Focus On-Ian Steele

Ian Steele was born and brought up in Bradford, West Yorkshire in the North of England.  From his early days, he was destined to take over his father’s engineering business. However, in late 1984 at the age of 31 and having had his 27 foot yacht for five years or so, armed with an appetite for adventure and one crew member, a modicum of sailing experience and an even more limited supply of fresh water, Ian decided to set sail for the Caribbean.

After 25 days at sea they arrived safely in Grenada. After some time, cruising through the Caribbean islands, they arrived in Antigua. Not long after this Ian was made an excellent offer for the boat which he couldn’t refuse. This marked the end to his Caribbean adventures and he reluctantly returned to the UK. He had only been back for three months when he received a proposal from the engineering firm Foster Wheeler who were building a large power plant on Antigua. And so it was that, in August 1985 Ian moved back to live in Antigua.

He spent a number of years working for Foster Wheeler and the Civil Engineering company DevCon who were involved in heavy civil engineering piling and dredging contracts around the coast of Antigua.

In 1999 Ian met Peter Swann and came to work at Jumby Bay for a year or so until 2000 when Half Moon Bay became involved and he decided to leave. Ian went back to his civil engineering work until Peter Swann contacted him in 2002 to announce that Jumby was now free of Half Moon Bay and persuaded him to take his job back.

Since he returned to work for Peter in 2002 Ian has seen our little island evolve in so many ways, and he has had a direct hand in a huge number of projects large and small.

There had been a small reverse osmosis plant on the site of Blue Pelican on Lot J-6 which ran for a few years in the early nineties and produced 25,000 gallons a day. But as Peter Swann apparently told Ian “we could have bathed in gin more cheaply than the water that thing produced” and it was decommissioned in 1994. And so, when Ian arrived in 2002 Jumby Bay was totally reliant on a four-inch water pipe from APUA on the mainland for our water. This was not only unreliable but also very expensive.

In 2004, under Ian’s direction, a state of the art reverse osmosis plant was installed and began producing 100,000 gallons of water per day and then in 2009 another plant was added giving us the capability to produce over 225,000 gallons per day.

In 2002 there were two fairly antiquated generators running in the generator house and a tractor and trailer had to be brought up every day to fill the tanks with a few hundred gallons of fuel. In those days, the peak load at Christmas was 300kw (now our lowest night time load) but it was clear that we needed a great deal more capacity as well as greater reliability. In 2004, four Cummings generators were purchased and installed and these, with one more addition, are still running the island today. They now give us a total generating capacity of 3,900kw (our Christmas peak is now circa 1750kw).

But things must continue to improve and evolve and Island Services’ most significant recent project has been the implementation of the large photovoltaic plant, which is described separately in some detail in this newsletter.