Monday, February 28, 2011

Caribbean nations fear ill effects of climate change

A climate change piece done by World Focus on behalf of PBS. I took them boating to see some of the south coast. Local film company gave them additional reef footage. IT's worth having a look and ties in with another blog about how well we are doing in Antigua on the job of wiping out all reef fish in addition to the ones that help make sand and keep the reefs healthy. Coming soon!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Rambler breaks Caribbean 600 monohull record (video)

As you know if you read the blog earler this week, (click here) one of our boats was used to chase the RORC Caribbean 600 open ocean regatta as it got started in windy conditions off Antigua. The six hundred mile regatta was probably the most exciting one so far. I followed it after I got back to land on twitter using the tags #rc600 which was almost as exciting as being out there. Anyway, Roddy from was doing video for Antigua Sailing Week and shot some amazing acgtion of the winning boat, Rambler. Check some of the action and an interview with the owner and skipper just after they finished the 600 mile adventure:

Carib 600, new monohull record for Rambler from acquafilms on Vimeo.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Hundreds of images from the Caribbean 600 Regatta 2011


Today we were chartered by to follow the RORC Caribbean 600. Acquafilms were shooting video for Antigua Sailing week and I was shooting stills. Here are two slide shows of photos taken at the Start of the Caribbean 600 regatta and from the reaching leg from Green Island to Barbuda. Today the winds were blowing hard at the start of the RORC Caribbean 600 sailing regatta. With squalls passing through it was blowing up to 30 knots and it was a real reality check for some racers who were just starting what will be 600 miles of hard core yacht racing through the Eastern Caribbean islands. The 100 foot long RAMBLER was way way faster than all the other yachts as she screamed over towards Barbuda after passing Green Island. Our boat Xtreme is 45 ft long and has tripple four stroke 225 hp engines. We had a tough time keeping up with Rambler as she screamed at speeds of up to 28 knots in 8 foot seas. If you would like more info on the regatta and would like to follow the yachts live check this link.
All of the images below are available in high res digital files. Call or text me on +1 268 725 7263 if you would like to use them.

Friday, February 18, 2011

A slide show of Barbuda images.

The slide show below is essentially a collection of images that I took while on visits to Barbuda. Most of the time I visit Antigua's sister island on one of my company's boats, but once in a while I go by plane. If you have any questions about the images please comment below. We don't do any scheduled trips to Barbuda but do many private charters there and visit there for fun as often as we can. Barbuda is a lovely place to take a private charter to if you can handle the 26 mile Atlantic crossing.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A complete free for all when it comes to fishing in Antigua.

This past Sunday a Guadeloupean fishing boat was found drifting not too far from land. A locally registered fisherman came to their assistance and pulled them back to Antigua Slipway in Nelson's Dockyard. It turns out that this same boat was rescued three weeks earlier five miles east of Barbuda by ABSAR. Here is a report from their website:

January 22, 2011 0115L

ABSAR receives a call concerning a 406 EPIRB activation 5 miles east of Barbuda. ABSAR RESCUE 1 responds to the location and tows a 11m fishing vessel to safe harbour. A total of 10 hours and 103 NM were covered during this call out.
ABSAR towed them into Barbuda where repairs were done so that the fishing boat could return to Guadeloupe. The boat was not searched by the coast guard or by fisheries from what I can gather before it left Barbuda. When it was found five miles east of Barbuda they were 195 miles from the international fishing waters east of the island and some sixty miles north of the economic territorial line that stretches between Guadeloupe and Antigua. It doesn't take much to come to the conclusion that this boat was fishing in our waters.
I have not been fishing far east of Antigua or Barbuda within our economic zone without seeing Guadeloupean fishing boats for years. 100% of the time that Antiguan boats fish for tuna and Dolphin fish east of Antigua and Barbuda they either meet Guadelouplean FADs or their boats. Click here for more info on French FAD fishing for tuna and mahi mahi in our waters. See a short video of us passing one of these FADs less than 12 miles off Antigua's coast.

On the day we shot this little video we found 7 other FADs up to 25 miles East of Antigua. Fads have been found from the North side of Barbuda all the way across and east of our island to Guadeloupe.
Anyway, on Sunday when the boat arrived back in boat under tow, our Coast Guard inspected the boat and found hundreds of pounds of fresh fish on board. The ice was almost all melted. The coast guard asked the fishermen if they were fishing further than 12 miles off our coast and the fishermen said that answered that they were further than 12 miles. This was a simple but crucial mistake made by the Coast Guard who were more concerned to see if the boat was carrying drugs than if they were carrying fish. 12 miles is the territorial zone that goes around Antigua Redonda and Barbuda and is not the same as the ECONOMIC zone which unless it borders another nation is in fact 200 miles. This boat was surely not fishing 200 miles off Antigua when it broke down. Their GPS navigation system was mysteriously wiped clean so no proof about where they had been fishing could be gathered. According to someone on the scene, they did have hard copy charts on board which did have FAD coordinates marked within out economic zone.
With their ice melting and the boat needing fuel the captain was able to sell 165 lbs of fresh mahi mahi to one of the biggest fish wholesale companies here in Antigua, buy fuel filters, fuel and ice and leave the country without ever clearing in with immigration or customs, without speaking to customs about selling fish which was allegedly was caught in international waters, and without paying any taxes.
I spoke with Fisheries about this issue and they said that there was no way that they could prove that the fish had been caught in our waters and that the captain of the French boat claimed that he had been drifting for three days. This in my opinion was very weak in my opinion. I would like to see an Antiguan fishing boat try that one in French waters. Anyway, even if they were telling the truth about drifting out of international waters all the way down to the Antiguan coast, why were they permitted to sell their fish here in Antigua?
The boat left Antigua on Monday and is at this moment calling Pan-Pan out to sea adrift once again. I'd be interested to see if the Montserrat or St. Kitts coast guard and Fisheries departments are as friendly to foreign fishermen as ours are.
Two times in less than a month and this boat was only ever spotted by our authorities because they broke down. Every single day of the year boats from Guadeloupe and from St. Barts are fishing in our waters, and there is little wonder that our local fishermen refuse to call the coast guard or Fisheries to complain. Why should they waste their time?
While Antigua's fishermen fish inshore for meager pickings the Guadeloupean's are taking huge catches while fishing our waters. This all seems to smell less of fish and more of poor government planning and incompetence and one more time where this blog points missed financial opportunities for our Government.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Antigua Barbuda Search And Rescue saves the day.

The best way to see what's happening here on Antigua is to find the latest copy of Enjoy which is published by the Observer group. It comes out every two weeks and I write a little segment for them in each issue. For Enjoy, I only write about things related to the sea and my last one was about a very an incident that happend out on the The Classic Yacht Sailing Tour that we do.

Here is what was published:

This past week we had a lady out with us on one of our traditional
sailing boats who needed immediate medical attention. We had sailed up
into a beautiful secluded bay far away from everything and were
anticipating a nice relaxed afternoon of sailing. A calm peaceful bay
was just what our guests wanted, but none of us expected that we would
need medical assistance. Secluded as the bay was, we were as far from
the doctors and nurses in St. Johns as we could be. And after calling
the hotel on the closest beach for assistance, I realized that it
would take up to 45 minutes to get our guest into town via taxi or
even ambulance.
The alternative was ABSAR which stands for the Antigua Barbuda Search
And Rescue. Their highly professional team has off road 4x4 jeeps, and
boats equipped with emergency equipment and emergency medical
technicians ready to come to your rescue.
Immediately answering the phone, they said that they were already at
their base at the Antigua Yacht Club Marina, and that they would be
with us in less than ten minutes. This was a much better alternative,
and our guest was comforted by the news. Sure enough, in less than ten
minutes their high speed rescue boat raced around the point into view
and was alongside in no time and preparing to administer treatment.
Our guest was eventually taken back to her hotel under ABSAR's care
and has recovered nicely thanks to their superb help.
Our tour continued on afterwards. These photos were taken later in the day:
Click here

and here.

ABSAR is a purely volunteer and donation driven organization which has
been coming to the rescue of mariners around and off shore Antigua and
Barbuda for years. We are incredibly lucky to have them on standby 24
hours a day, 365 days a year. This week alone ABSAR has aided several
other boats during different emergency situations, and also provided
medical assistance to people on the mainland and on a deserted beach.
In one instance they were helped by Caribbean Helicopters in a
dramatic offshore search and rescue. There can be no doubt that the
people of Antigua and Barbuda and their visitors are safer as a result
of the efforts and expertise of a few good men and women volunteers
who wait for that distress call coming in over the VHF or phone line.
For more information about their organization and how you too can help
them please visit 

Monday, February 07, 2011

The Antigua Classic Yacht Tour

Before you watch the video, I have to tell you that the website is down and we are using the site for our sailing business too. Enjoy the amature but fun movie of our Antigua Classic Yacht Tour and look for a new professionally done video of this tour coming soon. AquaFilms will be doing the job as they did with our Xtreme and Eco Tour videos.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Cruise ship time or local time?????


Recently we have had two seperate groups that have missed our Eco Tour boat trip because their watches were set to Cruise Ship time which they say stays according to the time where they started their journey from. In both cases the cruise ships had left from the East Coast of the USA which as many people know is currently "Standard Eastern Time" and is an hour different from what it is normally in the summer and what we are here in Antigua all year long. Our captains and passengers waited and waited but finally had to leave the cruise area to get on with the tour.
We have stated in our email confirmation that all times are in local time.

The time in the Eastern Caribbean stays the same all year long. A good website for people who may be confused is here.
Any specific time that an Antiguan business and especially an excursion busines gives directly to someone coming to visit them will be in local time and is never on cruise ship time. We would have no way of knowing what "cruise ship time" is on the day it comes to Antigua.

All of the cruise passengers we take out on our tours on an almost daily basis at this time of year are either booked through our website or are booked from Shore Trips or Shore Excursions. We have never done business directly with the Cruise Ships. It's in their best interest to confuse people who are trying to book independently which is the last thing that they want. They want keep the huge booking commissions to themselves which is understandable. This won't stop us from providing tours for anyone who wants to book directly or through an agency.

Please check once you have arrived in Antigua what the local time is just to make sure you make our departure time from the ships. Thanks!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Stand Up Paddling is excellent exercise

If you have read most of the postings on this blog (and there are many) you may have come across some posts where I speak about using a stand up paddle board or SUP. Here you can see what the board looks like:

Anyway, when there are waves around those of us who have these boards and love surfing just paddle out to find them. Here you see Nik surfing a lovely wave:

The beauty about surfing on a SUP is that you can paddle on to the wave before you would normally be able to while laying on a regular surf board. This means you can take off and be on the wave further out and away from the critical section of the wave. This gives you time to move around and get perfect positioning on the wave. There are many other reasons that SUP has become so attractive to traditional wave surfers.
The biggest group of SUP users are those that simple paddle on flat water to exercise and explore in the same way that many people kayak. I don't usually show photos or video of myself, but my wife gave me a lovely new waterproof camera for Christmas and it works well on the SUP. This is my first test video. (IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO VIEW THE VIDEO WITH MUSIC PLEASE CHANGE THE SETTINGS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE VIDEO FROM 360p TO 460p.) The workout is great and so much more enjoyable that hitting the gym in my opinion.

There are many sizes and shapes of SUP boards depending on what you are planning on doing. The board I am using is a good all around board that you can surf in the waves, do long down wind runs and or just do a little afternoon exploring and exercise. I hope to see you out there.