Thursday, December 29, 2011

what a morning i had yesterday!

This image of pure serenity yesterday morning was what i was feeling at the time while on the tiller of Ocean Nomad, our traditionally built Carriacou Sloop. These classic yachts have been built as work boats since the colonial sugar days of years gone by. Caribbean Helicopter pilot, Greg, took this image as he was leaving Jolly Harbour on his way to see the volcano over in Montserrat. I was skippering a private charter for two enthusiastic guests who just wanted to day sail on a wooden boat, have some lunch do some snorkeling and enjoy hearing stories about how it was traditionally built here in the Caribbean. This image's peaceful feel didn't last long for me and isn't how the day started. Over the weekend the boat's engine tore up a fan belt and because we had several days of public holidays, the skipper who was using the boat at the time couldn't find a proper replacement. It probably was going for a while and the batteries were not getting a proper charge. Anyway, my first mate had arrived at the boat early to check everything and prep the boat for the trip. The engine started just fine and he went to the fuel dock to top up. I met them there and once we were ready to push off we were surprised to find the battery dead. It was 9:10 am and our pickup was at 9:30. We went to A1 Marine engineering and left our battery to be charged while collecting an old used one which we hoped would get us going. After rushing back to the boat, hooking it up we were rewarded by a engine that wouldn't turn over. Next it was a mad rush back to my truck to take it's battery out. I had sent the third crew member over to our guests to let them know we would be a few minutes late.
After hooking up the truck battery, the engine fired easily to life and we cast off dock lines headed for the other side of the Jolly Harbour Marina.
Our two guests were excited to see us and not at all bothered by us being 5 minutes late. In no time we were out the harbour and setting sails. A few minutes later Greg passed overhead and took the image above. We had just seen several large greenies (green turtles) come up for air and while passing Darkwood Beach the light winds gently guided us onwards to Cades Reef.
As we tacked up inside Cades Bay some dark squalls started roll down the coast toward us. The winds went from about 12 knots to about 20 knots fairly quickly. I left the tiller to one of our very happy guests who had owned a wooden boat when he was a teenager. He was loving it. I walked around the boat to get a better view of the squall and noticed something very alarming.
The stainless steel stem fitting was coming lose. It's the integral part which is where the forestay cable coming down from the mast attaches itself to the boat. This was the photo i took:

If the stem fitting pulled out, the mast could very well come falling down. In there would be a way too many other things that could go badly wrong if this happened. I had the crew ease the sails to spill some of the power. We did two more tacks to get close up to a nice protected cove while I monitored the stem.  As soon as we were close enough we dropped sails and motored in for anchor.
As the anchor dug into the sandy bottom below very strong gusts from the passing squall helped it to dig deep. I was glad we were not out in the squall which probably was pushing gusts up to 30 knots. Trevor took the guests snorkeling while Jourdain and I started putting up the awning which would give us shade for lunch. At the back of the boat I had to pull the cover very tight to the end of the boom. I have done this hundreds of times, but this time was going to be different. The little stainless steel shackle burst as i was pulling as hard as i could and in a second i was falling over the transom and into the "drink"! It happened so quickly but while in mid air i was thinking about my phone still attached to a pouch on my hip. The line I was pulling was still fixed to the boom and although i hit the water I managed to spring back just enough to keep my belt above sea level. Jourdain leaned over and was able to grab it for me and i released the line to fall back into the sea. It was refreshing for a split second until i though about the morning so far. Wow! What else was going to go wrong today.
My beautiful son Skye had kept me up for hours during the middle of the night and while pulling myself out of the water and up the ladder I thought of him comfortably sleeping in now while I was out here dealing with all these issues. I missed him and wished I had stayed in bed with him and my wife. At just under 8 weeks old, Skye provides way way more happiness that I was having at that moment.
My keys, check books, wallet, and phone all were rinsed and put out to dry in the sun which was coming out. The day was going to get better for sure and after we had set up the awning our guests arrived back from snorkeling.

They had enjoyed it and the clouds cleared as they dried of to get ready for lunch. After lunch we reefed the main sail and attached a smaller jib.
The weather gods must have felt sorry for me because by the time we were ready to sail back down the coast the winds eased. With the winds lighter and the less powerful sails I felt confident that the stem would hold up until we were back in port. If it picked up again we would have to just abandon sailing. It didn't and the we sailed down the coast spotting birds, plenty of turtles and even a jumping spotted eagle ray who seemed to want to come into the boat. We got back just before sunset and our guests seemed very happy. Thank goodness that the afternoon was easier than the morning. All the Adventure Antigua crew met up for drinks at Al Porto afterward and we all laughed at my fall. The best part was last night my phone started working again. It's just the camera that's busted. Time for the newest Android phone!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays From the Adventure Antigua Team

We have seen some big changes again this year and once again we are greatufl to have had support from our team mates, partners and guests. Adventure Antigua has said goodbye to some of our long time team members this year with Chirs and Captain Shamel recently moving into new ventures. We wish them luck while at the same time welcoming Natalie and Jourdain to the team. It's time for a new team photo and I hope to have one before the new year. We will be introducing a new boat in the new year which is very exciting. All in all 2011 has been a great year and we expect 2012 to be challenging but as rewarding.

The Christmas Winds which I longed for each year during my competitive winsurfing years have been here this year with a vengeance and unfortunately we have had to cancel quite a few tours over the past week. It's always difficult making decisions to cancel tours and luckily it happens only a few times a year. This week has been tough though. The weather is forecast to calm down from tonight and then things should get back to normal. Remember if you have photos of our boat or tours please put them on our facebook page.

Anyway, we hope you enjoy the holidays and make it out with us in the new year. Here is a little gift for your computer's wallpaper. Click on the image and save if you like.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Adventure Antigua wins "Best Caribbean Excursion Company".

+Adventure Antigua is "Best Caribbean Excursion Company" according to Caribbean Travel and Leisure Magazine's Readers Choice Awards:
Thanks to all of our supporters and followers for voting for us. Antigua should have made top honors on some of the other categories too but we're happy to have clinched one top spot.

I am not sure that we are the best excursion company doing day trips in the Caribbean but with all the good reviews we have gotten over the past year and with this award, I know that our team at Adventure Antigua is doing something very right at the moment. Please visit our website to learn more about our snorkeling day tours and charters.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A fun slide show of interesting images

I am working on a little project and created this slide show to help with it. While checking it out I thought it would be nice to share the photos on my blog. Most of them are from Antigua and Barbuda but some are from further away. Enjoy!


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Another high quality company worth checking out. VIDEO

Roddy Grimes-Graeme and I went to school together here in Antigua and have always been very close friends. When I first decided to turn our childhood adventures into a real company, Roddy was there to build our first website using primarily his photos. His high end photography became his career and then diversified into video with the help of another friend Iain McGlashan. Their company shoots the worlds most luxurious and famous yachts primarily but they also do things as varied as weddings, corporate functions, private homes, hotels, nature documentaries, and even excursion companies. You see their videos on my website. Click here.

As many of you know Antigua is one of the main destinations for luxury yachts in the winter months and our Charter Yacht Show just finished. Here is a little video shot by them during the event:

Flying over the Antigua Charter Yacht Show 2011 from acquafilms on Vimeo.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Some great wallpaper for your computer and info about writing a review about our tour.

First, a great photo taken of our Eco Tour as it made it's unique Hells Gate stop.  Right click on the image if you would like to save it. People often tell us that they had the best time every on our tours. This week someone from Hawksbill took the time to call our office just after they got off the boat to tell Nell that it was the best day they have ever had on any holiday. This is awesome and we love to hear stories like that. It would help our entire team if these wonderful reviews made it to tripadvisor and other forums. IF you... have been out with us and enjoyed it please write a review.  Click here to write a review

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Some great Eco Tour photos from our facebook page

These photos were taken by Captain JD and crew Nicola & Natalie out on the Eco Tour. Our captains take photos and post them regularly to our facebook page. Anyone can "like" our facebook page to see more. Hope you enjoy the photos of this highly acclaimed and well reviewed day tour in Antigua. For more info on this special snorkeling and sightseeing trip please check our website.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Follow us on Facebook, twitter, flickr and google+

If you like seeing new Antigua photos, hearing about our reviews and tours as well as our day off adventures you should be following us on one or more of these.

Our Twitter name is Antigua. Click here to get there.

Of course our popular Facebook page where we show many of our tour photos can be found by clicking here. 

We are now on google+ too which is a new and interesting networking tool. You should set up an account for the hell of it. Either way follow us by clicking here.

Of course one of our oldest new media pages is our Flickr page which is where we store many of our best photos. Click here for that one.

Our website which has been up without much of a change since about 2002 will be going through some big changes over the next few weeks and you can get there by clicking the link below.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Amazing short film on traditional Caribbean sailing.

This potentially award winning film is a totally Antiguan production. We in the Caribbean should be proud of the film but even more proud of what it's about. Here is a trailer for Vanishing Sail.
Vanishing Sail - Trailer from alexis andrews on Vimeo.

More about the film from their website. Click here

This "trailer" is for a documentary film that is still in production, estimated completion by winter 2013.

Shot in Carriacou in the Grenadines, where the last Caribbean boatbuilders maintain a tenuous grip on their traditional skills. In St. Barth's where the smuggling trade in liquor & cigarettes thrived. And Antigua where the Carriacou vessels race each year among vintage yachts in the Classic Regatta.

Mixed with rare archive footage, interviews with the last old Caribbean sea captains - the film combines dramatic sailing footage with narration and an original soundtrack to tell the story of the Vanishing Sail of the West Indies.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Adventure Antigua needs your help.

Adventure Antigua needs your help: Caribbean Travel and Life magazine is having some special awards for best excursion companies. We are in the Best Excursion Company list, at the bottom of the poll. Please vote for us! 
Click here.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Amazing Review of our Xtreme day trip here in Antigua.

From Tripadvisor this week:
“The only way to see the real Antigua”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 4, 2011 
I've been going to Antigua now, on and off, for just over 25 years (so you have an idea of the perspective I'm writing from I'm now 29), but my first time on the Adventure Antigua 'Extreme Tour' was only four years ago, and every time I've been back to Antigua since I make sure that this trip is the first thing I book up, and will continue to do so. I really couldn't recommend it enough, whether you've been going for years, are visiting for a week's vacation, or if you're stepping off a cruise for just the day.

To give you a bit of an insight, the extreme tour takes you all the way around the island, stopping off at some of the most stunning locations the Island (and possibly the Caribbean) has to offer, which are only accessible by boat. Parts of the trip will be done at speed (hitting 45 knots or so on the flat Caribbean side of the island), but the gentle Atlantic swell on the east side is taken a little more leisurely, and always in comfort. The boat is definitely fit for purpose and given the limited numbers on the trip you feel like you're getting quite a private experience.

On board will be a mix of people from all over, and of all ages, although on the trips I've been there weren't any young families, but I think this must be as I tend to travel outside of the school vacation periods; plus if I was around 8-12 (and upwards) I'd have loved this. Also on board are the captain and two crew members, each of whom are very knowledgeable of the island, fun and charming. As you go around they will give you some history of the island, including English Harbour and Nelson's Dockyard, and also fill you in on the properties of the rich and famous. You'll be very well looked after throughout, the food is great and you'll be well-watered (the rum punch comes out towards the end of the tour, after the activities).

So, if you've been going to Antigua for a while and haven't done this - book up! You'll no doubt see some awesome spots you haven't seen before and I'm sure you'll learn something about Antigua (even if you think you know it pretty well - like I thought I did). If you're going for the first time and take the tour you'll be way ahead of the game - plus from the boat you'll also be able to plan the other beaches you should check out during your stay (like Halfmoon bay) and get tips from the guys on board as to where else is particularly worth visiting (which you may not get in a guide book/travel brochure). And if you're just visiting for the day this is a no brainer - you'll avoid the crowds and the corporate charters that barely scratch the surface, and see the best of what the island has to offer.

I've recommended this trip to all sorts of people - mates on a 'girlfriends have no holiday left, reckon we can get a way with a week in the caribbean kitesurfing?' trip, friends on their honeymoon, and my parent's friends, and they've all come back raving about this. You won't be disappointed.

Many thanks to Captain Ross, Trevor and Serge for the last trip. 

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Used Day Charter Catamaran for sale.

The catamaran had now been sold. Thanks anyway. April 2012

We have decided to make a few more changes to our operation for the season and big news will be coming soon. It's all very exciting indeed. To make room for these changes we are selling the catamaran we have been using.
"Dolphine" a 52 foot Buhler sailing catamaran with twin 75 HP Yanmar diesel engines. She is registered to carry 49 passengers, but could carry more as it's a very very wide boat. The boat has had quite a bit of work done to her recently including an engine rebuild, and is ready for use in the day charter industry. I am not sure of the exact year that she was built but i am guessing some time in the late 90s. This is a money making machine if put to work in the right market. The owners are asking US $150,000 and the boat is available for sea trials at any time. IF you are interested please call me on 268 725 7263 or email me on eliantigua(AT) and I can give you more info. 

Going to Antigua on a Cruise?

Yes, it's "Cruise Ship Season" and there are ships in port most days here in Antigua. Adventure Antigua doesn't have any contracts directly with cruise ships, but we have been taking cruise passengers on our day trips for about 11 years. Captain JD added some great photos to our facebook page of yesterdays tour including a few going back into port. Our guests were all posing. Here is one.

That is always the most asked question, but we have been doing this safely for eleven years and counting and will collect you after your ship gets in and have you back in time to get you on to your ship with plenty to spare. In fact we often get back before the cruise organized tours. Check our recent reviews on tripadvisor if you would like to see some reviews from other cruise passengers.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Trip reports and reviews help little businesses.

Our great reviews on Trip Advisor keep coming in with an almost equal amount between our two most popular day trips: The Eco Tour and The Xtreme Circumnav. Click here to read some of the most recent trip reports. 
These reviews help our company and our team so much and we appreicate the time you take to write them. If you have been out with us and would like to write one, then you can write your own review after clicking here. 
You can also write one on Cruise Critic and or Antigua Forums. Thanks again, Eli

Monday, November 28, 2011

My favorite fishing slideshow of Antigua images

As the oldest image in the slide show clearly demonstrates, fishing has been part of my life since my earliers memories. This photo of me fishing with my dad, brother and sister in the North Sound off Great Bird Island was taken on the same type of boat that I first used on my Eco Tour back in 1999. A small barracuda, a bar jack, a spanish mackerel, and another larger "barri". These same fish can still be found in the North Sound, but these days with the increased use of gill netting, the numbers of fish have dropped considerably. I don't want this blog to be a controversial one arguing for more fisheries protection like many of my writings before. Instead this is one showing most of my favorite fishing photos. Almost all of them were taken by me here in Antigua. I hope you enjoy checking them out. We here at Adventure Antigua are always asked if we do fishing charters. Some day that may be an option, but for now we just do it for fun on our days off.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Birding photo contest

The Environmental Awareness Group is giving all the digitial photography enthusiasts a chance to test their skills this month with a birding photography contest. Click here to find more info. I have decided to clean my dirty lens and get out there. Today was my first try and I managed to get a few nice shots of pelicans and ruddy turnstones. Antigua and Barbuda has so many cool birds at this time of year and with the clear skies that we have been having lately we all should be able to get some nice bird shots.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Fun photos from our tours

Our Captains regularly take photos while out on our tours. These three images were taken By Captain JD Hall while coming home from our Xtreme Round The Island tour. For more info check photos, description and videos on

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Who is Baldwin Spencer Speaking to here?

Last week there was an article in the Daily Observer newspaper here in Antigua which described a speech the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda delivered to people at the start of Caricom Energy Week. Click here for the article.
Here is a quote from the article:
The prime minister said, “The continuing rise in the price of oil coupled with the escalation of tension in the Middle East and in Libya has major economic implications for Antigua & Barbuda and the region. Without swift and decisive action, the end results could cause significant damage to our economies,” the prime minister pointed out.
 Whenever I hear anyone in our government speak about alternative energy I take deep breaths. In one sentence I will explain why: It is illegal for any citizen to use solar or wind power in Antigua unless they live in an area that the government doesn't provide electricity. So.... you can see why I think that the PM's speech is ridiculous. In fact all speeches and press releases to do with alternative  Energy here in Antigua are pointless unless they do something about the legislation.
In the Observer article he goes on to say:

“We are required to devise ways and means to develop our renewable energy resources with the aim of changing our energy matrix to ensure the production of cleaner energy and thereby reducing our carbon emissions.”

The maddening thing is that the PM and his government know that it's illegal for citizens like myslef to put solar panels or a wind turbine up in order to try to make use of this lovely wind and lovely sun. He knows it yet he makes empty speeches that can only have the goal of fooling uneducated people who don't know what's going on into thinking that the PM and this government actually care about the things he's speaking about. I'm sorry to be so upset about this but we have been speaking about this for years. In fact, after I wrote the article on the massive government oil spill and slick which still oozes oil into the water each day (click here) I was invited to The Prime Minister's office where THE ENERGY DESK was due to speak on their progress.

The large panel of both governmental and non governmental pundits had a task to help Antigua consume less imported oil and to move to more renewable energy. While there I asked them all what was the point of sitting there speaking of all the smart things we could do if it was still illegal for people to use alternative energy methods on their own. There was no answer. Anyway, I am happy to see that others are just as frustrated. In a follow up article in the Daily Observer newspaper the former hear of National Energy Task Force, Edward Baines, is quoted as saying:
"I am still not certain that too much is going on. There is a lot of talk that is going on, but in terms of the action…. (the prime minister’s speech) it’s very vague.”
He went on to say the same thing about the legistlation:
“Almost everyone said one of the first things that needed to be done is for the APUA Act of 1973 to be revised, especially the part that says APUA has the sole responsibility for generating electricity. That has not changed in law as yet. Everyone in that task force said this is the first thing that needs to be done."
You maybe can understand after reading all of the above why I would like to know who Mr. Spencer is speaking to. It just doesn't make any sense. It would be so easy for him to really "act with a common purpose" as he says in his speech. Get the legistlation changed Mr. Spencer. I agree with you in your Observer quoted speech that: "There is no time for delay.”

As a side note: Antigua and Barbuda uses more imported fuel oil than any other OECS country. We import a staggering 1.6 million barrels of fuel a year. According to The Daily Observer's article: ".......the nation consumes 400 per cent more petroleum than Dominica, 250 per cent more than St Kitts, Grenada and St Vincent and 50 per cent more than St Lucia."
I am going to build my first home over the next year and I would like to use alternative energy to power it. I would love to do this legally Mr. Prime Minister.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Be careful who you take advice from

"hell's gate"

I started Adventure Antigua using a tiny locally built boat back in December 1999 taking a max of about 4 guests snorkeling and sightseeing. Together with my team we have managed to grow this company to the point that on a maxed out day we could take over 100 guests. The way we were able to do this with very little help from the uncooperative banks here was by simply making sure that all of our team mates loved working on the boats and that we all had the ultimate goal of making sure that our guests' day with us was the best day of their holiday. Anyway, of course there's plenty more to it than just that, but if you judge us by our reputation especially as seen on sites like tripadvisor then I think you will see that we have been very successful. "Word of mouth" is how we get almost all of our business and we are always acutely aware that our performance on the boats will be judged and will be talked about back at the hotel, on the cruise ship, back home and also on the internet.
When people do internet research about our company they usually enjoy the tour even more because they end up getting exactly what they expected. Thankfully more and more people are doing this type of research before the come on holiday and we are getting more and more satisfied customers.
Every now and then people arrive here who didn't have a chance to do any research at all and have to ask for advice on what to do while here on the island.
We get bookings from almost all the hotels, guest houses, villas and other types of accommodation because after over ten years we are well known locally. That being said there are several resorts here that have such high front desk turnover that their staff are often unaware of what's on offer. Unfortunately many of these front desk people are not encouraged to learn about the various tours on the island and despite our best efforts confuse other tour companies with ours and vise versa. There is one hotel I can think of which happens to be one of the most expensive of all here in Antigua that asks us at least two or three times each year what time our kayaking tour starts. We gently remind them that we don't do kayaking or deep sea fishing, telling them our tours consist of.
Hotels are on such a tight budget that they front desk staff often are doing way too many jobs and can't possibly do a good job of being tour reps as well. Tours are booked and or are booked and canceled without us every knowing. Funny enough most of the cancellations that we are not notified about come from the most expensive three hotels on the island.
Another problem with waiting until you get here to find out what's good is that there are many people employed on the beach and even within the hotels by certain tour companies to only sell for them and not to reccomend any others. This means that you don't always get a balanced opinion of what's on offer.
Anyway, my point in all of this is that I think that if you are coming to Antigua on holiday you are often far better off doing research on tripadvisor or Antigua Forums than waiting until you get here to find out what's good and what's a "must do".  If there any hotel managers reading this, then I urge you to have your front desk staff monitor those sites above. Google search a company to find out more if you would like to send your guests out with them. While you are at it check what people have been saying about our company recently. Click here and tell your staff. Your guests will enjoy their holiday that much more.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Our Facebook Eco Tour Photos

Don't forget to check out our Facebook page. If you are going or have been on our famous Eco Tour your photo may end up on the page. Click here for a direct link and remember to "like" the page. Here is out latest crew photo taken right at the end of the tour.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Opening a coconut with your bare hands.

This blog was fun to write. I originally posted in March 9th 2007 and think it's a good one to repost. Feel free to share this one around as some people may find it useful. 

Since i was a kid i have been intrigued with coconut trees and coconuts in general. My earliest memories are of "tyrone" coming to my grandparents’ hotel in an old dilapidated pickup with a bunch of young scruffy guys to "clean the trees". My grandfather's property had loads and loads of coconut trees on it and the danger of a coconut falling and causing injury was always a problem. Instead of paying someone to come and cut down old branches and take down ripe nuts, he would call tyrone. Tyrone's business wasn't cleaning trees at all, but was really selling coconuts and coconut water. When my cousins and i were little there were two important occasions when we would all gather around. The most important was when the lobster man came....we would wait around while 20 or 30 lobster were boiled in a big pot so that we could get the legs that dropped off. Yum yum....we could never get enough freshly boiled lobster legs. I still think they are the best thing on a lobster. Of course the other time was when tyrone and his men came to clean the trees. Those guys seemed to just walk up the 40 foot tall coconut tree like it was on level ground. In those days they just had a rope and a machete and they would climb up and pull themselves into the branches. Once up there they would tie one end of the rope onto a bunch of coconuts, cut the stalk and then lower it down to be untied by someone below. Usually trees would have several bunches. Once all the nuts were collected and taken back to the truck it was our turn to feast. Tyrone could open a "jelly" in about 3 seconds, chopping away the bottom of the nut in a blur. Now it was nearly impossible for a kid under 10 to drink all the water out of a jelly nut, but we would try every time. Once you gave up or miraculously finished it, you would hand it back to him. Tyrone would then cut a "spoon" from the side of the nut and then chop it in half. These guys never wore gloves or shoes, we would marvel at how skillful they were. Now i guess i should clarify what a "jelly" is before i go on. A jelly is a green or young coconut that hardly has any "meat" inside of it. The meat is very thin and delicious with a soft consistency kinda like jellow or jelly. None of us would ever dream of eating hard coconut.....yuk.
Anyway, when i was about 6 years old my parents split up and my mom took us off to England. One of the things i remember is seeing old hard coconuts without the "husk" on them in the markets there. Mom got one once so that we wouldn't forget what they were like, but the meat inside the old coconut was about half of an inch thick and dry as hell. That was good for cooking with bit not fit for eating just like that. Man i missed those green jelly nuts. Anyway, my mom realized this a few years later and we move back home thank god.

Anyway, since then i have always chuckled under by breath whenever i have seen tourists try to open coconuts. One great one is when they find an ancient brown coconut that has been on the ground for months and think that they are going to find something delicious inside. The pain and suffering that unfolds next while this unfortunate soul frustratingly tries in vain to open the thing is comical in an evil kinda way. I am sorry but it’s true. Another good one is when a proud dad tries to do some father son bonding when he finds a big fully mature coconut on the beach. He nods to his son as if to say "look what your dad is gonna do are gonna love this". After 15 minutes of bruised fingers, sweat carrying sunscreen into his eyes, and a few curse words thrown in for good measure..the dad finally says, "son this one isn’t any good".

Now that is even sadder than the first one so the purpose of this blog is to help all the dads out there make their son's proud. If you come across a coconut in the future you will be able to open it with your bare hands after reading the rest of this. I am even gonna throw in pics too.

As a single guy, who doesn't have kids i still happen to know what it feels like to open a coconut for loved ones as you will see below. I am going to use my "kids", Sparky and Lila in this guide. They both worship coconuts and have done since they were little pups. This pic is of them bringing their dad the nut they have found:

You don't want to have a coconut that is too dark. The darker and older looking it is, the more hard the coconut meat is going to be, and if it’s too dark or even brown the nut can be sour. Green ones have the jelly and with a little yellow or even orange in it they are gonna have some good meat inside the nut. Once you have the nut you want to find a rock, a pavement or a bit of concrete. Just so you know, it will stain the ground so don't get the hotel upset if you are using their nice walkway. haha

Ok, hold it firmly in your hand with the top of the nut facing up. The top is the side that was once attached to the tree. This first photo is of the bottom and it’s the side that will be facing down, and is also the side you will be hitting directly onto the rock or walkway.

Hold it tight and hit that end down hard being careful to hit it "plum" right on the bottom, and don't let it go. After one good hit you may see vertical cracks appear, but you must keep hitting it a few more times sometimes. Anyway, the worst thing to do is to try to pull off a section before they are all ready to come off. You see, the nut will almost always split into thirds and you want to keep them together until all are ready to separate. Sometimes they don't all come free at the same time, so keep hitting it on the bottom and eventually it will open up like this (this is the top and not the end you are hitting against the rock):

From here you should be able to start pulling of the outer skin. You will be left with a very furry looking thing like this:

Throughout the opening process you must always remember which side is top and which side is bottom. Now you have to hit the opposite side or the top side in order to free up the thickest part of the fuzzy "husk". After a few decent hits you should be able to just peel it all away like this:

Keep peeling and you will end up with a nut that is clean and ready to be opened. At this point your onlookers with be intently looking on with anticipation and watering mouths (like this:)

Without tools this is tricky if you want to drink the coconut water. You now have to tap around the bottom of the nut moving it each time you tap it so as to try to create cracks around the edges. You should end up with something like this or better:

If you are lucky you will be able to take some of the shell out and drink the water. This takes some skill and luck. If it doesn't go well and the water leaks all over the place all you need to do is hit the nut a few more times and start sharing the bounty. I can open a coconut this way in about 3 minutes in a rush. It can be a bit more difficult taking the older and harder coconut meat off the shell once its open, but you can just let them gnaw at is which is what lila loves to do anyway. Hope you had a laugh and will use this guide some day. If you have any questions please use the comment section and i or some other coconute expert will answer.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

New Adventure Antigua Video coming soon!

At Adventure Antigua, we have been thinking about making changes to our Eco Tour video for some time as we felt that the day the footage was taken wasn't sunny enough and also we didn't really have enough footage to make the tour look as cool as it acutally is. This has been one of Antigua's most talked about tours for ten years and it has been featured in all kinds of magazine articles and TV presentations. Anyway, Acquafilms recently did some more footage and managed to sneak in a small amount of helicopter footage with Caribbean Helicopters. The stuff they got was amazing and hopefully we will have our new movie soon. It will be replacing this one which is still a great version of our famous tour:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Adventure Antigua goes to Panama's Whale Watching Conference.

one whale

Adventure Antigua goes to Panama's Whale Watching Conference, but with a slight change of plans. As mentioned a few weeks ago in this blog, I was nominated to attend a special United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). Anyway, my ticket was sent and I booked to go until yesterday, when I had some news that prevents me from leaving Antigua. Sadly I will miss the trip, but missing it for something even more important here makes it easier not to attend.
I knew that this was a very important meeting for tour operators and more importantly for environmentalists. Adventure Antigua prides itself on being both.
When I made the decision to cancel my flight yesterday I knew I had to get someone else to attend, and the first person who came to mind was our main Eco Tour guide Nicola Nash. Read a little about her here.

I think it's funny that the title on that blog from back in January was Adventure Antigua's Other Eco Ambassador. Since writing that piece she has taken a very active roll in the Antigua Sea Turtle Project which is managed by my wife and is always willing and eager to be involved with anything eco. Of course she loves seeing whales and dolphins and whenever she sees them she tells everyone. As you would expect, my ticket was non refundable and non transferable so Adventure Antigua had to pay for the ticket last night. WOW going last minute from Antigua to Panama City isn't cheap!! Worth it I am sure though. As someone who has studied marine biology, she was and is the perfect replacement for me at this conference which as their first emails explains will help us (and whales) here in Antigua and the Caribbean: a first attempt to bring together marine resource operators and managers from the Wider Caribbean Region (WCR). It will include 4 days of hands-on training and discussions in order to:
Discuss the formulation of an overarching code of conduct for observing marine mammals in the WCR;
Assess the extent of problems and needs, and identify opportunities for improvement of existing marine mammal watching operations; Identify new areas that might support marine mammal watching activities; Document existing marine mammal educational materials; and
Standardize data collection forms used by operators.

and ....... to facilitate the conservation of marine mammals and contribute to the Action Plan for the Conservation of Marine Mammals in the Wider Caribbean. 

I hope to be in close contact with Nicola and will make sure that the media and other tour operators get a very good briefing once she returns. We are lucky here in Antigua and Barbuda to have beautiful humpback whales passing through between January and May. In the past year while out boating we have also seen many other marine mammals including Bottlenose Dolphins, a Blainvilles Beaked Whale, Spinner Dolphins, Pilot Whales, and others that were not close enough to ID. I am happy that we can learn more from this important event and hopefully we will be able to enlighten many here on the island too.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

"Red Skies in the Morning"

Here is a bit of fiction that expresses what many of the caribbean's fishermen experience and remember when they are older and can no longer go to sea.

The nocternal syphony performed by crickets, and tree frogs slowly comes to an end before dawn when a few feathered singers join in. This is the time of morning that fishermen are up getting ready to set off.
This morning is special though as the only noise to be heard is song provided by the birds, crickets and frogs. The beautiful melody provided by the trade wind as it rustles through the coconut tree branches isn't around today and neither do I hear the quiet lullaby of the waves against the shore. This is one of those special mornings where the night's cool from the land is stronger than the warmth of the sea. There is no breeze at all and I am always happiest when we have these still conditions on a fishing day. The funny thing is that most fishermen that i know hate it when the seas are as still as this, saying that fish don't bite when it's so calm. That's a matter for them.
sun downers
As I leave the house with my foul weather gear and cooler a shiver runs through me. I don't know if it's the cold or the nervous anticipation that i often get on perfect mornings like this one. The stars are slowly disappearing into a purple background which changes colours to violet and then pink as fast as it swallows the constellations. 

jolly sunsets
By the time i get to the boat the sky is a brilliant orange and I take a moment to look around smiling even though we are the last boat to leave port.
It's going to be a special day..... I know it.