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AMTA Sail Away Day

There is something I must confess. I live in Falmouth and I
am not a sailor. I love the sea, don’t get me wrong. I’m a diver and a swimmer
and a lover of creatures aquatic but a sailor, I’m not. So when the opportunity
to cover the 4th Annual AMTA Sail Away Day presented itself, I took
the assignment with trepidation. Now, please note that as this event consisted
of a day trip aboard one of the famous Wadadli Cats, not much sailing would be
involved. This was a pleasure trip and what a pleasure it was!

The 4th
Annual AMTA Sail Away Day has been arranged as a fundraiser for the Antigua
Marine Trades Association. AMTA members purchase tickets as a thank you to
their employees or for themselves. The event is treated as an end of season
treat for a job well done.

At this year’s
event, AMTA members from The Ministry of Tourism, The National Parks Authority,
Chippy Fine Yacht Woodworking, Woodstock Boat Builders and The American
University of Antigua were all on board creating a diverse and fun mixture of
both children and adults. Seventy people boarded the catamaran under excellent
conditions for a tour around the southern end of the island. Almost immediately
I was hooked. The cat skimmed the sea to a soundtrack of Bob Marley and the
view of the island was breathtaking.

The tour continued
onward to the first of two scheduled stops, snorkeling at Cades Reef. About a
third of our party took advantage of this great opportunity. With calm seas and
bright sunshine, the conditions were perfect for snorkeling. I was impressed
with the healthy state of Cades Reef. Moored off of the southeastern tip, the
life on the reef is vibrant. Forests of Fire Coral and Brain Coral as well as
schools of reef fish made for an exciting and visual swim. For the first time,
I was lucky enough to see schools of newly hatched fish, miniscule and
abundant.

With refreshments
flowing, the atmosphere was a happy one as we set off for our second stop of
the day, Darkwood Beach, for a prepared lunch and sea bathing. It was while at
Darkwood I had the opportunity to speak with Erin Pritchett and Annette Chavez
from California. Both newly graduated from Chico State, they have come to
Antigua to design and upgrade the Nelson Exhibit at the Dockyard Museum. Working
with Dr. Murphy, these anthropology majors have spent months on their research
and are excited to create the new exhibit. They are anticipating completion of
said exhibit by the first week of August.

Several hours
later, well fed and tired from swimming, we began the trip back to Falmouth
Harbour. It was just as we passed Johnson’s Point that we experienced what I
consider the perfect end to the day…a pair of dolphins swam past the cat
perfectly parallel to each other and to the boat. As we pulled in to the dock,
Anna Maria, spokesperson for the AMTA stated that she was happy with the event
and the turn out, “[The event] was better attended than last year and people
seem to prefer the southern trip.” Based on the response to this year’s event
the AMTA is looking at the “possibility of adding another Sail Away Day at the
beginning of the season as well.” Well, after all was said and done, you can
absolutely count on me being there! I’m hooked.

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