Sunday, May 20, 2012

Dominica 2012

Dominica 2012
Wednesday 2 May – Thursday 17 May

Steve gets us checked out of the marina in Antigua. We are med moored, getting off is easier then it was getting in, so we hang on the anchor out in front of our slip as we secure the dinghy. We are under way and out the harbour by 9, seas and winds are not as predicted so the first 2 hours of our journey are a little rough. By 11 the winds have clocked east and the seas are calmer and we are able to shut the motor off and have a great sail the rest of the way to Deshaies Guadeloupe arriving by 2:30. Relax a while then Steve & George go into “customs” (French island just a little cafe/store) and check us in and out as we are just stopping overnight. Wild Thing comes over for dinner and we make plans to leave after trying to get Chris Parker's weather report Thursday morning. Thursday under way by 8 out of Deshaies motor sailing in calm waters in the lee of the island. Just north of Basse Terre winds & waves pick up BUT on the nose so still motor sailing. Clearing the island conditions are not as predicted, winds SE instead of east and seas sloppy, but since we are out there we push through to Dominica, not stopping at Les Saints and are anchored in Prince Rupert Bay in Portsmouth Dominica by 2:30. Reuniting with JoAnne & Bill on Ultra who are still here. They have in the past and currently are using Martin, AKA Providence for a guide so we meet him and talk a little about doing some more tours with him during our stay. Due to some weather down over Venezuela the anchorage is experiencing some swells making it VERY rolly. Not a lot of wind to work with so hard to use a bridle to keep the boat facing the swells, we try several times but mostly just hold on. Wild Thing (and several others) put a stern anchor out to try to reduced the roll. Friday it feels good to get off the boat onto solid ground, we go over to the Cabrits National Park, home of Fort Shirley and several hiking trails. Have lunch under a huge mango tree helping ourselves to mangoes, some workers coming over with a long piece of board to knock some fresh ones off the tree. It is mango season and there are TOO many to eat so everywhere you go you can just pick some up off the ground or pick them from the trees. We have a fun time exploring the fort grounds. Back to the boats for a swim to cool off, boats still rolling we join George & Jan going ashore for dinner. Picked the wrong restaurant, 1 out of 4 dinners was good, the other 3 over cooked, very tough. Saturday we make a quick run into the fresh market at 7, then get picked up at our boats for an island tour at 8:30. Martin has 8 of us on this tour, Steve & I , Jan & George, JoAnne & Bill and Colleen and Pat from Cool Change. Stopping at several scenic views, a little local distillery making bay oil for bay rum, exploring some gardens getting a lesson on some of the local flora, a cold Sulphur Spring and an area known as red rock. Sunday is a cloudy drizzly day, we finally get off the boats late in the afternoon for a walk. Sunday night we had signed up for a BBQ on the beach, put on by the local PAYS (Portsmouth Association for Yacht Security) guys for the cruisers. Weather was not the best. but the food was good for a good price and we got to meet a few other people from the different boats, and met back up with Blue Song, Judy & Jochim who we knew from Grenada. Monday another rainy day dinner on Ocean Star with Wild Thing as they make plans to head south. Tuesday morning along with JoAnne & Bill from Ultra we go over to Wild Thing to say good by again. They have a tighter schedule needing to get south to St Lucia to haul their boat out before going back to Texas. Wanting to see a little of Martinique on the way, and hopefully finding a calmer anchorages they are leaving. They are dear friends we have been traveling with for the last 3 months and we will miss them greatly. We do a few boat chores and some swimming off the boat passing the rest of the day, HH over on Blue Song to catch up on things since Grenada. Wednesday a good day to dinghy over to Douglas Bay to do some snorkeling with JoAnne & Bill. Back to the boats for lunch before going to check out the new IGA supermarket south of town. It is always so funny going to a store not really needing anything just wanting to see what is available. Never fails we always come away with several bags full of stuff even though “we really did not need anything”. Dinner on Ultra talking about another island tour and when to head down to Roseau. Thursday raining again, anchorage still rolly at times, but still a beautiful spot. Friday 8 am pick up for another island tour with Martin / Providence. A group of 10, seeing some different sights and then Spanny Falls. Mostly cloudy day but most of us went in for a swim anyway. Me and another couple waited there as the rest climbed up over the ridge and hiked a little further to another waterfall. A good lunch at Islet View restaurant with lots of rum tasting. They make their own rums using almost every fruit, vegetable and spice found on the island, and several of us had fun sampling a few of them. A few stops on the way back to the boats by 6. Martin / Providence did a great job showing us some of the north end of Dominica. Saturday rain on & off most of the day. Steve went back to market while I slept in, a few more boat chores and a relaxing day getting ready to head down to Roseau, the capital, on the south end of Dominica the following day. Sunday easy ride down past Roseau, get settled on Sea Cats mooring, but we have to tie a stern line to his dock so we don't bump into the huge Cat on the next mooring over. Not the best situation, a lot of tension on that stern line at times, but it works. Early Monday the big Cat leaves and Ultra moves onto that mooring but still not enough swing room. Sea Cat needs a few more moorings better spaced for bigger boats. We get off to a late start (11 am) for another island tour with Sea Cat. He's a great guide, full of fun and very knowledgeable about the country and it's flora and fauna. We stop frequently to sample fruits growing by the side of the road. We have a great time hiking to Middleham Falls, and go for a swim in pool below and climb up a cliff into a cave, then higher up the cliff for a jump into the pool. The water is cold. Next we drive to Titou Gorge and swim up a very narrow gorge to the falls, climbing up and over the first fall into a chamber with another fall. Have fun getting a “falls massage”, then jump over the first fall into the pool below and swim back out the gorge. We start heading back to the boats, then decide to divert to Trafalgar Falls where they're just closing, but let us in anyway since we're with Sea Cat. Time for a few pictures and a quick soak in the hot springs to warm up and ease tired muscles then stop at the River Rock Cafe & Bar for rum punch as the sun sets, getting back to the boats by 8. Tuesday is a perfect day, sunny and calm, for taking the dinghies down along the coast first to Champagne Beach to snorkel then to Scotts Head to snorkel. Champagne beach has warm bubbles coming up from an underwater vent. Scotts Head is part of a marine reserve, and we can see why with it's crystal clear waters and beautiful reefs it is a magical place that on this day we have almost all to ourselves. The bay is even more unique as it is an extinct volcanic crater with some indeterminate depths. The area is breathtaking above and below the water. Wednesday we go into Roseau to walk around, stopping at Ruins Rock Cafe, known to have some of the weirdest rums and they do. Like snake rum, snake fat rum, lizard, to name a few. It was just around 12:30 so we did not try any of these rums, don't think I could at any hour of the day !! A third of the building is full of Caribbean spices, so we spend a good amount of time in there learning and buying spices. A walk up to the botanical gardens with a hike up to a lookout over the town. Stopping at the Drop Anchor bar & restaurant for HH on our way back to the boats. The place is owned & run by a fellow Texan so the 4 of us from Texas felt we had to stop by. She had nachos on the menu so we could not resist, then it started to rain so while waiting for it to stop JoAnne & Bill ordered a fish taco and we ordered a BBQ baked potato. Had not seen those items on a menu in quite some time. Thursday morning we settle up with Sea Cat saying goodby to him and Dominica once again. Knowing that even though we have seen more of this beautiful country there is much we have not seen. To us it is one of the most beautiful islands we have visited, not the easiest to get around, but we are in awe of its beauty.

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