Wednesday, September 30, 2009

a strange hurricane season

The child in this photo was born during the last storm we had come close to Antigua. In the middle of all the thunger and lightning one night last year , Alexander was born. It's been quiet since then. Let's hope it continues.

By all accounts, we have had the best weather this summer! The winds have been around to keep us cooler than usual, the rains have come occasionally just enough to keep it from getting dry and dusty, the hurricanes machinery has not been pumping out storms, the few that have formed have missed us.

All in all this season has been a very quiet one and perfect for boating. we have done plenty and will do more for sure.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Quick video for a facebook competition

The Antigua and Barbuda tourism department is giving away some flights for the winner of a 2 minute Antigua video. Here is my very quick amateur version:

Friday, September 25, 2009

Some old faces back at Adventure Antigua and more changes too.

big belly party

With more tours on the market and fewer people on island thanks to the "financial crash" we are probably in the most challenging time of our life as a company. Adventure Antigua turns 10 this December and if there was one thing that has helped us get to this point I suppose it's the determination to always have word of mouth be our main revenue generator. We have always had word of mouth as the main way we get business and the main reason for that is that as a company we have all strived to make sure your day out with us is exceptionally good. We have always said that we are not your average snorkeling tour. We take guys who have snorkeled and boated their entire lives, guys who go to sea on their days off, guys who adore Antigua and Barbuda, guys who are friendly and respectful, and we put them on a boat with you. Nothing in the world makes them happy more than for me to tell them I had a nice email thanking them for a lovely tour. We thrive on good reviews and the trip advisors, and Antiguaforums, and cruise ship message boards have all helped us see these reviews.

Over the past few years we have had challenges where some of our best guys have asked me to let them go off and pursue other things. Some have left the country.. others, sadly, have left this world.

Adventure Antigua, although still the best high end excursion company in Antigua, has recently not been as strong as it wanted to be. Three of our best veteran Adventure Antigua crew knew that we needed some help and offered to come back and work with us.

Leslie, our strong man and loudest man has come back to work on the boats and says he is happier than he's been in years. We all love having him back with us too.

Trevor starts work again today after being off in the UK playing county cricket. As a very old windsurfing friend, Trevor and I go way back. I am delighted that he's come back to work once again with us.

Lastly Captain Shamel has decided to join our team again. Shamel, like m any of the other Adventure Antigua guys cares about our company. It's unusual when someone who is no longer working for the company cares so strongly about how well the company does. Shamel is that guy, and with more boating and tour experience than any other of my crew, Shamel will help me with all the boats and may skipper each of them depending on the day.

We have invested some money into erecting a proper building for all of our spare parts, tools, stocks, and other equipment. For ten years we have been shoving stuff here and there and we have finally made a move to get our gear and maintenance department even more organized.

I had wanted to spend about US $70 K on repowering the eco boat, but at this point I am being forced to hold off on that investment. I wish things hadn't gotten so slow, but it will pick up and the funds needed for the project will be there for next summer.

Of course, some of you know about our sailing program. We have invested some money and time into sailing training for our core poweboat crew. Captain JD and Captain Tony just recently completed a three week day skipper course. Two weeks of book work and one week on a yacht doing practical stuff. They passed with flying colours and are excited about our second sailing vessel's launch coming soon. Yes, our second sailing vessel will be finished and launched soon. I'm not sure when because there is a little thing that may postpone it a bit. That little thing is my wedding. lol I am getting married to my beautiful finance and friend, Mykl. She's an addition to Adventure Antigua that we have needed for some time and has proven to be a fantastic consultant on organizational and eco issues.

The rest of the gang seems to be very happy with these changes and we are having a meeting later today to go over more of our plans. I think that over the past six months my core crew has been under too much pressure holding up our high standards without enough support. They did an amazing job, but I know it's been difficult. With the veterans back on the boats and on the team they will be breathing a sigh of relief and happy at the prospect of out continued success. There is no doubt in my mind that Adventure Antigua has the best tours in Antigua and although there will be changes to the management and structure of the organization, we won't change the way we treat our guests or the way we operate our tours. Coming out with us should be like coming to visit old friends on their island.... a place with hidden secrets that they are eager to show you.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

big changes with Adventure Antigua

We are in the slowest part of the season and it's time to take stock and see where we are. Adventure Antigua has had some difficulties and challenges over the past 12 months and we are making some changes over the next 60 days. This coming season will see a rejuvinated Adventure Antigua with new direction, stronger leadership, more experienced crew and newer products.
The first stages of our plan are underway and I will fill you in on some news over the next few days. I'm excited.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Shocking photos and story from St. Johns, Antigua

My company Adventure Antigua operates tours by powerboat around Antigua and often has to collect guests from Redcliffe Quay in St. Johns. Every single time we go in there we pass garbage floating inside the harbour. Commercial harbours around the world are usually nasty and it's fairly normal for some garbage to bypass storm drains and end up in the water. Water running along the gutters and drains has to end up in the harbour, but there should be some sort of grate filtering garbage. In Antigua this doesn't seem to be a priority. These images were taken after an hour of rain in St. Johns back in January of 2007. Both the Antigua Sun and the Daily Observer papers used my images and mentioned the garbage. One of the call in shows spoke about it and generally people were shocked to see all the trash floating around in the harbour. A small fraction is stopped by the coastline around Deep Water Harbour, but most of it goes into the sea. I can't imagine what the east coast of Nevis and St. Kitts look like. They should write to our government on this issue! Dumping garbage into the sea is against International Law and the government of Antigua and Barbuda know that this is happening. It wouldn't take much to put small catchment mechanisms on the gutters preventing the trash from getting into the harbour, and why it's not done is beyond me. Check the photos taken from my boat:

Anyway, this past Saturday September 19th was International Coastal Cleanup Day and we went out to see if we could get rid of some of the trash in the hopes that we could stop it from getting back into the sea. There are a huge variety of living organisms that are harmed by this garbage. The most common way they are killed is by getting tangled in it, but they also are killed when they mistake the plastics for food. Human beings are being harmed as well and more and more of the chemicals in breaking down marine plastics are finding their way into our bodies. In some areas in the ocean up to 50% of the stomach contents of fish have been found to contain plastics. This article on marine plastics breaking down was published today on BBC.

Anyway, on Saturday a group of 18 of us took one of my company's boats out to two tiny beaches near Yeptons and Coconut Beach Hotel. A few years ago i had seen one of the life boats from a cruise ship collecting garbage from there. I guess they were embarrassed to have their guests see this trash on their first Antiguan beach as they entered the country. This is probably yet another thing the wealthy Cruise Association should look at. I guess the huge staff at the Ministry of Tourism could come up with some action too. As we arrived, the rain was coming down sideways and the weather wasn't great. Unfortunately we ran out of garbage bags very quickly. We had taken 150 of them. The trash not only is on the shore but has been washed and blown up the hillsides. It's embedded in the ground there too. What a mess. Although the beaches looked so much better after we attacked them we could see more garbage flowing out of the harbour as we worked. It's won't stop until the gutters and drains are fixed properly (and not just with yellow and blue paint). Check the images we took from Saturday:

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sailing course offered in Jolly Harbour

The Jolly Harbour Yacht Club is offering two types of sailing courses at the moment. One on Saturdays is for kids and is totally full at the moment. The other is for any age group and still has space. IT starts this Sunday and is EC $300 for members and $450 for non members. It goes from 9 am until 12 and lasts six weeks. Learn the basics and then sail on their little "boats". In no time you will be sailing by yourself on a "laser". For more info speak with Pippa Tel: 722 8468
Although Jason has sailed up and down the Caribbean with me and does all the charters with me too, I am going to send him so that he can be trained properly from the basics.
If you would like to get involved in a new sport in Antigua give them a call.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Free boat trip this saturday

As long as you don't mind helping pick up some garbage for a few hours you can have a free boat cruise and even some snorkeling. This saturday is the International Coastal Cleanup day all over the world and Adventure Antigua has been taking part for three years now. If you want to come please contact nell on 726 6355 or email her on info @

Sunday, September 13, 2009

amazing weather = plenty of boating

The weather this past week has been totally amazing for power boating with clear sunny skies and very calm seas. I always love September for the calm days and think we have more light wind days during this month than any other. Today is another sunny and glass calm one and we've decided to take some family and friends to Barbuda for the day. Will try to take some photos!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Adventure Antigua team takes themselves out on a tour.

Back in the early days of Adventure Antigua I would often take the entire crew (back then it wasn't that big) on regular outings when we didn't have tours. If we weren't fishing we were taking friends out on with some lunch and drinks.
J-DOG hooked up

Our favorite "company outings" were the ones where we went to St. Martin. Nearly 100 miles down and 100 back and non stop laughing and enjoyment the entire time.
whale watch

I have many fond memories of us doing a tour on a Friday, dropping off our guests at the cruise ship or hotel and hustling back to clear customs, grab some things and leave into the sunset with the St. Martin "goto" set on our GPS.
It's one those sessions that we would dip into our own special rum punch and take the time to enjoy the ocean even more.
nige, trev, tone, shamel, martin
Wow. We consumed too much rum on some of those trips!
drunk again
BUT I think we will have to do one of those st martin trips again soon.
Anyway, we haven't done a proper crew outing for some time and all our group "meetings" have either been on the dock or over at Foredeck Bar in Jolly Harbour on a Friday for their happy hour. Of course September is probably the slowest month of the year for us so we do have quite a bit of free time on our hands. I knew there were no tours scheduled for Monday so I sent a text to the crew and Nell telling them that they all had to meet by my house at 9 because we were going sailing. I also told them this wasn't optional just to make sure they all would be there.
First to show up at 8:45 am was Leslie. Then JD and Tony shortly afterwards. Then Chris, Alex and Jason pulled in just before Nell at 9 am. Mom was the only part of the Adventure Antigua team that wasn't on this trip and i will organize another one with her soon. She was running the office and couldn't make it. Anyway, for me it started well because usually if the guys know that we don't have tourists to pick up on time they can be a bit late. This time everyone was there on time and I was very happy not to have to wait. We jumped right on to Ocean Nomad (the only sailing vessel in our small fleet), and let go dock lines. We were off! "Fenders in!" was the call by the three captains on board almost all at the same time. The laughing had already started. Within no time we were sailing towards Johnsons Point and up the south coast passing Curtain Bluff and Carlisle Bay on route to Falmouth Harbour. Our destination was Bumpkins Beach Bar on Pigeon Beach where Nell had placed a lunch order. The winds were better than i had expected probably blowing between 12 and 16 knots right on the nose.
Two of the crew had never been sailing in their lives before so it was especially enjoyable for us all. Tony and JD are doing a structured sailing course next week so it was good to have them helping out in all the tacks we did up the coast.
Lunch was pretty good and we decided to go up to The Yacht Club Marina for ice cream. Of course as we arrived back on the boat each of the boys had to show that they had the best flips and dives. There were quite a few flops which usually ended in wild laughter.
Leslie's flip attempts were definitely the best of them, but i can't embarrass him by showing them here.
We actually played there for nearly an hour forgetting about the ice cream for a quite a while. The anchor came up and we headed over to Seabreeze in search of some sweets. Unfortunately it was closed, so we set the sails and head out of the harbour. The cruise back was very relaxing even with five or six gybes.
For a fairly inexperienced crew made up mostly of power boaters they did very well.
I think each one of us enjoyed the day and it was probably one of the best team outings we have ever done. Simple but fun.

Monday, September 07, 2009

The entire Adventure Antigua Crew goes sailing

September is a terribly slow month and there are many days when nothing at all is going. Today we are going sailing to try and have some fun and also to try to help JD and Tony learn a bit more about sailing.
Both of them are doing a sailing course later this month and could do with a bit of experience. I think the plan will be to sail up the coast towards Sandals and Dickenson Day, have some lunch and sail back.

Will post some photos tomorrow. All of the photos on this blog entry were done by and were purchased by one of our racing crew, Harry Ingram.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

"storms" to sailing

Well Tropical Storm Erika was a big disappointment to many of the storm junkies that i know. I have to admit that i had hope for some good waves to go surfing with or at least some good winds to go windsurfing with. About three times a year i get to go windsurfing in extreme conditions and I was thinking that Erika would be one of them. Instead she fizzled to a weak storm and then depression and then wave as she meandered past us like a has been rock star.
The surfing was so so a few days before and the windsurfing amounted to loading up gear into my truck and waiting for the winds that never came. Some areas of the island got quite a bit of rains but even that disappointed me. We had mostly drizzle which did last most of the day on Thursday. Wednesday night we had some strong wind gusts in the squalls but that was when i was trying to sleep so it wasn't as exciting as we had anticipated. Of course we are all very happy that it wasn't a hurricane and that nobody was hurt and nothing got damaged, but a little action is all we were asking for. That's the thing about hurricane season and storms that most people from abroad don't understand. Just because it's hurricane season and just because we have a storm bearing down on top of us doesn't mean we will experience tropical storm or hurricane conditions. In fifty years we have been directly hit by 6 hurricanes and taking a holiday here in the summer isn't a bad idea if you need some chill time in a nice place. Speaking of chill time, I am going sailing today on our sloop with the Jolly Harbour Youth Sailing team. I don't think I will be getting any chill time today. In fact, this may be more extreme than Tropical Storm Erika. Yeeeee haaaa

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Tropical Storm Erika - a troubled woman

From my post on yesterday:

Well after some chores i loaded up my windsurfing gear and expected some
action on the north shore. Not only didn't we get enough winds but I got
sunburned while i waited for something to happen. I don't think we had
more than 18 knots for the whole day and still Erika which is supposed
to be just to our SSW isn't saying much. What a lovely sunset and moon
rise though with a wild array of colours almost looking like the colour
IR sat map that shows the disorganised storm teasing us. To see a bright
moon inside some brighter pink high cloud was quite something 20 minutes
ago. I'm not sure we will get any more shows of light later on. The radar shows DA about to get some and some patchy rains scattered east and south east of us, but this troubled girl looks like she's about to call it a day. I doubt Erika will be a storm
for much longer. I would hope we get at least one thunderstorm out of her....but with her it's anyone's guess.

Last night the lightning was quite a show in the east. Since then we finally
got some rain in Jolly about 3 am and it's been raingin on and off since
then. A
few strong wind gusts in the squalls but mostly light. The center of
the very
weak tropical storm is just off our south west shore and according
to the radar
seen here which shows actual rainfall, there is plenty more
rain to come.

To me it looks like the eye of the storm is pretty much over Antigua right now, but the storm is so weak that it doesn't count for much apart from plenty of rain. It's a day for TV, the computer, tea and relaxin'. I think some areas may see some flooding today if it gets heavy which is very possible. I also think that some of the squalls could give us some stronger gusts up to 30 mph but so far it's calm.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Tropical Storm Warning for Antigua. I'm going windsurfing!





Tuesday, September 01, 2009

weather, boat building and sailing all in one.

Today is the start of "fall" as people in North America call it and also the start of the peak month for hurricane season. We have a low pressure system just east of us that seems to be having a very hard time figuring out what the heck it's doing. The weather channel people in the USA can't figure out what to say about it and neither can the National Hurricane Center in Miami. It could strengthen into a depression at any time and into a tropical storm and then even into a hurricane as it passes safely to the north of us. They say the opposite is true and that it could weaken as it moves into some dry air just north of us. Either way, we are going to be checking it very carefully over the next 8 hours and into tomorrow.

My power boat building project is on the go slow at the moment, but i do have a few photos of the paper model that i built. I'm not sure if you can see the measurements and the angles on each piece. Anyway, you get the idea of what the boat will look like. The wooden one is gonna be built later this week.

When it's done it will look like this one we saw in Bequia:

Lastly i thought i would leave you with a video of us sailing some time ago just to remind you what the sloop looks like on a day out.