ARTICLES AND REVIEWS



Company offers more than a tour - expect an adventure

Virgin Islands Daily Newsexternal link: Feb 21, 2011
by Aaron Gray ( Daily News Staff )

Rick and his daughter holding big fish
Rick Gonzales, owner of Swashbucklin' Tours, with a young tourist ( ed - actually his daughter ) on a recent fishing tour.

When Rick Gonzales moved to St. Thomas two years ago, he was amazed by the kind of adventure and beauty the island offered. The Utah native quickly started up his own outdoor tour company, Swashbucklin' Tours, so he could expose his knowledge and share his experiences with local residents and visitors to the territory.

Swashbucklin' Tours offers inshore fishing trips along with spearfishing, kayaking, hiking and snorkeling tours, but the company's range doesn't end there.

"Every day I wake up, it's a new adventure," said the 37-year-old Gonzales, who is a licensed boat captain. "We're open to anything you can think of. From a day trip to Hans Lollik for a barbeque to hiking through Santa Maria to look for ruins. If you can think of it, we can do it."

Gonzales started his venture 15 months ago and brought aboard Jerry Cowan last month. The two-man operation is based out of Hull Bay and earned a Rental Of Water Sports Equipment Permit from the V.I. Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs last month, which allows them to launch boats and kayaks off any beach on St. Thomas.

The company's motto, "Not your mama's tour," is a clear indication of what they offer.

"I guess we really just appeal to people that are adventurous and off the tourist beaten path," said Gonzales, who grew up as a commercial fisherman in Washington and spends two months a year fishing in Alaska. "We want to show people what St. Thomas is really about."

The most popular tour is the spearfishing tour, Gonzales said, where tour guests get a chance to snare Caribbean lobster during free dive excursions around the island.

Aboard Gonzales' 24-foot Panga boat for fishing trips, tour guests are able to snag yellowtail, hardnose, mackerel, kingfish, barracuda, tarpon, bonito and other species.

"It's all done in and around the crystal clear waters that surround the island," said Cowan, 42, who is also a licensed boat captain. "We want to show people St. Thomas in another way. You're not going to be surrounded by 3,000 people with any of our tours."

The company actually seeks private and exclusive tours. Cowan and Gonzales have blazed hiking trails around the island where people have not set foot in generations. They are currently building a structure in between Perseverance Bay and Black Point on the west side of St. Thomas to serve as a resting point for one of their many planned four-guest kayak tours.

Combining the fishing and kayak tours has also been popular.

"I've heard lots of people tell me that catching some tarpon while sitting in a kayak was their favorite part," Gonzales said. "It always makes for a great picture."

The company also offers backcountry tours to some of the most remote beaches and ruin sites on the island. Their web site ensures potential guests that "99 percent of the time, you'll have the entire beach to yourself."

Gonzales is a former U.S. Army combat medic and is married with three children. He said his favorite part about touring people in and around St. Thomas is the instant friendships that come from it.

"Every time I take someone out on a charter or something, we always come back as friends and you can't say that about a lot of jobs in the world," Gonzales said.

For more information on tours and pricing, log-on to www.swashbucklintours.com, e-mail , call (340) 244-8600 or follow Swashbucklin' Tours on Twitterexternal link.


V.I. Game Fishing Club's 15th annual Dolphin Derby

Virgin Islands Daily News: Feb 21, 2011
by Aaron Gray ( Daily News Staff )

dolphins caught on the Sea Weasel
Anglers from the Sea Weasel show off dolphins they caught in the tournament.

Rick Gonzales, left, Andy Hollen, Jerry Cowan and Berto Gonzales of Team Swashbucklin' Tours show off the dolphin fish they caught at the 15th annual V.I. Game Fishing Club's Dolphin Derby at American Yacht Harbor on Sunday afternoon. Over 100 anglers and 24 boats competed in the event and the official results will be released today. The largest dolphin caught -- over 55 pounds -- will receive a $25,000 cash prize. Budget Rent-A-Car and Premier Wines & Spirits sponsored the event.


“One hell of an epic experience”

Swashbucklin Tours: Traveler Reviews at tripadvisor.comexternal link
by Nevaabetta from Detroit, Michigan
Date of review: Mar 7, 2011
Date of visit: February, 2011

Nevaabetta

I cannot count how many times I smiled that day. Great friends, great fishing, great captain!! Captain Rick is very knowledgeable and very encouraging. =) Swashbucklin Tours is the only fishing and ocean kayak charter I will go on while in St. Thomas!!


“You did yourself proud today”

by Lt Jeffrey N., Sparta Twp Police Department, Sparta, NJ
( Email received by Capt. Rick )
Date of review: May 23, 2011
Date of visit: May 23, 2011

Rick and Heidi

Thank you so much for the tour today. Rick, sir, you did yourself proud today.

My family loved your style, and so did I. Thanks for stopping, and all your offers to help. Enjoy the pictures and long live the Sea Weasel! I wish you all the best with your family and business.

Respectfully, Jeff


Featured page

Caribbean Travel + Life: Aug-Sept, 2011

Offshore Thing. On the north side of St. Thomas, the private island Hans Lollick is populated only by goats and those who know people with boats. Got four hours but no boat? Call Swashbucklin' Tours, 340-244-8600.

Editor's note: The boat in the picture is the Sea Weasel, and the island in the background is St. Thomas.


27th Annual Texas Society of the Virgin Islands Chili Cookoff

Virgin Islands Daily News: Aug 22, 2011

Swashbucklin' Chili booth
The Swashbucklin' Chili Crew. Front row, from left: Spice Man, Julie, Capt Jerry, Capt Rick, Heidi, and Flame.

The 27th Annual Chili Cookoff, sponsored by the Texas Society of the Virgin Islands, was held on Sunday, August 21st at Brewers Beach here on St. Thomas. Proceeds are used to benefit local charities.

Swashbucklin' Tours does fishing, kayaking, spearfishing, backcountry tours, and we can make some pretty great chili too.


Spear Fishing in the Virgin Islands: Bow Hunting Under Water

BullsAndBeavers.comexternal link: Apr 09, 2012
by Chris Burget

VI's Spear Fishing
"Spear fishing in the VI’s is an experience that I will never forget."

My fishing adventure began two days earlier on an offshore fishing trip. Rick, the first mate of the Blue Fin 2, showed us a great time. Unfortunately, we didn’t catch many fish. Nevertheless, we all had fun despite the inclement weather, and a few people getting sea sick.

While fishing with Rick, I learned that he also specialized in spear-fishing tours. I quickly signed up, and before I knew it I was up early again for another fishing adventure.

This time, Rick customized the fishing trip just for me. I knew as soon as he pulled up in his red jeep with the logo SwashBuklin Tours on the car door, I was with the right person.

On the way to a secluded bay on the north shore of St. Thomas, we pulled over to glass the waters. We were looking for signs of fish like birds on the water or bait balls of fish in hopes of some good spear-fishing. Once we spotted the ‘boiling water of fish’, Rick got us off to the boat and in for what I would call an underwater avatar experience filled with brilliant colors of fish, coral and clear turquoise waters... read more


Tarpon in the Virgin Islands

SleepWhenYoureDead.comexternal link: May 02, 2012
by Kyle

Swashbucklin' Tours
Captain Rick uses a net, so the big tarpon can't throw the hook.

Every now and then a day of fishing comes along that is as hard to believe when it’s happening as when its over and just a memory. Today was one of them.

In December my wife and I decided to come to St Thomas and spend a week relaxing and seeking out deserted beaches here in the Southern Caribbean. As soon as plans were firm I started planning to fish at least one of the days.

Much of what I read online was discouraging. Talking about how St Thomas was not the place for in-shore fishing, but thats really what I wanted to do. Then I found Captain Rick who runs Swashbucklin’ Tours. His reviews online were awesome and he seemed like a genuine guy on the phone. A day was booked and the anticipation started to build.

Today was the day. I woke up early and made the drive to the other side of the island at our pre determined time. Capt. Rick rolled up to the sand and jumped out of his boat to greet me. I’ve fished with enough guides to know that Rick is a rare breed. No pompous attitude, no belittling comments, just an encouraging good boat captain who really loves to fish... read more

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