Thursday, April 29, 2010

A cool video taken by some friends

Stevie who is skippering Xtreme today while JD helps me get ready for our trip to the West Indies Regatta is featured in this video taken by Andre Phillip. Generally the video shows a typical day out on a boat with friends going around the island and it's very good stuff. I think it was shot with the Go Pro HD too, but i will have to check with the gang. Enjoy:

Antigua by boat from dre phillip on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

more from sunny antigua's sailing week 2010

Well today it's very warm, windy and sunny for the third race of sailing week. Yesterday the sailing week website promoted one of their sponsors ondeck which is a sailing charter company very unlike mine (
As you can see from the video, you get to race in international events with ondeck.

For more laid back sailing you can always come out with me on the Carriacou Sloop. By the way, we are getting the boat ready this week to sail down to the West Indies Regatta in St. Barts. You can see a video of that regatta by clicking here.
Unfortunately I will miss one of the best reggae DJs in the world IMHO who will be playing with the Soul2Soul group this weekend. For more on that check out this video here:

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Antigua Sailing Week Beach Bash

In the end The Antigua Sailing Week Beach Bash was a very well organized party with an excellent variety of music up and down the beach that wasn't as loud as i thought it was going to be. My wife and I enjoyed listening to Wadadli Riders just up the beach from Itchy Feet. Daddy-O-Grande came and jammed with the Riders for a while which was pretty cool. We had gone down to the party on our boat "Xtreme" with some friends including the island distributer for Veuve Clicquot. Needless to say, that our boat was very well stocked!!!
For a change the party seemed organized and I have to say that I was impressed with the way things turned out. The weather wasn't so sunny, but it didn't rain until we were getting off the boat in Jolly Harbour sometime around 8 pm.
The Antigua Sailing Week website showed this good video of some of the top racers:

Today they are in Jolly Harbour and the bands are playing already. The fleet is smaller than usual which is a shame because I think this one is better than the race weeks we have seen in recent past.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sailing Week starts slowly

Hundreds and hundreds of people were planning to go and see the yachts race around the east coast of antigua today. The yachts have left Falmouth Harbour, but many of us who were going out to follow have stayed behind to wait until the weather starts to clear up. We woke up to rains today and although they have finally stopped now at 10:25 am, it's still quite overcast out there.
Anyway, the rosé and champers are still on ice and we are probaby going to leave "jollywood" in an hour. The Dickenson Bay Beach Bash (sound clash) seen in the image above sounds MAD but thousands will be there later today for sure. The Adventure Antigua catamaran "Dolphin" is already out on the water with people celebrating "indi and ari's" birthday. Just spoke to them and they say it's looking very good from where they are..

Friday, April 23, 2010

The United Progressive Party do an about turn on the Guiana Island development.


I think I must be going crazy and imagining things because yesterday I thought I heard our tourism minister say that cabinet has approved a 2000 acre development of Guiana Island and all the lands associated with Dato Tan. This can’t be right can it?
Stanford's little empire

Before they got into power the United Progressive Party marched, and campaigned against the project declaring that it would be an environmental disaster. In their manifesto before they were elected for the first time they promised that the area would be protected, and now on the Observer Radio talk show “Voice of the People” with Winston Derrick yesterday, John Maginley, minister of tourism, just mentioned it in passing. He spoke of thousands of hotel rooms, and “36 holes of golf”, a marina and other things and then moved on to the next subject without a comment from Winston.

This I must have imagined right?

How could the most controversial development in Antigua’s history, something that the UPP and their supporters were so passionately against be now approved by cabinet and mentioned on the radio by the minister without a single comment or mention of its significance. I am extremely worried about this development and its implications. There have been no consultations with our local environmental groups, the fishing associations, or any other body that I am aware of except the people who stand to make money from this massive development once Vantis sells it.

What is also strange is that the Minister kept saying that the government can’t do anything with things owned by Stanford, specifically speaking about the big marina that Winston asked about.

Why can’t the government do anything about the Marina, but they can authorize the Dato Tan development plan for Guiana Island which is owned by Stanford also. I suppose there may be different company names. Keep in mind that this plan isn’t the last and most recent Stanford plan for the area which in my opinion is far less damaging for the environment than even a modified Tan project with its marinas and golfing.

As someone who is now on the board of two environmental organizations and someone who makes a living doing “Eco Tours” in the area, I think that this 2000 acre development needed far more inclusion of stakeholders and I while I agree that we need development, I think it needs to be done in a sustainable manner.

Since writing this i have been told that the new plan is different than the Dato Tan plan. The new one is for 1000 hotel rooms and not the 5000 that Tan had wanted!!! Makes me feel so much better....

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Disaster at sea that could have been prevented

The unfortunate boating accident which ended up with three men being left in the sea without anyone searching for them until one was found just by chance is something that simply shouldn’t have happened and it’s been bothering me for many reasons.

Firstly, in this day and age no boat should leave port to go offshore without an EPIRB. I think it’s high time for Fisheries and the Marine Department to make this bit of life saving equipment mandatory. An EPIRB is a little emergency beacon that sends messages to satellites and to coast guards in the USA, and locally that your boat is in trouble.

What’s more is that the beacon which floats in the water with you keeps sending the exact GPS location so the coast guard know where you are. The US coast guard speaks with whatever ships and other coast guards are closest to you. IT works world wide and is recognized as the most likely tool to save you quickly. They cost as little as US $350. The more expensive ones ($800 us) can be personally registered, so that the US Coast Guard will have your name and the numbers of people you want notified in an emergency. They get called as well as the ships and coast guards. A few years ago people on those row boats coming across the Atlantic were saved because of their EPIRBS after their boats were compromised.

With or without an EPIRB, mariners should let someone back at home know that they are leaving port and will call when they get to the next port, also telling them that it shouldn’t take longer than “X” amount of time. This way if there is no call, then someone knows something is wrong. When I was 16 and going to Barbuda on the little pirogue, we would use this method every time and I still do it on much bigger trips.

Of course all boats should have proper marine VHF equipment and if you are going offshore you should have a waterproof handheld VHF radio that you can use if the boat goes down. All boats even “unsinkable” Boston Whalers can go down. Think of a Boston Whaler catching fire with 200 gallons of gasoline on board!

Something we use and learnt about years ago is a “Grab Bag” (click here for an example) which is a bag containing basic survival equipment and can include the hand held VHF too. On a 500 mile trip we did last summer on our wooden sloop we had a huge grab bag ready to go into the water with us if something bad happened. The EPIRB, life jackets, energy food packs, water and many other things were in that bag. Hundreds of people have been saved by similar bags.

The things I have mentioned are all good generally, but this week’s incident points out that much more was missing.

It doesn’t sound as though the boat cleared customs, immigration or the port in either SXM or ANU which means that possibly they didn’t really want to notify many people of their movements or even of their problems until it was too late.
I have seen the boat (in St. Martin) and to say that it was properly maintained for an ocean crossing would not be accurate.
There needs to be a policy where the 911 operator writes down or records people’s calls in such emergencies. I am hearing reports that despite the crew on the boat telling 911 that they were going down 7 miles NW of Diamond Reef, the message the coast guard got was that they were in the North Sound (some 14 miles away). These are life and death communications and need to be better dealt with.
In this image X shows where the crew said they were. Y shows Diamond Reef and Z shows the North Sound. As you can see there is a huge difference:

To me it is very strange that knowing a boat was going down as the 911 operator was told, that the coast guard didn’t alert everyone they could that a boat was going down with people on board. If I had known, I would have gone down there as I am sure many other boaters would have done. Why did they wait until Tuesday after Toby Fuchs and John Watt found the only survivor to resume searching and to contact ABSAR and the coast guards of the other islands? It’s as if they were forgotten about just like Inigo Ross, brother of Xabier Ross – Wadadli Cats) was forgotten about by the St. Vincent coast guard all those years ago.
One other thing that I thought about last night while trying to sleep is that I was under the impression that cell phone calls can be triangulated to give a very rough estimate of where the call was made. I may be totally wrong with this, but if a boat is sinking and you can’t get the people on the phone again, couldn’t you try to figure where they called from? You would know for sure that it is or is not The North Sound.
Now I come to an unpleasant mistake that is there for everyone to see on youtube. Why on earth would the coast guard and medical people sit back and interrogate someone who had nearly died or possibly is dying in front of them? This guy has been in the ocean for days and instead of rushing him to the hospital, or possibly sticking an IV into his arm to try and rehydrate him, they are asking him for the same story over and over.

All in all there are many lessons to be learnt here and I don’t think we are paying close enough attention to this story.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Things you may see on this saturday's special Eco Tour

To celebrate Earth Day, Adventure Antigua has teamed up with the EAG to bring you a very special eco tour of the North Sound this Saturday leaving from Shell Beach at 12:45 pm. You can get your tickets from the EAG by calling them on 462 6236 or emailing

The photos below show some of the wildlife and other things that you can see in the area we will cover:

Brain coral while snorkeling.
Mangrove Habitat at Guiana Island

Whales outside the reef. (possible but not a guarantee)

Bottle nosed dolphins

Spotted Eagle Rays

Interesting and diverse "flats" eco systems.

Endangered Hawksbill turtles


Maiden Island's Controvercial artificial reef

The fans
Hells Gate

Queen conch
and even smaller shells

The gentle Southern Stingrays

Frigate Birds and many others.

There is a special price for kids on Saturday so make sure you call the EAG soon to reserve.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Antigua Classic yacht Regatta 2010 still has one more day

The racing this year has been tough for many boats with strong winds and blustery conditions. After not having rains for months and months, Antigua finally got some! We got quite a bit actually with inches falling over the past week mostly falling later in the afternoon and at night. Yesterdays conditions were windy enough that many boats didn't put their "chutes" up. As you know if you read my blog a few days ago, I am not racing this year, but Jason, our main sailing crew is out there racing on Ocean Nomad.
Slightly rusty and not having the proper sails, they finished fourth the first day but with better sails and the crew more experienced they pulled a close second on the second day of racing.
The racing today is cloudy and fairly windy once again and they should have another close day of racing. Check the results here later. If you can make it you should come down to the Antigua Yacht Club Marina to see all the Classic yachts. There are ten Carriacou Sloops (traditionally built wooden Caribbean boats) racing this year and each is alongside the Skulduggery bar. As usual there is plenty of interest surrounding these colourful boats, but slightly more this year with the Pink Lady taking part for the first time. Pink Lady is owned by the Palm Island Resort which is where my wife and I recently spent a few nights during our honeymoon. Palm Island is part of the Elite Island Group of hotels and resorts which also includes Verandah, Galley Bay and St. James Club here in Antigua. The top boss had told me sometime in the Fall that he'd have the boat up here being run by a bunch of ladies. I wasn't sure it was going to happen, but sure enough there is a pink boat sailing in this years event skippered and crewed by a bunch of female pirates. The eye catching crew of this Palm Island boat can actually be heard before you eyes are drawn to them. WOW! Those girls are real "sailors" and are taking the "traditional" sailing and partying theme to the outer reaches of imagination. There was a funny little story and a bunch of photos on the site the other day. (click here) Baywatch meets Pirates of the Caribbean!!!
Will speak to Jason a little later to see how it all went. Tomorrow is the final day of racing.
Apart from the regatta, people here are also watching developments of the European No Fly Zone which has cancelled all trans Atlantic flights since Thursday. Our Adventure Antigua bookings have slowed dramatically as is expected. I understand that British Airways has already cancelled their flights for tomorrow too. With a very active volcano only 25 miles away, I don't think anyone here expected that we would be severely effected by one thousands of miles away. The hotels and tourism sector here which is the backbone of our economy is praying for the flights to resume ASAP.
The photo above was done by Roddy Grimes-Graeme of when we were out sailing. His team of video and photo people are out covering the regatta for the main sponsor.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


A friend of mine is trying to help Antigua's nightlife and its music in general. Torsten is writing, composing, playing and producing music for many Antiguan artists as well as many from abroad through his company Offshore Music. He has also brought Ministry of Sound to Antigua several times and once again they are here to liven up the dance floors at Abras in English Harbour. Here is a little press release he sent me:


Offshore Music Ltd. Announces Tucker will Headline at Abracadabra’s April 16th.

Torsten Stenzel, owner of Offshore Music recognised the need for a different kind of sound in Antigua, to complement the traditional genres of soca, calypso and reggae. His instinct to promote dance music served him well as witnessed by the positive reception of Antiguan nightclub goers to the successful staging of a major event in the country. Stenzel brought the biggest name in UK dance club music the Ministry of Sound to Antigua and Barbuda in 2009 and followed up on the successful evening in January 2010.

To further capitalise on the momentum, Offshore Music will host a landmark music event at Abracadabras, English Harbour on Friday, April 16, 2010. Ministry of Sound will continue to play a major role in the evening through the inclusion of DJ Phats and Small (Turn Around, Feel Good) and featured headliner, the one and only Queen of House Music, Barbara Tucker.

Barbara Tucker is a tour de force in the dance club music world, having recently celebrated 25 years in the business. The artist, who writes most of her own music, is a household name in the world of house music reaching the top of the Billboard Club Hits charts seven times with such mega hits as Beautiful People, Precious Love, and Everybody Dance, while her latest chart-topper Feelin’ Like a Superstar released on her own record label, continues to gain strength. This multi-talented performer is also a noted Broadway actress and choreographer, working with the likes of Moby, Pet Shop Boys, Wyclef Jean, and Herbie Hancock. Ms. Tucker performs all over the world from Africa to Siberia, Tokyo to New York, and Offshore Music is adding the twin-island state of Antigua and Barbuda to this respected list.

This will be Ms. Tucker’s first live performance in a Caribbean country and she is slated to perform for one hour at the event. Along with the multi-million record selling Ministry of Sound DJ Phats and small, are prized local DJ’s in their own right; Offshore and Alan Russell. Luyo Sound System will provide special staging, lighting, animation and P.A. system. Prizes will be given away throughout the evening and performers will be dancing for the crowd. The doors open 11 p.m. until…with ticket prices $35 pre-sale and $45 at the door.

This event is strategically positioned between the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta (April 15-20th) and the 43rd Antigua Sailing Week (April 24-30th) giving residents and visitors another major entertainment option to enjoy. Sponsors signed to date include Carib beer and Mount Gay Rum.

Offshore Music is proud to announce a successful negotiation for the presence of German television station ProSieben (Pro 7), the second largest privately owned T.V. station in the country, to broadcast the event live. A potential viewing audience of 2-3 million across Germany, Austria, and Switzerland has the opportunity to take in the event during airing of the popular entertainment show Red! Das Star und Lifestyle (Red! The Star and Lifestyle Magazine). This is a first for German television in the region.

Offshore Music Ltd. is an Antiguan-based production company specialising in film scoring, and music and video production. Based in English Harbour, the company has sold over three million records worldwide of the dance music scene.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I'm not crying wolf, but the shark email going around is a hoax!

People have this obsession about sharks and one day i blogged about shark attacks around the world, the Caribbean and Antigua (click here). As you know if you read it, there has never been any shark attack around Antigua. Someone was bitten by a little reef shark in Barbuda while they were spear fishing late in the afternoon in Barbuda. A bag of bleeding fish in the old days when the reefs were fully alive wouldn't have taken long to attract some sharks. Anyway, over the past week there has been a horrible email being sent around titled "shark attack in Antigua". The first pic is a lovely photo of a great white shark showings its jaws for the camera. We don't have great white sharks in the Caribbean as the water is too warm. Since the waters are warmer than usual then even less likely.

The rest of the photos show a horribly disfigured young woman in a blue bikini. The extremely graphic photos make you want to gag and i never understand why people send those kind of images around to all their friends. In this case I wanted to see them because I hadn't heard about a shark attack in Antigua. Nobody here had because we did not have a shark attack in Antigua.

Upon close inspection, i could see that the unfortunate lady looked like she had the tell tale scars of propeller damage as seen on manatees up in Florida here:

The close long gashes looked like those we found on a turtle that had been hit by a boat last year. Anyway, i searched high and low for info on the net about a young woman who had been attacked and killed by a shark, losing an arm in the process. The photo showed her arm severed but on the beach next to her without any other scars on the arm.

There is no doubt in my mind that she was hit by a prop of a boat and not killed by a shark. Whatever happens I know for sure that she wasn't killed here in Antigua and surely not by a shark here in Antigua.

Why someone would go so far as to email the photos around, put them on forums and tell the world she was killed by a shark in Antigua is beyond me. Some people are really sick.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Environmental Awareness Group news

The Environmentat Awareness Group is planning a series of activities to celerate Earth Day and to try and raise a few $$ to help run the organization. Environmentalism isn't as strong as is needs to be in Antigua and support for the EAG is even weaker especially financially.

One of the things Adventure Antigua is trying to do to help the EAG is joing them in a special Eco Tour of the North Sound on Saturday April 24th using one of our boats. The tour will be a half day tour during the afternoon and we will be using our biggest boat The Dolphin which is normally reserved for private charters and the half day snorkeling tour from the Pineapple, Verandah and Long Bay area.

Anyway, we will collect guests from the old small dock at Shell Beach near the end of the airport's runway at 12:45 pm. There will be a maximum of 49 people on the big catamaran and we will do the eco tour seen on this link (click here) with the exception of the Hells Gate adventure.
You can have a general idea of what the tour will be like if you check the video there too, but remember it will be on the slower and larger boat. Since we will already be in the North Sound, we won't have to do any cruising up and down the coast to get there.
The main thing to remember apart from this being one of the coolest things to do in Antigua because of the beautiful and very interesting surroundings of the North Sound, is that this is a fundraiser for the EAG. You can learn more about the organization at
Drinks, snacks, all the interesting narration of the area, a short eco walk/hike and some snorkeling all included for just EC $130 or US $50. To reserve you spot on this unique tour please email the EAG. There isn't a kids rate as this rate is fairly low for this type of tour and also because this is a fundraiser. Think of it as you helping out the environment of Antigua and Barbuda.
In a day or two I will blog about a new development that will make going on this tour even more interesting and important.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sunday Chill

If you come to antigua and ask anyone what you should do on a Sunday, they will tell you to go to Shirley Heights which is an old British Naval Fort that now has been tuned into a lively party every sunday afternoon. Of course if you have been there as many times as i have, then you may want to try something different. Sunday Chill is a concept taken from places like the party island of Ibiza where mellow clubby kind of music is played near a pool. It's hard to describe exactly since I have never been to Ibiza, but yesterday we decided to check out Sunday Chill up at Charmichaels above Sugar Ridge Hotel. The longtime Ibiza DJ and producer Torsten Stenzel, who is now living and working here in Antigua producing and writing music takes a few sundays a month out of his busy schedule to play some very cool music up there.
The sunset was pretty "insane" up that high and the music and drinks all came together to provide a pretty neat atmosphere that can only be described as..... SUNDAY CHILL. I'm not sure when he will be playing next up there, but I will probably be there. IT's the next best thing to do on a sunday afternoon (on the mainland anyway). The photos are from the sugarridge site.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Developments at Adventure Antigua

While living in the Caribbean is usually accompanied with smiles, there are times when things are not as laid back as one would think........
With Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta starting next week, it looks like our new boat Zemi will have to wait until next year to race in that regatta. When it comes to building a traditional yacht on the beach on a tiny Caribbean island like Carriacou, you need plenty of time and patience and you really need to go down and take part in the process as much as possible. I think its more difficult that building a house in the Caribbean, but I am not sure about that as I have been trying that too for almost 4 years and we still haven’t broken ground. That’s another story for another time.

Anyway, as you saw in this blog (click here) Zemi was launched and is sitting on anchor in Carriacou ready to have it’s mast and rig finished and attached, the rudder installed and the ballast loaded. We are at the point now where we can do all of that, but I think it would be impossible to get it done and sail her up here in time for the first race at the end of next week. Well I know it wouldn’t be impossible because I did the same thing with Ocean Nomad when we finished her back in 2008, but I just don’t have the time to drop everything and take off from Adventure Antigua at the moment. These pics were taken by stevie mendes while we tried to finish the mast and get the boat ready for the crossing (without an engine) back to Antigua and the Classic Regatta 08.

I also think that finishing a boat down there and rushing everything in order to race in classics is too difficult to call it fun IMO.

Back home here we have been busier than expected with one of our main crew members “Tony” resigning out of the blue at what has been our busiest Spring in years.

With the two powerboats, and the sailing catamaran we have been ultra busy making sure we have had enough crew members to run the boats professionally. We haven’t even had time to do much sailing on the Classic Yacht.

When everyone kept saying that the tourist season was going to be dead, we thought they’d be right, and prepared ourselves for a slow 09/10. The opposite was the case and we had to scramble to make it all work.

Tony leaving the company left us in a bind at the worst time. He was a very strong worker, but a terrible communicator. This time he gave me two weeks notice out of the blue and never gave me a reason as to why he was leaving. We don’t even know where he’s gone to, but it was a blow to the company and to me personally. With him gone, it was so much more difficult to leave Antigua and go to see about Zemi. 

To make matters worse, JD our Xtreme captain came down with very bad tonsillitis and was out for a week. Then Jason got a nasty flu and was out for a week.

I guess that’s one of the reasons I haven’t been writing lately. I have been spending quite a bit of time working on Xtreme and trying to balance all the other “boss” jobs.
We have hired a few new crew members that bring some excellent skills to the Adventure Antigua team. I will introduce them in blogs to come. The Eco Tour has a new narrator who is getting great reviews at the moment after a week on the job.

With all the new help, I think I will be able to leave the island soon for Carriacou to go and collect Zemi and have her back here in time for the West Indies Regatta coming up soon. The Adventure Antigua team won that one too last year.

Will write more soon.