Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Friday 17 June – Tuesday 21 June

We have to fight the incoming waves and wind riding the outgoing tide which makes going out the Passe Du Bud Ouest (west pass cut) a little rough. But once outside and heading south we have a GREAT sail over from the Saints to Dominica with wind and waves on the beam. Doing 7.5 – 8 knots with a reef in both sails, what a ride. Three and a half hours later we are moored in Prince Rupert Bay on the northwest coast of Dominica off the town of Portsmouth. In this section of Dominica there is a group of men PAYS = Portsmouth Association of Yacht Security. They maintain the moorings and can arrange for tours, supplies, yachting services you might need, & give general information on the area, as well as ensure the area is safe. Boaters are a big part of the livelihood to this country and we are very welcomed here. Our dealings with this group was very professional and reasonable. No high pressure sales pitch, just letting us know they are available and there to help if we needed anything. Lawrence of Arabia got to our boat first, introducing himself saying he would check back with us after we had checked in and had time to relax. We have lunch on board while we wait for customs to reopen after their lunch break. As we are siting on deck we look over at a boat that had come in shortly before us and notice that it looks like the boat Promise, we met back in the BVI'S. We hail them on the VHF and it is Dave & Colleen so we make plans to see them later and catch up on where we have been. Steve & Dave go over to customs to check in and get back just as it starts to rain. Good to have the salt washed off the boat but not good to go into town. Finally about 5 it stops so we make a break for it and go into one of the local beach bars – Big Papa's. Have a couple of drinks while visiting with Dave & Colleen. Walk down to the Purple Turtle to have a drink and compare dinner menus, going back to Papa's for dinner. We all wanted to do the Indian River tour but it was too late to contact Lawrence, so when he came by Saturday morning we decided to do the afternoon tour since it was already later in the morning than when he does the morning tour. Spent the morning just looking around the town, postcards will have to wait as the shops that are open did not have any. Very friendly town, as you walk the streets folks say hi and welcome you to Dominica, some stopping to ask where you are from and to talk about the US and Dominica, wishing us a pleasant stay. Another HOT day, so back to the boat for lunch and a swim to cool off before our river tour. Monty (who works for Lawrence) comes to pick us up in his boat, and the tour starts as he explains the rusted big ships washed ashore are from a hurricane, making it clear this is NOT a hurricane hole. At the entrance to the river the outboard is turned off and the oars come out as no motors are allowed up the river (another good reason to have a guide). Even though the Indian River opens to the bay and has a tidal flow it is feed by springs up in the mountain so it is fresh water. Pirates of the Caribbean II had some scenes filmed along this river. Colleen & Dave are surprised we have not seen the movie so say they will lend us theirs. The amazing trees and plants along the way are beautiful and the sounds of the birds and frogs just add to this magical experience. Spotting many land crabs along the banks and several herons as we wind our way deeper into the woods. My words will not do justice to the beauty of this river tour so you will just have to look at the pictures. Amongst all this natural beauty way up the river, one of the guides came up with a great idea, and made a jungle bar from surrounding trees and bamboo blending right in with the woods. Back down river and back to the boats by 6:30 then over to Promise for cocktails as we watch the sunset. When we came out of the river we talked to Lawrence about what our island tour the following day would cover, and confirmed the 9 am pick up time (pick you up at our boat so we don't have to use our dinghy). Sunday morning Monty picks us up and brings us ashore to Kilroy (AKA Uncle Sam) who will be our guide / taxi driver today, seems Lawrence does the negotiation of what things will cost and then has helpers/friends do the actual tours. Kilroy is a great guide and a great driver we traveled roads winding up and down the mountains and through many villages, some very narrow streets you would think they should be one way. We cover a lot of territory, with lots of little stops so Kilroy can go over to the side of the road to grab a fruit or a spice growing to show it to us. Just about any type of fruit, vegetable, nut, spice & herb grows easily and everywhere here. Stops by an old distillery, the Carib Indian reserve, and many beach and mountain scenic view overlooks. All before lunch at a great place called Islet View restaurant. After lunch we stop at Spanny Falls, a short hike down into the woods and we come to the waterfall and a pool of water to swim in cold but refreshing. Colleen & Dave came prepared with a bottle of wine as we toast to a great day. Hike back out, stop for a beverage and to change out of wet bathing suit bottoms and the tour continues making a few more stops. Arriving back to Portsmouth around 6, back to our boats and Colleen & Dave join us for a late Thai style dinner that Steve makes for us from some of the herbs Kilroy picked for us during the day. Monday we move on down the coast to Roseau the capital of Dominica. Not as many boat greeters/guides down at this end, but Desmond Sea Cat's helper comes out to meet us and we use one of his moorings. He tells us Sea Cat is busy but will stop by later to see if we need anything. We go in to check in & out with customs, you can (so the book says) do this all at the same time when you 1st check in, but since we were not sure how long we would be staying they told us to check in again in Roseau. We finally find the customs office hidden behind a big black solid iron door/gate that had recently been painted so NO sign saying customs & immigration through here. They were a little confused as to why we were checking in again also, but were very nice, did the paperwork and checked us out all for $2. Walked around town, found my postcards and a place for lunch. A local place advertising they serve Ital food, we thought Italian but learn it is just a type of cooking using natural unprocessed food with fresh veggies, herbs & spices. We have a huge great inexpensive meal. As we are walking to the PO we run into Colleen & Dave who had just arrived and are looking for the customs office. Steve shows them the hidden door while I go across the street to get stamps and mail my postcards. We continue walking around town, find a place to have a cold drink then Colleen & Dave go to find a place to eat while we go back to the boat to see what we might want to visit the next day. Dominica has many hiking trails to many waterfalls and lakes, but some can be hard over rocky terrain, so we are not sure which ones my knee will allow us to do. Tuesday Coleen & Dave decide to head down to Martinique while we do another land tour and get some laundry done. We talk to Sea Cat in the morning and decide on a couple of spots I can get to, and set a departure time for 9:30. A quick drive through town, stopping at an auto parts store to get a fan belt for the boat and to drop laundry off. Climbing up into the mountains again, everywhere you look green, green and more green dotted with colorful flowers. You can understand why the Dominicans are such happy & friendly people growing what they need, eating what they grow as Sea Cat put it. He also makes several stops showing us all the wonderful things growing along the road. Up into the clouds to stop by Fresh Water Lake, water level is low even though this is the rainy season and we have been getting a few showers every day they are still behind on their rainfall. Steve takes a little hike down and is surprised to see that the water pipe line we have been seeing for miles and miles is made out of WOOD. Meeting up with us waiting for him down the hill. Traveling down some rugged older roads Sea Cat asks if we still want to go to the waterfall for a swim. Coming down from the cold mountain air, not real thrilled about getting wet BUT this is why we came on this little tour so we say yes we want to go. We get there and he tells us this is the 2nd most visited spot, they are even doing construction to build a bigger parking lot and a bathhouse. We walk down the path and over a stream and come to this little 4 ft. waterfall dumping out into this little 15x10 pool just barely deep enough to wade in. Sea Cat says go on in I'll just wait here, well we are NOT impressed. Since we drove all the way here to this out of the way spot, and I did say I would go swimming, I get ready to go in wondering why this is such a popular place ??? Steve on the other hand says he will “give it a pass”, that he is not going to get wet for this. Sea Cat says well I guess I will have to just go in and show you, making Steve feel guilty so he comes in also. Sea Cat goes around the corner and we see the opening to the caves that you swim into. NOW we understand why this is such a good spot. We start swimming in but Steve has to go back to get the camera (did not think we would need it). Swim in a ways and come to another opening in the rocks where the water is rushing down. Steve & Sea Cat climb up and go back behind a waterfall. I couldn't make the climb up so waited behind. Needless to say our impression of the place was greatly altered. Sea Cat set us up perfectly and he said he would be using Steve's line about “giving it a pass”, all of us having a good laugh. Next stop Trafalgar Falls & hot springs. I make the climb to the hot springs but to get all the way to the falls you have to climb over a lot of big rocks so just Steve & Sea Cat go while I soak in the hot springs. Climb back out change into dry clothes to go by the River Rock Cafe for lunch. Stop at one of the hot sulfur springs, surprised at how hot the ground underneath gets, you can here it gurgling up, poke a stick down into the ground and it comes up with hot mud on the end, seeing a pool of boiling water coming up from the ground. Drive back towards town stopping at an overlook of the city. Another incredible day in this beautiful country. Wednesday we will head south to Martinique but look forward to a return trip to Dominica and the chance to explore more and doing some diving as we have heard it is a great place for that also.  

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