Eli Fuller takes us to the sea

Eli Fuller

My earliest memories are of growing up on Dutchmans Bay here in Antigua with my siblings and cousins. We were such lucky kids because for whatever reason, most people didn’t know about the beach there, and it was always safe and secluded. Our grandparents had built Lord Nelson Beach Hotel, the first hotel constructed on a beach in Antigua in 1950, and our parents before us had also grown up in the shadows of that resort.

Our grandparents would try to keep us out of their hotel by sending us to the offshore islands in the tiny boat we had there. I think from the age of about 10 we were out on that boat by ourselves fishing, exploring, trying to waterski and generally having fun: it’s where my life on the sea started.

Grandpa went to an airport auction one year and came back with two windsurf boards. Several of us learned how to windsurf that week. Later that year I travelled for the first time internationally to compete in the Caribbean Dinghy Championships in Martinique representing Antigua and Barbuda in the windsurfing division. For the next 16 years I competed for Antigua around the world.

During this time, I studied business administration in college and worked in many varied tourism jobs here in Antigua. I did everything from watersports work to retail in heritage quay; club management at Ribbit Night Club to swimwear manufacturing; retail at Redcliffe Quay to bar & restaurant management in Jolly Harbour and English Harbour, to hotel management with my grandparents.

Tourism was in my blood, but I still hadn’t found work that I loved. Each job was good experience and a way to save money for the next international regatta that I would travel to.

In 1999 after some very hard racing in cold (less than 50 degrees F) northern Germany, I decided that I wanted to end my pro windsurfing career. I returned to Hawaii where I had been training and hatched my plan to start my boat tour business back home.

I convinced my family to let me license and use the small family boat for sightseeing and snorkeling tours. I named my company Adventure Antigua, built a website, and decided to offer something different to guests here in Antigua. My “Eco Historical Tour” was the first full day eco tour taking per person fares via powerboat. We could take a maximum of six, but I could only do that safely on calm days.

The rest of the time I could only take four guests. I would tell my guests that my tour was based on adventures that my brother and cousins got up to as kids. It was very easy to make them happy. All these years later, I employ 17 people and take a maximum of 86 people out on a busy day on our various tours. Today, I am preparing for the Talisker Whiskey Challenge and I have no goals other than a podium finish. •