Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
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
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
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
Although Jason has sailed up and down the Caribbean with me and does all the http://www.sailing-antigua.com/ 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
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
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.
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.
Wow. We consumed too much rum on some of those trips!
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
Will post some photos tomorrow. All of the photos on this blog entry were done by www.photoaction.com and were purchased by one of our racing crew, Harry Ingram.
Saturday, September 05, 2009
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
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
few strong wind gusts in the squalls but mostly light. The center of
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
AT 1100 AM AST...1500 UTC...THE CENTER OF TROPICAL STORM ERIKA WAS
ESTIMATED TO BE NEAR LATITUDE 16.5 NORTH...LONGITUDE 60.4 WEST OR
100 MILES...165 KM...EAST-SOUTHEAST OF THE LEEWARD ISLANDS.
MOVING TOWARD THE WEST NEAR 10 MPH...17 KM/HR. A WEST-
IS EXPECTED TO BEGIN LATER TODAY. ON THE
FORECAST TRACK...ERIKA WILL BE
MOVING THROUGH THE LEEWARD ISLANDS
TONIGHT AND TOMORROW.
SUSTAINED WINDS HAVE DECREASED TO NEAR 40 MPH...
65 KM/HR...WITH HIGHER
GUSTS. LITTLE CHANGE IN STRENGTH IS FORECAST
TODAY WITH SOME SLIGHT
RESTRENGTHENING POSSIBLE TOMORROW.
TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND
OUTWARD UP TO 105 MILES...165 KM
MAINLY TO THE EAST OF THE CENTER.