Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Fixing a prop shaft on the catamaran

The day before we collected the Dolphin Catamaran for the first time, the Captain at the time told me he had an engine mount break. They did the work and fixed it by the time i went up to collect the boat. As soon as I put the starboard engine in reverse, I noticed some vibration coming from that engine. Upon inspection I could see the engine had quite a bit of movement. I called Carl Mitchell at A1 Marine down in Jolly Harbour and he told me to bring it down for him to have a look at. The first thing he noticed was that the "coupler" (part that attaches the engine to the prop shaft) was slightly bent and actually the wrong size too. Anyway, Carl and his team did quite a bit of work changing parts including other engine mounts that were broken. The engine was out of alignment too. Since the shaft was significantly larger than you would have expected on a boat this size we didn't think that the prop was also a problem until after we tested the boat once again. There was still some vibration but it seemed much better than before. The reason it seemed much better was that all the mounts were like new now and the coupler was the new and correct part. Anyway, we used the boat for the past few months knowing that there was still some vibration. I checked the alignment once with a mechanic friend who was out on the boat with me one day and he said that it was fine. Anyway, this past weekend we noticed more vibration and I made the trip back down to see A1 Marine after i noticed broken mounts again. Carl said this time he would check the shaft first before doing anything else. While still in the water a diver went over the side and pulled out the shaft as someone in the engine room put another piece of shaft in the stern tube to make sure no water came into the boat.
Once the prop had been removed and the shaft had been totally cleaned it was then put into the huge lathe so that Carl could check for a bend. Even before we got that far, I could see the bend near the prop.
Who knows how long the shaft had been bent, but the prop showed no damage. It could have been that way for ages. Anyway, this shaft was a European 40 mm diameter shaft and one that would be impossible to find in Antigua. As is often the case in the Caribbean and other "third world" areas, a part is fixed before it is replaced. A foreign yacht skipper came in and told Carl that it would be a miracle if he managed to straighten that shaft. We knew better about Carl's life long engineering skills. With a crack of noise the blow torch burst into life and the shaft was heated right in the area of the bend. For a few hours the shaft was heated and slowly bent back into shape. It was a very difficult job and one that few people would have attempted. Before the sun set the prop was back on the shaft and the diver was in the water pushing it back into the boat. During all of this "Junior" had taken the engine out and fixed or replaced all the engine mounts. By the time the shaft was back in the boat, he was ready to align the shaft and engine. As the amazing colours of another Caribbean sunset told the story of a long hard day, it was time to test the work done. She started up and I eased the engine into gear. All seemed fine at first, so i pushed the RPMs up a bit. No vibration felt and I went below to look at the engine. It was perfectly still and I came upstairs to tell Carl that we could balance a Rum and Coke on it just fine now! Once again Carl Mitchell and A1 Marine saved the day. It saved me thousands of dollars in parts and also in tours. Today we have 42 people from a cruise ship.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Statement from the Government of Antigua & Barbuda on the Stanford Victims Coalition Claims

Here is finally something from the Spencer Administration who currently leads our government.

Statement from the Government of Antigua & Barbuda on the Stanford Victims Coalition Claims

ST. JOHN'S, Antigua - The allegation by the self styled Stanford Victims Coalition that the State of Antigua & Barbuda was a partner in, and beneficiary of, R. Allen Stanford's alleged criminal behavior is totally unfounded.

Despite the Coalition’s claims and insinuations, the Baldwin Spencer Administration, which assumed office in March 2004, did not sell any Crown lands to Stanford; received no loans from Stanford; and was not a beneficiary of any largesse of Stanford. In fact, R. Allen Stanford considered this administration an obstacle to his ambitions.

Stanford was the sole owner of two banks in Antigua & Barbuda: Stanford International Bank Ltd., an off-shore financial entity registered under our International Business Corporations Act with, and regulated by, our Financial Services Regulatory Commission (FSRC), and the Bank of Antigua, registered under the Companies Act and licensed to operate ordinary banking business under our Banking Act, but regulated by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB).

The business of Stanford International Bank Ltd. was run from Houston, Texas, and its books maintained in Memphis, Tennessee. The bank was operating in Antigua as a transit point and for purposes of registration and regulation.

While the Government and People of Antigua & Barbuda can understand the frustration and disappointment being experienced by the SIBL depositors, we cannot countenance the attack these persons have begun to wage on our country without first looking at other entities and organizations – including the United States’ regulatory authorities.

Information in our possession supports the following:

1. In late 1998, despite objections by the State of Florida’s top banking lawyer, Richard Donelan, Florida’s regulators gave sweeping powers to Stanford that allowed him to operate and open a trust office in Miami, which was hardly regulated by the US authorities.

2. In December 1998, a Memorandum of Agreement was signed by Arthur M. Simon, the then Director of the Division of Banking for the State of Florida’s Department of Banking and Finance, and Yolanda Suarez, the then Secretary of Stanford Trust Company Limited, authorizing the establishment of a foreign trust office – the first company of its kind ever set up in the state.

3. Between 1998 and 2003, over 2000 customers purchased certificates of deposit from the Miami office lured by the promise of receiving yields higher than those offered by other United States banks.

4. Brokers generated millions of unreported dollars from depositors, particularly Latin Americans, who were lured by the promise of high returns and who hardly questioned Stanford's bona fides as long as their accounts grew on paper. In the first six years, the office, known as Stanford Fiduciary Investor Services, took in US$600 million from customers, Florida state and court records show.

5. It is reported that some of the millions went to support Stanford’s lavish lifestyle, which included private jets, personal loans, expensive cars, and mansions, including a US$10.5 million home in Gables Estates, Florida that he has since torn down, the records show.

6. Nevertheless, as far back as 2003, some investors had begun questioning the legitimacy of SIBL's certificates of deposit, and the United States’ Securities & Exchange Commission was aware to the best of our information, knowledge and belief of these reports and other complaints some of which had been lodged by former Stanford employees, themselves. We are not aware whether, or to what extent, the SEC took investigative or corrective measures.

7. Since the arrest of Stanford, Arthur Simon has admitted that his actions in 1998 should have been done differently, that he would have liked to have stopped the Trust company from doing what it did, and that, in hindsight, “tighter provisions” should have governed the operations. Further, Linda Charity, Florida’s Director of the Division of Financial Institutions, admits that “there was no one that specifically regulated the office”.

8. On Tuesday February 16, 2009, a Court Order was made by a judge in the Northern District of Texas appointing a Receiver over all of Stanford's assets wherever located. When the international and local media reported this breaking news, there began literally a run on the Bank of Antigua, with customers withdrawing millions from the bank.

9. By February 18, 2009 the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) had to extend credit to the bank in the sum of EC$19M; by February 24, the amount was EC$79M, and the final figure stood at EC$89M when normalcy was restored. The amount represents a debt for which Antigua & Barbuda is currently responsible.

10. The prompt intervention by the ECCB was necessary in order to maintain the stability of the OECS Monetary Union as well as, the stability of the common currency shared by 8 OECS countries.

11. On February 23, 2009 the ECCB assumed control and management of the Bank under its emergency powers given by the law which created it. A new corporate entity, the Eastern Caribbean Amalgamated Financial Company Ltd., comprising representatives of the indigenous banks in the OECS, was incorporated as an agent of the ECCB to run the day-to-day affairs of the Bank of Antigua. That was necessary to prevent a financial meltdown within the OECS grouping, given our common currency, which is tied to the US$ and has remained constant and stable since its pegging in 1971.

The Bank of Antigua continues to do business and credibility has been restored and is being maintained. The ECCB has commissioned an international firm to evaluate the Bank's assets and worth with a view to purchasing the Bank, given Stanford’s continued inability to provide policy directives. There has, to date, been no purchase of the Bank. Both the SEC Receiver and Stanford's representatives have been kept informed by the ECCB of its operations and intentions regarding the Bank.

It is alleged that, by failing to properly regulate SIBL, Leroy King, the former Administrator of the FSRC, facilitated Stanford's Ponzi Scheme for personal gain. In the wake of his indictment on these charges in the United States Federal Court, the Cabinet of Antigua & Barbuda moved to officially strip King of his position. He is now the subject of pending extradition proceedings to stand trial in the USA. There is neither now nor was there any collusion between Stanford and the Spencer administration.

Following the revelations surrounding the alleged Ponzi fraud scheme operated by Stanford, our Government commissioned an investigation of the FSRC to identify any systemic failures or breaches in operational procedures both within the FSRC and in its examinations of off-shore financial institutions. This was conducted by a group of international experts, whose findings were that Antigua & Barbuda’s international finance laws and regulations, of themselves, could not be faulted.

As everyone knows by now, Stanford International Bank Ltd. is in liquidation. Apart from the Bank of Antigua – which, as an integral part of the OECS banking system had to be rescued by the ECCB’s intervention – none of Stanford’s other local businesses were profitable; in fact, some have been closed, since they were highly dependent on massive monthly injections of capital from Houston, Texas.

The Bank of Antigua has invested a large part of the funds of its depositors – including monies from citizens and residents of Antigua & Barbuda and customers in the United States – in Florida, particularly, and these assets continue to be under the control of the SEC Receiver. As to the source of the funds used to purchase the Bank's fixed assets (three parcels of land in St. John's), to date, there has not yet been any determination of this matter by the Liquidator.

To date there has not been any service of any legal process on the government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the diplomatic channel by any person or persons in this matter.

The Government of Antigua & Barbuda continues to take every practical and legal measure to position ourselves to win this battle. We do not take lightly the threats of the self styled Stanford Victims Coalition. Our overseas missions and consulates are playing and will continue to play a critical role in the government’s actions, as will our Tourism offices. We are in discussions with overseas counsel and intend to defend our country, our Treasury, our citizens’ welfare and our patrimony.

We encourage all patriotic Antiguans and Barbudans – wheresoever they may reside – to marshal their forces and join in our collective defence of fair Antigua and Barbuda.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Adventuere Antigua's tours are busy this week!

Of course as soon as we get very busy (spring holidays) we get problems with either our equipment or our crew. Last week we had a few electrical problems which are now sorted out and now this week we have had poor JD come down with a bad throat infection.
We have taken on some extra crew since we are also doing several trips a week on the catamaran as well. Anyway, this week i have been skippering Xtreme doing around the island trips. It's been quite windy for a change too so the waters have been a bit bumpy at times. Everyone has been enjoying it and that is always very cool for me.
We have seen dolphins and turtles but this week there hasn't been any whales! I am hoping that today I get to see some. All the crew who snorkel regularly at Pillars of Hercules are saying that they hear whales from time to time. I haven't heard them before but know from TV what they sound like. Trevor tells me that there is no doubt what the sound is, but sometimes it sounds like it's right next to you. If you are following me "antigua" on twitter, then you will see photos I upload as i cruise along around the island. Enjoy!
The photo above is one i uploaded yesterday from my phone.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Positions for skipper and part time crew available.

Although most of the readers of this Adventure Antigua blog appear to be living abroad, I am still going to put the job opportunity info here in the hopes that some Antiguans may find it this way too. People interested in a job with our company should be aware that you must be able to legally work here in Antigua and that we will not be emplying people who need work permits. For more info check this link.

Friday, March 19, 2010


People who are interested in Antigua or Antigua's tourism and who are involved in almost any area of our government should have a little read of this one which has appeared in various media outlets.

Sir Ronald Sanders
Sunday, March 14, 2010

It's the high seas equivalent of shooting oneself in the foot. Several Caribbean governments are harpooning their own sustainable tourism industry by supporting Japan's ruthless campaign to continue killing whales.

A group of International Whaling Commission (IWC) nations meeting from March 2 to 4 in Florida is reported to have considered recommending to the full membership that Japan, Iceland and Norway be allowed to hunt whales despite a 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling. Japan in particular would no longer have to pretend that, in killing thousands of whales every year, it is doing so for "scientific" purposes.

Japan does not deny that meat from slaughtered whales ends up in restaurants and shops.

As this commentary is being written a shipment of whale meat is being transported by ship from Iceland to Japan in an expensive and backward step to resuscitate trade in whale meat. Twenty-six nations condemned Iceland last October for expanding commercial whaling, pointing out that it brings little benefit to Iceland's economy and great harm to its tourism industry.

Caribbean countries have nothing to gain if the proposal from the IWC's small working group is adopted by the wider membership. Voting for its implementation would certainly adversely affect the Caribbean's image as an environmentally friendly region, as well as harm the growing whale-watching aspect of its tourism industry.

A study by a group of Australian economists placed whale-watching as a US$2.1-billion global industry in 2008. In the Caribbean and Central America whale-watching is growing at a rate of 12.8 per cent, three times more than the growth rate of the global tourism industry (4.2 per cent). Countries in the region now earn more than US$54 million from whale-watching as part of their tourism product, while earnings from whaling are practically zero.
Despite this, members of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and Suriname have routinely supported Japan's efforts in the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to slaughter whales every year in defiance of the international prohibition.

Significantly, an international meeting in Martinique from February 18 to 21 on "Sustainable 'blue' tourism in the Caribbean" strongly urged Caribbean governments "to give their full support and encouragement to whale-watching activities as a valid and sustainable means of protecting marine mammal populations and creating jobs, earning foreign exchange and providing sustainable livelihoods for fishermen and local coastal communities" . In making this call, the participants - the majority of whom were from the Caribbean - recalled that in 2008, the prime minister of Dominica Roosevelt Skerrit took the "principled position" to withdraw his Government's support for whaling at the IWC as being "incompatible" with Dominica's brand as a "Nature Isle". They called on the leaders of other OECS countries to join him.

The stand-off at the IWC between whale-killing Japan and its supportive small states and proponents of whale conservation such as Brazil, Costa Rica, India, the United States, South Africa, Germany and Australia, has dragged on for some time. Last year, the small working group was established to try to bring an end to the impasse. Many hoped that the group's work would result in strong proposals to ensure that IWC rules are fully respected and implemented, and that whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale sanctuary would be phased out swiftly.

However, it appears that the small group has been coerced into entertaining a different kind of discussion - one in which Japan will be allowed to violate the rules the IWC itself has set and to ignore sanctuaries that have been established. One of the members of the group said that nations must "swallow a dead rat".

Experts from around the world are deeply troubled by the proposals emerging from the group. The proposals include:

*    No provisions to ensure that the existing ban on international
trade in whale products is respected;

  • Authorising the killing of sperm whales;

  • Continued whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary;

*    Weakening of the IWC as a rule-making and regulatory international body, encouraging unrestrained actions by individual nations.

Many governments have got away with supporting Japan because their publics are not fully aware that, apart from a small number of indigenous communities in the world, only an elite group in Japan consistently eat whale meat.
In the Caribbean, Japanese associations have paid for the production and broadcast of television programmes which falsely promote whale-killing as a beneficial activity because whales eat fish in Caribbean waters depriving the local population of fish. This claim has been proven, scientifically, to be untrue.

Evidence of the abhorrence of whale-killing and its adverse effect on the world's biodiversity is the fact that an Oscar was recently awarded to The Cove - a documentary film depicting the grisly slaughter of dolphins by Japanese in a cove in south-western Japan.

Kevin Rudd, Australia's prime minister, last month threatened to take action against Japan at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over its Antarctic whale hunt. And in New Zealand, the foreign affairs spokesman for the opposition Labour Party, Chris Carter, has called on the government to join Australia in taking Japan to the ICJ.
But Japan remains determined in its stance, not only on whaling but on fisheries generally. Indeed, Japan is so obdurate that it has stated categorically that it will "opt out" of its obligation to stop importing Atlantic bluefin tuna if members of the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species vote this month to add the fish to the treaty's list of 'most protected species'. In other words, Japan will respect only those international rules that suit it.

Japan's stance is bad news for small countries which depend, for their own survival, on international rules and respect for them within the UN framework.

Japan has helped to make rules that are imposed on small states -- rules with which small countries have been forced to comply or be punished. Among these are the regulatory and tax information requirements of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

If the proposals of the small working group are accepted by governments, Japan, Iceland and Norway will have a free hand, and Japan will no longer need to lure the support of small Caribbean countries in the IWC.

In June, the IWC will hold its annual meeting in Morocco. That's the time that the OECS and Suriname governments should join the government of Dominica in taking a principled position that upholds their own interest.

Sir Ronald Sanders is a consultant and former Caribbean diplomat.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

fancy rowing across the Atlantic Ocean to Antigua?

Every year people take part in this amazing race. Check the latest news here.
There is more info on the site with a realtime tracking tool as well. 

Monday, March 15, 2010

Make plans to come and see the Cove later this week:

The Environmental Awareness Group is going to show the Oscar winning film The Cove this week on Thursday and Saturday nights upstairs of the museum. As I have mentioned before, this very good movie is about Japan's secret slaughter of thousands of dolphins in a small bay there. It also goes into great detail about the support Japan receives from Antigua and Barbuda as well as from other small nations. Although our country doesn't directly kill whales and dolphins, we give the essential support Japan needs to continue killing these amazing wild animals. Money from ticket sales will go towards the EAG. For more on the showing click the image below:

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Film with local film crew, local musicians, local producers, and local kitesurfers.

It's quite a big film and may take a while to load (especially if you are in Antigua), but it's very good. Some very talented firends of mine put this together for you to ENJOY! If it's loading too slowly, click the HD button to turn the HD feature off....i think.

We Did Nothing Remix from Kite Scoop on Vimeo.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

less than five weeks before Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta!

This year the boat the Adventure Antigua team won the Traditional Class with is going to be used by Todd, the man who commissioned "Ocean Nomad" originally. As you know we took over his project and finished the boat, and use it for day and private charters here in Antigua. He is going to come up for the regatta and try to make it a second win for the boat. That may not be so easy though as this year we will be entering our brand new boat "Zemi", and the Adventure Antigua team will be hoping to take home the trophy.
Zemi has never sailed even though she was launched recently for the first time in Carriacou where she was traditionally built by the same local shipwirights that built Ocean Nomad. The mast is being built next week and hopefully we will sail her back to Antigua before the end of the month. JD and Tony don't know it, but they are going to be doing quite a bit of sailing soon! Here is a video we did of us winning last year on Ocean Nomad and at the bottom there is a video of Zemi being finished up and finally being launched.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Adventure Antigua featured in the international press again

This time is was simply a tour and interview we did with some media based at the United Nations who were doing reports on climate change. One of the reports was featured last night. I had a text from someone in the UK who had seen it on the BBC, but I know it was a PBS piece in the USA. Please check out the video here in this link.

Earlier she had written a piece about her trip to Grenada and Antigua. My dad had intrigued her with some messages in bottles:

Megan Thompson is traveling around the world for a series on climate change and small islands. She filed this report from Antigua and Grenada.

On Thursday night, during dinner at the family home of our Antiguan guide, conversation turned to the powerful currents that pull the Atlantic waters westward from Europe and Africa to the eastern Caribbean.

I asked – half-joking – if they’d ever found a message in a bottle. Without hesitation they replied, “Of course!” They pointed to a large ceramic pot filled with notes and letters they’d found along the beach, from hopeful, faraway souls – most begging for a reply, some acknowledgment that their message was received.

But along with the bottled notes comes a lot of other foul stuff – trash from Africa and Europe. Neon signs, hard-hats – you name it, it winds up on the Antiguan beach. Other people’s careless actions, wreaking havoc on a distant environment, cause a mess on a Caribbean beach that Antiguans are left to clean up.

The feeling on climate change is much the same: we didn’t cause this problem, but we now must deal with the consequences.

During our two days in Antigua and Grenada, we saw and heard a lot about how the environment is changing. Coastal erosion is a huge problem – whole beaches have disappeared and what’s left is often held up with rocks and retaining walls. Barrier reefs are dying, leaving the weak coast even more vulnerable. Locals also say the weather is changing. It’s unpredictable, and when it comes – as Hurricane Ivan did in 2004 to Grenada, which rarely sees hurricanes – it causes indescribable destruction. Tourism dominates the economies of both countries. But bad weather and no beaches mean no tourists, and that spells trouble.

Both countries admit that they’ve caused a lot of damage themselves. Sand mining in Grenada and intense development in Antigua have done their fair share to beat up the beach. Many scientists we spoke to said these factors — along with El Nino — make it that much harder to pinpoint the effects of climate change. But whatever the cause, these governments feel they need to start cleaning up their acts, and urge the rest of the world to do the same.

Small island nations all around the world have banded together to make some waves before the Copenhagen climate talks in December. Their slogan is “1.5 to Stay Alive – a catchy phrase, but a dead-serious message. They say if the world’s temperature increases more than another 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), the seas may rise so high that many of their nations could literally disappear underwater.

During interviews, government officials were polite and optimistic about their campaign. But off-camera, many admitted that achieving the goals of the “1.5″ campaign would require emissions cuts too drastic for many other world players to accept. They seethed especially at the United States, which they see as too beholden to its domestic politics to negotiate seriously.
But their message is desperate, and these countries don’t want to be ignored. They say it’s a matter of survival. They have packaged their campaign with press conferences, slick videos, publicity stunts, and this trip for international journalists. In December, they will travel across the oceans to the Copenhagen summit, hoping their message will be heard and acknowledged, and not lost like a floating bottle, swallowed by the ever-warming seas.
- Megan Thompson

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Adventure Antigua Tour Reviews

Hi there! If you have been out on any sort of tour with Adventure Antigua please take a few moments and give us a review on Trip Advisor. Use this link to write the review. All of these things help get the word out on the web. Our tours are unique and we have spent so much time and effort to make sure that you enjoy your time out on the water with us. Thanks for the help!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The Cove (featuring Antigua) wins Academy Award

IF you remember, i wrote about the amazing film "The Cove" some time ago after seeing it here in Antigua. The director and some of the cast have spent quite a bit of time here in Antigua over the years. Read about it again here. Anyway, the film which interviews members of our government as well as my dad sheds light on the huge scam which is Japan's support of specific areas of our Fisheries department in exchange for our nations support on international whaling and the killing of other marine species such as dolphins. It doesn't make the government reps look good because it shows how little they know about the issue or the whales that they are selling out to Japan. The main objective of the movie is to bring international awareness to the slaughter of dolphins in Japan as well as that country's international effort to garner support for killing these dolphins and whales. The Cove won best documentary film at the Academy Awards this week and now will be shown in Japan, a country who is mostly in the dark about what their government is doing. I only hope that the movie will be shown here. Most Antiguans and even our government reps don't know what is going on. The Prime Minister recently learnt for the first time that whales pass through our waters. He had no idea!!! The Deluxe movie theater may show it, but we will have to see. You can email them requesting the movie on this address: fernandezc@candw.ag

Sunday, March 07, 2010

an amazing season for spotting whales in the Caribbean

This "winter" the winds that normally keep some people awake at night as they roar through the hibiscus plants outside have been tempered and it's been a very calm season so far. The windsurfing and kitesurfing has been quite chilled, but the fishing has been usually good with seas way way calmer than usual.
I have seen more whales this year than i have ever seen in my life, and I think it has to do with how calm the seas have been. Usually it's so rough out in the Atlantic at this time of the year that cresting waves and white caps create the perfect camouflage for whales as they breach, spout or tail slap. When it's as calm as it is once again today, it's very easy to see the whales as they come to the surface. All sorts of people who have never seen whales in their lives have seen them this season. Recently a friend of mine was speaking to one of the leaders of our government and mentioned something about spotting whales. The elected official was stunned, not knowing that whales pass through our waters at this time of the year. We were not surprised that he didn't know this, but it was interesting considering the huge support our country gives to Japan on whaling matters. Keep your eyes open when passing the ocean on these calm days and you may see one. I hope our leaders get a good look! Here are a few youtube videos of whales in our waters. People on boat tours and on helicopter trips seem them each year at this time, but this is a great year. Try to get out there, but if you can't you can also see them from land especially when you are up high.