Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Francis Nunes Memorial Fishing Tournament

This past weekend Team Adventure Antigua took place with both of our main boats in the sport fishing tournament put together in memory of the long time president of the fishing association. The Francis Nunes tournament was plenty of fun with something like 24 boats taking part. There are some wonderful photos on their main site seen here.

On Xtreme with me was captain Tony, Guilli, Stephany, and Gavin. We covered plenty of ground looking for Wahoo and only managed to get one. We also got a small tuna, a cuda and a small mackerel. It was terribly slow fishing but we did get the second biggest fish (the wah00) which was also the biggest fish caught by a female. It was nice to get a trophy out of the tournament as our crew worked very hard and as a team. Captain JD took a bunch of his family and friends out on the Arawak Odyssey and caught loads of small tuna (too small to count as black fin usually are below 10 lbs) and one bigger one which just missed the biggest tuna prize by a scale or too. I think they should have gotten a prize for the most alcohol consumed though. His best friends runs Quin Farara Liquors and it looked like he put the contents of the warehouse on the boat for them to consume out there. The seafood festival was a great addition to the tournament with many people coming down to sample some of the food prepared on site. The party was nice as well. I just with more fish were biting. Not a single boat caught more than 2 wahoo and many didn't catch anything. When this happens in Antigua you call it a "no seed". Thankfully both of the AA boats escaped getting a "no seed" once again unlike several of the readers of this blog (no name calling but initials are P.S.). I think his was so bad it can be called an "international no seed". Needless to say, that September has never been known for it's great fishing and with so many regular fishermen saying that the catch had been bad over the past few weeks we were not that surprised at the outcome and made the most out of the lovely day on the water and back at the festival. There are several other tournaments coming up over the next few months with one in Nevis in 2 weeks. We will be there again. Being out at sea is what some of us just love. Catching fish or or not.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

a little practice run before the tournament

Of the two main Adventure Antigua boats, we usually use Xtreme for marlin fishing and tournaments as seen here (with the only marlin we have ever killed out of the many we have caught)and have always used Arawak Odyssey for all other tournaments specifically targeting wahoo, mahi, tuna, and kingfish. Tasty wahoo seen here:We usually do well and have placed in the top 5 in almost every tournament we have entered over the past 5 years with most of our finishes in the top 3. We keep missing the top spot by a few points and most boat skippers know that our boats do well in tournaments. Why do we do well? Well mostly because we fish for fun but also to win.... we are not just out there drinking booze and having a laugh. All of my crew are as competitive as i am and most often more so. Our gear is carefully managed and prepared before each tournament and we always go for practice runs. Someone the other night laughed and asked how was it possible to practice for fishing. To me it's the same as practicing for a yacht race. Your crew has to know the boat and its parts very well. The use of the gear has to be second nature in order to be fast and accurate. I have been on both sailing boats and fishing boats where the crew were anything but a team and the results showed. Just putting lines out can be a complex task. Neither of our boats have outriggers (large poles used to keep the lines spread out) and as a result we are more susceptible to tangles. With a good team tangles rarely occur and if they do the team spots it before the tangle gets bad. Usually the lines are back out within a minute or two ready for fishing again.

Anyway, for this tournament we are going to be doing things slightly differently because it's not a marlin tournament and we are using Xtreme.

Xtreme's depth recorder has been malfunctioning and to catch wahoo and tuna properly you need to know where the 100 fathom curve is accurately. Yesterday we installed one we borrowed from the Scarab and went out to test it. It was a practice day as well too since we were using gear that we don't normally use on Xtreme like planers. When we fish for marlin we run all the lines on the surface but when you target wahoo you need to run some lines deeper and the planer carries lines as deep as 40 feet below. Guilli, Tony and I left port with the idea that we would test our gear out on the drop off and make sure that we were going to be ok on Xtreme. Captain JD stayed behind to clean the bottom of the eco boat, and in exchange for that nasty job i am letting him use it in the tournament. Team Adventure Antigua will dominate :)

As we pulled out of port we knew that whatever happened it would be lovely out there. Montserrat looked like it was just off Jolly Beach and we could easily see St. Kitts, Redonda, Nevis and Guadeloupe. The dust had gone and the crisp clear skies were so beautiful and uplifting to behold. What was even better for us was that the seas were mirror calm making everything look almost unreal as glass calm seas usually do here. Guilli took the helm and cruised due west towards the edge while tony and i rigged the lures with tiny ballyhoo we just purchased from Aquasports. Tony joked that they looked more like sprat! We had a little work to do on the planer while we ran down to the edge and by the time we had everything ready we were at the starting point just off Ariadne Shoals. It was so incredibly calm....
We carefully let out the planer as it has great potential to make a mess of all the lines. The planer we have is a stainless steel plate with a small lead weight that keeps the plate at a downward facing angle. As soon as it hits the water it dives deep and pulls hard. We attach a clip to it and send our fishing line down to it so that one lure can be fished way below the boat. There are loads of things that can go wrong so doing it right is imperative. Most people use other techniques to get their lines deep and most common is monel line which is where people use stainless steel wire instead of nylon. The steel line sinks as you troll it keeping your lure deep. The reels are very heavy and the line breaks if it gets old or gets kinked. I have lost many fish and many good lures on that type of line so i don't use it. Also, i like using the same set of rods for all my deep sea fishing. Our system is a bit tricky and you have to practice with it before you can feel comfortable using it. Hence the trip on Xtreme. Before long we had a strike on the "stumpy" (line closest to the boat) and the planer line down below. Guilli took one and i took the other. My one which was on the planer was a small black fin tuna and the other would have been a much larger one, but it was attacked by something big. All we got was half of the fish by the time Guilli got it to the boat. We trolled north as the winds picked up slightly and had several big bites on the famous Yozuri bonito lure. As famous as it is for getting wahoos to come after it, it's as famous for fishing being able to get off of it. I cant understand why so many fish are lost with the blasted lure, but the bites are frequent. We did get another huge strike on the stumpy again, but this time Guilli managed to get a nice wahoo to the boat. As so many boats including my Dad's had been out recently without catching anything we were happy to have gotten some action, and being out there in the lovely calm conditions was just gravy. After we decided to call it a day, both Tony and Guilli begged me to try a little bottom fishing. They both wanted some snapper to take home. We didn't have much luck at first and then just before we were going to reel in tony got a nice strike. We pulled up from about 4oo feet below to find two rock hinds like the one seen in this image. It was now time to cruise home and have some fish for dinner.

The cruise home was beautiful with the tops of some big clouds being lit up in the South and the sunset in the west. Dinner was as good for all of us and a few more. After i cut my share of the wahoo up Mykl made me a delicious and healthy meal. Fresh! If you have time, come down to the fishing tournament weigh in and the seafood festival this Saturday down at Catamaran Marina. Meet the Adventure Antigua crew there.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

International Coastal Cleanup Day 08

International Coastal Cleanup Day was last Saturday but things didn't come off as planned here. The year before, local environmental guru, Martin Dudley contacted me to see if i could help get some people together. We spoke with the local media, did interviews, started a facebook event/group, blogged, texted people and sent emails. In the end we did help get the message out and a good number of people around the island were down at the beaches cleaning up. We did two different days out on the Eco Tour boat cleaning beaches. This blog , this one and this one all speak about our results. It was good fun and everyone enjoyed the weekend.

Once again this year there was very little done by the people officially representing the cleanup here in Antigua. I think they forgot about it again. Martin and I spoke about it and started to get the promotional efforts going again up until windguru.com started forecasting torrential rain for the weekend. It turns out that after seeing the forecast the National Solid Waste Management Authority, who were supposed to be heading this years cleanup decided to postpone the cleanup until the following weekend. I think it was a good move as the rains dumped inches of rain on Saturday. It's very rare that it will rain all day in Antigua and on that day it pretty much did. I had a problem though because Xtreme and Arawak Odyssey were taking part in the Francis Nunes Memorial Tournament this coming Saturday exactly when the cleanup was moved to. At the very last minuted when all forecasts looked like we would be dry on Sunday i quickly sent off text messages to some of my friends to see if they would like to go for a quick beach cleanup. Our group made our way up to Rendezvous Bay where we met up with some other friends Altogether there were twenty of us on the beach with bags cleaning up bits of flotsam and jetsam. Most of the debris was plastic that had floated up but there were a few cans and quite a few glass bottles left near an old fire. We filled as many bags as we had people which was surprising because the beach looked so clean to begin with. We also collected a big green net that had floated up kinda like this one we saw while out fishing one day.

After the cleanup we went down to Cades Bay so that some of the gang could do a little snorkeling. I had to call them in after a huge squall started getting too close with flashes of lightning. We got back to port before the rains started to fall. All of the members of our little cleanup group were from Antigua except one who was from the UK. He had taken time from his holiday to join us during the "weather window" to help clean up and give back a little to the environment which he says has given him so much on his holidays here. That was very cool. Anyway, this coming weekend in the official cleanup but I will be fishing. If you are on Antigua you could go down to your fave beach and do your little part. I am sure many of you cleanup every time you go to the beach. It's how we should all do it.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Friday, September 19, 2008

"Gill netting" the biggest threat to Antigua and Barbuda's waters.

Almost every day people contact me one way or another to discuss some horrible environmental threat to our world. In Antigua I am known by some as an environmental "activist" these days and because of that i get people calling me about mangrove being cut or about turtles being harmed or about waste oil being discarded. You name it i get calls about it if it is remotely related to the environment. Of course Antigua is no different than anywhere else these days with regard to the buzz about Global Warming and Climate Change. Because of the type of business i am in I have to have a pickup truck. On any given day i am carrying something that nobody in their right mind would put into a regular car and so for the business I do need it. I would be heavily taxed to drive something like that in the UK and lords knows i would rather be driving something more economical most of the time which is why I have an ATV to do plenty of my moving around. That's a whole other story and i am getting a bit off track here as you would imagine after reading the above title. All of these environmental concerns that are brought to me on a daily basis are important and will have impact on our lives here on this little island, but to me there are more important things to worry about. Global Warming is happening and will mean all sorts of things. Reefs will die, habitats will change, and all sorts of bad things will happen, but I can't help think that while the majority of people are all yelling and screaming about Global Warming there are things that are being ignored that are more urgent.

You see, when someone says I have to stop driving my truck because it's impact on global warming will mean higher temperatures for oceans which will lead to coral reef bleaching I get so frustrated. I feel like asking them if they have ever seen a reef in Antigua. While people are jumping up and down trying to save the reefs by controlling emissions, they are missing the fact that they and most of the ocean is being killed by things not related to Global Warming at all and it's happening fast. Global Warming is an issue which in my opinion has taken way too much focus away from the nuts and bolts of environmental protection and preservation. Now I can just see people getting super frustrated after reading my last sentence, but let me make something pellucidly clear...... Climate Change is real as is global warming and we all have to be concerned and we have to do our part to slow it down. Many scientists believe it's all too late and even if we all stopped driving today the wheels of climate change are going to fast to be stopped. Some scientists believe that the only way to stop it is by taking drastic measures. This BBC article shows several bold measures that could make a difference or could make things worse (check here). Who knows? What i do know is that while Rome burns some people are messing about in my humble opinion. Our government here in Antigua is sending people (including my super smart sister Fran) all over the planet because Antigua chairs the G77 which is the largest intergovernmental organization of developing states. You can read more about them here. One of the main things they have been doing this year is discussing climate change and trying to come up with binding agreements. All very complicated to me, but i am sure that eventually good things will come of it even if the Saudi's get financial aid when their oil runs out????!!!???!!??!?!?! However! While our government chairs the G77 talks and sends its diplomats and technocrats all over the planet with the goal of trying to save it, our reefs and waters which are the live blood of our little twin island state are perishing and perishing so fast that in the last few years i have seen certain fish become extinct here in Antigua. In my blogs you will read about (do a search up on the left top corner) sand mining, reef protection, mangrove protection and the like and off of these things seem to go on unnoticed by our country's leaders. It's almost as if they don't care. There are some within the government's departments who understand the big issues and the big picture, but for whatever reason they can't seem to get the message across to the fat cats at the top.

To me, the decimation of our marine life over the past 5 years due to the huge increase of gill net use within the continental shelf (a.k.a "shallow waters") has been so horrible that all talk of global warming seems so petty and annoying to me. A healthy reef fish population is related to a healthy reef, which is related to a healthy shoreline and beach, which is related to a healthy fishery, which is related to a healthy tourism product, which is related to a healthy economy. The big picture is so simple to see if you just take the time to look and are willing to be educated ever so slightly. Antigua and Barbuda sit together on a large shelf and our reef systems although terribly damaged by storms in the 90s are large and cover a big area. The numbers of fish though are very low because of very little fishery regulation (or very little fishery enforcement). Fish traps are all over and none are regulated or monitored properly. Gill nets which have been in use here for decades are more prevalent now than ever and are being used at various depths on the shelves. Some are being used off the shelves too in depths of up to 1000 feet. Very little escapes a gill net and there is no proper species targeting which is why they are banned in most countries. Read this little blurb about banning nets in New Zealand. There is so much fish being taken at the juvenile stage that I am sure that a collapse of certain species is immanent. History repeats itself over and over on this topic which is another thing that drives me crazy. Gill nets are banned in most 1st world countries as well as in many 3rd world nations to protect the environment, but more importantly to protect the fishery. Most fishery regulations are made to make sure that the fishermen can keep catching fish at a sustainable level. There is no concept of sustainable fishing here at all, and the main reason for that i suppose is that the people at the top just don't have an idea about our own fishery. I have met many people within our Ministry of Fisheries over the past two years and think that most of the people working within the department care about our country's fishery and understand the need for controls which work toward sustainability, but for some reason the people at the very top are not getting the message or the right info. One head of the department went on record saying that there is no problem with gill net use in Antigua and that there is more damage being caused to our fishery from recreational fishing. To hear that point of view coming from someone at the top of the department is very scary to put it mildly. It means that they don't spend any time at all on the water around Antigua and Barbuda at all and therefore don't know what's going on. Unless gill nets are banned or heavily regulated my unborn children and grandchildren will only know of reef fish from stories. This goes for the people using the nets too. The sad reality is that it isn't just fish that are being killed by gill nets. When an endangered sea turtle swims into a net it usually is killed within twenty minutes. Conch, lobster, dolphins, sharks, rays, corals both soft and hard, anemones, birds, whales and all sorts of other life can be killed in nets which have either been set or discarded. I just can't understand how our fisheries bosses can think that they don't cause much damage. Here are just a few pics of gill nets in Antigua. I am going to take more photos and make more noise about this cause because this has to be stopped in order to protect our future fishermen and to protect our island as a whole:

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Great weather for fishing

On Sunday the sky was clear and the sea very calm so we had to go fishing even though none of the full time fishermen had been catching fish. This time we went out with my cousin David on his Boston Whaler. The first challenge was catching "sprat" which are a type of pilchard that school up pretty tight at this time of the year. It all happens at the time when pelicans are feeding their young chicks and you will usually find sprat and other small schooling fish where the pelicans are diving. We found some after searching for longer than we had anticipated. Anyway, i had to catch them using a cast net. I am not very good at casting a net, but luckily the fish were schooling so tight that it was easy to get enough bait before long. They were stored alive in the bait well at the back of the boat where we could easily get them later once we had arrived at "the bank". The bank is a spot which isn't on the charts for some strange reason and happens to have great tuna fishing. Tuna love live bait so that's the spot we were speeding off to with rods, hooks and baits. The sea was slightly choppy but without white caps and it was an extreme dark but clear blue. We arrived at the bank at about 10 am and saw the flocks of birds that always are a signal that you are in the right spot. Noddies fly around the bank looking for feeding tuna that chase small fish up to the surface and provide the fast birds with a fresh catch of their own. As soon as we dropped what we call a "french man" over the side we were hooked up onto a black fun tuna. These guys usually don't get much bigger than about 10 pounds but do occasionally get twice as big. As we got the fish to the boat we used a long needle and some dental floss to rig the small tuna to a larger hook in a way that it would stay alive and healthy until a much bigger fish took it. We were hoping to catch a very large tuna with this live bait method. The other rods were quickly hooked and baited with the small live sprat from the live well and scoops of small sprat were thrown over to attract predators. Before long we had a bite on the live tuna, but it didn't hook up. When we got all the line to the boat we saw that it had been cut off by a large fish that had big teeth. When fishing for tuna we don't normally use wire leaders before the hook and prefer to use a short "leader" of heavy nylon which tuna can't bite through easily. The clear leader works well for tuna but doesn't work well when there are sharks or wahoo around. Anyway, we caught more small tuna but never found the big yellowfin tuna that we were trying to target. The current was very strong despite the sea being so calm. It was hot too, and we spoke quite a bit about the poor people who had floated across the Atlantic to their deaths recently. After some lunch we moved over to a different spot where we anchored to do some more live baiting with sprat again hoping to find where the yellowfin were hanging out. Very quickly Mahi Mahi (aka dolphin fish) arrived and started attacking our live sprat. These were very small mahi and I wasn't that interested in them. David was as he said he hadn't had fresh fish in a while. The little dolphin fish would be delicious later and they managed to catch four or five of them before the school figured out something was not right. Again the current at this spot was very strong and was taking the chum and the live bait into the shallows which was not where we wanted them to be going... the tuna would be in the deep. After catching a few other small black fin tuna we decided to call it a day and powered up the engines bound for home. The day before i had seen a small school of sprat at the entrance of Jolly Harbour so when we arrived there we let the remaining sprat in our live bait well go at that spot. It had been a fun day out but we didn't end up with the big yellowfin that i had hoped to catch as we did last year. (seen in this vid):

Of the two common fishing sayings i hear often, i am not sure which one i like better. The first is "Every day is a fishing day, but every day isn't a catching day", and the second is "Some men go fishing all their lives not realizing that it's not fish that they are after".

Friday, September 12, 2008

African migrants lost at sea found dead off Antigua.

A very sad story two days ago surfaced after a 40 foot open boat was found with dead bodies on board. Eight bodies were found terribly emaciated inside the boat with at least one having an African (Mali) ID card. Here is the very simple theory about what many of us think happened. The African refugees piled into the boat and set off from somewhere in North West African with the Canary Islands as their destination and their hope of a better life, broke down or went off course and started the deadly drifting passage across the Atlantic. It generally takes somewhere between 60 and 100 days to drift across to the Caribbean along the stream of currents i spoke in great detail about in this blog. According to official reports out of Spain, 30,000+ people a year arrive in the Canary Islands each year from Senegal, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Cabo Verde, Mauritania and Morocco. This map (forget the red line) shows the Atlantic just for reference. Estimates gathered from newspaper reports all over the central Atlantic suggest that somewhere around 600 people perish each year and another 300 go missing trying to get to the Spanish islands off . In June of 2006 a smaller boat was found just off Barbados in a similar state. The boat was half the size and had 11 bodies on the boat with papers of 36 people in total. An international investigation was started and eventually a Spanish man who had taken money to tow the boat to the Canaries was charged after it became apparent that the line was deliberately cut. Usually there wouldn't be only 8 people in a 40 foot boat and i have a terrible feeling that there were originally more in the boat found here. The boat is one of many models designed by the Japanese. "Over 30 years ago a Japanese Motor Company was given the task of designing a hull to help promote fishing in third world countries. The hull would have to withstand the rigors of daily commercial fishing, carry very heavy loads as well as be extremely power & fuel efficient. Primarily manufactured in Japan, there are more than 100 thousand "Panga" boats in use around the world with many of the original first year production hulls still in use today." from panga.com You can actually see the model (same colour too) in this website from Columbia. Here in Antigua, Robert Shoul is the dealer for these boats through his company "Outdoor World". The boat can carry 8,800 lbs.
If anything is drifting free anywhere near Western Africa within that huge circular current it will end up passing or drifting up here in the Caribbean. We have the garbage on our windward beaches to prove it. That blog i mentioned speaks in detail all about that current.
One of the first books apart from Old Man and the Sea that I really enjoyed was "Adrift" which tells a story of a yacht race gone wrong where single racers compete sailing their boats by themselves across the Atlantic from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean. The author's boat hit something at night and went down very quickly off western Africa. He only has time to throw over his inflatable life raft and grab his small emergency abandon ship bag. He drifts for 76 days and ends up just off Guadeloupe. It's an amazing story of a man's will to survive and the way he succeeded by using his knowledge of the ocean. He was lucky enough to have that grab bag which was prepared for such a disaster. The Africans who possibly piled into the 40 footer after sunset one fateful evening didn't take much with them as I am sure they had expected to be in Fuerteventura before sunrise. The trip from point to point is just 60 miles as seen in the google earth photo i took seen here. Even with 8000 pounds of people (50 people) on board as is possible according to the specs of the boat they could make the trip from the closest bit of Morocco with just under 10 gallons of gasoline in about six hours. The last thing they expected was to be adrift and floating for months across the great ocean which is why it is so easy to see why they would have perished without water or food. In the boat found off Barbados they found a note: “I would like to send to my family in Bassada (Senegal) a sum of money. Please excuse me and goodbye,......This is the end of my life in this big Moroccan sea”.
Someone called in to the Daily Observer Radio yesterday and said that we should all be thankful of how lucky we are here on this little island. I tend to agree with him.
For more info you can read this report on this type of migrant issue.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Boat in Antigua for sale

Back in the autumn of 2006 I made a decision to get a replacement engine for Xtreme just in case we had problems. I looked around and couldn't find one that didn't cost the earth. I knew that using Xtreme to go fishing with a few friends just cost too much to realistically do it often. Even going snorkeling on Adventure Antigua days off was expensive with Xtreme so after searching and searching I found a boat that had two of the same engines that were on Xtreme. The boat was old and the engines were new. Together they were not that expensive and I thought that buying the boat would be a great idea. It was smaller and would burn far less fuel with just the two engines and if Xtreme had a problem we could just pull the one giving problem off and replace it with one from the smaller boat while the engine was fixed.
I made a trip up to Florida to check the boat out and paid a deposit. The boat arrived in my control in December and I wrote about it back then here. After a few runs fate sailed into town in the form of an engine problem on Xtreme. Back in January of 2007 the smaller boat became an organ donor as Xtreme's faulty engine was taken into the shop. I was told by the mechanic that they would quickly fix the engine, put it back on the Xtreme, and give the smaller back its engine too. Since then Xtreme has gotten that engine back two times and each time it broke down almost immediately. So since January 2007 I have been waiting for the mechanic who has on of Xtreme's engines to fix it and return it to me. In the meantime, the boat i had planned on going fishing with and also fixing up with the idea of doing inexpensive private charters has sat disabled.

I have finally come to the conclusion that that boat will never have two working engines for any consistent length of time and I'd be better off selling it and getting something even smaller that will run on one engine for those calm fishing days. So if you know of anyone who wants a fast sports fishing boat with all the fishing rod holders you could ever want with a nice trailer and no engines.... i have that boat for sale. Here is a pic of the boat for sale here in Antigua. Click on the link here for a bigger image of the ad.

Monday, September 08, 2008

"blistering sunshine"

Had a nice few days "holiday" in San Juan, Puerto Rico this past week while Adventure Antigua was quiet. This is the time of year when most tourism related business slows down to the point where many businesses shut down all together. Many people ask why the the main off season happens at this time of the year and it has to do with the fact that most of our visitors come from areas that have miserable winters and save their vacation time for when their own weather is at its worst. Summer time in many European and North American places isn't that bad. (I can hear the Brits laughing after reading this last piece). People there want to escape to somewhere with good weather during the winter. The Caribbean is an ideal place for a winter holiday as the weather is just so nice at that time. The reality is that the weather here in Antigua and Barbuda is better than most places on earth with warm sea and air temperatures all year long with highs almost never as high as 90 degrees F (32C) and never lower than 78 F (25.5C). Rainfall is a funny one as most of our rain each month can come in a single day and sometimes we go without any rain for months. It's not uncommon for a high percentage of our annual yearly rainfall to come down in about a weeks worth of rainy days. I say this is a funny one because the weather men here say on the most sunny days that the weather will be "fair to partly cloudy" and that's as good as it gets here for them. You have never heard them say "tomorrow will be sunny and hot". That just won't happen and a cloudless day where the most tanned person will probably get the worst skin cancer causing sun burn of their lives will be forecast as "fair to partly cloudy". If they are really expecting a few clouds to roll across the brilliant sky then they will include "with a chance of scattered showers" in their forecast. For over 10 years i have been moaning about this because the international forecasters who use the simple animated forecasts interpret this "fair to partly cloudy with a change of scattered showers" in a slightly different way than the average Antiguan does. This pic shows a "fair to partly cloudy day with a chance of scattered showers":

This one shows a "fair to partly cloudy day":

I am not sure what a "sunny day" would look like as i have never heard anyone giving a forecast here in Antigua say it would be a sunny day. That would have the country dazed and confused I think. Not to mention scorched off the face of the earth probably too. The reason i have been so frustrated about this is that I know for a fact that people take one look at the UK/US interpretation of the "fair to partly cloudy" (seen here today):

and pick a different place to visit for their much needed vacation. I have had people tell me that they would have cancelled their trip here after seeing the 10 day forecasts but couldn't get any money back from cancelling flights. One day the forecasters here will figure it out i guess but for now you will just have to trust me: We don't get rain 365 days a year like yahoo weather says and we are sunny as hell most of the time. I have the skin cancers to prove it! A great place to see how much rain we are actually getting in Antigua is from a radar which shows in real time time where the rain is falling. This link: shows rainfall measured by Radars in Guadeloupe and in Martinique. If you are worried that this Yahoo weather and others with those silly forecasts may be right... just keep an eye on this link to see how badly they do at forecasting rain in Antigua and Barbuda. By the way, you kind of have to know where Antigua is on the map. It's the one just above Guadeloupe which is the one looking like a butterfly. You can also animate this link which will give you the motion of the rainfall showing you where it's going. If you are looking for a lush tropical jungle feel on your island holiday do not come to Antigua. I can recommend many islands in the Caribbean to go and find your little piece of Jurassic Park but Antigua is far to dry to be placed into that category.

Monday, September 01, 2008

hurricane season peaks

The picture on the National Hurricane Center's website looks like this is in fact September. There can be no doubt that this is the most active month in a year's summer hurricane season. There are six systems that are being followed by the NHC. Thankfully only one looks like it could possibly be a storm threat to the Eastern Caribbean at the moment. The terrible Gustav which killed people in Jamaica, DR, Haiti, Cuba and probably in the USA today is now moving inland to meet it's own fate. Tropical Storm Hanna moved on well to the north of Antigua and Barbuda giving us some much needed rain before making landfall over the Turks and Caicos islands yesterday. Thankfully it is only a tropical storm. That will change according to forecasts from the NHC and it looks like it may end up as a hurricane as it hits North Eastern Florida. Let's hope it doesn't get too strong. Then there are two other systems in the Atlantic at the moment that people are checking. Invest 97L which is a strong tropical wave looks like it will pass to the north of the Caribbean as did Hanna did, but we will keep looking at it. There is another wave way north up by Bermuda but that's no threat down here either. What I am concerned about at this early stage is the one that is still coming off Africa. Invest 99L is a big area of disturbed weather that we here in the Eastern Caribbean will have to watch carefully over the next few days. Antigua and Barbuda has not been hit by a hurricane since 1999, but this season is looking active and I am worried that our good luck may get tested. Will keep you posted.