Sunday, April 29, 2007

All you need is love......

“Wan Lovv” is the exact way that people from Antigua would pronounce “one love” and it is a concept and belief that many religions and or philosophies hold as a core belief. In Antigua when I was a kid there was a unique tribe of Rastafarians called “The Wan Lovv” tribe and these particular Rastafarians believed extremely strongly in the one love principal and practiced a religion which held on to many of the hippie sort of beliefs. I did a wiki search on the Rastafarian faith and didn’t think that the One Love tribe came close to that. After I did a search for hippie on wiki and realized that the tribe here more closely resembled hippies than strict Rasta beliefs. Remember that old hippie band from England that sang “all you need is love”? Anyway, one of the tribe members changed his name to “wan Lovv” I guess in an effort to spread his faith. I guess it would be like a Christian preacher changing his name to “Love Jesus” or something like that. I dunno for sure but to this day I think that he is the most interesting Rastafarian I have ever met. Wan Lovv started working for the Ross family nearly 30 years ago first at their service station and eventually onto the first of the Wadadli Catamarans. He spent 18 years on Wadadli Cats and recently retired. I remember when Inigo and Xabier Ross first started Wadadli Cats how Wan Lovv would help them with the tour cleaning and cooking. One of the reasons I would love to windsurf up to Bird Island from Dutchmans Bay was to get a bit of his delicious chicken. Also, it was so interesting to me to be in the company of someone who really was a “wan Lovv” tribe member. He is full of compassion for people and is extremely gentle and goon natured and unfortunately you don’t come across many people like that in this world. I mean you know immediately when you meet him that his calm loving manner is strangely genuine. When I started my company Wan Lovv told me that he could come and help me out on his days off from Wadadli Cats, and he did work with me quite a few times during the early eco tour days until my tour got busier and I employed full time crew. After leaving Wadadli Cats he decided one day that he wanted to still be involved in the excursion business, and he thankfully made the decision to try something different. After making sure that Xabier was ok with me employing Wan Lovv I took him on last Monday. So far everyone at Adventure Antigua is delighted that he has chosen to be part of the family and I can only hope that he puts off full retirement for as long as possible. If you come out on the tour be sure to say hi if he’s on board.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Antigua Sailing Week turnes 40

First I would just like to thank people for the concern, suggestions and thoughtful comments about the situation spoken about in my last post. Let’s move on:

The 40th annual Antigua Sailing Week starts this weekend with all the excitement that one of the world’s biggest sailing events is expected to bring. So far there have been several massive pre race parties and I have been to two of them.
The racing action starts on Sunday and you can check the race and official party schedule on

I have actually raced a few times and can tell you that being out there racing each day and then expecting to keep up with the hard core party schedule isn’t easy. Sailors will be sailors though and as you would expect the amount of alcohol consumed in Antigua this week will be staggering just like the sailors.
The first official party was the Antigua Distillery free rum party which was held inside the Nelsons Dockyard on Thursday evening. Cavalier Rum which is what I call the Antigua distillery has been a big sponsor of sailing week for some time and has been throwing a free rum party for years now. The free rum party has been going on for much longer though and was originally started by Mount Gay. When the Barbadian rum was dropped as a sponsor Cavalier took up the position and started having the “official” free rum party over at Pigeon Beach. From the start the party was massive and everyone was there each year early. If you want to see Antiguans on time just give them the hour when u will start serving free rum. I was there at the front of the line each year. The party on the beach was wonderful and the atmosphere set the tone and standard for the rest of Antigua Sailing Week. For some completely crazy reason Cavalier decided to move the party from the beach into the controlled environment that is Nelsons Dockyard. I think the problem as they saw it was the fact that it was more difficult to ultimately control the party down on the beach whereas is was totally controllable at Dockyard. Well not only was it controllable but it was also not as good. This year the numbers for the party were tiny compared to the old free rum beach parties and even the atmosphere was tamed down. That didn’t stop me from making sure that they off loaded their free rum. It was fun but I think that it needs to be sent back to pigeon beach next year. After the last drop of free rum was consumed people still stuck around for a few more hours until the massive Soul2Soul Back 2 Life party at Abras got started with the famous UK DJs.
The next day was an early tour so lifting my head off to shut up the alarm at 6:15 was not too cool. Yesterday was the second free rum party organized by the original free rum bad boy Mount Gay Rum from Barbados. As usual they put on a massive free rum and free hat party at Galleon Beach where almost all the racers as well as half the island turned up to get wasted. Woooo hoooo!!! What a party…the setting and mood was perfect as usual and I think everyone had a great time……The crazy thing is that even though this party is not an official one…it is always the best and most organized of all Antigua Sailing Week events. The organizers need to stop trying to change things and just use some common sense. Anyway, long before the party ended I got a water taxi back into Nelson’s Dockyard where my ride was. (I didn’t drive.)
The sailing action begins on Sunday where over 215 yachts race half way around the island to Dickenson Bay where a massive party will be set up.

My two boats are chartered by long time local customers who want to follow some of the racing and end up at Dickenson to party.
Everyone on the island who has a boat will be there and as is usual there will be way too much alcohol consumed once again.
I am off to the Tobago Jazz Festival and will be missing the action here. Will try to stay in touch as I will be taking my laptop too.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Unfortunate event.

Yesterday we had a very troubling thing happen on our eco tour that I want to mention. I would love to know what people think about it too. Of course you can leave anonymous comments if you like as well.
First of all I have to tell you that Trevor has gone off to England as planned to play county league cricket. He does this every year and although we are very sad to see him go, we are also happy that he is doing something that he loves so much. We will take him back on board next autumn when the cricket season is over there. We have hired a new staff member and I will introduce him properly on another post. He has been working non stop in this sort of business for 18 years and is generally recognized as being one of the best tour guides and “boat men” in Antigua. We are delighted to have Wan Lovv on board with us.
Anyway, back to the problems from yesterday. I had given Tony a day off and the tour was being run by Francis, Louis and Wan Lovv. As has always been our practice, we invited guests to come on and not worry about paying for the tour until the end…which I have always felt is a nicer way of doing things. Many people store their bags down in the cabin, some keep bags with them on deck, some keep only cameras, some keep waterproof money pouches. For the most part though, people keep their bags down in the cabin. As is usual, the first time the guests come off the boat is at Bird Island when one of the crew takes everyone on a small hike and nature walk. Two of the crew remain on board preparing lunch and getting stuff ready for a snorkeling lesson. The next time its possible for all the guests to be off the boat at the same time is when we are at hells gate. There are 5 choices of things to do and one of them is chilling on the boat. Yesterday all guests left the boat with Francis leaving Wan Lovv and Louie behind to clean up and get the snorkeling gear ready for the next stop off Welch Rock where our final snorkeling stop is. As Francis anchored up at this final stop a gentleman came up to him loudly shouting “I have been robbed…I have been robbed.” At first, Francis thought he was joking, but quickly realized that he wasn’t. All the other guests on board stopped what they were doing to see what was going on. He and his wife had been sitting in the front of the boat on the driver’s side (in front of Francis) the entire day and unlike most of the other passengers, had kept their bag with them. The guest said that his money had been stolen out of the front pocket of his bag which had been left on his seat. It had been folded inside a money clip together with his credit cards. The clip and the cards and all the other things from his bag were there. He said that the only people that could have stolen it were Wan Lovv and Louie. All of this wasn’t being done discreetly and Francis explained that he would call me to find out what I wanted to do. I was so shocked that I couldn’t think of what to do other that to ask how much money was missing. Francis relayed that only the money to pay for the tour $140 US was missing. They didn’t have any other money with them at all, so I told Francis to let them know that we were terribly sorry that this has happened and to let them know that he didn’t have to worry about finding more money to pay us. I told him that it would be the company’s loss and for this event not to take away from the enjoyment of his holiday. I told Francis to take the crew aside and question them and to also let all the guests know that they should check their things as well. He told me that he didn’t have to as everyone had heard him saying that he had been robbed. No other bags had been tampered with either below or above deck. I also told him to ask the guest what he felt should be done, and suggested that we could inform the police about the robbery. Unfortunately the guest was irate and upon getting back to port said that he wasn’t interested in seeing the police (who are always at the port) and told Francis that he needed to do a better job of watching his crew. This of course was again not discreetly said in private and made for an extremely bitter end to what had otherwise been a fantastic day. In fact the boys ended up with US $180 in tips after the tour yesterday.
Maybe they ended up with more………???????? I have never ever had reason to think that any of my staff with me now or any of those who have moved on have stolen anything from me or from my guests. One time over the past 8 years we had a camera stolen on board which ended up being taken by another guest….(long story but camera was returned), but this was the first time that one of my guests had cash taken in a situation where one or more of my staff was implicated.
I met the boat in Jolly Harbour and questioned each crew individually about the situation. From what i could tell Wan Lovv and Louie had always been together throughout the day especially when the guests were off the boat. As Wan Lovv is new on our boat i had asked the other crew to carefully guide him on how things run on our tour. They were never out of eachother's sight.
OK so what do I do? I guess I should now make the change to collect all moneys as people come on the boat like all the other tours do…..
This almost guarantees that I get the correct money at the end of the day, but it wouldn’t guarantee that other moneys or valuables in the guest’s bags were completely safe. It’s a tough one…there are many solutions which all have pros and cons. At the end of the day its something that I would like input from prospective guests and guests who have been with us before. What do you think about this situation and do you have any ideas about ways to make sure that it won’t happen again?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta and photos

Today is the last race in the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta. Actually the main part of the racing finished yesterday, and today’s race is the single handed race where the captains arte expected to race alone against each other. I can tell you that sailing some of those classic yachts with all the different rigs is difficult with a large crew let alone by yourself.

I drove for Roddy on Friday and for Ian on Saturday. Francis drove Roddy again on Sunday and I am sure that Acqua Films will come up with another awesome video of the Antigua Classic Yacht Challenge as it is now called.

The winds were fairly light which made the sailing seem less exciting, but with lighter winds there are always more critical decisions to be made by the skipper and crew. The lighter the winds are the more critical it is to use the best tactics, and there is no event out there where tactics are more crucial.
Tonight is the awards ceremony and I know that there are a few Antigua based yachts that are in contention for the overall trophy and coveted Panerai watch. As usual, the organization and participation was fantastic and I am sure this unique event will be getting great international press coverage. I took way too many photos on Saturday as Stevie was helping me drive. I put a few here for you to enjoy. If you wanna see more goto my photo site.

The Antigua Sailing Week parties start on Thursday and the first day of racing is Sunday. Sailing Week is always a much larger more modern event and although its facing increasing competition from St. Martin’s Heineken Regatta, it is generally regarded as the premier sailing event in the Caribbean.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Yesterday was Earth Day....

Earth day came and went once again without much attention here on the island or internationally being paid to its significance. Earth Day according to WIKI was started on April 22nd 1970 by a US senator by the name of Gaylord Nelson.

His funny name didn’t stop him from getting 20 million people to participate that first year. His steps to start this first “environmental teach in” has now become something which about 500 million people take part in each April 22nd. It is a day when people are encouraged to celebrate, learn and or teach more about our planet’s environment.

I find environmentalism something very tricky in fact. My dad has always been some sort of eco warrior here on the island and I guess his influence as well as my love for the natural environment helped me to become equally interested in the earth day principals of celebrating the earth’s environment and helping others see its fragile beauty.

On an island where there is always a great deal of development going on around you there are always stressors on the environment.

Also with such a terrible lack of environmental education within the government we have seen a very slow move towards protection of our environment. When the laws are finally drawn up to protect the mangroves, the fish or the reef….implementation is a further hurdle not even on the horizon. Being an eco warrior here isn’t that easy and faced with losing battles after battles some people just give up. After “fighting” for years on behalf of Antigua’s environment I recently decided to change my tactics. I felt I was becoming more and more disenchanted and made the conscious decision to take a few steps back away from fighting what seemed like a losing battle and to try to appreciate what was left more. While appreciating the environment I would try to show people what makes it special TO ME in an effort to change people’s perceptions about what it is that we are losing very quickly.

A little side note here: Yesterday I noticed that the lovely mangrove area next to the main road which runs between Jolly Harbour and Valley Church was being attacked by heavy machinery. I have no idea who the owner or developer is but someone has decided to fence some of the land adjacent to the mangroves and main road and to build a small road in between the fence and the swamp. In order to build this little road huge old mangrove trees were dug up this weekend. Yes on Earth Day mangrove plants were being dug up on the main land in plain view on Antigua. Anyway, on the weekend I was sure that it would be very difficult to get anything done so I waited until today. The property by the way starts next to the Coco’s turn off and almost appears to be owned by them although this may not be so at all. The first call I made a short while ago was to the Ministry Of Environment. Their website gives an environmental crime “hotline” so I called that one. A lady answered saying that of the three “officers” that were supposed to be there, one was off island, one was on sick leave and the other wasn’t going to be in the office that day. I told her that digging up mangrove was a pretty big deal and asked if there was anyone I could speak with. She said that I had better call the fisheries department. I wasn’t going to even bother with that one. The next phone call was to Cocos hotel since their main sign was along this fence and property. This time the person in the office there had no idea what I was speaking about. I don’t think they even knew what mangroves were, so I told them to have the owner give me a call. I know he recently was in a bunch of hot water with the government over environmental planning so I am sure he would be interested in this issue. Anyway, as you can see there seems to be very little interest in getting anything done here and sometimes banging your head against the wall hurts more than it helps. Many of the young Antiguan kids that I know seem to be more interested in the environment than their parents are and I guess time will tell if the next generation is willing to make changes. For now I think I will continue to enjoy it more than just rant about it. Of course I will also try to educate others about our environment as well.
Recently I found out that we have a recycling center here which is collecting #1 and #2 plastic bottles and containers as well as aluminum cans. I think they collect and crush them in order to send them off island to be recycled. It’s a great initiative and something that I decided I wanted to be part of. If you are here and want to learn more about it please email me or call me on 725 7263. Adventure Antigua now is taking all of our recyclable material to their collecting center on Barnes Hill. It actually feels good to do something however small it may be. Another nice thing that has happened recently is that Harney Motors is collecting all used engine oils to be used in the production of diesel. I am not sure how the process works but it sure feels good to take our waste oils to be processed knowing it will be re-used. There are many ways that we can all chip in to help the environment and we must not give up totally.
With all the guilt trips the hard core environmentalists are willing to share out and all the people on the opposite end of the scale who just don’t seem to care, it is easy to become disenchanted, but with the general theme of earth day which is to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s environment, I think we can make a difference.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta 2007

The 2007 Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta starts today with the skippers meeting coctail meeting going on as we speak. I was invited to go, but will try to avoid the free drink thing tonight as i have an early start tomorrow. Roddy and Ian from Acqua Films have hired me once again to be their boat driver over the four days of sailing.
My job will be to get them as close to the action as is safely possible without getting in the way or giving too much wake to the yachts. I guess i should have started out by explaining what the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta is all about. This event is now the most prestigious of its kind in the Caribbean and probably ranks out near the top internationally too. I think that in order to be eligible to register your yacht must be an older wooden boat or at least look like it is.
The organizers like to differentiate their regatta from the larger and less organized Antigua Sailing Week by saying that their competitors drink more champagne and less rum, but I think anyone on a yacht consumes copious amounts of rum whatever their vessel looks like. When Adventure Antigua was starting out i did plenty of driving for Michael Kahn who is a pro photographer that would come down to shoot the regatta. Check out his images. Lovely stuff. I got side tracked yesterday and didn’t finish posting this, so here it is a day later.
I shot the images on Wednesday. Hope you like em.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

billion dollar bridge

Usually I don't meddle too much directly in Antiguan politics as there are way too many people doing that as it is. This time the story is just too good to ignore. First of all, I have to clearly say that everything I am about to describe has come to me third hand, and so far I am unable to verify if the story is actually true. Whether it is or not doesn’t take away the fact that it's a great story.
Last Saturday we were sitting down for a big breakfast with several people and one of the people said that she had been told by a house guest that a politician was planning on building a bridge from Antigua to Barbuda. "WHAT!!!!!???", I said. I told them that their house guest must have heard wrong because nobody could be so silly to think that it was possible or even viable. It must have been a joke or more likely they must have misheard. She said that the house guest had heard it on the radio and that the politician had also said something about the "fact" that before humans had arrived on the islands, the islands were joined and deer were able to walk freely between the connected land mass. This nearly had me rolling on the floor in hysterics. I checked my watch for the date but April 1st was weeks before. Surely this politician was speaking about the offshore Guiana Island with its deer. The island is so close to the mainland that conceivably a bridge could be built and once upon a time the shallow section on the South West side could have allowed deer to pass between the two. My breakfast buddy agreed that her house guest must have heard wrong and the politician must have been speaking about Guiana and its deer. After all, with all the political debate and fervor surrounding Guiana Island a bridge would be something spoken about. Anyway days later, I find out that not only was there some truth to the story in the Antigua Sun newspaper, but it wasn't a joke either. The article didn't appear to mention anything about the deer and also didn't get into any proper debate about the possibility of the noble plans.
I think the Allan Stanford owned Antigua Sun dropped the ball on this story. There is so much to this story that could be written about that I am just gonna have to attempt to put a few thoughts down myself.
Lets first speak about the deer, but in doing so please let it be known that I have not found out if the politician did actually say anything about them. If not the following is just food for thought that you can chew over if you like. I am about to say something that may come as a big shock to some Antiguan readers. It may be so controversial that if I was not a proud Antiguan, I could be thrown off the island. Here goes: THE DEER ARE NOT INDIGENOUS. The word indigenous means native or originally from. In other words the deer we have in Antigua were not originally from here and were actually imported to the islands very recently in the historical scheme of things. The fallow deer is actually what environmentalists would call an alien species. Furthermore in the general scheme of things environmentally most alien species are regarded as being a negative strain on the local environment. Deer are seen as an extremely dangerous and destructive alien species to the indigenous plant life found on the area which they have either invaded or been brought to. It’s not that difficult to see that deer restrict the growth of plant life and there are hundreds of scientific articles and journals describing this. That’s another story, but the point is these deer were not originally found here and the indigenous people, the Arawak Indians, did not ever see them. The deer were imported long after the Europeans arrived here. A very good site for historical info is Look what they have to say about the deer.

"N A T I O N A L A N I M A L
The European Fallow Deer. (Dama dama dama)
Suitably, two deer are very prominent on our nation’s coat-of-arms. Deer do not live on any other island in the Eastern Caribbean, but they have thrived on Barbuda and Guiana Island (off the north coast of Antigua) for centuries. Deer are not indigenous to Antigua and Barbuda, but then no other mammal appears to be except perhaps a bat or two. It is thought European Fallow Deer were first introduced from Norway into England at the time of James I. It is not known exactly when the lessees of Barbuda, the Codringtons, introduced deer into Barbuda, but there were as many as a thousand head in 1740 and by 1827, they were a “nuisance” for they stripped the vegetation. In 1784, three thousand were reported, whereas a century later, there were only about 300. Deer were introduced onto Guiana Island sometime after 1811, when Bethell Codrington bought it for raising stock.
There has been some confusion as to whether the deer were Fallow or White-tailed, but it has now been ascertained they are Fallow. There are at least two varieties, black and common. At the beginning of this century the hunting license fee was œ1 for 3 deer, and the season was from January to April and from July to October. It is no longer common to see deer in Barbuda. There are quite a number of them on Guiana Island on the north coast of Antigua, which are carefully protected."

Let’s move onto the idea of constructing a bridge to Barbuda.
The worlds most powerful and richest country is considering a similar bridge and plan so that one of its smallest islands can be properly developed and its 8000 people can more easily travel back and forth. That bridge would span a slightly shorter distance of about half a mile. The water is much shallower between the mainland and the island there too but the cost of this bridge seems to be about US $315 million which the USA thinks is too much at the moment. If we consider that construction is always more expensive here and that the water is way deeper and the distance way longer…I can conservatively estimate that the cost of a bridge to Barbuda would be about US $16,380,000,000. Over Sixteen billion us dollars is possible to find these days I guess. The boys from Google each have found that kind of cash pretty quickly, but somehow I think that our little Gov will have a little more difficulty coming up with an idea similar to that of Larry Page and Sergey Brin.
All in all I think this story is filled with fantasy and humor and worth of more discussion. Whatever happens in the future with this bridge...let me just say that I would be the first person in line to drive over. The pic above shows why.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

laughing into spring

Several weeks ago I wrote saying that spring had arrived and each day more and more signs of spring show up around Antigua. It’s such a lovely time all over the world depending on when it actually happens, and Antigua is no different. When we were in Barbuda for the Easter holiday one of the biggest tell tale signs that show that winter is over was the arrival of Laughing Gulls. These gulls arrive each year around this time having flown down from the South East Coast of the USA where they scavenge in the winter. They arrive here as huge schools of pilchards and other tiny fish are hatching out. You will see them feeding all around the coastline in big flocks trying to catch little fish. They will also feed on anything else they can get their beaks on and if you are here in the summer you will have to guard your lunch carefully if you are picnicking on the beach. I have seen them clean someone’s plate as they walked off for coffee leaving their full English breakfast unguarded. Watch out!! These laughing gulls start laying eggs some time around the end of May on many of the off-shore islands around Antigua.

Just this morning I was on Dickenson bay beach meeting the eco tour when I heard one of the beach vendors complaining about “these dam birds……they make so much noise and harass the tourists when dem ah eat.” I thought that was pretty funny.
There are more funny things about them though. When they are making their nests you will see many of them jockeying for a good position on one of the islands and they look and sound like they are arguing. I have sat there and had a good laugh myself as they appear to scream and shout at each other.

Once they have nested and the little grey chicks begin to leave their nests something amazing happens up around Bird, Exchange and Rabbit Islands. We often see a single adult sitting on the water with about 12-20 little grey juveniles screaming instructions…or so it appears. I am not kidding either. If you come here in August or September you will see this for sure. Just ask Tony to show you the laughing gull school and he will know what you are talking about. These birds are also very aggressive with other birds and we have seen them actually eat other small birds like finches and hummingbirds. I have seen a large flock of adults almost work together to push a small bird over the water in order to kill it and eat it. The crazy thing is that only one gull gets to eat it. Spanish point in barbuda is where we have seen that. These birds will also steal and eat other bird’s eggs. They are nesting the same time as the tiny least terns unfortunately for the terns. They also will eat little hawksbill turtles if they get the chance and you will hear about that problem on the eco tour if you come. All in all these laughing gulls are hard core survivors and although they are pests to many they are interesting in their methods and do signal spring’s arrival. Don’t get too annoyed with their laugh!

Monday, April 16, 2007

photography you say?

While at university getting my business degree my curriculum directed me to take several electives which were any classes could fit into my work schedule. You had to do them and the choices were not always that interesting to me. After all my school was primarily an engineering school and the study of fluid dynamics sounded extremely difficult no matter how interesting. Instead I was lucky enough to be able to pick three different environmental science classes over on year, a human sexuality class, and I did a advanced open water diving certification which was offered as an elective too. Cool huh? I had almost ran out of “easy” elective options and the only class that was left that looked easy enough to fit in while trying to get through Managerial Accounting, Finance, and Economics classes was a course in Photography. Surprisingly is was a three credit class over three months which was quite a bit for something I thought would be so simple. Hey I could handle it…and I had heard that there were always cute girls in that class too. I borrowed a camera and signed up for the night class. From day one, I realized how wrong I had been about this class. As usual because Florida Tech was mostly filled with engineering majors the cute girl thing didn’t materialize. Now I don’t want any engineering majors to get upset with me, but back in the very early 90s most of Florida Tech was made up of men and the few women there fit the unfortunate engineering major stereotype which at the time wasn’t my kind of match. Anyway, I was there to learn and in this case learn about photography. My teacher seemed to be a nice guy who was quite obviousely extremely talented, but I was sure that he must have been a drill sergeant in his last life. For the next three months he forced us to do an incredible amount of work and I ended up trying to find time to deal with my other business classes. He was specifically interested in making sure we understood the technical aspects of photography focusing on the subtle differences that changes in shutter speed or aperture could accomplish. Very surprisingly I found out that I actually enjoyed completing the assignments and it ended up being a favorite class of mine. After graduating I didn’t spend much time taking photos since it was so expensive to get them developed. I was spending every available cent on my windsurfing career anyway, so my camera got moth balled and forgotten. Then came the digital revolution and all of a sudden you could get an inexpensive digital camera that you could manually adjust the settings like you would on a proper 35mm camera. I got one and immediately fell back into it. Over the past few years I have done quite a bit of photography for two main reasons I guess. One is because I find it quite relaxing and the other is because I like showing people the adventurews that my friends and I get up to. Not everyone will get an oppottunity to see some of the things I have been lucky to be part of, and I know that many enjoy the images. Some time ago I was shown a site called Flickr which is one of the many photo sharing sites on the net. I kept on getting harassed by friends to email them photos I had taken while out at the beach or at a party and emailing images is always a time consuming business. On flickr there is a simple uploading tool that you can download which helps you put your photos of any size onto the net in seconds. Once they are up there then you just have to email the ling to your friends and then they can pass them around or not. Flickr was purchased by yahoo recently and it has turned into one of the biggest photo sites on the net. All you have to do is type in a search for a particular photo and flickr is one of the sites that comes up. For example if you type in “photos of Antigua” into a google search you will get flickr coming up first. More and more people are finding my photos on the internet and often if they are flickr members they will comment. Most of my friends here on the island who have cameras have flickr accounts now and I think the site encourages people to take better photos. Anyway, I have always kept this particular flickr account separate from my business as its been quite personal in some ways, but recently more and more people are finding it and keeping it separate seems silly. I have been adding photos for what seems like ages and they are not all from Antigua. Hope you don’t waste too much time on them. The site is enjoy.

PS Today is Tony’s birthday and tomorrow is JD’s. Happy birthday to both of these great guys. I am so lucky to have them working with me. The photo above is of JD taken at his dad’s wedding on Saturday. The other is of Tony just after doing one of his famous dives. The one at the top was taken on a private charter i did last week.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The annual Barbuda Easter Camp. Part 4

Well on Monday we all awoke knowing we had to pack up and get back to "work" in Antigua which wasn't the best feeling when you have just had the most relaxing and fun filled little holiday. Anyway, there are worse places to return to I guess so I’ll shut up about that.
The eco boat needed a little maintenance before we left and after changing the air filter and fuel filters, both of the Adventure Antigua boats set off carefully through the reef into the Atlantic on the east side of the island. We decided to go the shorter but rougher way towards Spanish Point which is the most Southerly spot on the island. The waters there are out of this world and it’s a nice place to stop off at before the trip back to Antigua. On the way up the coast we saw birds diving and couldn't resist putting over a few lines. On Xtreme it was just Mykl and I, so when we did actually hook onto a huge Mahi Mahi it was quite a challenge getting it to the boat. As the fish tore off line from the reel I stopped the boat and got Mykl set up with a belt to fight the fish. I gave her a few points on the technique too but within a short time she was too tired to bring that strong mahi the rest of the way in. I took over and finally got the big mahi into the boat about 15 minutes after she swallowed our little lure. We were using very light spinning tackle which is why it took so long, but I always prefer to use light tackle when out fishing. My dad doesn't approve and my uncle thinks giving the fish a chance isn't what it’s about. Old timers! haha
Once we had the fish I noticed all that rocking and rolling out there had turned Mykl a bit paler and I realized that we needed to get going quickly. That is always easy with Xtreme, and within another 20 minutes we were coming around the windward side of Spanish Point where my dad and uncle had been chilling with their crews. I filleted the mahi and got the meat all cut up into nice chunks ready to be seasoned and cooked. While I was bagging the fish Ali and his crew arrived in time for lunch which all the boats and their crews enjoyed with the amazing waters as our backdrop. Lovely! Having the quickest boat, Mykl and I were last to head back home and while setting the boat up we had a call from the others to say that they had just seen a lovely pod of dolphins surfing in the channel. On the way back we strained our eyes in vain to see whales or dolphins.
This photo is of the two whales we saw over the weekend. Big John had taken the photo.

The seas were fairly calm and the trip back was easy. Big John also took this photo of me and mykl on Xtreme passing them on the way home.

After plenty of help from all the crew washing and unloading the boats a bunch of us decided to go and have a meal at Castaways. They had gotten some of our mahi mahi too which the chef prepared in a lovely appetizer for us all to try. Yum the food was good and we all sat there after the meal satisfied in a way that you only can feel after a good island vacation.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The annual Barbuda Easter Camp. Part 3

During dinner the night before, my uncle Jim had challenged the team members of Adventure Antigua - Xtreme to a fishing competition the next morning. He said that fishing times were to be between 8 and 12 in the morning and that we had to be back at the beach no later than 12:30 pm. He had Alan and his son Ian as well as Stevie on board and on our boat it was Big John, Anthony, my bro Ali and my Dad. We left together slowly winding out though the reef into the Atlantic. From there we raced ahead looking for birds which we found very quickly. By the time Jim caught up with us we had a mahi mahi on the line which unfortunately freed itself shortly afterwards. We watched as Jim hooked into and landed two fish. We could see the mahi chasing flying fish out of the water while the frigates tried to catch them in mid air and we continued to follow them all in the hopes of hooking up. We made a few mistakes with out baits and saw Jim hook up again. Since the day before we had seen birds all along the coast we made an even bigger mistake by deciding to go to look for them. We traveled for miles and miles looking for frigate birds which are the signals for mahi mahi proximity and to our dismay we found none until about 11 am. I spotted a massive flock of them way offshore in the distance and we headed out to intercept with hopes of catching the mother load. On our way out to them we hooked up with a mahi of about 30 lbs and finally landed our first fish. We were sure that once we got to the frigate birds the fish box would fill up, but once we got there we could see that the fish under the birds were not actually mahi, but were all small tunas instead. These little skip jack tunas were jumping and chasing their prey to the surface where the frigate birds could feed from them too. No mahi though and we finally realized that Jim was going to slaughter us....
There was one thing that could save us though and that was the very time rule that he had been so adamant about. "Be back by 12:30 pm" he had said. We were zooming down outside the barrier reef and could see him way behind us doing the same thing. I was sure that he'd be too late once we got inside the reef and had to slow down. Sure enough we arrived back in at 12:26 which was confirmed by his wife, Mossy. Jim arrived back 10 minutes later to be officially DSQ'd making us the winners on a technicality. This didn't make any of us feel better when we watched him and his gloating crew off load 9 mahi mahi. Ruben who owned the base camp was delighted with all the fish which he will use in a big fish fry later this month. For now it’s filleted and stored in the freezer at his place. Ours was prepared for more fish dinners at the camp.

After a quick lunch and a short rest we set off with the girls and other youngsters on a snorkeling adventure further up the barrier reef. On the way we came across several surfing dolphins which seemed very uninterested in our boat as we passed by. We tucked into a tight spot outside the reef close to the place we had been the day before. The snorkeling was not bad, but we had never been there before and unfortunately didn't match up with our expectations. After the terrible category 5 hurricane had made a direct hit there in 1995 much of the reef had been destroyed and the influx of illegal fishing by Guadeloupian and Dominican fishermen has taken its toll. I guess I am just comparing it to how I remember it from before 1995 and although it’s still beautiful and interesting it’s not as good as it was back then. At this time of the year I am always looking out to sea whenever I can in the hopes of seeing whales. I have seen several but hadn't seen any up until then. While the rest of the snorkelers were still boarding I was lucky enough to see a whale spout just outside the reef. It appeared to be within a mile of us and once all souls were back on board we ventured outside the reef to look for them. Of course we were going very slowly while we looked for the whales which gave Big John and the other guys time to put out a rod. Almost immediately we hooked up to another Mahi and surprisingly it was only in about 80 feet of water. Usually these fish are in deeper waters. Anyway, we boated it and shortly afterwards met up with the whales. It was a massive momma and her tiny calf playing in about 100 feet of water. There were about 12 of us on board and many had never seen whales before, so it was extra special getting so close to these amazing creatures. The calf seemed intrigued with us and kept trying to get close, but the mom was more cautious and always seemed to keep a safe distance for them both. I would estimate the calf to be less than 15 feet long and fantastically cute. The momma surfaced to spout and show the tell tale humpback about 50 feet from us. She was enormous and was probably about 18 feet wide. Her back was ever so dark and smooth looking. Anthony and I jumped in with our snorkeling gear expecting them to come closer, but unfortunately we never got close enough to see them.
Back at the base camp later that night we had a massive seafood dinner with "fish water" stew and fungi as well as a lovely dish of seasoned fried fish. The fish was so fresh and tasty that we all ate too much. IT wasn't easy to finish off the freshly made bread pudding either.

I was so tired and satisfied with the day and evening that I don't even remember falling asleep that night. What a lovely day it was...I didn't even think about the fact that it was our last full day there.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The annual Barbuda Easter Camp. Part 2

Saturday we woke to a strong south easterly breeze which made it impossible to think about a fishing trip which is what we had been planning. Instead, after a huge family and friend breakfast we discussed packing all the gang into Xtreme and going up the coast a few miles to a beautiful section of beach. The beach we chose was fairly close to a place called Two Foot Bay which is the most popular windward beach on Barbuda. To get to this particular one, we had to navigate through some very treacherous reef. Just past Fishing Creek there is a very nasty section of reef at a place called Hog Hole and we had to be extremely careful getting out through the channel there. The waters were as shallow as about three feet with sharp reef and rocks on either side of the boat with very little room to play with. To add a little more danger to this is the fact that the channel leads into the Atlantic and is filled with terribly strong currents and sharp breaking waves. Not only do you have to avoid hitting the reef, but you also had to avoid getting into trouble with breakers. In my lifetime there have been several fishing boats lost there and one of them ended up with both of the fishermen drowning. Anyway, on this day the weather wasn’t too rough and we made it through with only a bit of adrenalin being expelled into my bloodstream. Once we had cleared the channel and re-entered the barrier reef protected, lagoon, the waters calmed down and the currents subsided. We anchored fairly close to a deserted shore that seemed to stretch for miles and miles. There is no doubt at all that Xtreme was the largest boat ever to anchor up in this small bay and just getting there was very rewarding.

The beautiful Mykl and I had brought along some kayaks and set off quickly upwind through the reef and waves towards a bit of interesting looking beach about a mile away. The others did some beachcombing with my bro Ali, doing some light tackle fishing. The colours were out of this world and it was a lovely walk and kayak. Everyone had a bit of flotsam and jetsam to be carried back to base camp. My step mom, Sarah, had loads of interesting driftwood to add to replenish her stocks. She uses it in very interesting artwork which can be seen at Woods Art Gallery. The pic below is of a lamp of hers. Cool stuff!!

When we got back on board we were all starving and decided that we couldn’t wait to get back to camp for lunch. Out came some crackers and a lovely bit of Brie and tapenade….washed back with some bottled water and some sodas all nine of us were stuffed and totally satisfied.
Anyone who knows about boating in reefy situations in the tropics knows that you always want to have to avoid navigating into glare or any sort of bad light. By the time we were ready to navigate back through Hog Hole it was too late to see the reef properly, so we decided to be safe and to go into the Atlantic and stay outside the barrier reef all the way to the North West side of Barbuda. We could then come up inside the reef with the light behind us. On our way out the reef we saw some frigate birds feeding which told us there were mahi mahi feeding too…Before the girls (who are not fishing fans) could muster up complaints we had the lines over the side as we trolled through the birds. Very quickly we were hooked into two mahi mahi. My dad had one and my brother had the other. We were using light tackle and the fish were large, so it took a while to get them to the boat.

By the time we did my sister Rachel was almost as green as the beautiful mahi mahi, and we had to speed off before she lost her brie and crackers over the side. The triumphant fishermen returned to base camp where filleting and seasoning started up in preparation for another great dinner. That night after a lovely dinner, the domino action was loud and full of intricate cheating techniques.
The kayaking and fishing had knocked Mykl and I out and we didn’t last long. Back on the boat the sky was bright with squillions of twinkling stars and we sat on deck exploring them in awe. When you have a clear night in a remote place that isn’t polluted with artificial light…the sky is fascinating and it’s almost like you had forgotten how beautiful it actually was.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The annual Barbuda Easter Camp. Part 1

Ever since I was a little kid and I am talking dad has been taking us camping to Barbuda for Easter. Of course we have missed a few Easters over the years, but usually you will find us over there fishing, snorkeling, beachcombing and boating during the long holiday weekend. You see, we get Friday and Monday as public holidays here in Antigua and Barbuda, so there are always a few days off from school and work. We have rented little houses in the village, camped in tents, stayed on sailing yachts and powerboats, and have gotten there in everything from tiny open fishing boats to tiny planes and now our company boats. Its always fun to get off the beaten path and somehow we never get bored with it either. After looking at the shot above try to imagine getting sick of that place...
Anyway, this Easter I had booked regular tours on the Thursday as well as a private charter on Xtreme for Friday. My brother was not happy as he had anticipated getting over there on Thursday afternoon. Anyway, he and a bunch of friends went over on Friday morning to meet up with my uncle and dad who had already gone there days before on their own boats. I did the charter on Friday with Tony since all the other Adventure Antigua crew had special plans. As usual Tony was there to save the day.....It was a lovely day too. The Boltons had been with us many times before and the weather couldn't have been any better. Anyway, after the charter we fueled back up and got the boat ready and packed for me to take it to Barbuda. The general rule of thumb when going to Barbuda is to get there in good light. I have been there so many times that with the modern GPS system that Xtreme has, I was sure that all would be cool. Mykl took up my invite and came along with me after we said thanks and goodbye to Tony. We picked up a little extra ice and a cappuccino from Melinis in Jolly Harbour and took off around sunset.

The seas had calmed down from the Bolton's charter and we were able to push it pretty hard on the way over cruising the whole way at over 33 knots. I was trying to get into the lee of Palmetto Point, Barbuda before it got too dark to see the waves. When you can’t see gets difficult to maintain any kind of good speed. Well even at speeds of up to 37 knots we were not fast enough to outrun the darkness and I ended up having to slow down quite a bit for the last 8 miles or so. Once we were in the lee, it was dark but calm and we had to carefully use the GPS to avoid the reefs and shallow spots on the way up to the North side of Barbuda. Our camping spot this year on the North Beach was well inside the shallow banks outside Barbuda's lagoon mouth and for the last mile I had to idle over the shallows in the darkness. It wasn't really darkness because the stars were very bright and there was a big glow over the shore coming from Codrington in the distance. Our navigation lights were dazzling fish in the shallows and we kept on hearing splashes. All of a sudden a garfish slammed into the side of the boat. That would have left a bruise. Poor fish. Then another..and another...and another... It was like suicide garfish bombers left and right. We were worried that one might make it over the sides and hit us so we got high up on the helm chair. These oceanic gar fish average about 3 feet in length and look like skinny barracudas. Their sharp pointy beaks are full of tiny teeth that will do damage if they come into contact with you. They skip along the water's surface when hunting or being chased by a predator themselves and I have two friends who have been badly injured by them while out windsurfing. The frightened fish just jumped out of the water into them as they zoomed past on their windsurfers, so this is what I was thinking as my nav lights caused these barbudan gars to go ballistic.

After a few tense minutes of bombardment we managed to clear the shallow flats and move into deeper waters without any damage to Xtreme or ourselves. We only had a quarter mile to go and could see the camp's lights. We arrived just in time for a fantastic mahi mahi (dolphin fish) dinner put on by Alan, my uncle Jim’s fishing partner. I shot this pic of Alan and a mahi last year.

Having sipped a few 5 Year Old English Harbour Rum and cokes and watched some hard core domino action it was time to hit the sack. It had been a long day and I had done over 140 miles at the helm. The night sky was awesome and falling asleep with the noise of gentle waves caressing the boat's hull wasn't difficult. More of our holiday tomorrow.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

clear skies and clear waters

For the past few days the skies have been clearer than they have been for the year and out on the boats we have been able to see the islands of Guadeloupe off to the south, Montserrat puffing away to the South West, Redonda desolate in the West-South-West, Nevis in the West with even St. Kitts a little further North. You rarely will see the skies this clear and it has also been very calm making for glorious boating weather. I have been out the past few days on my little tender which is working great as well as on charter yesterday. We have had a bit of winds out of the North which I guess has kept the African dust pushed further South keeping in nice and clear.

The snorkeling has been equally spectacular on the offshore reefs and I even have gotten into the water!!! These days I find myself waiting for summer before I get in the water (someone always has to stay on the boat you see), but the water has been warm and clear. Too warm many are saying actually. I am saving up for a big hurricane blog soon, but it should be noted that because of the incredibly warm water temps in the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean, the forecasters are expecting an active hurricane season. For once the higher temps are not being blamed on Global Warming though….it seems that a La Nina occurrence is the culprit this time. Don’t get too stressed out though because increased African dust will help prevent the big storms from forming too. It’s a mixed up world we live in these days. Read these very recent interesting articles for more info and ….

Anyway getting back to the topic of clear skies and clear waters. While snorkeling we noticed that although the waters were very clear, there was lots of stuff within it. Upon closer inspection you could see that it contained large amounts of plankton and tiny jellies. Very interesting even though it was extremely difficult to make out exactly what they looked like. I did see some interesting shapes and one such “jelly” actually looked like a tiny tiny dandelion.
Our whales that are passing through at the moment reportedly don’t actually feed on this plankton, but I don’t know why as there is so much of the stuff. Must be too spicy for them or something…”Jerk Plankton” mustn’t be that popular for these North Atlantic feeders. One animal that does eat the stuff is the whale shark and another is the manta ray which both can be seen off Antigua and Barbuda. Although extremely rare, these animals are seen occasionally and I managed to see a whale shark this time last year. They are huge creatures which love to eat plankton, but will also eat small fish as well. Speaking of small fish, yesterday while I was snorkeling I saw a small school of pilchards being chased and preyed upon by yellowtail snappers and oceanic garfish. I don’t often see feeding taking place out on the reef but these poor little pilchards were being slaughtered. One of them managed to escape and swam right up to me to hide I guess. How did it know I don’t like whitebait? It’s not easy out there in the sea. Earlier coming down past the St. James Club we had seen a current line were there was a definite change in water clarity. I thought I saw a school of these pilchards and slowed only to see that it was a huge school of big Jacks feeding on tiny little fish. They looked very similar to the fish that Nemo saved at the end of the famous Disney film although these were free and needed no rescue. When we are lucky to have such clear skies and waters you tend to see so much more. Turtles, rays, dolphins and even whales are easier to spot. This weekend we have several days off for the Easter holidays and I hope this weather holds up. When you are here and do some snorkeling, try to look out for the small things as well.
Many people go snorkeling just expecting to see big fish not ever noticing the abundance of small stuff like pilchards and plankton. Its all cool out there enjoy it if you can.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

leaping lizards!!!!

I love saying leaping lizards.. It just sounds funny doesn't it? Anyway today's post will be shorter but kinda is coupled with yesterday's one to do with currents. Currents usually stay fairly constant here in these islands as does most things do to with the weather until there is a tropical disturbance. Hurricanes change everything and all bets are off during a storm. Back in the 1995 and 1998 hurricane seasons we had several monster storms that showed us things that had never been seen in hundreds of years. In fact some archeologists say that Barbuda hadn't had a storm like Louis in over 2000 years. Lets me not get off topic as that whole hurricane topic is way too big for today. Anyway, one of the storms that managed to miss us passed right over our neighbor island to the South and did considerable damage. Guadeloupe's rivers were filled to over capacity and many trees got washed away from their banks. These trees washed into the sea, and on them there were all sorts of animals now afloat in the sea. If all things were left normal, then the trees would have kept following the current stream that I spoke about in the last blog, but this was a hurricane. Hurricanes spin clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and as they approach the prevailing winds change direction. In fact, you can generally know where the storm is depending on which direction the winds blow from. The old people say that when a storm approaches you can put your back to the wind and put you left arm out to the side. Point a finger and that's where the storm is. Generally they move in a WNW motion when they get to these islands too. Anyway as the storm moves by the winds change and it isn't uncommon for the winds to switch 180 degrees as the storm passes. That's what happened at about the same time all the trees were expelled into the sea and the winds stayed out of the west for about 2 days sending these trees quite far into the Atlantic. After the storm finally passed the winds then died and we can deduce that the trees and all the other junk from the storm just sat out there east of the island chain waiting until the winds and currents went back to normal. When they did we started getting all sorts of debris and trees floating up on our shores. Huge trees floated up onto the windward beaches on Antigua and Barbuda. On them were some survivors that had never seen Antigua. Lizards and insects arrived wet and cold looking for a new home. Many died because our vegetation is very different here, but the large Iguana that made it to Barbuda's shoreline managed to survive. Since then I have always seen their clumsy tracks on the beaches there and have spoken too many who have seen them. Anyway, ten days ago some friends and family went over to Barbuda for a little adventure and while we were there I finally saw an iguana. The massive lizard was different than I imagined with darker skin than the ones from Montserrat. It was more beautiful too....I guess the beach life has been good for them, but I was happy to finally see my first one. Mykl saw another just a bit further up the beach so their numbers must be growing. This is such a fantastic example of how life can spread from island to island and further. I think we have seen and are seeing evolutionary history here especially because these animals have had to live in such a different habitat. They can't be eating the same stuff that was available in the lush green habitat of Guadeloupe because Barbuda is dry with very little vegetation. Anyway, something interesting to think about isn't it. Hey this pic is of a message we found in a bottle mixed up with all the flotsam and jetsam on the beach in Barbuda. I have found dozens and dozens over the years but this one had all it's ink erased by water. People rarely seal the bottles well enough. Another good trick is to put rice inside to soak up condensation. Use pencil too and you can even sink the top into some wax to be sure the top is sealed well. I have learned these tricks from the good messages I have found. Anyway enjoy your day.....its glass calm and I am on charter. Love it. The message by the way was from 1999 and was found very close to the water's edge...i have walked that same bit of beach several times over the past year. We think that it missed the caribbean and all other land masses and went around the currents more than one time which is why it took so long to get to a beach. What do you think?

Monday, April 02, 2007

flotsam and jetsam

Growing up on the windward coast here in Antigua, I became fascinated at an early age with flotsam and jetsam. Here is a good definition for both of these words which I found on wikipedia:

“Traditionally, flotsam and jetsam are words that describe goods of potential value that have been thrown into the ocean. There is a technical difference between the two: jetsam has been voluntarily cast into the sea (jettisoned) by the crew of a ship, usually in order to lighten it in an emergency; while flotsam describes goods that are floating on the water without having been thrown in deliberately, often after a shipwreck. Traditionally spelled flotsom and jetsom, the "o" was replaced with "a" in the early twentieth century and have since been out of common usage.”

Whenever I walk any beach facing windward I look along the shoreline for jetsam and flotsam as I find the stuff so interesting. I imagine how it fist got into the water and the journey it’s traveled to get there. The best place I have ever seen for the stuff is the east coast of Barbuda which is where I have spent a great many holidays as a kid and now as a “grownup”. Beachcombing is one of the most relaxing things for me and sometimes I am happy to walk for hours and hours looking for shells and washed up bits and pieces. Of course most of the stuff that washes up is total garbage, but so much of it is more than just trash. If you spend time to think about the negative aspects of this garbage it can be quite depressing for many reasons. I mean I have actually freed several turtles from big green nets out in the Atlantic. Of course this is the most obvious way flotsam can harm animals. I am not sure where this thick green net comes from but its drifts up all over the Caribbean from out in the Atlantic. No fishermen here use it, and I am sure that if I did a little research I could find which county’s fishermen use it. Apart from killing turtles, it covers the reefs as it drifts towards the shore. There isn’t a single section of reef on Barbuda’s windward coast that is without this type of net. I have never seen it myself, but did see a report on TV about whales that had become entangled in it.
At the end of the day, anything at all that floats will end up drifting ashore or getting stuck on a reef someday. Beaches that have people living along them or those that have hotels beside them will probably be cleaned, but remote windward beaches will have flotsam and jetsam piling up until they photo degrade or until they are covered in sand.

People are always surprised to see all the garbage when the go to one of these remote windward beaches. I have heard many people ask why the locals there leave all the trash.

Many people think that the garbage was left there by ignorant picnickers, and I have to explain how it all works. Let me try here…: Much of the Atlantic above the equator is like a large connected river. The currents swirl around covering thousands and thousands of miles. This map gives you an excellent guide to help explain what I am speaking about. Keep it open in another window if you like. Ok imagine you are on a yacht off England and France trying to sail into the English Channel. The winds have picked up and your trusty Tilly Hat blows off your head into the sea. There is too much work to do to tack back and retrieve the hat which has accompanied you across the Atlantic from Antigua, so you say goodbye and keep sailing on. The Tilly family made their hats for sailing and from the start had designed these fine hats to be unsinkable by using a bit of foam inside them. The Tilly hat is now flotsam and is starting a long voyage which will take it all the way back to the country of Antigua and Barbuda. The currents carry the hat way offshore France and down past Spain just missing its North Western tip as it meets up with a few wine bottles along the way.

It passes along the coast of Portugal where it bumps into fishing nets, buoys, bottles and other flotsam. It makes the crossing outside the Med on a long voyage well offshore morocco towards the Canary Islands. Bumping into a few pieces of pumice is narrowly escapes floating up onto a busy beach filled with people speaking what sounds like German. Wow that was lucky (just kidding)…..The air starts to get pretty dusty and with all the barnacles and other live stuff trying to attach themselves, it isn’t easy keeping clean. The Tilly is starting to look pretty old and the journey isn’t over yet. Passing offshore the East African coast the weather starts to get much warmer even though the haze makes the sky a bit misty. Tiny fish have started to hide under the hat and every now and then Dolphin Fish bump into it trying to catch them. The barnacles are being chewed off by oceanic trigger fish and the Tilly is now a floating habitat on course to the Caribbean. Ah ahead are some very beautiful islands and for a few days everyone thinks they have arrived in the Caribbean a bit early. Instead up washing ashore the currents make a sharp turn and the Tilly habitat escapes washing ashore on the Cape Verde islands. Beautiful place though. Days turn into weeks without seeing land and apart from a few birds which try to land on the Hat nothing unusual happens. A shark comes by to see if the Tilly is alive and gives it a good bump before slowly disappearing into the deep blue. Six weeks after leaving the Cape Verde Islands the Tilly bumps into a large clump of Sargasso Seaweed which contains a wealth of life and other floating debris. There isn’t much wind or current here and for a week or so the sea of weed seems to trap the Tilly. The winds pick up as some stormy clouds pass and once again the hat is on the move along with a nice wine bottle. The bottle has something in it and upon closer inspection it appears to have a note inside. The bottle floats past and for a week nothing comes near the hat until one afternoon after sunset a long florescent bulb comes drifting past. That night there is a noise in the distance and brightly covered sea monster comes zooming past going the opposite direction. Several days later two heavily bearded men come rowing their boat slowly past the Tilly. They look tired and appear to have had way too much sun. Both the hat and the rowers are on the same course and maybe they will meet up in the Caribbean. It gets very windy again and a very beautiful jellyfish comes sailing very rapidly past the hat trailing a thin carpet of purple and blue tentacles. One of the tiny trigger fish that was hiding under the hat is curious and gets too close. Immediately it is stunned by the tentacles which appear to drag the little fish towards the sailing blue devil.

The Portuguese Man of War has captured one from the Tilly habitat. The next day the hat floats by a funny thing: a computer screen covered in barnacles bobs up and down ever so slowly drifting in the currents. You see all sorts in this river of current. You imagine anything at all that can float and that could possibly end up in the sea and it will be there. After about 8 months of drifting and hoping to end up back in Antigua the end is near. The currents have changed a tiny bit and instead of drifting up at Green Island the Tilly makes it to its second most favorite place. It’s a tiny beach at a place called Griffin Point on the East Coast of Barbuda. Most of the fish that were hiding beneath the hat realized something was wrong as the hat tumbled through the breakers on the outer reefs. They decided to swim out past the reef into the currents in order to keep drifting with a beer crate they had seen that morning. The beer crate had more of a habitat anyway, but the Tilly had made it to land at long last. The bright sandy beach was more beautiful than could be described but it was hot. It was super hot, and before long all the barnacles and other life stuck on the hat had been bleached off by the sun. The hat lay there baking every day with only crabs, a few nesting turtles, and several migratory birds passing close by. It wasn’t until a tall lanky guy called Eli passed by that a new permanent home would be found.
Hahahaha the End? Not really….because I gotta explain what happened to the beer crate. LOL …I won’t do it like i did with the hat, but the currents that pass through the Caribbean islands make their way up to join the extremely strong Gulf Stream which goes along the east coast of the USA all the way up to Canada. All that flotsam that didn't get washed ashore carries on in this river of current. From Canada it leaves and goes back towards England where the beer crate may wash up on a nice beach on Cornwall. Things can and often make their way around the Atlantic more than one time, but any time you walk on a windward facing beach in this long journey you will find garbage that could have entered the sea anywhere along its path. Almost all the soft plastics have bite marks from fish, turtles and other wildlife. Much of the readable containers are written in Portuguese and Spanish, and some of the fishing equipment is extremely primitive suggesting poor countries like those on the west africa. There are long line glow sticks suggesting hard core commercial fishing, and all kinds of other interesting clues as to where the washed up stuff came from. Next time you see something on a beach imagine the travels it’s been on. Its a fun bit of day dreaming.