Monday, May 31, 2010

fishing tournament a week later part 1

8 am saturday 29th. A week ago at this hour i was skippering xtreme 12 miles north east of green island at the start of the 44th annual fishing tournament. Our crew and gear were very well prepared and we were ready to fight a big marlin. The day was rough and we experienced several very big squalls. Donovan our junior angler was hit by a big wave and completely saturated early in the day. Fairly early in the morning we had a marlin come and hit one of our lures. Infact, i think it hit two of our lures 1 after the other but didn't get hooked. When you're fishing in the deep waters off antigua with huge lures, most of the fish on the service are blue marlin. We found some flotsam some out there and wahoo were accumulating under it. We caught 1 and quickly left the area to avoid catching more. We were fishing for marlin after all. We fished and fished and fished and never saw another marlin until the last 5 minutes of the day when the top rod burst to life with a violent strike. It was for 4:25 pm and 5 minutes before lines were in unless you're fighting fish. I could see a huge bill thrashing around behind the boat before it took off with another astonishing run. The fish pulled off about 300 meters of brand new line in what seemed like seconds. The second run was stronger and faster and more violent than the first and as line was being rapidly stripped off the reel and rod in a north westerly direction we saw the fish jumping over to the south west........... and then it stopped. It stopped too abruptly and Big John and I knew the fish was no longer ours. There was still quite a bit of strain on the rod but that was just the weight of two thirds of the reels line stretching out behind the boat. It became slacker as it got closer until we understood that the fish hadn't spat the hook, but had bust the line. Our crew's feelings on other crew's stories of bust lines are not that sympathetic as it usually means a mistake was made. We couldn't figure out what mistake was made here. The line was brand new and we had scale tested the reels drag to make sure it wasnt too tight. Guilli had been on the rod and I though he had been getting pulled about quite a bit for only 27 lbs of drag. He and I were the only ones who had seen the fish jumping while the others cleared all the gear in preparation for a big fight. We both knew it was a big fish and Gil said it was the biggest he had ever seen. We all were upset about missing this big chance and drank beer on the way home to try to cheer up. Back at nelson's dockyard we found out that everyone had experienced a slow day.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

fishing tournament this weekend in Nelsons Dockyard

me fighting

Yes the 44th annual fishing tournament here in Antigua will start up on Friday afternoon with their famous EC $5 bar (US $2). Saturday all the boats will tear out of the harbour together in the "bimini start" and shortly afterwards fishing will start.
This year Adventure Antigua's TEAM XTREME have decided to enter the Marlin division once again, but this year we will only be fishing for Marlin and nothing else. Sometimes we see mahi mahi out there in the tournament, change our lures and catch some while getting distracted from Marlin Fishing. Not this year!
For more info on the tournament including fishing times photos and info on the parties, click here.
Last week I posted a little video taken on our last fishing trip. Click here for that short marlin fight and release.
Tomorrow, we are going out for another warm up session. wish us luck!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A great review of the Xtreme Round the Island Tour


This trip report came from and is a nice review of our Xtreme tour with stops at Stingray City, Green Island, English Harbour and Nelsons Dockyard, Pillars of Hercules and Rendesvous Bay. We cover 50 miles as we go around Antigua and get to see all the beaches, bays, reefs, coves, harbours, inlets and islands. Thanks to "Jailbird" for the review!

Eli's Extreme Tour
by jailbird on Sun May 16, 2010 8:35 am

My friend and I who are in our 50's took this tour but were a little worried that we may have taken on more than we should due to some health issues and the boat.

Well..................we had the best day of our holiday with Eli's team. Apologies if I get the names wrong but Eli you will be able to correct them for me (thank you). JD, Leslie and Al?? arrived and picked us up at Coconut Beach Club, to the amasement of the other guests, so we felt like Celebs before we got on the boat ! We were then told we had to 'straddle' the seats. I will leave this up to your own imagination but if you have seen the pictures of 'Darkwood' on here you will get my jist .......................we had a LOT of laughs with that one !!! As did the crew.....

We then proceeded to pick others up from various hotels with a 'potted history' of the Island as we went. I was with a long standing friend who had never been to Antigua before and she was just amazed and very impressed with the history lesson, as indeed was I.

Our first stop was at Stingray City. I think I should tell you firstly that the other 4 couples on the boat were 'considerably' younger than us and fit.
The poor Southern Stingray

After they all got off the boat onto the floating landing pier I was going to stay onboard and look at the stingrays from over the side of the boat but my friend deceided she would get off and go in with them. Leslie then persuaded me to get down the ladders and have a look. He talked me through it (after my left hand slipped on the handrail of the ladder and I ended up 'pole dancing' onto the landing platform with my other hand. He caught me just as I proceeded to go into the water BETWEEN the boat and the landing platform! Not an easy task with a lady my size lol) and eventually encouraged me to go into the water with them (not an easy job - thank you Leslie) and touch them. I have to stress that I would have not done this without Leslie's encouragement and I am sure that after my dramatic exit from the boat he probably wishes I had stayed onboard ! More hysterical laughing..................

We then proceed to another little Island for lunch (sorry can't remeber the name) with more history along the way.
green island

We had a lovely lunch at the stop and swam in the water. Leslie said he would teach me to snorkle but I declined .......( more to come later on this subect)

There were lots of little lizards and they were running over our feet. One actually had a drink out of my friends cup (mango juice) !
We then proceeded along the Island to Nelson's Dockyard and JD? gave us the history on this site.
pillars of hercules

At the pillars of Hurcules(sp?) the boat stopped and everyone was given the choice to go snorkling. Well, my firend and I deceided we would not do this as neither of us has done this activity before and it was in about 40' water ! My friend then persuaded me to have a go and AL?? said he would help me. JD ? said I should put a floatation belt on to give me a bit more confidence and said it would be better if I sat on the side of the boat and jumped into the water. AL?? was already in the water below and said he would help me and there were calls of encouragement from him in the water to go in......big mistake him being under me in the water !......I fell in, with some encouragement from my friend (pushed), on top of AL?? and we both went under quite a way (he won't do that again with someone my size! lol) Anyway, once I had composed myself and put my 'bits' back in, that had come out with the speed I hit the water ( not a pretty sight), and AL?? had composed himself he then proceeded to try and teach me how to snorkle. I would like to say I am a natural... but alas no. I had a try and did see the sea bed but decided this sport was not for me. Once JD and my friend had composed themselves (laughing)enough to help me back onboard AL?? then proceeded to help me back up the ladder with his hand on my backside. I felt really sorry for that young man!( I think he drew the short straw) anyway I finally got back onboard and AL?? was off,like an olympic swimmer, in case I changed my mind and deceided to go back in. lol

After about 40 minutes of everyone snorkling we set off to a lovely beach for swimming and a drink of Rum Punch. I personally had 40 ciggies to get over the trauma of the snorkling ! But it was a lovely relaxing end to the tour.
I know only too well that people seem to always say that they had had wonderful trips out on holiday but I feel that this was above and beyond any that I have ever taken. The crew must have wondered what the hell Eli was doing letting us book this trip when they saw us! The crew were absolutely fantastic and a credit to Eli's company. Nothing was too much trouble and they encouraged us to take part in all the activites and laughed as much as we did, probably more !! My friend was still laughing on the flight home at the look on my face when Leslie told me, when we first got onboard to, 'open my legs and staddle'. Its a long time since someone said that to me! The crew also personally thanked us for the laughs when we got back off at Coconut Beach Club and said they had enjoyed having us on the trip.
I would readily recommend this tour if you can snorkle or not but would also finish with try everything once. We did and laughed all the way.
Thanks Eli and crew for the wonderful memories and laughs and an excellent trip.

JB "jailbird"


Friday, May 14, 2010

is there war being raged against antigua without us knowing it?

Recently some of the main tourism and news websites have been hacked by people wanting to cause big problems for their users. People's virus checkers warned of Trojan Horses and all that kinda nasty stuff. This has happened not only to several of the main sites, but it has happened more than once too.

Also, as you may have read in one of my earlier blogs (click here), there is an email going around which shows a once beautiful young lady in a blue bikini laying in a few inches of water on a beach. I say once beautiful, because the gruesome images show her cut to pieces in what the title of the email describes as a "shark attack in Antigua". (Check the link above.) I did hours of research and found this email to be totally bogus and nothing more than a hoax to cause Antigua damage.  After all, we know people's fear of sharks.
I  know how obsessed prospective visitors to Antigua's shores are when it comes to sharks and shark attacks because of a simple blog i wrote a few years ago called "the most dangerous thing on your holiday". (click here) In the blog i speak about the fact that we have not ever had a shark attack on the island and i also quote statistics for shark attacks world wide. Then i talk about the real danger which i say is too much sun exposure. Millions more people die from skin cancer than from shark attacks. ANYWAY, I have a very good web tracker that is visible only to me and quickly saw the searches people were using to get to this blog. Every single day people around the world search for something similar to this: "shark attack antigua" and they get to my blog.
Since this shark attack hoax email has been going around, and i blogged about it carefully explaining why it's untrue. Since then thousands of people have been hitting that page after seeing the horrible email just to see if it's true. The email about the fatal shark attack in Antigua is a fake but it's causing harm. Check the first page of my web tracker from early today:

Click on the image to get a bigger version of it. As you can see, most of the hits my blog is getting at the moment is form people trying to find more info about this hoax attack. I am hoping that Antigua's Daily Observer may read this blog and do a little article on it. Let's see if they read it.
My family and friends have been getting messages and calls from people around the world trying to find out if its true about this killing and although i am not a conspiracy theorist, I can't help ask the question: "Is Antigua under attack?"

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The West Indies Regatta 2010

If you follow the blog then you know team Adventure Antigua went to the West Indies regatta in st. Barts recently.The team for the sail down was Jason, JD, and myself, but we were also joined by some of the Iain, Pat and Sarah were going to be taking part and helping out in the regatta with Iain doing the filming specifically.
I usually like sailing downwind at night as i find it quite relaxing and quite beautiful. It was only 90 miles or so down to Gustavia, and we decided to have some dinner at the Al Porto before setting off into the starry night. The winds were about 14 knots once we got outside the lee of the island and we sailed silently and comfortably through the night.
At dawn we could see St. Barths in the distance and we decided to put up the big downwind sail as a bit of a practice. Usually we race with Nikolai as our "rock star", and while i stay on the helm dealing with tactics, nick runs everything else. Jason, as usual said he knew everything about it all and could do it by himself. This turned out to be mostly true with the exception of him having the wrong sail. We had two of the downwind sails made as the first one was too small. I had put that one in storage, but Jason insisted that the one in storage was our racing sail. As soon as we finally got it up, I could see that it was too small. A good thing we were not racing!!! After a good bit of teasing JD, Jason and I dropped the sail and got the other one ready. Up in went and as we sailed down the South East coast of the beautiful island of St. Barths the sail looked as beautiful being poled out by our "big bamboo".
This image was taken by during the Antigua Classic Regatta last year, but gives you an idea of what it looked like on a tighter reach with no need for the bamboo.

Once we arrived in St. Barths we tied up alongside some of the other West Indian wooden boats that were stern to the dock. This image was taken by Sarah:
We met up with some fishing friends who we know from tournaments in Antigua and St. Marin.

The year before they had raced with us at this regatta and were eager to join in once again. We mentioned that we needed a bit of equipment for the boat and Christian, the owner of Ocean Must, a powerboat rental place told us to take one of his boats to St. Martin. It was only 12 miles away and we could collect some stuff from the chandlery at Bobbys Marina, have some lunch and be back in no time. And that's what we did quickly jumping on the immaculately kept Contender powerboat with twin 250 hp Yamahas.
Little did we know that it was Carnival in St. Martin and most things were shut. Needless to say, it was a good lunch there. Somehow we ended up getting roped in to collecting the band and taking them back to St. Barths. Sometimes having a cell phone can get you into trouble. The band had flown in from NYC to play for our Regatta at Le Select on Saturday night, but had come in too late to catch the ferry. We were in the wrong place and the wrong time and took them back to St. Barts. In fact it wasn't bad at all as they had all their gear already in Gustavia. They even paid for fuel!
When we got back we slowly got over to one of the organizers harbour gallery where there was a party organized for us with food and drinks. Everyone was jolly and happy trading stories about these lovely old boats. Even the new ones like ours is generally spoken about as an old boat because of it's design and the way it was built traditionally.
That night wasn't a big one as we were all very tired. Jason went off with the other sailors to a film festival but JD and I were sleeping by 10. We'd be racing in the morning.
At the skippers meeting they said there would be a 10 minute warning gun before the sequence and the starting sequence would be 5 minutes. The person giving the briefing then asked the skippers if they knew what time the start of the race would be. One of the guys said 10:15 and the race director said "that's correct". OK, so off we went. Later as we prepared to start I noticed three boats take off at 10:10 sailing towards the first mark. I called on the radio and was told that the race had started. Great we were already way way behind!
The race didn't involve any beating to speak of with one tack just before the windward mark. We caught up very close to the lead boat Genesis at one point but had problems getting our pole unjammed and lost some of the ground sailing tight up the coast. We finished second that day over the line and went in to complain about the start. Three other skippers said that they had thought the start would be at 10:15 and were surprised at the 10:10 start. Anyway, it was a hot saturday in St. Barths and time for some beers at the beach. I love chilling out at the Brazil bar on shell beach.
The day turned into night and the band started early at Le Select. The rocked the island!!!
Jason, played dominoes with some of our local fishermen crew while the band played some great tunes.

It ended up being a very heavy night with us migrating to Bazz Bar until it closed and then to the Yacht Club disco even later. By the time we woke up for our pastries and coffee we were running a bit late and a bit low.
The winds had dropped and were very light which Ocean Nomad never likes. We started perfectly and already were ahead with a good lead off the start. I had missed the "captains briefing" but our local fishing/sailing crew had the details and were calling the course to me. Up ahead we could see the first mark and gybed it and set the reacher heading to the island where i was told we had to round next. Suddenly we heard some shouts from one of the boats and realized we were sailing in the wrong direction. I guess i should have made it to the skippers meeting! Back on course now we were in second! Once again, this race had no tacking and in the very light conditions sailing from one point to another we never do well. We couldn't gain on Genesis and were eventually passed by the newly refurbed Summer Cloud. In fact, Summer Cloud went on to pass Genesis too winning the race across the line.
It was now time for lunch at Colombier beach. The boats all rafted up alongside and we quickly put up our awning for the shade.

Unlike the rest of the boats, we had a grill and fresh fish thanks to our fishermen friends. There is nothing like fresh fish cooked out on the water by professional fishermen.

Wow, it was good, but after a while it was time to race in our third and final one for the regatta. The start was a bit too close behind the anchored yachts and almost the entire fleet was over early on the start by about 20 seconds. I hovered back, but figured they wouldn't do a general recall and finally moved to also start early albeit at the back of the fleet but alongside Genesis. It was so light and slow that we could call out to each other with a bit of teasing. We managed to get our down wind sail up quickly and easily covered and passed Genesis. By the time we got to the downwind mark, an island, we were in second again behind Summer Cloud. Once again there was no beating in this race and it was a tight close haul to the finish. Despite Summer cloud being way ahead of the fleet they had to sail down to the finish which was set up at the last minute lower than any of us had expected. Genesis who had footed off and was sailing low and with speed was in the perfect position to go directly to the line and finished first over it. 
While we were disappointed with our sailing results this year, we felt that the courses and general organization of the racing could have been a bit better for us. In the end the event was more of an event that a regatta, and organizing a bunch of traditionally built West Indian boats with their owners, crews and friends for a weekend of parties, cook ups and some racing was the main focus. At the awards, Summer Cloud won overall as she clearly was faster on corrected time than the rest of us. Andrew and his company, Woodstock had refurbished the boat after taking it from Gustavia where it had stayed after last years event and she was like a new boat once again. Each boat was made to feel like they were winners and each captain was given a prize of some sort. The prize giving ceremony was unlike many i have been to and we we did all feel very proud of our commitment to these traditionally built boats. There used to be hundreds of them around the West Indies with each island building their own version of the fast sailing work boats. Now there are only a small handful left with only one tiny little island still building them semi regularly. This even was more of a celebration of the Caribbean wooden boat movement and all in all it was a great success. Alexis Andrews pulled it off again and he should be proud of this little special event.
The ride back upwind to Antigua wasn't as much fun for ALL of our crew as the event had been. One of them who shall remain nameless wasn't happy at all. They even kissed the customs dock when we finally got back to Antigua. It was a bit nasty when we left St. Barths with rain squalls and blustery winds:

Next year in our effort to keep the spirit of this tradition alive, we will be sailing on the newest of the Carriacou Sloops, ZEMI.
Apart from the photoaction chopper shot, the images were taken by Sarah Gochberg and me.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Adventure Antigua - St. John's - Reviews of Adventure Antigua - TripAdvisor

image by shelly chadburn.

Some more great reviews for Adventure Antigua's day tours. These trips are not just your average snorkeling trip. As you will read, we put plenty of thought into the design of the tours, the design of the boats, the hiring of our crew and everything else that goes into our unique tours. We have been doing tours professionally for 10 years, but taking frineds and family out boating is what we have been doing all of our lives. It's who we are. Nothing makes our crew happier than having happy guests. Thanks to those of you who have taken time to write these reviews:

Adventure Antigua - St. John's - Reviews of Adventure Antigua - TripAdvisor

Monday, May 10, 2010

Marlin Fishing video on Xtreme (possible bad language)

As many of you know the biggest fishing tournament of the year is coming up this month in just a few weeks actually. We got some of our regular crew together and invited a few guests to come for a little practice session on Saturday.
Fishing was slow as Marlin fishing can be, but we managed to catch and release one nice blue marlin about 170-180 lbs. We also got dinner for all crew to take home in the form of a nice big dolphin fish (Mahi Mahi) not to be confused with the mammal with a similar name.
Anyway, we had a pro video man on the boat with us who did a quick little video for us. Iain from Acquafilms did this one. Enjoy:

Friday, May 07, 2010

"Adventure Antigua - Best Tour Ever"

Recently we have made some changes to the way the Eco Tour has been run. After Antigua's SubCat folded there were some good crew looking for work. It just so happened that we had taken out an ad looking for crew at the same time. I'll speak more about the new crew soon, but this blog is to feature a recent review of the eco tour which has now been featured on the very popular Travel Buddy website. We are very proud of our little Antigua tour and we are even more proud of it today after the lovely review. IT shows that the new crew are working very well with some of the veterans and that things are on the right track. The new engines, and propulsion systems are being shipped as we speak and by mid summer there will be a total rebirth of the eco tour. "Adventure Antigua - Best Tour Ever!" Read the review here: Travel Buddy and feel free to share the link on any site that you think will help spread the word about this unique and small tour. There are some websites out there that tell cruise ship passengers to stay in port while in Antigua. Possibly if more of them saw reviews like this they would understand that there are some very cool things to do while in antigua.

(edit) I decided to copy and paste the review here:

I simply cannot put into words how completely magical this tour was. At the risk of sounding cheesy, it was one of the most beautiful days of my life. The tour provided for a small crowd (a few more than a dozen) for the most wonderful trip.

First of all, know it's not a "snorkel trip" or a "booze cruise". On the contrary, it is exactly as the title states, an "eco tour". You will learn about the island, the wildlife, the flora and fauna, as well as get up close and personal with some very cool marine life. There are a couple "get-in-the water" stops, but they are not the overall focus like may snorkel trips.
Eli's Eco Tour is SO MUCH MORE. I'm a swimmer and love to snorkel, however this tour was still perfect for me and I wouldn't have traded it for an overcrowded trip with untrained guides any day. The guides were EXCELLENT, with one being a marine biologist. They were able to point out turtles and many other kinds of sea life I'm sure I would've missed on my own.
The tour took up our entire time in port, but I can't imagine spending the day otherwise. I cannot recommend Adventure Antigua enough. Booking is safe and easy online. They stay in touch extremely well.
We had about an hour before we were to meet the ship outside this great little clothing store called Exotica Antigua (which sounds WAY more racy than it was.) Upon boarding the catermaran (without your shoes, which was a highlight for me! :) we sailed off to see multiple views of the island. Unfortunately, we were there during full moon (low tide) and dry season, so we couldn't get far back into some places, but I saw jumping stingrays, hundreds of HUGE sea stars, and turtles. We did an easy-to-moderate hike to Bird Island for awesome views of the Atlantic (where they say you can sometimes see a humpback whale). Upon returning to the ship, we were served an awesome island chicken lunch onboard. After that, we spent around an hour (I lost all track of time) at Hells Gate where you could choose to swim, snorkel, hike, or relax on the boat. We chose to snorkel and saw some of the best coral and marine life we've seen (and we've been to MANY Caribbean locations to snorkel). After that we went to yet another snorkel site where the fish were a bit larger. The guides are right there to help you. In my opinion, a beginning snorkeler would have little trouble on this trip, ESPECIALLY with the friendly and patient staff. However, for those like myself that enjoy a bit more of a challenge, this trip provided that as well.
Rarely would I ever repeat a trip, but this one, without a doubt, I will book again. As a matter-of-fact, because of this trip, I'm ready to find a local hotel for an extended stay as opposed to a cruise ship stop.
I can't say enough good things about Adventure Antigua. Everything about the tour was exceptional, from the locations, to the snorkeling, but especially the crew. Thank you guys! We'll be back!