Friday, March 30, 2007

west indian cricket still has its fans

If you are a cricket fan then you will already know that the West Indies got beaten once again in their second match of the “super 8” part of the World Cup. First the Aussies thrashed us on the first match ever played at our new stadium, and then yesterday the kiwis spanked us on match two.
Yesterday’s match had some episodes of greatness, but for the most part our boys looked slow and uninterested.
Although the west Indies side did even worse than when they played the Aussies, I think New Zealand will be no match for the Aussies. Anyway, while we sat there looking at our pathetic run rate, we could only try to salvage some fun from being there. After all, we were sitting on the grass in the party stand on Trevor’s 40th birthday. Seen here with a friendly Trini supporter.
The pool seemed to be full of a mix of nationalities this time instead of all Aussies like the previous days and boy was it hot. Very little wind and almost uninterrupted sunshine made it feel like there was no ozone over the stadium. Sweat poured off of us and we had to keep making use of the drink tickets that were supplied at the entrance. With your party stand ticket, you got lunch and 9 drinks which should have been soft out there in that heat, but this is cricket in the Caribbean and nobody drinks sodas during a match. Rum and Coke was the patriotic drink of choice for Trevor’s birthday celebrations and we had plenty. Actually Pepsi is the main sponsor so coke wasn’t an option, but they seemed to go down better and better as the chances of winning seemed less and less likely. Towards the end dancing was breaking out all over the party stand and it was like a miniature carnival with the famous chickie hifi belting out some sweet West Indian tunes. There are probably very few teams who’s fans would dance and drink with so much festivity after a dramatic loss, but that is what Caribbean cricket can still cling to. We do want our team to win, but we won’t let their poor showing dampen the mood too much. West Indian captain, Brian Lara, tried to blame his team’s result on the lack of Antiguan support in the grounds, but I think he’s totally wrong. I think his comments today were unfounded and stupid. He’s lucky the fans here didn’t throw stuff at him…..instead they danced after the loss.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Australia wins at Viv Richards

It took them two days but as predicted, the 2006 World Champions, Australia, easily beat The West Indies here at home. It was the opening match at the Viv Richards Stadium and although most people here would have enjoyed a better result, i think that most of the people who actually attended the match thought it was great fun. The Aussies came out to bat first and did a very consistent job of racking up their runs. The rate was never that high, but like world champs they knew what they were doing and even with the rain distractions they managed to set a hard target for the WI to follow. The party stand where i was sitting was full to the brim filled with half of watch team's fans. All got along together in the light rain that seemed to fall for most of the afternoon. The party stand is also called "beach 366" which is kinda funny really because another business beat them to it with that name. Wapping Beach down town st. johns also uses that name, but i guess the stadium is bigger and wasn't that concerned. Anyway i think its beach 367, but whatever it is to be called the party stand is unique and as was typical antiguan form, it lived up to expectations in the party dept. What international stadium has a party section with a swimming pool and a sandy beach? The lads from down under thought the pool was the best thing since marmite and spent all day on Tuesday splashing all over the place as you could see from yesterday's blog. With the rain delays the match was postponed until Wednesday when the West Indies were set to bat in an attempt to get 300 runs plus. Yesterday's weather was more typical with extreme sun and heat.
The required run rate kept on getting larger and larger and i knew it would be hard to catch the champs. Lara had some very good 4s and a nice 6...possibly two, but with a LBW at about 77 runs we knew things were not gonna work out. In the end the world champs were victorious and the Viv Richards stadium showed them a good time. Chickie's music kept the vibe up and even the famous Gravy was there to entertain. Here are both of them from yesterday:
I am off there again right now to see our guys play New Zealand. It's trev's 40th birthday and i hope he gets a good result on it as well.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

world cup cricket action

Once in a while I find myself falling back into "island mode" where everything is chilled and life moves along at a slow pace. Most people think that’s the way it is all the time but I can assure you that it's not always easy to chill out completely. I guess it helps these days to have my mom and sister helping me manage the show as well as all my great crew doing their best on the boats. Anyway, the past 10 days have been great and I have had quite a bit of free time to enjoy island life. Fishing, boating, walks on the beach, a nice outside restaurant for dinner are some of the island kinda things I have been getting up to. It almost seems like I have been busy chilling out. Is that possible? Busy and chilling don't usually go together but I just said them. Also, because of the World Cup business is exceptionally slow. Crazy huh? I guess most people coming here are here to do one cricket.

Its Trevor’s birthday on Thursday and I got him a ticket for tuesday's world cup match between Australia and The West Indies. It’s was the opening match at The Viv Richards Stadium and the first time a world cup match has been played here. Because it was such a big deal, the PM gave the island a day off from work so that we could all enjoy the cricket. Unfortunately for JD, Tony and Louie, not everyone could have the day off work. Hats off to them for getting the job done yesterday while the rest of us were at cricket. Here is a pic from the aussies playing at "beach 366" in the middle of yesterdays match. I have more from yesterday but internet is acting weird so that will have to keep you going until my cricket report tomorrow. The weather has been crap so the second half of the match will be played today. Am off there now. c ya.

Friday, March 23, 2007

spring has arrived.

Spring is a time for renewal, rebirth and according to wiki, a start of better times. Its official start was this week and I have seen the changes coming recently. Spring and summer have always been my favorite times of the year in Antigua with lovely weather, fantastic events and glorious wildlife showing their colours too.
As I have mentioned already this is the time of year when humpback whales are passing through with their young calves. We haven't had the best year in terms of sightings so far but we still have quite a bit of time left before they move on into the North-West Atlantic. This is a series of photos pasted together of a mother catching some air before a dive into the abyss.
While I was out fishing last week we saw many Noddies feeding offshore. You don’t see them here that much until late spring when they start nesting all over the off-shore islands especially at bird and Rabbit Island in the north sound. If you do the eco tour in May and through the summer you will see them then. They love fishing offshore at this time of the year because various species of tuna are also feeding on the surface giving away the location of the tiny bait fish which they both feed upon. I took this pic of a feeding frenzy last week.

Speaking about bait fish...many fish are mating at the moment and by the end of spring the little fish will be hatching out all over the island. Unfortunately for them, it is also the time when many of the colonial birds will be feeding their newly born chicks....and you can imagine what they eat.
This Tuesday we will have the first ever one day international held in Antigua which will also be the 1st time a Cricket world cup match will be held here. Australia will play The West Indies at the brand new Viv Richards Stadium and there is so much excitement around it that the Gov. made the day a public holiday. We will have world cup "super 8" matches here over a 2 week span and I think there is a feeling here that our stadium will prove to be the most exciting. Trevor and I will be in the Party Stand on Tuesday and on Thursday which is his birthday and with most of the stadium sold out already it looks like it will be a great bit of action.
As soon as the cricket is over we will then have the Classic Yacht Regatta

and then Antigua Sailing Week. Its gonna be a very busy Spring this year for the birds, bees, fishies, whales, dolphins, cricketers, sailors, lovers and most others here on the island. Hope you manage to be here enjoying some of it. See you then.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

i eat dolphin

"Oh my goodness!!!!!!!!!!!" "Eating dolphin....? You savages!!"


Dolphin fish is one of the most delicious fishes that you will find in the ocean, and it is extremely important not to confuse them with Bottled Nosed Dolphins, Spinner Dolphins, Atlantic Spotted Dolphins or any of the other species of mammals with "dolphin" in their name. For some reason Dolphin fish (Coryphaena hippurus ) have very different names depending on where you are in the world. In the French islands they are called dorade, in the Spanish speaking areas they are called dorado, in the English speaking areas they are mostly called dolphin fish, and in Hawaii they are called mahi mahi.

This pic shows a large bull or male dolphin that we caught off Barbuda while fishing with my dad. Alan, who is holding it, is one of the best butchers and cooks of wild meat that I have ever known. His fish is the best bar none!
Anyway, dolphin are very interesting fish with a fascinating way of life. Without dolphin frigate birds wouldn't survive, and I will explain why later. Dolphin get their start in the Sargasso Sea or around other floating debris which drifts slowly across the Atlantic in the ocean currents. The mother dolphin fish deposits her eggs on the Sargasso or on any other floating objects which look like they will be a safe place for small fish. Very quickly the little guys hatch out and immediately start feeding. Dolphin fish are some of the fastest growing fish in the sea because of their incredible appetite and fishing skills. Often they travel in huge schools looking for food and they will almost eat anything. Flying fish are their favorite food but they will eat all variety of fish, shrimps, squid, and crabs. Much of their prey lives among floating Sargasso Sea weed or other floating debris, and whenever we are out fishing and see something floating we prepare to hook up with a few dolphin fish. They grow very quickly after they are born and are considered one of the fastest growing fish in the sea reaching weights of up to 80 lbs. Their lifespan is a rapid story of eating, bulking up and reproduction which usually only lasts about as much as 6 years. Within a year from hatching out the hungry buggers can be 3 feet long.
Since they do such a fantastic job of reproducing and grow at such rapid rates, they are one of the few fish sought commercially that doesn’t appear to be threatened by international fishing. It’s a good thing because they are regarded as one of the most delicious and sought after fish too. With new techniques and modern equipment it is common for commercial fishermen to catch up to a thousand pounds of dolphin fish on a good day.
The meat is firm and white and quite easy to cook. The bones are large as well so it makes for a perfect fish to serve. When we catch them we skin the fish before we fillet it, as the skin is pretty tough.
Fighting them on a rod and reel is a load of fun if you like fishing as they are strong and swim very quickly. Actually the words Mahi Mahi translate to strong strong, and they have been recorded at speeds of up to 55 mph while chasing flying fish.
A good giveaway of their whereabouts are frigate birds, and whenever we go deep sea fishing we are always on the lookout for frigates. Once you see them low down you can be fairly sure that there will be dolphin around. Dolphin have the most amazing colours of all pelagic deep sea fishes and for good reason. Frigates are able to spot them feeding from a thousands meters. This is the part I love….:
Frigate birds are unable to get wet and feed only on fish. Their feathers are not waterproof and their long wingspan and tiny feet make it impossible to get out of the water if they accidentally end up in the sea. Sooo they die if they get in the water. 20% of their food is stolen from other birds in mid air usually after a good acrobatic chase in the sky. 1% they find dead floating and manage to use their long beaks to scoop it up as they hover or fly by. 79% involves fish like the dolphin, and what happens is that frigates spot the big colourful dolphin fish cruising on the surface looking for food. They keep an eye on the dolphins following them waiting patiently for the dolphin to start feeding. When the dolphin find a school of flying fish, they accelerate up to 55 mph into the school. The frigate sees this unfolding and begins to dive down close to the water’s surface. As the flying fish leap out of the water gliding away to perceived safety, the frigates grab them in mid air. It is such a fantastic thing to see unless you are the poor flying fish. The frigates which usually are so graceful, gliding up high with their slender bodies…become incredibly maneuverable fighting machines almost like tom cruise was in Top Gun. Anyway, at the end of the day, dolphin fish are a great fish and you shouldn’t feel too bad about eating these beautiful fish. Their populations seem to be doing way better than most of the other species harvested commercially in the Atlantic. Try some when you are here in Antigua. Yum Dolphins are yummy.

The first and second photos were taken by me and the last was taken by roddy from and the last of the hard core fisherman was taken by Captain J-Dog. hope you enjoyed.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

As high as a kite in Antigua

Since I said I would talk about kitesurfing a few blogs ago, I guess I better do it. First of all I should also speak about what kitesurfing actually is. Many people have never seen it and are blown away on our boats when we pull up alongside kiters doing their stuff. Kitesurfing is an extreme sport where a single “sailor” uses a massive kite the size of a small car to pull him/herself along the water surfing usually on a small board of some kind. Most of the boards look like wakeboards or large skateboards. There is usually about 100 feet of very strong 500lb test lines attaching the kite to a control bar, and the operator holds on to the bar for support and control of the kite. The board is steered like a skateboard is steered. Getting massive “air” or jumps is what made kitesurfing look soo cool to many including myself. While working and training for the world cup windsurfing in Maui sometime back in the mid 90s, I saw some of the first kiters trying to kite through the waves and also trying to stay upwind. It really didn’t look that good back then and many of the windsurfers though these guys were crazy. I went back to Maui in 1998 and 1999 and they had come along way. The incredibly high jumps and maneuvers were awesome, and I was very impressed. Also I was surprised at how good one could get in such a short time. The first person to Kitesurf properly in Antigua was Steve Gray who worked as a pilot at Caribbean Helicopters. Steve had what is known as a ram air kite which used air loosely trapped between the upper and lower surfaces of the kite to give it some buoyancy. Not many people were still using that type of kite which had been used originally in the beach kite buggy sport, but Steve made it look pretty good. I wanted to get into it but was still being sponsored to compete in several windsurfing competitions in the Caribbean, and wasn’t sure if I could afford to do kitesurfing as well. Anyway, after my last event I traded some of my windsurfing gear for kite gear with a friend called Marcus. His stuff was pretty advanced and the kites were some of the best you could get. They used internal air “bladders” to keep them rigid and to keep them afloat once they hit the water. There were no lessons to be had and I just figured I could follow some tips from Marcus who was now back in Hong Kong and try it at Jabbawock. Luckily I didn’t get killed but immediately understood that you had to be extremely careful with this new sport. The kites had sooooo much power that you had to give yourself plenty of room downwind. I nearly ended up in the road and decided to take a little boat up into the islands to try again. Anyway, I learned and got better each time I tried it. Before long others wanted to try and I taught quite a few of my friends. I broke my board in half one day after I learned how to jump, and needed to find something to keep me going until I got a new one. I had heard that there was a hard core wakeboard junkie on the south side of the island and just by chance met him at a party one night. Alex Portman wasn’t sold on the kitesurfing “stoke” but was happy to lend me one of his boards. I told him that once he started kitesurfing by himself…wakeboarding would seem like a waste of time and effort. I guess he listened because within a month he had a set of new gear to try out. I took him out for a few small lessons and he was up and away in no time. The thrill of being powerfully pulled along by the wind at high speeds and being able to control this massive kite is pure exhilaration. When you learn how to jump, the thrill is even more addictive. Alex and I decided that we would try to teach as many of our friends as we could and many others wanted to learn as well. The sport is soo cool to see that people from all over the place wanted to get into it. Finally we decided to set up a proper school.
We took one of his old Jet Ski trailers and turned into the first mobile kitesurfing school on Antigua. IT was fun and people were excited. IT was never run properly as a business because both Alex and myself had other things going on, but we taught many people in those early days. We had hired one of our first students to teach as he had done very well during the learning process. Andre Phillip who is now an international kitesurfing brand almost learned in about 15 seconds one day after I briefly told him how it all worked. He was our first teacher, and KiteAntigua started slowly turning over some business.
Over the next few years the school went through some big changes with instructors coming and going, and eventually an additional partner coming in to run it properly. Nik is a very organized yacht surveyor and lover of xtreme sports. He was the perfect partner to have involved and did an excellent job of turning our hobby into a business. Anyway we had some very bad luck with winds one year and the business didn’t do well enough to maintain itself. Nik was worried and eventually we closed it down last year. Today the school is back open thanks to Alex’s persistence and perseverance and the lessons are carrying on without me or nik being involved. We are all happy that its back up and running though, and Adam teaching most days in between doing his graphics business. The funny (not funny at all) thing is that both Adam and I hurt our knees doing kitesurfing.
Adam had a pre existing condition that didn’t like the choppy conditions off jabbawock beach and I actually broke my knee in two places after landing badly form a huge jump. Needless to say that neither of us Kitesurf anymore, but we would if we could.
The school is still at jabbawock beach and can be found on this website. If you would like to find out about lessons call Adam directly on 720 kite. Its actually a pretty safe sport if you have instruction and don’t think you are a super hero. I though I was a superhero and forgot that I was actually not even a youngster anymore. Lol Its loads of fun and you should go check them out at the very least as its beautiful to watch.

The first photo is of Alex getting high off jabbawock, and the second is of Adam teaching in the early days of the school. The third is of me doing an old school move in the old days before knee operations.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Say hi to the crew:

Adventure Antigua is proud of its exceptional crew. We love what we do..... it's more than just a job. It's a lifestyle.

Here is the blog entry introducing Capt. JD (a.k.a. "J-Dog").

Here is the blog entry introducing Capt. Tony (a.k.a "Tony baloney").

Here is the blog entry introducing Trevor (a.k.a "trev").

Here is an entry speaking about Jason.

Here is one speaking about Wan Lovv (one love)

Here is one speaking about Chris.

Here is a blog entry speaking about the all rounder Serge

Sunday, March 18, 2007

"sahara dust"

So ya...the purple haze from yesterday's post is all here..

This morning the haze isn't as bad as it was yesterday thankfully, but its still there and we won't be seeing Montserrat today on the south side. "Sarah Dust" also known as African Dust comes across the Atlantic every year blanketing the region in haze. Many people think incorrectly that the haze has something to do with Montserrat's, but the world's most studied volcano, Soufriere, has nothing to do with it. What happens is that high winds blow massive quantities of dust from western and northern Africa up into the sky. Millions and millions of tons a year of it comes across the Atlantic passing through the Caribbean traveling on the same trade winds that brought the original European settlers here. The dust reaches the south-eastern part of the usa too. There is loads of info on all of this on the web these days and after googling "african dust" i came across many articles on it. Anyway, what most of them agree upon is that since the early 1970s the mass and content of the dust has changed dramatically. Yesterday there was yet another terrible report about glaciers melting, but equally scary is how the deserts are growing. Extreme droughts possibly to do with the "green house effect" as well as changing land and water use has resulted in more land losing its vegetation. Of course this results in more dust getting into the air, but that isn't the worst of it. Since the 1970's there has also been a change in the composition of the dust. There is now all kinds of pollutants contained inside the dust and many scientists are now attributing much of the decline in our coral reefs to this increase in african dust. It’s quite logical actually because we all know that when coral is covered with silt of any kind in can die, so with african dust filled with pesticides and all the other nasties covering the coral each year, it’s not hard to make the connection. Poor coral! There are so many things killing it off that i think much of it is gone forever. Sadly, i remember when i was a teenager just 15 years ago snorkeling on huge coral forests teaming with life. See the movie Finding Nemo....that's what the reef was like here back then. All of a sudden we had a few mega-hurricanes and most of the reef was gone. Many people blame the hurricanes which were stronger than Antigua had seen in over 2000 years (a fact that i will talk about another time), but the reef's decline wasn't just because of the storms. If you are interested in reading more then bookmark this link on coral and african dust.

I suppose it will take more time and study to find out all the negative effects of this increase in african dust, but there is at least one positive result. Kind of... Using satellite imagery, the NAOAA people predict when we in the Caribbean will get "african dust surges", and we actually know days in advance when it will be hazy. This is an image of dust coming off Africa.
Check here for more of these images. They have done many studies on the effects of the dust on our weather and have concluded without a doubt that increased levels of the dust can hinder hurricane formation which is wildly interesting to me. Considering the fact that due to "global warming" we are forecast to have more conducive conditions for extreme hurricane formation, it is also interesting that also due to global warming the increase in dust helps to deter these storms from forming. The way it works is that the dust doesn’t come across the Atlantic in a constant stream and instead comes in big waves almost like weather fronts. If good hurricane forming conditions and the dust appear in the same area, then water droplets inside the clouds become too heavy when mixed with the dust and fall out of the sky before they get a chance to become huge thunderstorms. The dust kills the storms before they get a chance to turn into hurricanes. There are many articles on all of this here if you are interested.
Other issues that you may not think about which are due to the dust have to do with the mess it makes. My boats are covered in brown clay like dust after weekends like this. I know that we will have to clean them tomorrow morning because of this hazy weekend.
I am glad i don't have to clean sails! Many of the yachts doing crossings come in with dirty sails and even aircraft have trouble on the leading edges of their equipment.
My eyes have given me more and more problems over the past few years and i sometimes wonder if it’s due to all the time i spend in the outdoors in contact with this increased dust. According to several studies, an increase in certain diseases can also be attributed to african dust. Great!...another thing to worry about right? If you are one of those people interested or worried about germs...check this out: Sorry:) There is another interesting health report on This one too.
Anyway, there is a hell of a lot interesting info to digest on the whole "Sahara dust" topic and i hope you found it as interesting as i said it would be. It’s a good thing it’s not all negative though. That thing about the hurricanes is gonna make me sleep better in the summer. One of the other cool things that can happen as a result of the dust is the sunsets.
They even have articles on that. The pics above are of cool dusty sunsets. The satellite one is of dust coming off Africa.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Purple Haze

LAst night i was in the mood for a beer or two after a nice dinner with the Acqua Films crew. I drove down to The Coast where most of the Adventure Antigua team were already soaking up a few, and the place was packed. The Coast disco and bar is adjacent to Kings Casino in St Johns, and it has recently turned into the place to be if you are not liming on the South side. By the way, "liming" is a caribbean word that means hanging out socially.
Anyway, i got home pretty late and was hoping for a nice lay in today, but of course that can never happen when you want it to. At 7 am i jumped out of bed to the smell of burning plastic....i thought at first it was my electrical fan having a melt down but that seemed to be working well. I ventured outside to see a purple haze enveloping the house. Hoping that my house wasn't on fire i ran upstairs only to finally see where the source of this smoke was coming from. My considerate neighbors had decided to burn their garbage which by the way is kept very close to the windward side of our property. What a lovely smell burning plastic is...NOT!!!!!!!
Once i am up its hard for me to go back to sleep so here i am writing my blog. hehe i missed it yesterday as i spent most of the day finishing up the ZAP CAT. My buddie Stevie, came and helped me put the boat on a trailer and attach the motor. We decided to try and start the engine before going to the marina and a good thing too, gasoline poured out when we attached the fuel line. The line to the carbereuator was cut, and we had to do some quick mechinc work to get that fixed. The engine had been sitting for so long that i was worried it wouldn't start, but the 55 hp two stroke fired up after one pull of the cord. We were now in business.
We launched at the Shell Beach Marina and went up into the North Sound for a few hours, and pulled up next to Francis who was ancbhored off Welch Rock doing the last snorkeling session on the Eco Tour. The water was beautiful and the sky clear. Yesterday was a lovely day to be on the sea, and i was sooo happy to finally have the little cat back on the water.
Anyway, after the fire next door had burned itself to death thismorning, i noticed that it wass still very hazy, and I decided to write about the haze that we experience so often at this time of year in the islands. If you are living here or visiting you will sometimes notice how one day is sooooo clear and the next totally hazy. I hear people comment on it and am always surprised how few people know what the haze is. To me its incredibly interesting information and tomorrow i will blog about that. Trust me, if you don't know about it, you will be facinated too. Happy Saturday!
The top photo is of Captain Tony on the way in from a tour during a hazy sunset.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Go learn how to windsurf

Much of my identity is associated with windsurfing so i will always have a soft spot for the sport. I think you should give it a try when u are here. Like i said in yesterday's post, i learned when i was 12 years old back in the old days when windsurfing was one of the fastest growing sports on the planet. IT was hot back then, but that wasn't the reason i got hooked. I think the thing that got me hooked was the fact that i was told that i wouldn't be any good at it. That got me determined to learn, and once i got started i realized how pure a sport it was for a person like me. All by yourself you can go out into the natural environment speeding with the wind and waves being your fuel. It’s a way to be independent and yet it can be a very social sport. I leaned very quickly back then as i lived just up the hill from Windsurfing Antigua which got started the same year. Before i turned 13 i was invited to join Windsurfing Antigua Week 1985 which was a windsurfing regatta sailing around Antigua. One of the big races was a huge marathon from Jolly Beach all the way across to the island of Montserrat. There was a practice race the day before and i did well and was encouraged to do the island crossing. Anyway, the next day after we got started the winds died down and we slowly made our way across the 31 miles of open ocean towards the "emerald isle". There were about 20 of is racing and probably about 6 or 7 chase boats hanging with us. I wanted to quit a few times but decided that i had to make it, and was delighted to reach the hot dark volcanic beach four hours after i started. From that day onwards i raced in every competition that i could join across the Caribbean. When i was 16 i was chosen to be the alternate representative in windsurfing for Antigua at the Korean Olympics . I ended up doing better than Inigo Ross (who later co founded Wadadli Cats) during the training and in the end replaced him and was sent over to race in Korea. It was as amazing an experience as you can imagine for a 16 year old island boy. Anyway for the next twelve years i raced all over the world eventually joining the Professional Windsurfing Associations World Tour. The sport really took me far and wide and helped me develop into the person that i am. It’s a difficult sport to learn on your own which is what i did back in 1984, but today with the excellent lessons and more modern gear it isn't that difficult. The rush from gliding along the water with winds in your sails that you can feel and tame....well it is totally addictive. There is no age that is too old or too young in my opinion. I have seen all ages out there enjoying the wind and the waves. Windsurfing Antigua is now mobile and is teaching most days except Mondays on jabbawock beach. That's on the north side about 3 miles from the airport, and Patrick Scales is doing the teaching there.

He will have you "bending your knees and feeling the breeze" in no time. Keep this number 461 WIND (9463) or mobile 773 9463 and give him a call when u are next here. I think his email is Anyway at the least go check it out because Jabbawock is such a beautiful beach, and the kite school is there as well. I will talk about the kite school sometime soon. The top shot is of me in my last race a couple of years ago in the BVI. The other pic is of the windsurfing school and was taken by Mark the photo guy. He's great!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

mini Xtreme

Since i started windsurfing at the age of 12 i have always been drawn to speed and extreme sea sports. In 2005 my knee was killing me and was not getting better after my second operation. The crushed tibia plateau had also ended up getting mixed up with torn cartilage. I had stopped windsurfing and kitesurfing and needed some kinda rush almost like a junkie not getting a fix. I felt lost without some sort of adrenalin rush and after seeing a friend zoooming over the waves on something he called a ZAPCAT i knew i had to get one....and i did.

Anyway, these little boats are only 13 feet long and have way too much power. They are like angry dinghies on iv steroids, and after seeing some of the videos i knew i would love to get involved. Anyway, it was very hard finding one made by Zapcat, and i finally located a copy cat company in the USA called Dux Inflatable who said that theirs were stronger and better. These things need a very unusual design of engine which carries a shorter shaft length than most other motors. Also they are steered by tiller and not by wheel which gives you direct control and feel over the engine. I finally found a us made engine which was only made for export that fit the design specs and got it all shipped.
At the end of the day this was a big toy that could be used as a tender to my boats if needed. Anyway, once i set it up i realized that this was a super high performance machine which wasn't to be messed with. I never used a hand held GPS to check the speed but it felt like it could do 50 mph, but the craziest thing about it was the turns and acceleration. They turn on a dime because of the type of bottom they have, and also float over waves because of the air that gets trapped between the hulls.
The video above and this one were both taken in barbuda during our carnival holiday. lots of silly holiday fun.

The ZAPCAT is a mini catamaran with loads of power behind it. Most dinghies that size have 15 or 20 hp motors but these usually use between 40 and 55 hp engines on them. I could only find a 55. After using it and abusing it for a year i managed to damage the transom (what the engine attaches to) as well as a few other problems. I knew the job was going to be big and during the summer David and i got some of the prelim work done. This past weekend Tony and i used the machined metal brackets i had made to reinforce the transom. We didn't finish and it’s taken me the past few days to get it all bolted together and ready for the engine to go back on. I do have one little leak to fix too and then she's ready to launch. One of the reasons i am excited about getting it fixed up and back on the water is that a couple of friends here now have them and are interested in having races and "poker runs". Should be some good Xtreme fun out on the water on weekends. I will be sure to get some good pics and video when i get it sorted but for now it’s just mpeg video. I hope u enjoy this light bit of fun. The top video was taken by roddy using my little sony cam. He was supposed to throw the tiny anchor into the sand near the reef but decided it would be fun to throw my camera over too. ha ha it was funny afterwards. The snorkeling was great too. This vid below is of crazy zap cat crashes....and stuff that i won’t be doing. ouch!!!

and if you are super bored and want to see one more vid of us going too fast, too shallow and too close to a deserted beach in barbuda check this one:

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

cricket world cup

ouch! i just pressed "publish" and lost everything i had written. I had researched and written a nice blog about the cricket world cup. wow....don't u just hate when the computer eats your work. i feel sick. anyway, i will include a good article about today’s match which was the first of the 2007 cricket world cup. It is the first time it has been held in the West Indies and no home team has ever been triumphant at the end of it all. However, with the hype and incredible pride, history, and talent that is west indian cricket, we may have an upset in store for the world. This is the second biggest sporting event behind the football world cup, and although the west indies isn't a country, together we are united as one when it comes to this ground beaking cricket even. Trevor is the main man at Adventure Antigua when it comes to cricket playing for the stingray city team here during the winter and for a team in england during the summer. It's his birthday on March 29th and i will be joining him at the party stand to see a world cup match at our new stadium. Its gonna be a huge party. After all Antigua was the first country to have musical entertainment during an international cricket match. It’s a shame that i lost my original post, but tomorrow i will use microsoft word first before pasting it here. I took the photos during the Stanford 20 20 which was the best sporting event i have ever seen.
It was that event last year that got me interested in cricket for the first time in my life. Read this article for more on today's match. Well done windies.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

how about something more serious

With the fun and jokes of the last post about coconuts i thought possibly it may be time for some serious business once again. I wrote the following article about 2 years ago when things in the North Sound where i live were looking pretty bad. Since then Stanford has decided to stop his plans on maiden island and now is trying to sell the idea of his 2 billion us dollar development to the people of antigua. i went to a 2.5 hour presentation last week that his public relation team was showing which describes in detail his proposals and plans. I will have to fill you guys in on that next week. For now though you can read something i wrote 2 years ago. The observer newspaper decided that it wasn't worth putting in their paper so it never really got anywhere. I had written it to them to try to get people to think about where Antigua was going. To me it still is as important a dilemma as it was back then. It’s a long read, but perfect for a weekend relaxation or as the rastas say "ibration". If you are an antiguan or love antigua please give it a try:

Friday, March 09, 2007

A Coconut Republic

Since i was a kid i have been intrigued with coconut trees and coconuts in general. My earliest memories are of "tyrone" coming to my grandparents’ hotel in an old dilapidated pickup with a bunch of young scruffy guys to "clean the trees". My grandfather's property had loads and loads of coconut trees on it and the danger of a coconut falling and causing injury was always a problem. Instead of paying someone to come and cut down old branches and take down ripe nuts, he would call tyrone. Tyrone's business wasn't cleaning trees at all, but was really selling coconuts and coconut water. When my cousins and i were little there were two important occasions when we would all gather around. The most important was when the lobster man came....we would wait around while 20 or 30 lobster were boiled in a big pot so that we could get the legs that dropped off. Yum yum....we could never get enough freshly boiled lobster legs. I still think they are the best thing on a lobster. Of course the other time was when tyrone and his men came to clean the trees. Those guys seemed to just walk up the 40 foot tall coconut tree like it was on level ground. In those days they just had a rope and a machete and they would climb up and pull themselves into the branches. Once up there they would tie one end of the rope onto a bunch of coconuts, cut the stalk and then lower it down to be untied by someone below. Usually trees would have several bunches. Once all the nuts were collected and taken back to the truck it was our turn to feast. Tyrone could open a "jelly" in about 3 seconds, chopping away the bottom of the nut in a blur. Now it was nearly impossible for a kid under 10 to drink all the water out of a jelly nut, but we would try every time. Once you gave up or miraculously finished it, you would hand it back to him. Tyrone would then cut a "spoon" from the side of the nut and then chop it in half. These guys never wore gloves or shoes, we would marvel at how skillful they were. Now i guess i should clarify what a "jelly" is before i go on. A jelly is a green or young coconut that hardly has any "meat" inside of it. The meat is very thin and delicious with a soft consistency kinda like jellow or jelly. None of us would ever dream of eating hard coconut.....yuk.
Anyway, when i was about 6 years old my parents split up and my mom took us off to England. One of the things i remember is seeing old hard coconuts without the "husk" on them in the markets there. Mom got one once so that we wouldn't forget what they were like, but the meat inside the old coconut was about half of an inch thick and dry as hell. That was good for cooking with bit not fit for eating just like that. Man i missed those green jelly nuts. Anyway, my mom realized this a few years later and we move back home thank god.

Anyway, since then i have always chuckled under by breath whenever i have seen tourists try to open coconuts. One great one is when they find an ancient brown coconut that has been on the ground for months and think that they are going to find something delicious inside. The pain and suffering that unfolds next while this unfortunate soul frustratingly tries in vain to open the thing is comical in an evil kinda way. I am sorry but it’s true. Another good one is when a proud dad tries to do some father son bonding when he finds a big fully mature coconut on the beach. He nods to his son as if to say "look what your dad is gonna do are gonna love this". After 15 minutes of bruised fingers, sweat carrying sunscreen into his eyes, and a few curse words thrown in for good measure..the dad finally says, "son this one isn’t any good".

Now that is even sadder than the first one so the purpose of this blog is to help all the dads out there make their son's proud. If you come across a coconut in the future you will be able to open it with your bare hands after reading the rest of this. I am even gonna throw in pics too.

As a single guy, who doesn't have kids i still happen to know what it feels like to open a coconut for loved ones as you will see below. I am going to use my "kids", Sparky and Lila in this guide. They both worship coconuts and have done since they were little pups. This pic is of them bringing their dad the nut they have found:

You don't want to have a coconut that is too dark. The darker and older looking it is, the more hard the coconut meat is going to be, and if it’s too dark or even brown the nut can be sour. Green ones have the jelly and with a little yellow or even orange in it they are gonna have some good meat inside the nut. Once you have the nut you want to find a rock, a pavement or a bit of concrete. Just so you know, it will stain the ground so don't get the hotel upset if you are using their nice walkway. haha

Ok, hold it firmly in your hand with the top of the nut facing up. The top is the side that was once attached to the tree. This first photo is of the bottom and it’s the side that will be facing down, and is also the side you will be hitting directly onto the rock or walkway.

Hold it tight and hit that end down hard being careful to hit it "plum" right on the bottom, and don't let it go. After one good hit you may see vertical cracks appear, but you must keep hitting it a few more times sometimes. Anyway, the worst thing to do is to try to pull off a section before they are all ready to come off. You see, the nut will almost always split into thirds and you want to keep them together until all are ready to separate. Sometimes they don't all come free at the same time, so keep hitting it on the bottom and eventually it will open up like this (this is the top and not the end you are hitting against the rock):

From here you should be able to start pulling of the outer skin. You will be left with a very furry looking thing like this:

Throughout the opening process you must always remember which side is top and which side is bottom. Now you have to hit the opposite side or the top side in order to free up the thickest part of the fuzzy "husk". After a few decent hits you should be able to just peel it all away like this:

Keep peeling and you will end up with a nut that is clean and ready to be opened. At this point your onlookers with be intently looking on with anticipation and watering mouths (like this:)

Without tools this is tricky if you want to drink the coconut water. You now have to tap around the bottom of the nut moving it each time you tap it so as to try to create cracks around the edges. You should end up with something like this or better:

If you are lucky you will be able to take some of the shell out and drink the water. This takes some skill and luck. If it doesn't go well and the water leaks all over the place all you need to do is hit the nut a few more times and start sharing the bounty. I can open a coconut this way in about 3 minutes in a rush. It can be a bit more difficult taking the older and harder coconut meat off the shell once its open, but you can just let them gnaw at is which is what lila loves to do anyway. Hope you had a laugh and will use this guide some day. If you have any questions please use the comment section and i or some other coconute expert will answer.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Da Xtreme Video!!!!!!

My good friends Ian and Roddy started a tiny company called Acqua Films some time ago on a tiny budget with the idea of making DVDs for huge charter yachts. These DVDs would then be used by yacht charter brokers to help them find charter guests. Some of the yachts are still relying on print media to sell their charters, and the idea is slowly catching on.
With Ian's extensive experience in video and tv, he managed to bring to acquafilms the expertise needed to provide professional quality video to the end user.
Roddy on the other hand had years and years experience in yachting here in the Caribbean as well as many years doing still photography.
Both have what people call "a good eye" which is essential in providing unique video.
Although they have done wedding, hotel, tour, and other DVDs their main focus is still entrenched in the yachting industry which bases itself in the Eastern Caribbean during the winter.
Antigua, St. Martin, and St. Barts are the three main places on the planet for these massive yachts during the winter months. Most of the world’s largest private yachts can be found here at this time.
I had spoken with Ian about getting a little promo video done for my Xtreme Tour some time last year. He had already done a bit of filming from a chopper one day on the way back from another job, and i thought that with a bit more we could come up with a fun little vid. He had an old friend in town from Canada during the summer and took her out on the tour to see the sights and to shoot some more film. What came shortly after was this promo film which i immediately used at Sandals resort. It's taken me some time but i finally got him to convert it to a youtube readable format so that we can see it on the web. I uploaded it 2 times without sound for some reason, and started getting stressed. My cousin, Richard, in the uk said "youtube is a bit shit sometimes....delete the vid from youtube and upload it again". I tried it and finally got volume. Yay!! Here is the vid enjoy!

Also, if you want some video or photo work done please contact them on +1 268 726 2782 or goto their site

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Get your Permit!

Fishing is a big part of my life and always has been. Although i have two boats and use them for fishing on days off whenever we have nice weather, i don't do fishing charters. I am sure that if you have been following this blog since the start then you will have seen my blog about Tony catching the monster marlin back in may of 2006. We love to fish when the conditions are right and the bite is on. It's not just deep sea fishing either.....I love light tackle inshore fishing which is kinda how i became so interested in the eco side of our islands. You can help but notice all the symbiotic and other relationships out there when you are trying to catch fish. It’s all there for you to see from the little pilchards hiding beneath the mangrove shoots to the pelicans gliding and searching for them above. The show is awesome out there and it’s a joy to be a witness out there seeing how it all comes together as it was created or evolved to do. I could go on an on about all the little relationships you see out there in the mangrove habitats, or on the reefs, or on the flats, or even out in the offshore blue abyss. Although seriously threatened and damaged, it is still a joy to behold.
Anyway, let’s get back on track. When my knee was very bad this time last year, i took quite a bit of time off driving the boats as was recommended by my Dr in London. Of course when you have little or no cartilage in the knee, standing all day while driving a rocking boat is painful. However, i couldn't stand being away from the water, so took up fly fishing with my uncle Jim.
On his boat I can sit as a passenger until we get to the fishing spot and then stand on the sand bank casting for fish. It is way less jarring on the knee and was good fun too. He got me into fly fishing as is a hard core addict for the sport. As a long time hunter of various different game, fly-fishing was the natural progression for him. Hunting animals that live on land or in the air is very similar to proper fly-fishing. You need to be very quiet making no loud noise at all, you need to understand how the target species lives and feeds and travels. You equipment needs to be in tip top condition, and you need to be skilled at using it. When i am out there i almost feel like it must have been the same thing in the old days when hunting lions or other big game. The hunter carefully stalking the prey. The biggest difference is when we do saltwater fly fishing, we take great care to make sure the fish we catch are released safely back into the wild. There are two fish that we go after when we go fly fishing: Permit and Bonefish. These two fish are the most sought after fish in the world for saltwater fly fishermen because of their amazing strength and i guess even more for the incredible challenge it is to catch them. First let me talk about the bonefish. It is sometimes called the "Grey Ghost" because people out there hunting for them sometimes think they see them...and they just seem to vanish into thin air or thin water actually. They get "spooked" with the slightest sound or unusual water movement. They can see you almost always before you can see them mainly because of their mirror like scales which just reflect everything around them. They blend into their surroundings so well that sometimes they will be right close to you and you haven't seen them. All of a sudden when you move, the bones get spooked and with a huge splash they disappear. Only master anglers can catch bonefish on fly rod without messing it up because it’s just that difficult. On average they are about 6 or 7 pounds and can get up to about 14 pounds. The local name for them here is "ten pounder" which would excite many fishermen if they hooked in to that size every time. We use light tackle for them so that the fight is as hard core as possible. They usually graze the flats (grassy shallow sea beds) looking for shrimp and tiny crabs. Since the flats are usually very shallow you sometimes can see their wake or if you are lucky you can spot their tails sticking out of the water as they dig for a hiding prey. In fact, "tailing" is the easiest way of seeing them and it’s what i look for when i am on the flats with my fly rod. Another good indication that the grey ghost is around is when there is a stirred up patch in the flats. If you see a very cloudy spot about the size of a couch in the flats then that is either bone fish or a stingray. They dig for shells or crabs or shrimp in the flats and give their position away. Anyway, once you have found them you very quietly get close enough to cast your fly close to them. You want to make sure the fly (lure) which usually looks like a shrimp or a small pilchard or even a small crab lands very gently close to them. If it hits too hard then the ghost disappears in a flash, but if it’s too far then they don't see it and keep on grazing. If the winds are not too strong and the light fly gently lands in front of the fish then magic can happen. The fish sees the fly and stops searching in the grassy flats bed, and begins to follow the fly which you are slowly retrieving by taking short strips of fly line through the rod. As the bone fish bites the fly you strike it enough to set the hook and hold on for dear life as the explosive mass of power that is the bone fish peels the line off your rod. The run a bone fish makes when first hooked is legendary and you will hear many stories from fishermen about how the big fish got away after a monstrous run. They are known as the strongest fish in the sea pound for pound and will not just give one run and give up like many other fish. Like blue marlin in the deep these guys give many runs and will fight hard all the way to the boat if you are lucky enough not to get cut off. We use a special tool called a booger grip to grab the fish on the lower jaw in order to take the hook out without touching his scales. Like the rays in Stingray City these bonefish have a protective mucus coating that helps them stay healthy. When you release the fish you lose sight of it immediately as it flees in a camouflaged flash.
Last year i caught about 5 of them and spent a hell of a lot of time out on the flats trying to catch more. Fly fishermen can be happy just seeing them.
Now for the second fish and the main purpose of today's blog. My uncle Jim isn't as interested in Bone Fish as he is in Permit.

Permit are much larger fish feeding on some of the same stuff that bones do, but specifically like eating crabs. The type of crabs that they go after are not much larger than an inch and seem to live under small rocks and pieces of dead coral on the shallow flats beds. These fish are much larger than bone fish and on average must be about 20 lbs in Antigua. They feed in the same areas though and are as strong as bone fish. They get easily spooked too and you have to be exceptionally quiet and move ever so slowly when they are around. You stalk them like you see a lion stalking a gazelle. One false move and the permit is gone as the gazelle would too. These fish are even more difficult to catch on Fly and i doubt there is a more difficult fish to catch anywhere. I think my obsessed uncle has been hunting and stalking them for about 5 years without ever catching one. There have been many interesting articles on how they feed and why it’s so difficult to catch them on fly. One theory is that they inhale the fly and spit it out in one split second motion once they taste or feel that it’s not a real crab. I have had them follow my fly (fake crab) dozens of times and even had they try to bite it, but have never caught one either. You see them on the shallow flats when their tails or fins stick out when trying to get crabs from under a rock. They also don't particularly like to chase a moving fly which poses a problem. Where we find them, there is usually plenty on the bottom to get snagged on, so if you let your fly fall to the bottom you are in trouble. To avoid this you have to be ever so careful to retrieve the fly slowly enough to make it look like a crab and not too slow that it gets snagged. It’s a mission which is why so few people have caught them. In fact, i don’t think anyone has ever caught one in Antigua on fly until yesterday.
My uncle Jim and a friend of his today finally scored one on fly. The friend had fished all over the world trying to get one and was elated to finally get his glory. The fish wasn't that large but it was a permit and that's what counts. Jim's wife Mossy told me that the two great hunters came home grinning and joking like two teenage kids. Congrats jimbo!
The pics are of Jim holding a bonefish before we had the booger grip and the other is of a permit that was inside stingray city for a while before they let it go. IT was huge!