Sunday, January 30, 2011

Adventure Antigua's other eco ambassador.

A little over a year ago it became apparent that I needed to focus more attention on the presentation of the Eco Tour. Over the past few years there had been quite a few changes on the tour with different crew coming and going, and with what seemed to be a never ending series of problems with engines and propulsion systems, I knew I had to invest in the boat and in the crew.

The boat is another story and I am happy to say that she has never run as economically or as reliably, but this blog is about one of the crew changes.

I put some ads in the paper and online and received a resume from a young lady called Nicola Nash. I didn't know her but immediately was interested to meet up and find out more. She sounded like what the Eco Tour was looking for. She had studied Marine Biology in University, had extensive snorkeling and diving experience and already had quite a bit of experience working on similar excursions. She was also genuinely interested in ecology and conservation which is something I am passionate about. I offered to take her on board and she accepted a job as guide on the boat.

When the boat came back in to port on the first day Nicola worked, the skipper called me to have a chat. Captain Shamel, who is always joking around, sounded serious and said that on a scale of one to ten, Nicola was a twelve!! He said that he thought that with some training, Nicola was going to be the star of the Eco Tour show. He was totally right.

Our reviews on TripAdvisor have never been better and the emails singing praise for our eco tour keep coming in on a weekly basis. Here is a passage from an email I received last week (the photo above also came in the email):
Hi Eli and Nicola

Just to say a huge thankyou for making it such a great trip on Tuesday
Nicola.  Your time and patience was fantastic, and it seemed like
nothing was too much trouble for you.  You obviously love your job,
which let's face it, must be one of the best jobs in the world!  Eli -
Nicola is a credit to you, as are the other guys on the boat. Jill and Chris
This was one of many recently on Tripadvisor:

We recently spent a week vacationing with friends in Antigua Eli Fuller's Adventure Antigua Eco-tour was one of the highlights of our stay on this beautiful island. We met so many kind and friendly people, but I don't think we will ever forget our day with tour-guide Nicola and a fantastic crew, and the FUN we had on the ocean! Despite a little rain, the tour took us around the bays and islands of the north and west sides of Antigua for some fascinating ecological info, beautiful scenery, amazing wildlife (both land and aquatic), a bit of snorkeling and shell-hunting, and a wonderful lunch on board. We hope we can return to Antigua soon, and will definitely plan to spend another day on one of Eli's exceptional tours.
When I get a crew member who loves the ocean so much that they actually go back to sea on their days off then I know it's impossible to find anyone better suited to the job. Nicola takes part in sailing adventures and diving during her spare time and is always ready to help out in any environmental endeavors that come up including helping endangered sea turtles.

I poached this photo from her facebook page and shows her helping one of the most famous sea turtle projects in the world over here in Antigua over at Long Island. In case you are trying to figure out what she's up to, she is counting how many eggs the big female sea turtle is laying.
Anyway, find out more about Nicola and our island's ecology on the Eco Tour if you are lucky enough to get out on it while you are in Antigua.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Another lovely review on Tripadvisor

June 264

Another very kind person has taken the time to write a lovely review about one of our tours. Remember we have four at the moment. In fact today is one of those rare ones when all four boats are out at the same time. for more info on these tours.
Here is the review:


Adventure Antigua

Save Review
5 of 5 stars
joycerm   7 contributions
Jan 24, 2011 New
We easily booked this outing several weeks before our cruise. The meeting place is right off the cruise ship dock. We enjoyed hiking, snorkleing, learning about the hawksbill turtle, the birds, etc. We had a wonderful lunch. I would highly recommend this excursion.

If you would like to write one (a nice one ;-) ) you can click on this link.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Dolphin is delish!

This blog is just a "reprint" of something I wrote for the Enjoy which comes out every two weeks with a list of things to do in Antigua as well as some other cool info. You can see all the issues by clicking this link.
G.W.H. photo 2

Delicious Dolphin? Yes indeed! The Dolphin fish is one of the most delicious of the tropical fish species, so be sure to try some while you’re here in Antigua. First of all, I should tell you that the dolphin FISH is very different from the dolphin mammal (flipper) so don't be alarmed to find it on local menus. To avoid that confusion many restaurants actually adopt the Hawaiian name for the fish: Mahi Mahi.
Other than being delicious, dolphin fish are also absolutely stunning to observe in the wild. The adults average about 4 feet in length and glisten in flashes of turquoise, green and yellow. Although the dazzling colours fade once they are caught, dolphin caught by rod and reel is one of the world’s most sustainable fisheries, which means that it’s one of the most “eco friendly” choices of fish that you’ll find on the menu. While most types of seafood are facing great threat from overfishing, dolphin populations are relatively healthy. The main reason for this is that the dolphin’s reproduction and life cycle is so incredibly fast. A female dolphin just one year old can spawn up to 240 thousand eggs during her season, which lasts several months a year. Within one year of hatching, a "baby" dolphin could be three feet long, and by the time the largest adult dies of old age they will only be about four years old. At that stage a female may weigh up to 35 lbs and a male could be as much as 90 lbs. My dad has the tournament record here in Antigua with a fish he caught two years ago that weighed in at 63 lbs.
mahi mahi

Dolphin fish are pelagic which means they live out in the open ocean, and their favorite place to search for food is around Sargasso weeds, flotsam or jetsam. In fact, anything floating in the Atlantic may have tiny shrimp, crabs, squid, baby turtles, and fish living around it, and it is here that the dolphin will catch most of its prey. They also go after fast moving flying fish and small mackerel, swimming up to 40 mph into the schools of prey! Speaking of prey, if you are lucky enough to be feeding on dolphin fish you should make sure that it’s not overcooked. Like most pelagic fish, dolphin meat gets quite dry when cooked for too long. So enjoy your dolphin fillet – or better yet, get out on the water while you are here and catch one yourself!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Sunday tours are becoming less unusual for us.

flying again

This weekend we have tours on both days with an Eco Tour booked for Sunday. Normally we try to keep the weekends free but we have had so many requests from people that we have started to do more regular weekend trips.

This video shows some of the fun things we get up to and some of the spots we visit on the eco tour. If you think you'd like to come out with us this Sunday, please get in touch through the site or call +! 268 726 6355. Ask about our special resident rates. It's not just Orlando's Disney World that has discounts for residents. Cash in!

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Sailing trip with friends up the coast.

On Saturday I decided to take our traditionally built wooden sloop up to the North coast and invited Roddy from and JD who is usually the skipper of the Xtreme round the island tour. Of course for this kind of sailing trip we needed plenty of cold beer and once that was sorted out we were on our way out of the harbour.
This boat is called Ocean Nomad and is what we do "The Antigua Classic Yacht Tour" with. Simply, if you are interested in going on a sailing tour that's the most authentic Caribbean sailing experience you can get then this is for you. History, ecology, sailing, snorkeling, a great lunch and drinks is all part of this tour. Click here for more and remember to check out the photo page too.

These photos were taken with my phone along the way. As you can see, my favorite place so chill is always down low on the lee side of the boat where I can put my "bad leg" up on the cap rail. (sorry about the leg in the shot. lol)

The photo below is of us passing Deep Bay, The Royal Antiguan Hotel and Galley Bay.

All of these photos were posted on my twitter account too. I usually post cool stuff i capture on my phone there. Hope you enjoyed the images.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

"Eco Tour was one of the highlights of our stay"

Such a nice email to get on a difficult day yesterday. Thanks!

Dear Rebecca, Our friends and we (the 8 of us) are back in the cold and snowy midwestern United States, and can't stop thinking about our recent vacation at Galleon Beach. The Adventure Antigua Eco-tour was one of the highlights of our stay in beautiful Antigua. We met so many kind and friendly people, but I don't think we will ever forget our day with Nicola and your fantastic crew, and the FUN we had on the ocean! In addition, we truly enjoyed meeting Norma-Jean Arey, a Peace Crops Volunteer in Antigua who also happened to be with us on our tour. We exchanged e-mail addresses so we can keep in touch. Maybe we will meet her again someday. We hope to meet you folks again someday too, and we do hope it will be soon! Best wishes to Eli and to all of you at Adventure Antigua, and thank you again for your warm hospitality and the wonderful eco-tour. Sincerely, Gary and Cynthia Deeter Indianapolis, Indiana USA

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The latin name is fregata magnificens

"Enjoy" is the latest periodical here in Antigua and Barbuda and it comes out every two weeks as a supplement in the Daily Observer newspaper as well as on it's own. It's target market is visitors to the island and you can find it in many of the hotels and shops as well as online. I write a column every week and this was my last one. IF you are visiting Antigua and want to know what's going on while you are here grab your copy and have a read. For those living here it's a great way to keep you up to date as well. There are some great promotional opportunities as well. 
frig it

Imagine being a bird that could only eat fish but couldn’t get wet.... Hard to visualise isn’t it? Antigua and Barbuda has such birds trying to find fish year round, and their story is an interesting one. These birds are unable to take off from flat surfaces and don’t have the normal feather waterproofing that most sea birds have. The Magnificent Frigate Bird also known as Man of War or even Weather Bird lives its life feeding on fish without being able to dive into the ocean like many of their cousins. They accomplish this by using two very interesting fishing methods. The first is very brutish indeed. From a distance they observe other birds capturing fish and at that moment they dive out of the sky as if in a scene like one out of the TOP GUN film, a marvellous display of aerial acrobatics unfolds. Usually the bird that’s worked for the catch is dodging left and right up and down squawking with the Frigate dangerously close behind its tail feathers. Eventually they’re left with no option but to drop the freshly caught fish, and in mid air the Frigate catches the stolen prize and smugly, swallows quickly.
Most of the Frigate’s diet is caught in a less criminal manner with them actually working for it. Out in the deep waters off the continental drop off, big pelagic fish are spotted by the birds who usually are hovering high in the sky. They slowly follow a big mahi mahi, wahoo, marlin or tuna waiting patiently for one of these big pelagic predators to find a school of flying fish. They school in large numbers out in the Atlantic trying to evade a harmful variety of predators. As soon as they are spotted the large predator fish accelerates up to 40 mph right into the middle of the flying fish. None of this has been missed by the frigate who usually is diving out of the sky like a black missile with wings folded for extra speed at this point. At the moment when the flying fish sees the large fish coming, they also accelerate and leap out of the water spreading their large pectoral fins which act as wings, helping them glide away from the jaws of a hungry mahi mahi. Of course some of them fall victim to the frigate birds who catch the fish in mid air during their failed escapes. It’s always amazing to see this drama up close when you are off shore in the Atlantic, and nobody keeps an eye on this dance more than deep sea fishermen. In fact, they spend more time scanning the skies for frigate birds and keeping an eye on them once they spot them than they do looking for fish fish. Find frigate birds feeding out at sea and you will find big fish under them. Each animal out on the ocean has an interesting story to tell, and I hope you enjoyed this one.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

All I can say is WOW at this tripadvisor review.

The title of the post on the latest TripAdvisor review for Adventure Antigua is “Great deck hands. No drinks. Little swimming” and the author decided to give us three stars out of five. These days some people look at reviews on Trip Advisor and read between the lines but so many do not and it's reviews like this one that really can hurt a company. It's my opinion that the review is totally flawed because the person obviously decided to go on the wrong cruise. Have a read first:

This boat tour is good for first timers. I am used to private charters and this one is tough if you want to have any freedom. Day is packed full of stops but this can make it feel like you have no time to sit on the beach and enjoy. We only got to swim at a beach around noon. Spent the morning driving to a couple locations and talking wildlife. Skip the Ecotour if you watch the Discovery Channel. You know all of this stuff already.
No drinks on board until 3:00. This is because there is a serious climbing/hiking adventure at Hells Gate around 1:30. I cannot stress enough how this portion of the day is NOT for children. Do not attempt to bring them on this part of the trip. It is extremely dangerous (even for adults). If you have any fear of heights this is not for you!

Lunch is very good. Staff are excellent and very friendly.

All in all, a good day on the water but I'd skip it if you prefer deserted beaches, rum drinks, and floating in blue Caribbean seas.
Clearly the person would have had more fun on a private charter which we do several times a week at this time of the year. Many people charter our boats to go to deserted beaches where they can drink and get sun all day long without hearing one bit about pelicans or any of the other stuff they would have learned on The Discovery Channel. In fact, they would have been better off on either the Xtreme Tour or the Half Day Catamaran cruise too which both spend proportionally more time on the beach and less time hearing "eco mumbo jumbo". The tour they did was called THE ECO TOUR which should have told them something about what to expect. The Eco Tour spends a few hours speaking about turtles and touring the mangrove habitats. Of course we have drinks all day long too, but no ALCOHOLIC drinks until the end. With several snorkeling options we only ever serve alcohol on regular tours after the water activities as a safety measure. This tour was designed around things that we did as kids and I have been taking kids on this tour since 1999. All kids are welcome and enjoy this tour more than most. Man this one didn't make me happy at all. Anyway, that's the nature of this business. We do an alternative tour to the regular ones that traditionally have been on offer here in the Caribbean. We will get fewer people loving it but the ones that like this kind of tour will be very very happy. All of us at Adventure Antigua are extremely proud of this tour and we are happy that many of the other recent TA reviews differ to this one. If you have been out on the tour and enjoyed it please write a review for us too. Thanks!
PS to post a review of your own please click here and to read more about our tours click here.