Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Rendezvous Bay looks like it may be developed. The conceptual plan:

As many of you who follow my blog and Adventure Antigua know, our Xtreme Circumnav makes a daily stop at Rendezvous Bay. Back in 1995 when we added this tour to our other Adventure Antigua tours, we picked this beach because it was so hard to get to that it was a perfect spot to be alone. Our guests were treated to a deserted beach where things were as natural as they were when the Arawaks fished from there back before the Europeans arrived in the Caribbean.
Here is a little video for those who have never seen the bay. I am always surprised by how few Antiguans and Barbudans have been there.

The land along this huge bay is owned by several local families. For years the property has been for sale on the net and I had no doubt that one day there would be talk of development there. In fact, we have seen real estate people on the beach while doing our tour stop there many time. One xtremely wealthy person who had private chartered our boat was one of the people interested at one time. Anyway, one of local owners are Walters family and they have teamed up with some foreign investors and developers in order to develop their property. If you are Antiguan or know your Antigua history then you will remember that one of the members of this big family, George Walter, became Premier here back in 1971. Last year I received an email that was being passed around by the some in the Environmental Awareness Group where the described a new development that was being planned at Rendezvous Bay. The author of the email said that they all had to fight to make sure the development was blocked. This was my reply:

there isn't anything in this email to sink your teeth into really. What I mean is that as #$%^ says, development has been a real possibility for as long as tourism has been around and its actually taken considerably longer than many of us expected for it to come to this. This property is by far the best one for a big tourism development in Antigua from a tourism and developmental point of view. Even half moon bay pales in comparison. Without a huge shift in the political and cultural status quo, this development will surely happen as long as there is a fraction of the money needed to get it started. The vast majority of Antiguans clearly prefer tourism development over environmental protection. This is seen on a daily basis from our point of view out on the water doing circumnavigations and is perennially echoed from every political platform. #$%^ and others are dreaming if they think that they can do anything to bar a development of this magnitude from happening. The only thing to do is to try to influence the developer in the design and construction phases. How to do this will be up for debate but relying on the government's DCA, Environment Division, Fisheries, the NPA or any other division will be a wasted effort.
Keep in mind that our country is almost bankrupt and there are thousands of former construction workers and many others out of work at the moment at a time when most people still believe in perpetual development as being the only way our economy can survive. Sustainable Development is a fancy catch phrase about as realistic at this juncture in our history as stopping the development. Ten years ago I attended a tourism conference where many gathered were saying that we needed more development and more "attractions". I asked if the government and tourism stakeholders there considered an undeveloped beach an attraction. The conference hall erupted in laughter.
The environmental implications associated with this project are fairly serious, but similar serious threats are turned into reality monthly here without much if anything being done.
I think a very good article should be written that doesn't make the average person scoff as those tourism officials did at my theory of a deserted beach as an attraction all those years ago. It should be written in a way assuming the development will go ahead, but pointing out to people (and developer) what's so special about the varied ecosystems supported in the area giving examples of how similar systems were tarnished by other developments in the past.
Sad but inevitable I'm afraid.
Let me know if there's anything you or others concerned think I could help with on this issue.
I never got a reply and was not included in any emails on this subject again. Quite some time before this email some friends of mine who had felt that the EAG wasn't the right environmental group for us got together and started The Antigua Conservation Society and while surfing one day down near Rendezvous I saw a local architect I knew and a bunch of other people who looked very much like developers. I went to my car and took out a business card and approached them. I introduced myself and said that i had heard that the bay was about to be developed. We had a conversation and I explained that the ACS would like to meet with them to discuss the plans. Since then we have had several productive meetings and while no development at all would be best for the environment, we feel that the proposed development isn't nearly as bad as we had feared. They are in the very earliest of stages in this proposed development and there is so much more that can be done to make sure they have the least impact possible. We will be meeting with them again this week. In the meantime, feel free to read about here www.rbrec.com
Keeping in mind that this private property sits within the National Parks it will be interesting to see what the government does. There is a meeting in Nelson's Dockyard on Thursday. Call the National Parks for more info on this meeting.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Antigua in the news again when it comes to international whaling.

While Japan continues to pump millions of dollars into our politricks and fisheries department the Fisheries ministers continue to tow the line. While fishemen all over Antigua cry for stronger fisheries management here so that our fishery can be sustainably used, our minister is in foreign lands supporting Japanese whaling and speaking about the threats against our sustainable use of our fishery. This stance is what is fed to our ministers by the real propaganda machine that is the Japanese whaling interest. I only wish the politicians knew what the words sustainable use meant and acted like we cared about that policy here. Read this article first that is a shortened online version of what was published on the daily observer yesterday:

The estimated loss of millions of dollars in fish to poachers and the lack of legislation and regulations to protect Antigua & Barbuda’s fish stock have prompted stakeholders in the industry to call on the government for protection.

The call came collectively yesterday from the Antigua & Barbuda Fishermen’s Co-operative, the Antigua & Barbuda Sport Fishing Association and environmentalist Eli Fuller.
Speaking on OBSERVER Radio’s Voice of the People, they agreed on the need for better management of fishing resources in order to protect what’s left for fisher folk to make a living.
Fuller set the tone for the discussion by outlining Antigua & Barbuda’s losses in the sector.
“I feel, and many of my colleagues feel, that fishing methods in Antigua and fisheries management are being done in a way that our resources are not being taken in a sustainable way,” he said.
“Apart from everything else, we’re seeing huge amounts, millions and millions of US dollars worth of fish caught in our waters, taken out of our waters, without anybody in Antigua having any knowledge of it. If you want the facts and figures, you have to go and ask Guadeloupe and St Barths,” Fuller added, suggesting that the illegal catches ended up in those markets.
“I think that if we’re really going to consider fishing as a sustainable thing for people to do and also to see fish on our shelves and our markets, we have to really take a serious look at what is happening in Antigua because fish are vanishing before our eyes and we’re not seeing the benefits,” he added.
Fuller, along with chairman of the sports fishing association, Phillip Shoul, as well as Gerald Price and Len Mussington of the Fishermen’s Co-operative, stressed the need for legislation to protect the industry.
Shoul noted that back in 2004, a new draft Fisheries Act was put together but lamented that it has not yet gone to Parliament.
Mussington said the co-operative would likely take up the charge to get the legislation fast-tracked. The draft law included the designation of certain areas as no-fish zones, closing and opening of seasons to help rebuild depleted grounds, as well as provisions for foreign vessels to sport fish here.
Highlighting the concerns about dwindling stock, Price noted that local fishermen have to travel as far as 30 miles out to net “good quality fish” because shallow grounds have been depleted of their stocks as a result of poor fishing methods and over fishing.

 and then this one below.

By Observer News - Thursday, June 23rd, 2011.
Fisheries Ministers from six Eastern Caribbean islands have affirmed their commitment to work to achieve a common position on the sustainable use of marine resources.
The ministers, along with chief fisheries officers from the six territories, marine biologists, OECS officials, international experts and representatives of the regional media met at the Bay Gardens Hotel in St Lucia on June 20 and 21.
The six territories represented were the host country, St Lucia, along with Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts & Nevis and St Vincent & the Grenada.
They are all members of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), and are seeking to present a harmonized position when they attend and participate in 63rd annual meeting of the IWC next month in the UK.
The regional territories continue to insist that their voting over the years for the lifting of a 1982 moratorium on commercial whaling has less to do with support for Japan and other pro-whaling nations (such as Norway and Iceland), and more an expression of their own principled stand on the issue.
The islands maintain that given their tiny land masses, the vast majority of natural resources available to them for food is contained in the huge marine spaces surrounding them, and that they have a right to harvest and utilize these resources in a controlled, well-managed and sustainable way.
The six Caribbean islands, almost all of which engage in some form of whaling as a small scale tradition, believe that if the right to sustainable use of marine resources is not defended and upheld, the attempts at prohibition could extend to other marine species on which much of their food security depends, such as conch, lobster and tuna.
Antigua & Barbuda’s Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Hilson Baptiste was blunt when he declared: “If we band ourselves together, we will have no problem. We are on the right track. Sustainable food security is what we are fighting for, and the right to do what we want to do around our own countries, in our own waters. Our 200-mile exclusive economic zone is ours to do what we like with. We don’t want anyone to come and tell us we cannot catch conch tomorrow or we cannot touch tuna the next day, or that lobsters are off limits. We are fighting that.”
In the past OECS countries have sought to maintain a harmonized position at the IWC, a point, which was noted by St Lucia’s Agriculture Minister Ezekiel Joseph.
“I want to see a full commitment by all of us with regard to sustainable use,” he said. “I am getting mixed signals with regard to the sustainable use of our resources, but where St Lucia is concerned we are fully committed and will remain committed,” he added.
Echoing the concerns of his Antigua & Barbuda colleague, Joseph continued: “Today we are dealing with whales. Tomorrow it will be the tunas and the conchs and the lobsters – which are critical and important to our food security.”
In recent years, Dominica has reviewed its sustainable use policy as it struggled to balance support for whaling with its eco-tourism marketing as the environmentally pristine “Nature Isle.”
For the past five years, Dominica has abstained from voting at the IWC, a marked change from its previously whole-hearted support for a controlled resumption of commercial whaling within the overall principle of sustainable use.
Present at this week’s meeting in St Lucia was Dominica’s Agriculture Minister, Kenneth Darroux, who sought to clarify the development of his country’s position as IWC 63 approaches. He was forthright in explaining the uphill battle that agriculture ministers like himself often face in convincing stakeholders in tourism and other areas of economic activity that sustainable use of marine resources is compatible with the country’s overall development thrust.
“Dominica still maintains that it supports sustainable use of all marine resources,” Darroux said. “However our country has taken a four- or five-year stand on what Dominica felt were or still are its needs at present. While we support the sustainable use of our marine resources, Dominica is probably a little different from the other OECS islands in terms of the nature of our touristic resources. While probably a lot of the other OECS countries can boast of certain expanses of white sand beaches, we, in Dominica, don’t have this.”
Darroux referred to the enormous PR and propaganda machinery of international anti-whaling organizations such as Greenpeace, and the damage they could do to Dominica’s tourist industry in what are already very difficult economic times.
“For the past five or six years, we’ve managed fairly successfully to market ourselves as an eco-tourism destination. How do I go back to Cabinet and appease the anxiety of my tourism minister colleague, if he is advised that Dominica would lose millions annually from whale watching should it change its position?”
Conference coordinator Daven Joseph reassured Darroux that there was no shortage of sympathy or understanding for the considerations with which Dominica had to wrestle over the sustainable use issue as it pertains to whaling.
Joseph, a marine scientist and former chief fisheries officer of Antigua & Barbuda, puts it this way: “It has never ever been proven in the Caribbean that tourism has ever been adversely affected by any propaganda coming from the anti-whaling side. As a matter of fact, tourism development in the region has shown significant improvement – and there is statistical evidence to show this – in spite of the threats and actual launching of propaganda from these groups.”
In offering possible solutions, Joseph said: “It is critical that we put in place a very strong PR programme for the sustainable use programme in the region.”

There has never been a single noticeable effort at marine management here in Antigua or Barbuda that puts some sort of control on fishermen either locally or foreign (who by the way catch 100 times more fish in our waters than our own fishermen fo) to try to uphold the principal of sustainable use. Just recently the fisheries minister went before our Cabinet and pushed an executive order through that gave direction to the fisheries department and other relevant authorities to ignore the law on spear fishing ultimately making it unpunishable even in Marine Protected Areas. Does is sounds like the minister and politicians are simply towing the line or really caring about our fishery and the sustainable use of it? You decide.

Eli Fuller
Antigua Conservation Society Inc.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Huge pod of playful dolphins check us out

Last weekend while out fishing we came to a spot where a huge pod of over 50 dolphins were fishing. As soon as we got close to them they started jumping and playing in the boat wake. One of them jumped pretty high and a bit too close to the front of Xtreme. The boat was doing about 10 mph going into the wind and waves and the dolphin was in the air for so long that when he came back down he landed very very close to the boat and me. I got wet! On this day we also saw a large pod of pilot whales. The next day we saw a Blainvilles Beaked Whale which was something that none of us had done before. All fun!


Thursday, June 16, 2011

St James's Club Antigua Resort Video 2011.mov

My friends at The St. James's Club Antigua Resort shared this video with me and shows some great footage of their family resort as well as some nice stuff from Antigua. Their guest services and tour desk is next to the reception and they won't usually push our tour as there are many sold from there. Make sure you ask them about Adventure Antigua's tours.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

A big used fishing gear sale this weekend at Tournament.

Taken from a press release about the fishing tournament:

Also new for 2011, on Friday June 10, a secondhand Fishing Gear Flea Market will be held. It is hoped that fishermen from around the island, whether they are entering the tournament or not, will come to Nelson’s Dockyard and see what bargains they can pick up. Competing fishermen are bringing their used gear and tackle and will be selling them from 4 pm-7 pm.
Lord knows we have plenty of old gear and line and we will be there trying to get rid of it. If you would like to get into fishing but can't afford new gear please come and check out the action tomorrow afternoon in Nelson's Dockyard.
Team Xtreme is going out for a warm up session with some new additional crew tomorrow. See you there later. 

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Antigua Sportfishing Tournament this weekend want to come?

David and Tone
I started Aventure Antigua for many reasons, and one of the main ones was that with my boats I would always be able to go fishing on my days off if I wanted to. Adventure Antigua has put more boats in Antigua's fishing tournaments than any other individual or company and we will continue that trend this coming weekend when we will have at least one boat fishing.
Xtreme will be the boat that I am on with one or two of our old Team Xtreme crew. This year the rest of the crew happens to be off island and for a change we are going to be taking paying guests who want a chance at catching a Blue Marlin.
As some of you may know, we have finished in the top three of the Marlin Division several times and each year we are are among the main contenders for the top prize. We are extremely serious about the equipment we use and prepare it going over every aspect each year weeks before the competition starts.
Big Blue
Fishing for marlin is unlike fishing for most other fish as the fish are just so big and powerful. Its not like catching a mahi mahi where once the fish is hooked well you will bring it to the boat. Blue Marlin are capable of stripping all the line (900 meters) from a reel that has a nearly 30 lbs of drag on the reel. We have fought marlin for over two hours several times following the fish sometimes at speeds of up to 14 knots. Many people say marlin fishing is boring as the hookup rate is slower than it is for many of the other smaller fish, but when you do get a fish on the line the level of excitement is higher than you can imagine. The raw power of the fish is something to behold and if you are the one who's suited up in the harness and holding the rod, you better be ready for the fight of your life.

Our boat is rigged for stand up tackle and we don't have a fighting chair. This means you need to be fit and your fitness will be tested without a doubt.

Even though we use the boat to chase the fish the fight is never easy when you have a large marlin on the line. Antigua has never had a "grander" come back to the scales but many of us have seen or fought them. We have had two fish over the past 6 years come and take one of our lures that could have been over a thousand pounds, but each time they "spat the hook". We have released over thirty marlin and brought two back to the scales. One was 589 lbs and the other was just under the minimum weight of 300lbs.
589 lbs!!!!
We made a mistake on that one and until our tournament is a catch and release tournament similar mistakes will be made when no fish has been brought back to the scales. This year we have more methods at our disposal to make sure our fish are over the 300 lb minimum and if we are not sure they will be released like the majority of the others.
Someone was saying that most marlin released end up perishing because of exhaustion, but we know that not to be true now after many recent tagging studies have shown. As you will read on this site (click here), almost all blue marlin tagged with satellite transmitters after being caught on rod and reel survived after being released. This makes us feel way better about fishing for them and we spend extra time and effort making sure they are released with as little stress as possible and with reviving if colour is missing from them. This video

was taken two weekends ago and is of our only marlin warm up this year. Notice how the second marlin took more than half of the line off the reel. We will go out one more time to warm up this friday and come in to Nelson's Dockyard for the registration. The official tournament is on Saturday and Sunday and then on Monday there is an optional day of fishing for Marlin only. That's up to three days of Marlin Fishing, but there are costs associated with all of this and this year we are looking at taking paid guests on each day. If you are interested or know of someone that could be interested in being a guest and getting a chance to fight a Blue Marlin please contact me ASAP. We will take a maximum of two guests per day. The cost will be reasonable compared to regular full day marlin charters on other boats. My mobile number is +1 268 725 7263.
Call soon as spots are limited. The weather forecast is looking great too so I am very excited about this coming weekend! If you are on island pick up a copy of the latest issue of Enjoy magazine as there is a cool article in there about marlin fishing.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Same crew, same tour, same boat and very different reviews.

Xtreme lunch

They are both of our Xtreme Tour and both parties went to our website where there is a description of the boat, a description of the tour, photos and this video:

Anyway, this one (the better one) came from Tripadvisor. Don't forget if you have been on one of our tours then you too can post a review on tripadvisor by clicking this link. Here is the review:

The next review came from Cruise Critic and was also posted by a guest that booked on our website. They say they enjoyed the tour, but felt that other people wouldn't have. They say we put an unreasonable number of people on the boat, but we have seats for 23 on our 45 foot boat and NEVER have anyone standing. When we are full we have 23 people on the boat but rarely are that full. Anyway, same tour, same crew, same boat, same general review and tour date.
moowlisci... North Linolnshire

8 reviews “Extreme Circumnav-AMAZING!”

Reviewed May 28, 2011 - We went on Adventure Antigua's Eco Tour last year when in Antigua and were really impressed with the entire set up so this year decided to do the Extreme Circumnav with them.

We were collected from the beach at the Hawksbill resort, the resort next door to Galley Bay where we were staying.

The crew, Chris, JD and Trevor were all friendly, Chris took us on the Eco Tour last year so we knew we had a knowledgable guide.

It is very clear these guys all really care about the things they are showing you on these trips, when we stopped off on the beach at Rendezvous bay Chris was seen digging on the beach, when asked what he was doing JD replied, 'oh he's re planting coconut palms which have been washed out by the rain!'

The boat was amazing, fast and thrilling ! Especially when you go around the Atlantic side of the island (if you sit at the back on the left watch out for the spray ) the bigger the swell the better the ride!

We recommended the Eco tour to our parents who had travelled to Antigua with us (we were there to be married) my Mother DOES NOT do boat trips but she was convinced it was a must to do.

They came back from the day on the tour thrilled with it, again Chris, Nichola and crew had made sure they had a really good day .

We really cant sing the praises of Adventure Antigua highly enough, whichever tour you do with them.

The crew are awesome, the boats comfrotable, clean and safe and the food was SO good.

Not a booze cruise, if you want a cramped patrty boat, dancing, loud music and alcohol this is not the trip for you.

If you want to know about the facinating nature and history of this wonderful place in a relaxed, comfortable environment with a great crew making sure you enjoy yourself then this is the trip for you. They do serve a mean rum punch but not until you're cruising home in the afternoon as a leisurely end to the day.

May 31st, 2011, 08:49 PM


Cool Cruiser Join Date: Apr 2010

Posts: 13
We did the Extreme Tour with Adventure Antigua last week. It was basically a tour around the island on a speedboat. It's not for people without full mobility-getting in and out of the boat can be tricky.

The good: it was fun, and the stops were at great beaches (we loved swimming with the stingrays!). You get full snorkeling equipment, included in the price. You also get a nice lunch and rum punch (not the best we have had), and all the water you need. Bring your own towel and sunscreen (in fact, I suggest a surf shirt to swim in).

The just OK: the crew wasn't the friendliest, although they were competent and polite. Being on a speedboat after a while can be stressful because of the noise and the 'pummeling'. What is worse, they squeezed an unreasonable number of people on the boat. My husband and I had comfortable seats, but the late comers had to 'straddle' the front seats-not that comfortable if you have to be in that position for a while.

Overall we had fun, but I suspect there may be better outfits out there.

I am discussing this review with my crew to see if there was a problem that we can solve, but the seats up front are favorites for many of our Xtreme Tour return guests. I think the third sentence is possibly a clue as to why the guests didn't think the tour was as awesome as the first reviewers. Both of my powerboat tours have themes of Adventure and people who don't want to move around may be better off on one of the other trips that we do. That being said, we have taken people on this tour who wouldn't take no for an answer and asked the crew to put their wheel chairs in the cabin while they enjoyed the tour around Antigua.