Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays from

Hope everyone has a great holiday season and lets hope all the doom and gloom we keep hearing about the economy ends soon.

Here is some more wall paper for your computer. Click on this link and then right click to save it on your computer. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Every day in Antigua and Barbuda is a fishing day...

A wise man once said that a bad day of fishing is better than a good day at the office and I think he was right.Despite years of mismanagement and a complete lack of enforced fishery policy, Antigua and Barbuda still somehow manages to some great sport fishing. There are several methods of fishing that do well in Antigua depending on what kind of gear you have and where you can get to. The most obvious and most popular type of fishing for visitors to Antigua and Barbuda is the deep sea variety. Larger pelagic fish like Blue Marlin, Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, Tuna, Kingfish, sail fish can be found aboard this way aboard one of the many boats offering charters. The Antigua Sport Fishing Association puts on several tournaments during the year with its May tournament receiving the most international visitors. The local record in that tournament is a blue marlin that was almost 800 lbs. Fishermen on these boats use large rods and reels which pull artificial fish like lures behind the boats at speeds of around 8 knots in the hope that one of those big fish will come out of the deep and get hooked. Some of the freshest and most delicious fish in our restaurants come from this method.
Another type of fishing that is becoming more and more popular among visitors is light tackle inshore fishing which includes fly fishing. Fly fishing has been popular on lakes and in streams in Europe and North America for years and years and the salt water variety is fast becoming as popular. Little lures which can be as small as a bee are cast in shallow waters where some fish congregate to feed or lay eggs. How an angler retrieves the lure can excite the fish and lure it to bite the hook. This method of fishing is quite challenging and rewarding for those people who like areas off the beaten track. Barbuda has excellent inshore fishing and fly fishing as does areas on the North of Antigua. Both islands have several guides that can help you find good places to do this sort of fishing.
Another popular type of fishing is what we call bottom fishing. This is the most traditional method of fishing and can be done from either a boat or from the shore. You get a hook some bait and a sinker, throw your line over the side and wait. If you are in a good spot you may get a delicious snapper for dinner. All of these fishing methods require patience, dedication and a general love for the outdoors. Release what you are not going to eat and enjoy, but keep in mind the other thing some wise man once said: “Every day is a fishing day, but not every day is a catching day”.

a gift from Adventure

I am off to the shops to get a few gifts last minute. Here is one for you. It is wall paper for your computer. If you need directions on how to use it as your computer screen's background just ask for directions in the comments section here. Thanks and enjoy! Here is the link.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Antigua Classic Yacht Sailing charters begin!

Yes, after months and months of blood, sweat and tears the Adventure Antigua Classic Yacht Sailing started doing tours and charters this week with it's day sailing boat "Ocean Nomad". If you are a regular Adventure Antigua blog follower then you know all about the traditionally built Carriacou Sloop but if not please go to for some info on the project and the boat.
On Tuesday I called JD and Tony who were skippering the Xtreme and Eco Tour boats and asked them if they had people who booked online with us for those tours so that we could offer them a free sailing tour. I needed some real live tourists to test the tour out and tell me what they thought.
We convinced 5 people to join us on Ocean Nomad for a comp day sailing trip on Wednesday and met them with the boat in Jolly Harbour at 9:30. Four of them were from Sandals and one other from the same area. The day went as planned even if the winds were extremely light. One of the guests posted these images on facebook. Remember that if you are on Facebook you can become a fan of Adventure Antigua and add photos or video too.
On Friday was the first proper paid sailing charter. The guests had found through this blog and liked the idea of sailing with their family on a fast boat that was built right here in the Caribbean. Of course these boats were designed to carry huge amounts of cargo and to do it quickly. Ten family members is the max that we plan to take and they joined the boat with plenty of room to spare. Off to Cades Reef for our first snorkeling session and then on to Carlisle Bay for more and some chill time before the regular Adventure Antigua lunch.
In the afternoon we cruised up to Rendezvous Bay as it was so calm there. It was a private charter so they could go wherever they wanted once we could be back before dark. The sail back down the coast was very relaxing in the light winds. One of the guests had done plenty of sailing back in the UK and in the BVI so I let him have the helm for a while. All in all it was a lovely day and both trips went as planned. "Trip of a lifetime" was one of the comments I heard but generally all of the guests thought that the day sailing trip was something unique and fantastic.
We are excited!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Antigua to Saint Martin sailing video

After reading the last blog entry before this one you may enjoy seeing a video of some of the sailing. It was a 90 mile trip with several rain squalls and plenty of strong winds. The video was taken by Guili and me and put together by me on the cheap and cheerful windows movie maker.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Windy sailing trip to Saint Martin

Recently we decided to go down to St. Martin to have some minor repairs done on the boat. The trip was supposed to be a very quick one leaving early Tuesday morning and returning on Thursday which would mean we would have one full day in St. Martin to get our stuff done.
Adventure Antigua crew Tony and Jason came along as well as friends Guili and Glen. We cleared out from Jolly Harbour customs and immigration the afternoon before and met up at 4:30 am the next morning in the dark. When we go out the harbour the winds seemed to be blowing out of the north east at about 15 knots which was great for sailing to Saint Martin 89 miles to our north-north-west. After everything was set up and we were under way with Tony at the helm and the sun rising I decided to go and have a nap below.
I didn't sleep much if any and after a while i felt the boat start to rock and roll more than it had done so far. I also noticed through the cabin hatch that the sky was turning dark again. A squall must be approaching and Tony would need help.
By the time I got up top the rain was just starting to fall and the winds were blowing about 25. Tony was struggling to keep the boat on a broad reach as she tried to round up into the wind. We had far too much sail for those conditions, but it was too late to reef them (make the sails smaller). Anyway, the winds had peaked and Tony was managing to hold her steady even if it was with great effort. Tony is one of the strongest guys i know (pound for pound). I went back below to snap a few photos of the boys in the rain.
After the squall, as is usually the case, the winds dropped down and sailing was very easy once again. It was sunny now and We could see Redonda, Nevis and just make out St. Kitts. The seas were a choppy 4-6 feet and there were flying fish everywhere.
After an hour or so we saw another squall coming and this time the winds hit us harder than before with gusts up to 30 knots giving me loads of weather helm
I took over from Tony and struggled to keep the boat on course wishing that we could reef the main to make it easier and safer. Guili was on the main sheet trying to depower it as best he could as the rain and winds tried their best to overwhelm us.
This time after the squall had passed the winds didn't back off and we were left sailing in more wind than the boat was designed to carry those sails in. Without gloves, my hands would have been rubbed raw by the tiller and i was very happy for them. After about two hours i was exhausted and asked Tony to take over. He didn't last that long and I was back on again. This time i asked Tony to help me hold the tiller as it was just too much for me. After a few more hours we finally saw St. Barts way off in the distance, but as we saw it the winds picked up more. Now that we could see land ahead of us i felt comfortable giving Guili the helm for a while. Many people find it hard to sail in a straight line out at sea if they haven't had much experience, but with land ahead I knew Guili would find it easier. He did a great job but needed a bit of help in the strongest gusts. Along the way we managed to catch several small tuna and a few cuda as well, but slowing down to bring them in was far too difficult. After the last fish we kept the line out of the water. None of us had ever seen as many flying fish leaping out of the water and gliding left and right. The winds didn't ease up until we were in the lee of Gustavia 12 miles from Saint Martin's south eastern tip. Once we were in the channel again the winds started to howl. It took us exactly 12 hours to sail from Antigua to Saint Martin averaging 7.5 knots, and on a traditional wooden boat I think that was very fast. There was a two hour stretch where we never went slower than 9 knots and we hit many tens and quite a few elevens. Three times while surfing we went over 12.5 knots which i doubt i will see again for some time. We were exhausted by the time we approached Phillipsburg just at sunset. It's a good thing we didn't arrive at night as they were dredging the harbour and massive dredge pipes were where the normal channel was. Just after dark we managed to get a spot next to a tug boat at Bobby's Marina. It was too late to clear in so we just had dinner and crashed. IT had been a very long day and we were all spent.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Some things making Antigua and Barbuda unique

The nation of Antigua and Barbuda has a very interesting and distinct ecological makeup. Keeping in mind that the country is actually made up of two larger islands and an unusually large collection of smaller ones, you will understand why it’s fascinating and different environments come together into something so beautifully unique in the Caribbean. Let’s start with a geographical description of the country first to give you a better idea as to why the natural side of the county is so fascinating. Firstly the two main islands; Antigua and Barbuda sit on the same continental shelf with about 26 miles of shallow waters connecting them. On either sides of the islands and their connecting shelf the water drops off into abyss like depths that contain a massive variety of life. Many people forget about Redonda which is a small island about 30 miles to our west which is also part of the county. It sits on its own continental shelf and makes up the massive triangular territorial and ecological zone connecting Antigua Barbuda and Redonda. The three islands are as different as each other in almost every aspect with Antigua being made up from limestone and volcanic rock with a slice of clay between them. Having both limestone and volcanic rocks on the same island is unusual and helps give it unique habitats. Barbuda is totally made up of limestone rocks with nothing above 38 meters above sea level on the island. Caves beaches and mangrove habitats provide a wealth of ecology that has yet to be properly documented. Redonda is the most unusual in terms of its geographic makeup and is simply a huge volcanic mass of rocks pushing up from the sea. With its steep rocky cliffs and high top it supports a very interesting variety of plants and animals with its bird life being the most impressive.

Antigua is the largest island within the country. There are more bays and coves than any other in the Caribbean, and they say we even have 365 beaches. In the south, volcanic side of the island the landscape is hillier, and with that there is usually more rain as well. This has lead to very different territorial eco systems, with one area called Fig Tree Drive being described as the rainforest. Visitors can take taxi and jeep tours through the area to get a better look at some of the lush and tropical vegetation that one would expect in a rain forest. Although there are no perennial streams or rivers, you will see some little ones in that area during wetter periods. One of the best ways to see the rain forest is with the new Zip-line company which has set up its tour in the middle of Fig Tree Drive. The north and east of Antigua has been carved from limestone rock and with that you will see many reefs, rocks and little islands off-shore. This is another unique feature Antigua has over most Caribbean islands. There are few places that have nearly as many off shore islands as Antigua does. Quite a few of these islands are large enough to be habitable. One of them is the private Long Island which is also known as Jumby Bay where one of the Atlantic’s best scientific sea turtle study has been taking place for over 20 years. The endangered hawksbill turtles come there to nest each year between May and November and a great many fascinating discoveries have been made there. Long Island is one of many protected from the Atlantic within the North Sound, which is a large area enveloped in the calm waters provided by barrier reefs and islands. One of the most important islands there ecologically is Great Bird Island which didn’t get its name by accident. A large and diverse variety of migratory and indigenous birds spend time there nesting and roosting at different times of the year. My favorites are the Red Billed Tropic Birds which only nest on rocky windward facing cliffs that have caves. The windward ledge of the island has numerous small caves and during the winter you will see these beautiful birds coming in to land and take shelter there. Apart from the feathered animals on Great Bird Island, there are also many other life forms that make the island a must see destination on your visit to Antigua. One such life form living there that you may not be lucky enough to see is the Antigua Racer. The Racer is a totally harmless non venomous grass snake which is one of the rarest animals on the planet. Why? The racer somehow was only found on Great Bird Island, and when the first proper scientific study was done back in 1995 only 60 of these animals were accounted for. That was the world’s population of Antigua Racer snakes! Anyway, much has been done for the little guys since then and you may be lucky to see one some day. Nearby is Rabbit Island where you won’t find a single rabbit, but you will find many more birds including our local brown pelicans which nest during the early summer months. Another few hundred meters to the south is Antigua’s largest offshore island called Guiana with its vast expanse of mangrove habitat. There are several types of mangrove plants with the “red” variety sending its long roots into the sea being most important for juvenile fish, crabs, lobster and other aquatic life. Much of the sea life you will find in the waters surrounding the country’s territorial zone is sustained by mangrove habitats which is where a huge variety of sea life gets its start. While taking an Eco Tour (with Adventure Antigua) you will see all of these islands and their interesting habitats. I could write pages and pages about the food chains and ecological habitats that you will find around Antigua and Barbuda but to keep it simple I will just say that there is a so much more to the country than meets the eye and you if you take the time to have a closer look off the beaten path you will enjoy your experience here so much more.

Monday, December 08, 2008

JHR Caribbean Real Estate Regatta final day.

Yesterday was day two of the JHR Caribbean Regatta put on by the Jolly Harbour Yacht Club and from very early in the morning the winds sounded like they would be better for Ocean Nomad. The day before had been very frustrating with extremely light and shifty winds. When the crew and I left Jolly Harbour we could see the white caps coming down from Jolly Beach. It was blowing a good 14-18 knots before the start and we sailed around to get everyone on board ready for battle. There were going to be three races and we had to win all three in order to beat Alexis Andrew's "Genesis" which was the other 40 foot Carriacou sloop in the classic yacht class.
Race one started just after 11 am and we were out front from the start. Alexis managed to catch us on the down wind leg and the lead changed a few times during the race. We ended up getting some very good lifts upwind and managed to beat them convincingly. Race two was interesting with us almost getting an "over early" at the start just hitting the line exactly on time. Some of the crew thought we jumped the gun but the race committee called "all clear" on the VHF radio and on we went. The lead changed a few times, but we were ahead for most of the race and ended up winning. We now had beaten Genesis three times to their two against us, and there was one more race to go. We started very well again but the winds had died considerably and our pointing ability was suffering. Genesis lead for most of the race, but it was neck and neck until the last leg when the winds got light again and they pulled away to win their third race matching our results. We were all extremely happy with a draw. It had been Jason's first race and he was delighted. It had only been my second regatta as skipper on a Carriacou sloop and to finish tied with the veteran crew on Genesis was good enough for me to be happy as well. The photos were taken by my GF. Thanks babe!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Wind don't blow like it used to blew

Race one of the Jolly Harbour Regatta was held yesterday in extremely light and shifty conditions with a rain cloud hanging over the area for most of the day. Team was ready.Conditions were extremely frustrating because wind shifts were happening constantly and gusts would just appear and disappear. Luck and skill were involved as is the case usually in these conditions with luck not coming our way enough. Our competition was the other 40 foot Carriacou sloop Genesis and the racing was more like match racing than fleet racing. What was most frustrating was seeing Genesis just four boat lengths away from us sailing nicely in a patch of wind while we sat stalled in a glassy patch of no wind. It was neck and neck most of the way with us performing better when the winds were higher and them performing when it got very light. We had 7 guys on board a full tank of fuel and a full water tank. Genesis had three guys on board, no water tank and a much smaller engine and fuel tank. Weight is good when it's windy, but in the very light conditions we were at a slight disadvantage. All excuses aside, we finished first in one race and behind them in two races. It was all extremely close with lead changes throughout, so concentration was at a peak all day. I was very tired by the end, and i am sure that the other guys were just as "spent".
Winds are forecast to be higher today so we are hoping for conditions to be better for us. Will let you know. Chris and JD took Xtreme out to see the racing with my mom and Mykl, but the weather didn't cooperate. These photos were taken by Chris.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Jolly Harbour Sailing Regatta Day one

Before 8 am the winds are very light hovering somewhere around 10 knots. Yesterday I motored our Carriacou sloop Ocean Nomad
over to the brand new and very fancy B Dock in Jolly Harbour. Charles Kenlock came over to congratulate me for being the first boat to ever throw lines on to his new dock. Adventure Antigua's day sailing boat was looking fantastic! Later in the afternoon Genesis came alongside with her skipper Alexis Andrews and his family. It was good to see the two 40 foot Carriacou sloops together again and interesting to look at the slight differences too. Anyway, there should be 5 races today in Five Islands Harbour and outside Jolly Harbour and the two sloops will be match racing the whole time. We are in the Cruising Class with just three classics with all the other cruisers. The faster Racing Class boats will be starting behind us but doing the same course. Our crew will be sporting our new T-shirts. It should be fun. Party at foredeck and castaways later.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A little day sailing.

With day charters and tours just about to start on Ocean Nomad which is Adventure Antigua's newest project we are doing quite a bit of sailing to figure out what works best. Classic Yacht Sailing is the name of the tour that we will offer to the hotels and will be a mix of day sailing, snorkeling, sailing education, history and ecology. Our tours and trips are usually designed to be slightly different than what's on offer and we are trying to design the tour with all that in mind at the moment.
This past weekend we decided to go sailing with some friends on the approximate route that we would take on a proper tour. It was very windy and quite rough out in the open which made for good practice and good fun. Speaking of practice, there is a regatta this weekend which we will be taking part in. We have all the crew in place and did some proper training yesterday too. Anyway, the video is a collection of movies we did on our mellow cruise on Sunday. Hope you enjoy. The music is from the Album Blue Lines by Massive Attack.