Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year from the Adventure Antigua team

to the last drop


On behalf of Mykl, Jill, Nell, Rebecca, Julia, Harriette and Co., JD, Shamel, Lindon, Trevor, Chris, Nicola, Jason, Itano, Serge, Natalie, Titou, and Leslie, I would like to thank those of you who helped our 2010 year be such a very good one. We had some very big challenges and some big changes and with them behind us, we have finished the year far stronger than we started. With this in mind we are eagerly looking forward to the new year and hope that we will get a chance to take you out on the water very soon. Thanks again and happy new year to you all!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

big ground swells this week in Antigua (forecasting)

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There is a new publication in Antigua at the moment called Enjoy which generally has the goal to make sure visitors to Antigua and Barbuda know what's happening during their stay. Anyway, it comes out every two weeks and is put together by The Observer Group of Companies with help from http://www.antiguanice.com/.
I have a regular column in Enjoy and hope that I can interest you to go check it out. Anyway, my last piece was about ground swell and since today Antigua and Barbuda will be getting some huge ground swell, I figure it would be good to "reprint" it here.
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Many people are often surprised by the size of the waves or “swells” that can roll into the leeward or Caribbean side of Antigua during the winter months. How can these big waves turn up without warning, coming in from what is clearly the opposite direction of the prevailing winds? These waves are properly called Ground Swells and usually are generated by strong storms up to two thousand miles away in the North Atlantic. In the winter months extremely powerful cold fronts sweep across North American and often turn into low pressure systems or “Nor-Easters” as they roll into the Atlantic Ocean. If you have ever seen the film The Perfect Storm then you know all about how powerful they can be. These large Atlantic storms are the generators of the ground swell and can send waves all the way to the South American coast. Typically we see these swells once a month from November until May with varying frequency and size. All surfers eagerly check sites like http://www.windguru.com/ and know exactly when the swells will arrive in Antigua. Unfortunately the only people who really like ground swell are the surfers as beaches and reefs can take a beating when the swells are really big. Historically many fishermen and mariners have lost boats and even crew by being caught in vulnerable bays or coves when swells have turned up without warning. These days accurate swell forecasting on the internet is so advanced that most yacht skippers and owners manage to move their boats from unprotected bays before the swells roll in. What’s so great about Antigua is that with our famous 365 beaches, off shore islands and barrier reefs, there are always many areas that remain calm even during the biggest ground swells. In fact, it’s beaches on the Atlantic side of Antigua that are usually nicest when the swells are rolling. When the waves are too big at your resort or favourite beach, jump in a car and go explore the south or east side of Antigua. Ground swells usually come in from the North East to the North West and typically only last a few days. They don’t have to keep you off the beach but be careful as they always pack more power than one would expect. If you would like to learn more about how to understand the modern forecasting tools like windguru.com please visit http://antiguaisland.blogspot.com/2008/07/understanding-windguru-and-weather-in.html

Monday, December 27, 2010

a surf story

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As i pulled up to the beach there was what seemed to be a dense fog sitting over the shore. Without a breath of wind, the crashing shore break was sending a fine salty mist into the air giving a strange atmosphere to the pre surfing sunrise.
Within no time we were paddling out to the break in between schools of tiny translucent bait fish some instinctively jumping out of the way. Less than a mile away we could see that the huge barrels coming off the point were already being ridden by the eager dawn patrol. It was to be expected when conditions like these all came together. Our choice of waves this morning was probably not as good as the one up the coast but we were alone and could take our pick of the best this morning had to offer.
So many times when I am out on the water windsurfing, kitesurfing, surfing, sailing, snorkeling, boating or any of the other things that I've been lucky enough to take part in, I see images that people would have a hard time believing as real. If I had a camera in my hand at times like this people would judge the image to have been photoshopped. I mean, if I have a hard time believing what I am seeing, you can imagine how someone else sitting behind a computer screen would feel.
Sitting on my board waiting for the next set to roll in there were so many beautiful things to take in. A small wave crashed past me minutes before, leaving tiny little droplets of water floating on the glassy surface. Without any wind at all to move them they floated until the next pink swell rolled through.
Pink swell? Yes, pink lit up from the cloud sitting just over us to the west.
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Just then two pelicans appeared flying low from around the point "surfing" inches above a small silky wave. This was another of those images people wouldn't believe. Pelicans gliding effortlessly above the critical section of a breaking wave along the entire bay isn't something you see every day i guess, but it wasn't the first time I had seen these guys do it either. I sat there thinking about the dolphins i had seen surfing waves before. They did it for hours surfing in on the waves and swimming quickly back out to wait for another set.
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That's what I was doing today too.
A rainbow now appeared just in front of us as a tiny drizzle was released from the pink cloud. As we watched a second one formed just inside of it creating a double rainbow. Off to the right as I looked out at the surfers up the coast I saw a young hawksbill turtle chilling out on the surface, sticking its head out now and then to take a breath of air. Suddenly a nice wave came in and I took off paddling, gaining speed enough to glide down left on the face. The water was so glassy with the absence of wind that it felt like I was flying just like the pelicans I had just seen. Wow, it felt good. All of the images are still fresh in my mind as I glide down the wave thinking about how very lucky I am to be alive and well.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays from the Adventure Antigua Team

So many people around the world tomorrow will be enjoying a special meal with friends and family. It's our sincere hope that you all enjoy the holiday if you are lucky enough to have one tomorrow.
Here is a tiny Antigua, Caribbean gift to you all. It's just an image to look at and hopefully to make you feel warmer if you are in the middle of a cold winter.
This photo below can be clicked on to get the larger size if you think you would like to use it for your desktop's background.

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

A new Antiguan book hits the shelves and it's something very unique

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There are still a few people out there who wait until the last minute before they buy their Christmas gifts and if you are one of them in Antigua, then you may want to consider THE HISTORY OF SALVAGE IN ANITGUA written by my uncle, Dr. Nickolas Fuller.
The large "coffee table" book is a collection of stories and accounts taken from a long career of yacht salvage here in Antigua and Barbuda. Nick of course is a medical doctor but has spent considerable time saving yachts and their crews from being destroyed out on the reefs around Antigua. After filling boxes and boxes of reports and photos he decided that he had to tell the tales to a larger audience in order to save the accounts forever in print.
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Read actual captain's reports and explanations supported by photos of how the boats were saved. In many cases the vessels were not so lucky as you can see in the photo above of one of the many ship wrecks that have littered Sandy Island since the very early days of colonial history to this day. This very interesting publication gives the reader an idea about how easily a skipper can get themselves into trouble and how important it is to have a good salvage company on standby. Everyone considering buying a boat and navigating around the Caribbean should read this to make sure these mistakes don't happen on their watch. Have a read and tell me what you think. You can get a copy at Best of Books, Lord Jim's Locker in Nelson's Dockyard, Catamaran Marina, The woods Pharmacy and North Coast Hardware.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A new direct flight to Antigua from New York

While North America from Key West in the South East to Alaska in the North West and everywhere in between shivers with extremely low temperatures this week, some people are managing to escape to Antigua's regular warm temperatures via Caribbean Airlines' new jet service direct from New York. What we knew as kids to be called BWIA is now called Caribbean Airlines and thankfully this week they started flying back into Antigua directly from New York City's JFK airport.
It's now so easy to get here once again. All you have to do is imagine that within just a few hours you could say goodbye to the cold and be sitting on a beach sipping a traditional rum punch watching one of my boats go past as seen here in this Roddy Grimes-Graeme photo.

I know it's never that easy, but I am quite sure that for some people this new flight will be very exciting indeed. For more on the service and a bit of back slapping you can click here.
Please tell people about this new direct flight as we want to make sure that it stays here for good this time.
I remember when I was a kid we seemed to have more direct flights from the US that we do now. Glad to see there is a move in the right direction.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Photography?

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As some of you know, one of my hobbies is photography and quite often it ends up being work too. Almost all of the photos shown on this blog since I started it in 2006 have been taken by me but I also have to shoot images for my brochures and website too. Ever since I first took up photography in university, i have been using photography to help my writing, and since then I have had images published with bits and pieces that i have written in many different magazines and other publications. Recently I wrote a big article for Liat Airline's Zing Magazine. Included in the feature were a bunch of images and I was very happy with the way it turned out. If you like Antigua you should try and get a copy as the article is about what makes our country unique from my point of view. Unfortunately Zing's website only has the words. Click here for that.
Although, I do plenty of photography work, I don't particularly like doing photo jobs or any sort of commissions other than travel related stuff. I was asked several times to shoot weddings. Check out the slide show of some of my wedding images here:

Although I have shot several of them, I don't like the pressure that goes along with shooting them and don't take any wedding jobs at all anymore. When anyone tells me that they need a photographer I point them to Roddy Grimes Graeme who i think is one of Antigua's best photographers. Click here for his site and some of his images. He shoots stills under his name and then does video with his company Acquafilms. Acquafilms mostly does yachting video but does all sorts of other video as well including weddings. I can't find their wedding site at the moment but hopefully will link to it another time.

Anyway, yesterday Roddy asked me to help him out by shooting an event at the Yacht Show that's taking place here at the moment. (I shot the photo above in low light from Xtreme on Sunday evening.) He became double booked because of the recent flight cancellations out of London. A wedding was moved to today and clashed with this yachting event. I said I would do it and have gotten my Canon 5D out and charged all the batteries. Wish me luck.
If you have time and want to have a look at more of my images you can look through some of my sets on flickr by clicking here. (remember Roddy shoots better shots if you are looking for a pro!)

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Catherines Cafe for lunch



This time last year we went on a private tour to Catherines Cafe and it was such a lovely day out. Today we are doing the same thing again and I'm excited.
Catherines is located inside Nelson's Dockyard which means that we will get a great little tour of the Harbour. I mentioned in a recent blog post that the Boat Show starts this week so we will be checking out some of the world's most magnificent yachts today too.

Anyway, Xtreme passes Catherines every day when doing the Round the Island (circumnavigation) trip and it's nice to actually stop off. That's the beauty of private charters. They are costly but can be very much worth it.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Plenty of room this weekend! Adventure Antigua Eco Snorkeling Island Tour by boat

We are doing tours both Saturday and Sunday this weekend and have space for you and yours. I am 100% sure that even if you have lived in Antigua for 20 years you will see, hear and generally experience something new on our tours. Here is a vid of our eco tour which we have on both days this weekend. Xtreme is only available on the saturday. Gimmie a call on +1 268 726 6355 or email us on info@adventureantigua.com once you have been to www.adventureantigua.com to have a look.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Adventure Antigua best beach stop

Was just looking for some photos of Rendezvous Bay to show to someone and found this old video. I know it's miserably cold up in the UK at the moment and hope that someone up there will be warmed a bit after seeing this one. Best viewed with the mute button clicked! lol
As some of you know this is the last stop on our action packed Xtreme tour. No other tour in Antigua makes as many wonderful stops in a single day which is why we need a fast boat for this one.



www.adventureantigua.com

Monday, November 29, 2010

In Antigua we have many seasons.

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I love it when some people out on the boat say to me "living in Antigua must be great but sunny days every day would get boring, and I would miss our seasons." It gives me a chance to talk about some of our seasons. I think I blogged about them one time before. Let me do a quick search....
Oh here is it: Click here The post there from 2006 pretty much covered what i wanted to speak about today, but there is way more i could have written.
Of course many people here wait all summer long for "tourist season" to roll in sometime around mid November which is about the same time as "Cruise ship season" starts up.
All of the surfers wait for "ground swell season" which is when winter storms roll off the east coast of the USA and send waves all the way down to the Caribbean.
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Nobody wants surf more than my good friend Roddy from Aqua Films seen above.
The biggest noticeable change in Antigua probably happens in English Harbour when the "Yachting season" starts. Antigua, St. Martin, and St. Barts are the three top places in the world for Mega or Super Yachts during the winter months. They start coming in to port to get ready for the charter season in mid November and this year looks like it will be a very busy year. It makes the south side of the island come alive with clubs, bars, restaurants and many other ancillary businesses. The Charter Yacht Show is the biggest of it's kind in the Caribbean and is only a few weeks away. Here is an article I just found on google news.
Here is an image I took a few years ago in the middle of the season:
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and another here:

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In fact I used the above photo in another blog about the show here from a 2007 blog.
Anyway, you get the idea. This island may be small but there is plenty to look foreword to with as many seasons as you can imaging. Whale season is another cool one I anticipate each year.
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I can't wait for Mango season which is probably one of my wife's favorites, but I guess we will have to wait a few good months for that!
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My blog is actually filled with photos and stories about all of these seasons and more. Pick a year and month over on the right side and have a look through for more interesting bits of info about Antigua and Barbuda. Enjoy!

Friday, November 26, 2010

am looking for writers who'd like to see some of their stuff published here.

As many of you "regulars" have noticed, my postings recently have been not as regular as they normally have been over the past few years. My wife and I just celebrated our one year anniversary with a little holiday (without computers) and the blog sat here stagnant. Not too cool for some who tell me that this little simple blog is their life line to sunshine in Antigua while sitting at home or in the office on cold days up north.
Anyway, I'd like to have guest writers from time to time here to help keep the oldest and best Antigua blog running. If you are interested and have a very good idea about what it is that this blog usually writes about then send me a message eliantigua @ gmail .com (without the spaces). You will need to write about things to do with the sun sea and sand around Antigua and include photos and or video as well.
It's an unpaid job, but a chance to practice your writing and to have people hear about your writing. OF course it also will make some people happy this winter.
Speaking of which, I took this photo while at a Best Cellars wine tasting up at Carmichael's on Sugar Ridge. It is an untouched photo that i took with my HTC phone.
We have taken many happy guests from that resort our on our boats as it's just next door to Jolly Harbour and they usually want to enjoy the best Antigua has to offer.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Burning Antiguan tax dollars and boasting about it.

First blogged about Thursday, September 23, 2010, this topic didn't seem to create as much interest as the blog I did about the oil spill. I guess people are tired of hearing about how our tax dollars are being wasted away at a time when we have so few to give the government. Last week I heard one of our country's main ambassadors boasting about this plant and shook my head.
When the government of any country burns money through total mismanagement, corruption, incompetence or from any of the variety of other ways that we have seen here in my adult life many of us sit back and accept it as being business as usual. What is now driving many to the breaking point or to a point where they actually may do something about this notion of "business as usual" is when the government on the verge of bankruptcy calls in the IMF for help. Why would this upset people? Well the IMF helps just like Shakespeare's "Shylock" helps and the pound of flesh that Shylock and the IMF wants will be taken at any cost. No country can run without its people being taxed, but I for one don't want my government spending huge amounts of my tax dollars on terribly planned and mismanaged projects like this one. I will let the reader decide who is to blame for this mess.
The reason I am re-blogging about this water disaster is because one of my guests gave me some photos taken recently showing the further demise of our tax dollars. See the photos here and read the blog below if you can bear it.

There are other aspects to these photos which tell other tales, but I think I better stick to the desalination mess.

Historically, Antigua was one of the last islands to be colonized simply because of the never ending water shortage the island has been faced with. With very little rainfall comparatively and without large enough mountains for streams and rivers, Antigua has always been a dry island. Early European colonists knew living here would be tough and it wasn't until England realized the strategic importance of Antigua's coastline that the island became attractive. From the first colonial structures to the most modern buildings today, water catchment has always been important. As mentioned in one of my earlier blogs about the oil disaster here, Antigua finally tried to fix the water problem with a massive desalination plant sometime in the 1980s. This was a huge step in the right direction and for most of my adult life water shortages were a thing of the past.
Sadly for one reason or another, the main desalination plant has not been able to keep up with demand. Depending on who you speak with, the reasons for this failure can be blamed on one political party or another. Anyway, that isn't the purpose of this blog. This blog is about an attempt to start up another smaller desalination plant at one of Antigua's favorite beaches which ultimately has been an unbelievable "cock-up".
Before I explain what is going on at Ffryes beach I should first explain what has happened there over the past few years:
Without proper permission, or any study from the Environment Division a massive dredging and sand mining project was undertaken a few years ago which took hundreds of truck loads of sand from the swamp behind the beach. Even after the swamp was dug up right up to the high water mark on the CocoBay Beach, more sand mining continued between the swamp and Ffryes Beach as seen in this photo where the holes were filled with dirt after the sand was excavated:
This unfortunate area already had already seen heavy mining in the hillside behind the hotel and swamp. I don't know what was done with all of the sand that was mined from this area but I am sure that someone became very wealthy out of this environmental disaster. Needless to say that this area has had major industrial work done over the past few years. These photos were taken in October 2008 and show you the effect the sand mining has had on the beach which in a high tide merges with the swamp. Notice the mined hillside in the back too:


This was all quite odd when you think about it from a tourism perspective and also from a nationalist perspective. I say that because Ffryes Beach had always been thought of in my mind as "The People's Beach", a undeveloped beach where people had always visited especially on public holidays.
Also going on was the construction of several small tourism developments. Dennis Beach Bar at one end, the very controversial Tamarind Hills development (which i will leave for another day) on the other and several other developments nearby too. I guess that's another story which leads me astray from the topic at hand. Desalination!
After all of this had gone down, the government's Water Department decided that they would start a desalination plant on the beach.
According to the water manager, they had first thought that a better site would be next to the Urlings Fisheries facility where the waters are clearer and an industrial facility already existed. Fisheries said "No Way", so Ffryes was the next alternative according to the manager.
Instead of doing an extensive study to see if the area would be a feasible site for desalination, construction began at the same time that studies and test wells were being drilled. Well after well was drilled without and success. Hydrogen Sulphide was found in most of the wells and there was never a fast enough flow of water into the well from the surrounding material which was mostly made up of clay. Clay isn't permeable enough to permit the smooth flow of filtered brackish water. In addition to the clay, the little sand that was found in the wells was also too fine for water to flow quickly.
In desperation the drilling machine was even positioned right on the beach just to prove that the wells were not going to work in the area. That last and final well couldn't get sufficient water either and the machine was finally taken away. The building seen in the video below which is where the main desalination process takes place as well as housing the water distribution mechanism. This was all already completed by this time the last well failed to produce enough water.



Well what good is a water facility without water? None, so the only choice was to go directly into the sea. Why wasn't this done to start with? After all the facility is a desalination plant right?
Well Reverse Osmosis plants (more here) produce what we call fresh water from what we generally call salt water. This is accomplished by using a series of very specific filtration processes. Ideally wells are used because water that "wells up" inside a well has been filtered by the earth surrounding the well. A coastline well gives you fairly clean filtered salt water which ideally needs considerably less filtration than water that is taken directly from the sea.
With that in mind, water taken from the sea in an area where the water is clear and sediment free will require less filtration and maintenance than water that is taken from a murky coastline.
Here we come to another huge problem with Ffreys Beach. Whenever there is ground swell usually during the cold front season between November until May, the coastline along the coast where Ffryes is located is terribly murky. The seabed is a very fine sandy bottom that remains shallow for miles. I am not an engineer, but after spending most of my life on the water in and around Antigua, I am afraid that this will cause big problems for the Water Department's RO plant. The filtration process will never be able to effectively cope with the heavy sedimentation which is normal in the area.
During the summer the waters are usually very clear there unless there is a storm out to sea. Today Hurricane Igor is now history but large North swells are still making the waters along that coastline very murky. This video shows the pipe going into the water this past weekend when Igor's swells were being felt along the shore.

The swells were pushing around the pipe and rocks were brought in from the Tamarind Hills mine to hold the pipe down. I believe the Environment Division got involved to stop this thankfully.
I am told by the government's water manager that a huge array of studies including many done by scuba professionals has been done and that all environmental costs will be lower at this facility than those associated with pumping water to this side of the island all the way from the Crabbs water facility. That being said, he told me that his first choice would have been the Urlings area if the Fisheries Department hadn't killed that plan. The eye sore and potential environmental problem that the pipe is will be dealt with according to the manager. He says that foreign contractors will bury the pipe and it won't be visible. This is very good news because as you can see it surely doesn't fit on the beach.
It always amazes me how terribly our different government departments do at working together and planning together. I don't think the ministry of tourism is involved with this project in any way. If they are I am very surprised indeed. Of course, this project would have considerably lower costs of all types if a more appropriate place was chosen for it. I understand why Fisheries would have been concerned with a desalination plant at their facility but there can be no doubt that it would have been a better choice considering the year round water clarity there and the history of desalination in another sensitive ecological area in the North Sound. A carefully managed system at Urlings would have been far better. I guess all we can do is wait and see how this thing works out. For more on reverse osmosis desalination check this animated video:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

“The perfect tour of a Caribbean gem”

Hi there, after yesterdays blog i figured I better put something more cheerful up and this one I found on  tripadvisor was the perfect thing!
If you want to write about your trip out on one of the http://www.adventureantigua.com/ tours please have a look at how you can get it posted by clicking this link.
“The perfect tour of a Caribbean gem”


Adventure Antigua

sgbie, Bartlett, Illinois

Nov 1, 2010 Just got back from Caribbean cruise. Read many glowing reports of the Ad. Antigua Eco-tour, so we skipped the cruise line excursions and booked the Eco tour last Friday Oct. 29th. So glad we did!! We were picked up right on the dock by the cruise ship right at the time promised and then headed over to the Sandals resort where 4 more people joined the tour. There were 24 of us from two cruises and two resorts. Chris, Nicola, and Shamar (spelling?) described local landmarks as we cruised along. At our first stop, we were served our choice(s) of passion fruit or tamarind juice or water as we anchored and viewed the exclusive (and deserted) resort of Jumby Bay. Chris pointed out the starfish swimming below, then dived in and brought one up to the surface so we could all get a good look and pictures before he released it back into the ocean.

We then pulled in close and toured the mangrove swamps and later sailed to Bird Island and anchored there close to the beach. We hiked to the top of the Island (a quick 5 min. hike) with great views of the island, ocean and Antigua island. Then it was back down for some swim time and snorkeling lessons for those of us who had never snorkelled before. The crew supplied the equipment and a quick lesson. The water was only 3-4 feet deep there so it was a good place to learn or just cool off. Back on the boat, lunch was served and it was delicious as other reviews have stated: yummy pasta salad, tossed green salad, fabulous, finger-licked BBQ chicken, plantains (I'm now a fan!) and incredible banana bread.

After lunch we sailed around to the Atlantic side of the island (lots of fun wave action) and anchored off the "calm" side of Hell's Gate--a number of options then: stay on the boat; swim over to the "Jacquzzi;" climb up thru the tunnel over the top and down into the rushing water. Definitely bring waterproof shoes if you decide to do the climb--the formation is weathered limestone with many many sharp points--several of us brought home souvenir scrapes and cuts but the experience was worth it!!! And my husband brought home the t-shirt to brag about us old folks (60) making it to Hell's Gate and thru the tunnel!

Next we sailed back to Bird Island where the boat was anchored out over the reefs for snorkeling. Water was about 10-15 feet deep. The crew supplied bouyancy belts for those of us who wanted some support as well as flippers and the snorkel masks. Chris took the experienced snorkelers out while Nicola toured us beginners over the reefs closer to the boat. I was thrilled to see all the different and beautiful fish and coral--it was unbelievable to me that I was having this experience. We had lots of time but it ended too soon. The rum punch that was then served up as we headed back helped to ease the disappointment of having to return.

Just as promised we got back to the harbor by 4:00, plenty of time to board both the 2 cruise ships. It was a perfect day--can't recommend this trip strongly enough!! If I'm ever fortunate enough to return to Antigua, I'd do this trip again!!!



This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.


The photo above came from our facebook page. THANKS!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Crazy Customs Fines will have a negative effect on the yachting sector.

In recent weeks some of the yachts clearing into the port of Jolly Harbour have received huge fines due to technicalities which in normal circumstances would have been overlooked by rational thinking customs agents. I'm sure there are more but I only know of the ones I will mention here.
I guess I should first explain the law that is being used to give the fines. It has to do with coming off the yacht before "clearing in". The ancient customs law states that all crew and passengers must remain "in the vicinity" of the vessel until the Master (captain) has cleared the vessel into the country. It goes on to say that if the crew or passengers need food or drink that the master can leave the vessel to obtain these things and return to the boat. It says that in times of "stress" and or for health reasons others may be permitted to leave the vessel. In all other circumstances the Master, Crew and Passengers must remain "in the vicinity of the vessel".

Anyway, recently a locally registered Luxury yacht was entering the country after leaving on a private charter from St. Martin and arrived at the customs dock in Jolly after the three agencies had left for the day. Immigration, Customs and The Port Authority usually close in Jolly Harbour at 6 pm but sometime this summer they had shortened the hours until 4:30 pm. By the way, there is another law that says that a vessel must not come to dock up after 6pm. Once on the dock the lady chartering the vessel went for a walk.
In the morning customs arrived and told the skipper that she had learned that the passenger had left the customs dock and that this was an offence which meant that the vessel would not be cleared in until the Comptroller of Customs had dealt with the situation.
In the end a fine of EC $5000 was levied. The skipper of this Antiguan registered vessel could have chosen to fight the fine in the courts but knew that the boat would be out of operation crippling his company until it had been resolved. He paid the fine after loosing nearly a week of trade.
The second situation I know first hand since the boat in question was mine and the Master in question was yours truly. The even happened almost exactly the same as the one just mentioned except we walked 45 feet over to the Al Porto Pizza for dinner after arriving on the customs dock at 5:45 pm on a Wednesday evening. My wife had gone just down from the customs dock to use the bathroom. I figured these things were so insignificant since we were on their dock that I truthfully told the customs lady what we had done. She refused to clear us in until we had seen the main boss in St. Johns. The comptroller was away on a seminar and couldn't see me to hear about my alleged offence until the Monday. We cancelled our charters on Friday, Saturday and Monday. On Monday i met with him in St. Johns thinking this silly matter would be dealt with quickly. WRONG!
He told me to come back the next day when he would question me in front of the customs lady who refused to clear us in to the country. Tuesday morning came and I was sick as a dog and asked if I could come in later that afternoon. He told me to come in at 3pm and I did as I was told. Sadly the customs lady didn't show up so he told me to come back tomorrow morning at 10 am. 
I got there Wednesday morning at 9:45am and saw three customs officers including the young customs lady from Jolly Harbour go into the Comptrollers office. Twenty minutes later I was asked to come in. I just couldn't understand how something so petty could be taking so much of the Comptrollers time. This is the single most important tax man in Anitgua. I was interrogated as if I was a mass murderer for 45 minutes. They told me that I had no right to release my crew from the vessel and that it was an offence. I reminded them that I was in the vicinity of the boat. They said I had no way of proving that Al Porto restaurant next to the customs dock was the only place that my crew and I went to. They read the law with regard to boarding from their tattered old book and carefully explained to me that it was an offence to come to the dock after 6 pm. They explained that the 24 bottles of bio degradable boat soap that I had on board should have been declared as ships stores. They went on to explain that ships stores for local boats are taxable. I got a little frustrated at this point and had to remind them that i arrived and tied up on their dock before 6 pm and that I never was even permitted to fill out a customs form and therefore didn't declare "ships stores". It was the strangest thing I have been through. I know they had better things to be doing and couldn't understand why they were wasting their time and mine over something so simple. They didn't catch me offloading contraband on a secluded beach or find a boat loaded with Heineken beer. Me and my big mouth told them that we had gone for pizza and that my wife had gone to use the toilet at home in Jolly Harbour.
Anyway, after a fourth customs agent came in and started asking the same questions that i had been answering since I had arrived into the country one week earlier, I gave up and said I was leaving. The Comptroller said that they would let me know about fines.
Needless to say, they didn't contact me and I had to go to them once again. This time I found out that I was being fined EC $5000. I spoke to my dad (a lawyer) and another lawyer who both told me that we could file an injunction forcing them to clear my vessel into Antigua and then let them take me to court for the EC $5000. I asked how long this would take and figured that cancelling more charters just wasn't an option for my business's cash flow or more importantly for my businesses reputation. I went back to the comptroller and paid the $5000. After that it was another visit to the nice customs lady in Jolly Harbour to clear my vessel in 8 days after we had arrived into the country.
I have to be honest in saying that this experience made me have a huge variety of unpleasant emotions. I am sure that many people will quickly say that I was wrong and that customs was right, but if you run a business here and see what goes on in this country every day, then i think you understand my frustrations.

Anyway, a few days later on November 1st (independence day for Antigua and Barbuda) a charter boat with Russian charter guests came into the same port. They were told that the customs was closed and proceeded to the marina where they paid for a berth. They were told by someone on the dock that there were activities and a parade in St. Johns, and they decided to go into town. Big mistake! Or at least it was a big mistake to voluntarily tell our same nice customs agent about their trip into town.
This time they were told that it would be a EC $20000 fine and once again were not able to clear in until the Comptroller had interviewed and interrogated them.
The manager of Jolly Harbour Marina joined the Russian captain and pleaded with the officials to be lenient as it was and honest mistake adding that for the sake of tourism and the yachting sector it would be a good idea to use discretion in this case. The manager told me that a customs agent replied to him saying; "you see, that's the problem with people like you, you just want tourists to come here and do as they like."
Anyway, Customs decided to be lenient and gave the same EC $5000 fine that seems to now be the standard if you step off the boat and don't walk directly into the customs office.
As you can see in the photo above, my fine was for leaving the boat without permission. I will make sure that I don't make that mistake twice. If you know of any yachts coming to Antigua and specifically to Jolly Harbour, please warn them to be very careful to adhere to the rules.
I could say so much more on this issue, but I don't think it will be of much help to anyone really.
The IMF employees are changing the way things are done in this country and while I am sure that they will get their pound of flesh, I am not sure the country will be better off after they are gone. This is just one of the many similar stories that are floating around at the moment.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Excellent Reviews for our tours once again.


Today we received two lovely reviews from recents guests that came out on our Eco Tour with captain Shamel, Chris and Nicola. The Eco Tour team does a great job of making that tour something unique in Antigua. This was never designed to be a regular snorkeling tour and as you will read this tour and the crew that do it are in a league of their own.

From: Brenda Edwards [edwardsbj2@!##^%TU^^Y]

Sent: Saturday, November 06, 2010 7:40 PM
To: Adventure Antigua
Subject: Re: Adventure-Antigua
Hi


We had such a wonderful time on the Eli Eco Tour. It was my 78 year old father's first visit to an island. He snorkeled, swam and made it at least 1/2 way through Hells Gate. The tour guides were simply awesome. Helpful, attentive and full of great information. We enjoyed not only learning about the eco system but also being able to participate with it. My dad felt so special. He is wearing his Hell's Gate t-shirt with great pride! I would highly recommend the tour to both Antigua visitors and to cruise passengers as your tour is superior to any tour I've ever taken from the cruise ship tour desk.

Thank you again. I have already submitted a very positive review to Trip Advisor that should be posted within a couple of days. My dad is still talking and telling everyone about his great day in Antigua!


Brenda Edwards
The second one came in from a couple who did both our Eco Tour and our Xtreme Round the Island trip. As you will read, our tours made their holiday here in Antigua that much more special. We are always very happy to get reviews like these. Thanks for sending them in.



From: Terri and Barry [terriandbarry@&$^%$^$^%#R%]
Sent: Sunday, November 07, 2010 3:30 PM
To: Adventure Antigua


Subject: Re: AA-Booking Confirmation Eco/Xtreme Circumnav Nov 2nd & Nov 3rd x2/Davis


Hi Rebecca,


We enjoyed the Eco and Extreme tours. Many thanks to the tour guides. They were excellent and we learned a lot about Antigua. I would like to send a special thank you to Chris for giving us the pepper sauce. We have been enjoying its great flavor with all our meals.
We will certainly be back to the beautiful island of Antigua. She is truly a home away from home.


Sincerely and best regards !


Barry

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Another "best day of my life" review from lovely guests.

TGIF


You know, when one of our guests tells us sometimes with tears in their eyes that the day trip you have just given them was the "best day of my life", you are deeply moved. Of course each tour we do is slightly different and even more so when it is a private tour, and each person coming on the tour may see, hear, smell, feel and generally experience different things. Their backgrounds, history and experiences are all different and although i was totally surprised when for the first time someone told me that the day was the best day in their life, I came to understand after hearing it again and again that it wasn't always the rum punch making them say silly things.
It's what our goal has always been at Adventure Antigua. We want to show you a great day.... the best possible day you could have had in Antigua during your stay.
Of course sometimes it is the rum punch we serve at the end of our tour, but we don't have a doubt that even with rum punch at the end of our trips, the day out with us will be a highlight of someone's vacation and it makes all of the crew members in all parts of our organizations sooo happy when we get a review like this one. THANK YOU PETER, DIANNE AND FAMILY!!

From: Peter@..........com
Sent: Wednesday, November 03, 2010 10:47 AM
To: Adventure Antigua
Subject: Private Charter on 25 October

Hi

Can I just ask you to pass on from all of us our sincere thanks to JD and Trevor for a fantastic day out on the Extreme on 25 October. One of our group described it as the "best day of my life".
JD and Trevor are brilliant hosts and put everyone at their ease and also the booking and admin and payment and communication from the shore based team as well as the catering were exceptional.

We'll be back!

'til next time

Peter and Dianne and family

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

a cool photo slideshow of things related to my work boating in antigua

For quite a few years i was seldom seen without a camera in my hand. Having studied photography as an elective in university, I had some knowledge and enjoyed it. Here is a collection of images mostly shot in Antigua and a few others from the greater Caribbean which all have Adventure Antigua in common. Enjoy:

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hurricane Tomas now in the Caribbean Sea after battering Barbados, St. Vincent and St. Lucia

In fact, before it was even strong enough to be called a hurricane, Tropical Storm Tomas was forecast to pass right between Tobago and Barbados. My mother in law, runs the Kariwak Hotel in Tobago and said everywhere had shut early on Friday expecting the arrival of Tomas. As it happened the storm jumped a bit North and spanked Barbados with up to 70 mph some are saying. While the island hasn't reported any deaths, it did get quite a bit of damage. Here you can see a radar image showing the north side of the eye of the storm passing over Barbados:
After that it strengthened and moved towards St. Vincent and St. Lucia. The northern bands of this storm were big enough that over 300 miles to the north here in Antigua we experienced periods of heavy rain and winds. All week long I had been planning that on Saturday i would be bringing down one of my boats that was sitting on a mooring in Falmouth. When i woke very early yesterday and say the image above I knew I had to expect some bad weather. We moved a little more quickly and by the time we set the head sail, the waves were already breaking across Bishop's Reef. Outside there were some good swells probably up to 14 feet and one even broke into our little tender. Here you see Trevor on the tiller in some of those swells:

It wasn't long before we were surfing into the calm waters behind Cades Reef and then on to Jolly Harbour where we dropped a hook.
During the night the squalls came in heavy and I was worried about the boat. This am she looked good which was a relief. Of course there are many yachts, houses and people in the Windward Islands who were not nearly as lucky. There has been very little news coming out of St. Vincent and St. Lucia but some deaths have been reported in Vincy. Check www.stormcarib.com for more local reports to come.
Lets hope that was the last storm of the season for us. Sadly, Tomas is not finished yet and the real damage my still be to come for Jamaica or Hispaniola.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Local children receive swimming scholarships.

I heard of a cool program offering some lucky kids swimming scholarships here in Antigua. For more info check this little blurb from the Swalings School of Swimming. I hope this will mean more young local Antiguans will be sending us applications for positions with Adventure Antigua in the future.
snorkel point
Swalings School of swimming are working in conjunction with the Ministry of Sports to make swimming a part of the national youth sports program. As part of this initiative, this November, Swalings along with their sponsors Intertops have set up a scholarship program for 150 pupils to learn to swim or improve their swimming for free.

In this the initial season for the swimming program, the scholarships will be available in 3 secondary schools, Jennings Secondary, Otto’s Comprehensive and The Grammar School. There will be 50 scholarships available per school.

The objective of the scholarship programme is to get as many children in Antigua learning to swim as possible. Its a well known fact that we have 365 beaches yet the majority of Antiguan’s cannot swim, Swalings wants to change this believing learning to swim has many benefits for people not only health reasons but also in the job industry and enjoyment. The water has so much to offer weather it be sailing, windsurfing, fishing, a lazy day at the beach, swimming competitively however before you can enjoy any of this you have to be able to swim and be safe in the water. Swalings emphasises water safety and will not only be teaching children how to swim but how to be safe in the water and what to look out for.

It is hoped in the next few years the scholarship programme will be available to some 2000 school children a year. Swalings are seeking sponsorship from doners who want to support the project.

Swalings is also working in conjunction with the new National Sailing Academy that is offering free sailing lessons to all school children. Swalings will be teaching any pupils wanting to sail that can’t swim to swim first so their parent s will have peace of mind the children will be safe in the water.

It is also hoped through this programme aspiring swimmers will be able to swim competitively in the swim teams and go on to represent Antigua at the OECS games, Carifta and eventually the Olympics.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

for those of you who like dolphins..... here is a video for you

We were out on our eco tour boat after finally getting her refurbished. She's working better than ever and the dolphins still like it!
They would have stayed swimming between the hulls for as long as we stayed with them. We see this type of dolphin usually in the deep. As you can see they enjoyed playing and we could hear their sonar as they came to the surface. It was a very cool experience once again on the water.


Friday, October 01, 2010

adventureantigua.com sailing to St. Martin

December 2008 we took the sloop down to St. Martin in some windy conditions. We had to get some work done and the trip there was an adventure but the kind that make us all happy to be part of this organisation. Enjoy the music of Massive Attack on this little home vid:

Friday, September 24, 2010

International Coastal Cleanup Day 2010 (and a fishing tournament).

IMG_9250sm


Back in the early summer months of 2007 Martin Dudley, a local environmentalist, contacted me about the Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup Day. He told me that although there was an island representative, they were too busy to be involved that year. Together we organized several groups and tried to drum up media attention locally about it. We eventually received some help from the government to collect the huge mass of garbage that we collected. You can see some photos and read about our effort that year hereand here, and on the sunday here
Many people around the island called me up trying to find out how they could be involved. I didn't set out to be a coordinator but it sort of turned out that way.
In 2008 the day clashed with a big fishing tournament here and we decided to go to a few out of the way beaches on my smaller boat. The weather wasn't good but we still managed to get quite a few people joining us. Read more on that here 2008.
In 2009 we decided to market it as a free day of boating and helping the environment. I promoted it a bit in the media as well as on my blogs. Here is an example of that: 2009 promo.
We had a huge response and it seemed that other groups were now getting involved. Sandals and some of the other hotels were doing their own things too. Little groups of families were cleaning beaches all around the island. The word was getting out. We took our Eco Tour boat as I had a feeling the deserted beaches we would go to would be filled with garbage. The volunteers came with bags and in the end we didn't even have enough. As you can see from this blog (please check it out), we collected a scary amount of garbage. The management of Jolly Harbour was kind enough to receive the trash in their skips.
This year the Ministry of Tourism and the Antigua Hotels and Tourist Association finally decided to get involved and there has been quite a bit in the news and on the net. Check this video out:


I am so glad that this has now taken off here in Antigua. It's been about time. Of course many people will say that showing interest for the well being of our beaches comes a bit late from the Tourism Ministry and the AHTA, and while I agree, I think that it's never too late. There is plenty more they should be caring about when it comes to our beaches and I can only hope and urge them to become more involved in other similar issues which i frequently raise on my blogs. In fact, just looking at the blog post i last mentioned above and coming up with a strategy to stop all the trash pouring into the sea out of St. Johns would be a great step in the right direction from here. Anyway, I will try not to stray too far from International Coastal Cleanup 2010.
I currently have two of my boats out of commission getting major refurbishments done and Xtreme is taking up the slack and working most days. In fact, tomorrow she will be doing a round the island tour (with extra trash bags). Tomorrow is also the Francis Nunes Memorial Fishing Tournament and I will be joining my Dad in the tournament. He's just come back from heart surgery and I'm happy to be fishing with him and not against him this time.
Adventure Antigua will plan a proper beach cleanup once again in our traditional manner as soon as the Eco boat comes back from it's refit. That should be sometime in October, so if you are interested in being part of that one please contact me.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

How not to find water!

Historically, Antigua was one of the last islands to be colonized simply because of the never ending water shortage the island has been faced with. With very little rainfall comparatively and without large enough mountains for streams and rivers, Antigua has always been a dry island. Early European colonists knew living here would be tough and it wasn't until England realized the strategic importance of Antigua's coastline that the island became attractive. From the first colonial structures to the most modern buildings today, water catchment has always been important. As mentioned in one of my earlier blogs about the oil disaster here, Antigua finally tried to fix the water problem with a massive desalination plant sometime in the 1980s. This was a huge step in the right direction and for most of my adult life water shortages were a thing of the past.
Sadly for one reason or another, the main desalination plant has not been able to keep up with demand. Depending on who you speak with, the reasons for this failure can be blamed on one political party or another. Anyway, that isn't the purpose of this blog. This blog is about an attempt to start up another smaller desalination plant at one of Antigua's favorite beaches which ultimately has been an unbelievable "cock-up".
Before I explain what is going on at Ffryes beach I should first explain what has happened there over the past few years:
Without proper permission, or any study from the Environment Division a massive dredging and sand mining project was undertaken a few years ago which took hundreds of truck loads of sand from the swamp behind the beach. Even after the swamp was dug up right up to the high water mark on the CocoBay Beach, more sand mining continued between the swamp and Ffryes Beach as seen in this photo where the holes were filled with dirt after the sand was excavated:
This unfortunate area already had already seen heavy mining in the hillside behind the hotel and swamp. I don't know what was done with all of the sand that was mined from this area but I am sure that someone became very wealthy out of this environmental disaster. Needless to say that this area has had major industrial work done over the past few years. These photos were taken in October 2008 and show you the effect the sand mining has had on the beach which in a high tide merges with the swamp. Notice the mined hillside in the back too:


This was all quite odd when you think about it from a tourism perspective and also from a nationalist perspective. I say that because Ffryes Beach had always been thought of in my mind as "The People's Beach", a undeveloped beach where people had always visited especially on public holidays.
Also going on was the construction of several small tourism developments. Dennis Beach Bar at one end, the very controversial Tamarind Hills development (which i will leave for another day) on the other and several other developments nearby too. I guess that's another story which leads me astray from the topic at hand. Desalination!
After all of this had gone down, the government's Water Department decided that they would start a desalination plant on the beach.
According to the water manager, they had first thought that a better site would be next to the Urlings Fisheries facility where the waters are clearer and an industrial facility already existed. Fisheries said "No Way", so Ffryes was the next alternative according to the manager.
Instead of doing an extensive study to see if the area would be a feasible site for desalination, construction began at the same time that studies and test wells were being drilled. Well after well was drilled without and success. Hydrogen Sulphide was found in most of the wells and there was never a fast enough flow of water into the well from the surrounding material which was mostly made up of clay. Clay isn't permeable enough to permit the smooth flow of filtered brackish water. In addition to the clay, the little sand that was found in the wells was also too fine for water to flow quickly.
In desperation the drilling machine was even positioned right on the beach just to prove that the wells were not going to work in the area. That last and final well couldn't get sufficient water either and the machine was finally taken away. The building seen in the video below which is where the main desalination process takes place as well as housing the water distribution mechanism. This was all already completed by this time the last well failed to produce enough water.



Well what good is a water facility without water? None, so the only choice was to go directly into the sea. Why wasn't this done to start with? After all the facility is a desalination plant right?
Well Reverse Osmosis plants (more here) produce what we call fresh water from what we generally call salt water. This is accomplished by using a series of very specific filtration processes. Ideally wells are used because water that "wells up" inside a well has been filtered by the earth surrounding the well. A coastline well gives you fairly clean filtered salt water which ideally needs considerably less filtration than water that is taken directly from the sea.
With that in mind, water taken from the sea in an area where the water is clear and sediment free will require less filtration and maintenance than water that is taken from a murky coastline.
Here we come to another huge problem with Ffreys Beach. Whenever there is ground swell usually during the cold front season between November until May, the coastline along the coast where Ffryes is located is terribly murky. The seabed is a very fine sandy bottom that remains shallow for miles. I am not an engineer, but after spending most of my life on the water in and around Antigua, I am afraid that this will cause big problems for the Water Department's RO plant. The filtration process will never be able to effectively cope with the heavy sedimentation which is normal in the area.
During the summer the waters are usually very clear there unless there is a storm out to sea. Today Hurricane Igor is now history but large North swells are still making the waters along that coastline very murky. This video shows the pipe going into the water this past weekend when Igor's swells were being felt along the shore.

The swells were pushing around the pipe and rocks were brought in from the Tamarind Hills mine to hold the pipe down. I believe the Environment Division got involved to stop this thankfully.
I am told by the government's water manager that a huge array of studies including many done by scuba professionals has been done and that all environmental costs will be lower at this facility than those associated with pumping water to this side of the island all the way from the Crabbs water facility. That being said, he told me that his first choice would have been the Urlings area if the Fisheries Department hadn't killed that plan. The eye sore and potential environmental problem that the pipe is will be dealt with according to the manager. He says that foreign contractors will bury the pipe and it won't be visible. This is very good news because as you can see it surely doesn't fit on the beach.
It always amazes me how terribly our different government departments do at working together and planning together. I don't think the ministry of tourism is involved with this project in any way. If they are I am very surprised indeed. Of course, this project would have considerably lower costs of all types if a more appropriate place was chosen for it. I understand why Fisheries would have been concerned with a desalination plant at their facility but there can be no doubt that it would have been a better choice considering the year round water clarity there and the history of desalination in another sensitive ecological area in the North Sound. A carefully managed system at Urlings would have been far better. I guess all we can do is wait and see how this thing works out. For more on reverse osmosis desalination check this animated video:

Monday, September 20, 2010

"Best 7 days of surfing ever"

That's what all the surfers here are saying. They didnt surf all of the 365 beaches, but there were quite a few new surf spots that were tested with all the waves that Hurricane Igor sent us.
We never really had winds above about 20 mph but the waves were crazy for a few days. This weekend with Igor approaching Bermuda, Antigua still was getting some waves and I actually managed to catch a few on my stand up paddle board. They were smaller than they had been all week but soo much fun!





I have a feeling we will still see more surf this month and probably next too before the cold front waves start being pushed down. All in all surfers are licking their lips and are generally stoked at what 2010 had given them so far. Lets hope that surf with light winds is all we get until the "h season" is over.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A young Antiguan music producer needs a bit of help

I blogged about Justin last month here.
He needs some help trying to win an international competition with a song he's remixed. Check it out and vote if you can. Thanks!

Friday, September 17, 2010

a cool slide show of Antigua nature/eco images

One of the things that our organizing group came up with for the Green Fete was showing a slide show of eco images. I have thousands of such images and put together a bunch for Robby, EAG Board member and owner of www.365antigua.com. He got some images from my sister Fran and compiled them all together with some of his into a cool slide show which intrigued many people during the huge party we had at Abracadabra. In the end the Environmental Awareness Group was able to raise nearly EC $8,000 (US $3000) from this party thanks to Abracadabra and everyone who helped out.
Here is the slide show.


EAG Green Fete fundraiser slideshow from robby breadner on Vimeo.

If you would like more info on the eag please visit their site on www.eagantigua.com and tell them i sent you! lol
Have a great weekend. eli

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hurricane Igor misses Antigua totally, but sends us waves

For the past few days the waves have been coming in to Antigua from hundreds of miles away. I imagine the surfers have been calling in sick from their jobs all over the Caribbean. One of my good friends who owns his own company tells people that he's busy all week with "board meetings".
The guy surfing above is world famous kite boarder Andre Phillip. He was pulled into the wave by the Stevie Mendes who took the photo.
Anyway, while we didn't receive any real winds or rain from the dangerous hurricane Igor, the waves have probably caused some damage to the marine eco systems as well as some beaches.
Last night I passed by Dickenson Bay where the Sandals and several other hotels sit, and the waves were coming right up and over the beach. Although they didn't seem that big, they were causing problems along the shore because of the high tides and surge.
Today I am cancelling my Xtreme tour sadly because of these swells. The tour could probably go out, but snorkeling would be horrible as would our beach stops. This doesn't happen very often at all during hurricane season, but I think today it's the right decision.
Some people are enjoying it though. This is a photo of my good friend Nik on his SUP (stand up paddle) board "ripping". The photo was taken by the equally talented Shelly Chadburn.

I have been laying low for the past few days and missing the waves. The forecasts have the waves sticking around for another few days, so i am sure I will get some of my own. All the forecasts show lovely marine weather again from Monday.

Monday, September 06, 2010

The Fat Lady sings a tune about Gaston

I don't think i remember a tropical wave ever giving people so much stress. Of course to simply call the group of clouds just east of us a tropical wave without elaborating would be unfair. This thing did turn into a depression and then briefly into a tropical storm before it hit some dry weather and fizzled back to a tropical wave.


I was one of the people stressed out about it mainly because we had just been hit by strong tropical storm conditions from Hurricane Earl which passed north of us. The reminder of what these things can do if given the chance to catch you off guard was still fresh in our minds. With some of the original forecasts suggesting that Gaston would give us worse than Earl did, stress was a modest description of what went on with many of us.

Thankfully the dry air and cooler waters chilled out Gaston all the way back down to a strong tropical wave giving us some relief from the post earl stress syndrome. The NHC and many others kept on suggesting that this wave would get stronger and at one point gave it a 90% chance of developing into a tropical depression. The stress levels rose again.

Even now with it very close to us people are worried about it regenerating. I may be crazy, but at this point I am not worried about the tropical wave that was once a tropical storm. It looks like most of the cloud activity has gone a bit north, it looks like it isn't organizing very well, and its too close to turn into a dangerous hurricane.

I can just hear some people "chupsing" at the last statement. Of course a tropical wave can turn into something very dangerous very quickly. Flooding alone from a tropical wave could cause problems, but not this one. I think the fat lady is singing already here in Antigua about the wave that was once Gaston.

We are still sitting in the peak of hurricane season, and this doesn't mean we can stop looking east. In fact, http://www.magicseaweed.com/ is showing a big hurricane coming towards the Caribbean one week from now. Keep looking east! In the meantime, i will keep uploading photos of what we are getting here in antigua on twitter. today it is way too sunny for the yard work that i plan on doing!!