Antigua Testimonials & Photos 2006
Thinking about my favorite part of our week long vacation with ASA and the Sunsail group in Antigua, I reflect on all I experienced that week in June. I met such wonderful people: from fellow participants—from all over, of different ages and backgrounds, a true melting pot, to the ASA and Sunsail staff—helpful and responsive to our needs, to, of course, the Captains—patient with our mistakes and doing their best to make learning fun. The hotel was lovely! Bill and I were so pleased to walk into a tropical, breezy lobby that made us feel comfortable from the start, and the food was so good it made me think “So long diet, see you in a week!”.
We got the active vacation we wanted. There were so many activities offered by the hotel and ASA that the days weren’t long enough to do it all. In the end, we alternated between sailing, snorkeling, going to the gym, yoga, and biking, with soaking up the sun and relaxing around the very large, beautiful pool at the Colonna. What was especially wonderful was that there was no pressure to do activities if you weren’t in the mood. As we wined and dined by the water’s edge during the evenings, we had fun meeting new people and discussing what we had done that day as we watched the sun set over the blue Caribbean water and listened to the waves lapping the shore.
If you asked me to tell you about my favorite thing from the ASA sailing week in Antigua…I’d say “sorry, I can’t.” But I can tell you that I look forward to seeing you all again next year…same time, same place.
Sandra Comte & Bill Mc Carthy
New York, NY
Oh how I enjoyed meeting all the wonderful personalities from all over this country, and Japan too! With a common interest in Sailing, the Ocean, and adventure how can we not have many interesting stories of travel, and adventure? I met new friends and sailors with such colorful personalities, stories of great adventure, and exploration on the high seas. I can’t wait to hang with them again next year, as well as meet new ones with more stories of intrigue.
I really enjoyed the Eco-tour of the island by boat. We stopped and snorkeled at a sting-ray sanctuary where we hand-fed these beautiful animals. Our next stop was a tropical secluded beach, the water was so clean and clear you could see our boats shadow on the white sand bottom 40 feet down like it was floating in air.
Finally, we had lunch on a private beach that resembled something on the Discovery channel, with Iguana’s, exotic birds, and very colorful fish. I took over 300 pictures during my week in Antigua, and I still smile when I look at the now.
Santa Fe Springs, CA
What can we senior citizens say about our Antigua experience with the sailing association other than it was opportunity to dive into the newly found community of friendly people and swim in its offerings. We appreciated dynamic, dramatic, and friendly certified sailing instructors who held our safety foremost in their minds. A highlight was meeting other wanna be sailors from many parts of planet earth and cooperating with them to make sailing a fun-filled adventure. Add a bonus of sharing conversation over delicious meals and there was a great week of fun stories and people. How can we describe such random beauty, pleasant trade winds caressing our skin, clean clear water other than fabulous! Would we like to go again? of course and take the kids and grand kids.
Rachel & Carter Williams
Willow Street, Pennsylvania
It's hard to say there was a best part about our trip to Antigua. I didn't think it could get any better than the Antigua event in 2005. Susan and I were able to convince two other couples from Reno to accompany us to the 2006 event, it was great to share this with friends.
It was great to see all the people that returned from the 2005 event and make new friends. Spending a week with a group of people that are as passionate about sailing as we are is not easy to express. The opportunity to share and learn from each other’s experiences is invaluable.
The Sunsail Colona Resort treated us well. The accommodations were great with magnificent ocean and pool views from the rooms. The buffet style food service provided sufficient variety and quantity that no one should have gone hungry. The challenge was not to gain an extra 5 to 10 lbs.
Oh yes, we went there to sail and sail we did. Three wonderful Beneteau 473s were at our disposal. These boats were in great shape and a blast to sail. I had the privilege of acting as Captain on several of the boats and I would like to thank all the people that went with me. I also appreciate the work and knowledge that the other Captains shared with us. Thanks to Charlie, Lon, and Dave who are repeats from 2005, and Bill and Tom who were new Captains in 2006. I learned a great deal from all of them.
Captain Dave also instructed the Small Boat class. I know several people that were Small Boat certified while in Antigua. What a bonus!
I am not sure how many types of small boats were available. I only sailed four different types and can proudly say that I capsized them all. The consistent wind and warm water made pressing my capabilities to the limit much more fun than the inconsistent wind and cold waters of the Sierra Nevadas.
I cannot say what part of Antigua 2006 was my favorite. I think maybe the whole week was my favorite and I need to go back again to make a decision.
Dennis & Susan Harms
I went to SunSail on my own....and it was great. I am used to traveling alone and meeting new people and it was really easy with the ASA group. Charlie gave us a wonderful welcome and showed us the friendly and adaptable nature of the tour....by the afternoon of the first day, we were on an impromptu cruise in a 47' Beneteau and snorkeling off an exotic tropical island. Time and choice were all you could ask for. Sailing was interspersed with learning the skills of the sea and any activity you could think of. Knot-tying quickly changed to snorkeling with the sting rays or dining at some really great restaurants. How's that for your first time in the Caribbean!
As the groups formed and reformed from day to day, I was able to talk to people from all over the United States and Japan who were from all walks of life but brought together by a love for sailing and the outdoors. Would I travel on my own again, with these great people as part of the group? You bet.
Medicine Hat, Canada
My sailing experience was limited to beach boats, primarily Hobbies 17 and Sunfish, and my wife, Debby, had no sailing experiences to call her own until the wonderful week in Antigua last June.
We both got exposed to keel boat sailing on the Beneteau 47 yacht and sailing many of the beach boats readily available at the Colonna Resort. I had not sailed in the last five years and it was an absolute joy to be out on the warm waters of the Caribbean every day of the Antigua Sail Week.
The resort was just what I look for in a resort. No frills but great ocean view and lacking no essentials. The food service was more than I had expected. The beach boats were well maintained and in tip-top shape. There always were plenty of boats with none to minimal waiting time. The resort delivered far in excess of what I expected for the modest cost for the all-inclusive week. In short, the best deal ever!
We had some concerns about the Caribbean weather in June but were most fortunate to have great sailing weather, albeit a bit blustery at times, all week. The blustery wind made sailing the Hobies that much more exhilarating!
And most of all, we thoroughly enjoyed the company of fellow sailors. We like to think that we have made enduring friends and hope to see them before and during the 2007 ASA Sail Week.
Zerir & Deborah Baugh
In early 2006 a friend of mine and fellow ASA instructor, Dennis Harms, kept telling me about his sailing adventure to Antigua in 2005 with ASA. At every opportunity Dennis told me how much fun he and his wife Susan had on the trip. Finally, my wife Sue, and I agreed to go to Antigua in 2006 just to appease Dennis Why would anyone go to Antigua and spend a week in a resort when they could spend a week on a boat? Why would anyone go to a resort in Antigua
when they could stay on a boat anchored in Big Harbor at Jost van Dyke and visit Foxy’s?
Sue and I arrived in Antigua on Friday morning and before our heads hit the pillow Friday night we both agreed the trip was worthwhile in every way. ASA, lead by Charlie Nobles and Kathy Christensen, put together a trip that far, I say again far exceeded our expectations. The Colonna resort was first class in every respect. And the people that worked there could not have been nicer or more helpful.
There were daily activities planned by ASA and Club Colonna that we could participate in or not. Sue and I chose to stay close to the beach and spent our time either swimming, sunning, or sailing on the small boats.
Dennis told me about the small boats that were available to use at no charge. I thought to myself, I’m a US Merchant Marine Captain, why would I be interested in a small boat [14 foot]. I may be 60 years old but on the beach at Antigua I was 18 again with the Topaz, Hobie, Laser and other. What a blast!!! Club Colonna provided at least six different types of small sailboats that could be taken out at no additional charge. There were enough sailboats that I never had to wait my turn.
Meals were included in the price of the adventure and I can assure you, we did not go hungry but did go on a diet when we got back to Nevada. The quality and quantity were exceptional.
The English have a great tradition of afternoon tea that we brought back to the states with us. ASA also provided three 47 foot Beneteaus so that anyone wishing to spend time at sea on a big boat could do so. I was honored by ASA to be the captain on one of the boats. Bottom-line; you could sail small or large boats and satisfy your need to go to sea.
The best part of the trip was meeting the wonderful people from around the world that participated in the Antigua – ASA adventure. Sue and I agree that the people made the trip worthwhile.
Funny, I sound like Dennis did last year. Sue and I are going back next year if for no other reason just to be around Charlie, Kathy, and the other wonderful people we met. We hope to see you there.
Captain Bill and Sue Yawn
I was browsing through Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel Magazine when I found a trip sponsored by ASA to Antigua advertised in the 40 Best Deals. The price was great, and I have always found all-inclusive trips to be a good value. Most of my trips to the Caribbean in the past have centered around scuba diving, but I wanted to try something I had never done before. Since I would be traveling alone, I also wanted the trip to include some group activities.
I called Kathy Christensen at ASA for more information. Kathy's enthusiasm for sailing and her upbeat personality immediately convinced me this was the trip for me. She sent me books on sailing, offered sailing wardrobe advice and even offered to help me find a roommate for the trip if I didn't want the option of paying the single supplement.
Although I did not elect to have a roommate, I was rarely ever by myself. Most meals were eaten with other ASA members in a reserved spot in the dining area. The night I arrived I met several of my fellow sailors at dinner, which immediately began sharing stories of their sailing adventures. The 73-person group ranged from 18-70 years of age with varying levels of sailing experience.
The food was good, and included a grilled lobster one night and barbeque and steak another night. Breakfast and lunch were served buffet style with lots of fresh fruits and salads. ASA had placed a goodie bag in my room upon arrival with rum, a t-shirt, dry bag, sailing magazine, sunscreen, baseball cap and of course, chocolate in it! The next morning everyone met to sign up for sailing trips and tours. Certification classes and knot tying classes were offered as well. There were so many fun activities every day, you almost needed a PDA or Daily planner to help you keep track. I participated in group sailing trips, snorkeling trips, boat tours of the island and a trip to Shirley Heights for the beautiful view and to hear the steel drum band. The resort also provided local bands and entertainment several nights during our stay. The beach was very pretty with plenty of comfortable chairs. The pool was huge, centrally located and had a view of the ocean. I had a massage at the spa while I was there and also spent some time in the spa's hot tub watching the sunset in the late afternoons.
The staff at Colonna was friendly and helpful, even when I locked myself out of the room after midnight and the manager had to be awakened to let me in. Colonna could arrange diving, but you had to be taken 45 minutes to the other side of the island. I had to attempt it at least once while I was there, but I must say the conditions for diving were rather rough with a strong current. I enjoy a more relaxed diving experience. Sailing was another story!
The conditions were perfect for sailing-always windy, and how often do you have the opportunity to take the helm of a $250K boat through Caribbean waters with experienced instructors from all over the U.S. and even from Japan? I really think I "got my feet wet" with some of the basic skills and would love to come back next year for more learning and fun. Who knows? Diving may become my second favorite hobby after this trip.
Thanks to everyone who made me feel comfortable, relaxed and safe on the boats. Maybe next year I could add confident to that list. This trip has convinced me that there will definitely be a sailboat of my own in the near future.
It was December of 2005 when Mary and I first started discussing the ASA trip to Antigua. I had received an Email from ASA as part of there Sailing through Paradise program. I have used this program once before to locate a trip to the Dry Tortugas off Key West. I was very happy with that trip, so we decided to try Antigua.
After getting our passports and my wife over coming her fear of flying we were off. The flight to San Juan Puerto Rico and the short hop to Antigua were great. Window seats provided an outstanding view of the beautiful chain of islands below. With the large number of sailors converging on Puerto Rico that day, we were able to meet several sailors on the flight down. Some had been the year earlier and gave us insight as to what to expect.
Upon our arrival in Antigua friendly and well-organized ASA staff greeted us. With taxi’s and a bottle of water awaiting is arrival, we were whisked away to the Sun Sail resort Club Colonna, where the Sun Sail staff greeted us and carried our bags to our rooms. The rooms were beautiful, and the hospitality shown to us by the Club Colonna staff for the entire week was outstanding.
ASA together with Sun Sail offered a wide variety of sailing / vacation options. I had read the accounts of the previous year’s trip offering something for everyone. This turned out to be true. There were over night trips and day sails on one of the three forty-seven foot Beneteau’s made available by ASA. Dinghy sailing provided by Sun Sail for any level from beginner to sail fast fanatics. The wind was also very cooperative with the week starting of at 20 to 25 knots gradually decreasing at the end of the week to 6 to 8 knots. Sailing lessons from beginner to advanced skiff sailing was available. Club Colonna is located on the Lea side of the North tip of the island and so provides some shelter from the trade winds, which are predominantly out of the East. This allowed some sailors to sail conservatively closer to shore or for others to let it rip. The variety of boats available was great, and the sun Sail staff kept them in great shape ready for our use. Mary and I tried the Sport 16, Topaz, Lasers, and the Hobie 15’s. Mary enjoyed the Hobies best even when flying a hull she enjoyed the stability.
For those who wanted some variety there was scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming at the pool or ocean, ecco tours, kayaking, tennis, biking and shopping the shops through out the island. We took a little trip to Prickly Pear Island and spent a few hours snorkeling. So many beautiful fish swam in and out of rock and coral.
Looking back at the whole week, which was full of fun and celebration, the most memorable was the friendships we made. It was great to spend time with people who had similar interest from all over the U.S. and the world.
Mary and I are looking forward to next year’s trip.
Mary & Charley Jensen
Mt Plymouth, Florida
For more photos of this event please visit our GALLERY by clicking here.