members and EC$10 for Non Members, if you just wish to lime and enjoy the fun of watching the racing (and the capsizing!) there is NO CHARGE! BBQ grill and coals are supplied so all you have to do is bring your cooler, food and drink. The dinghy area on North Beach is perfect for such an afternoon with plenty of palm trees for shelter.
Come along and check it out and, if you feel up to it, challenge our current hot shot, "Big Al" Ashford to a race or two.
Rigging starts at 12:30, racing begins at 1:30 and the BBQ fires up around 2:30.
Bouyancy jackets must be worn on the water so if you have your own please bring it along although the Club do have a good supply.
See you there!
Pippa - JHYC Dinghy Sailing Director 2009"

Friday, July 10, 2009

away from a computer for two weeks. WOW!

Together with some friends and my GF, we took two weeks and sailed up to a windsurfing event in the British Virgin Islands. I will blog more regularly again now and there is plenty to come on our adventure but for now a little movie taken by AcquaFilms of the event we took part in: