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.