We arrived in Portsmouth, Dominica, yesterday; after stops in Schoelcher and St. Pierre, Martinique; jumping to Roseau, and then coming north up the coast of Dominica. The trip was not bad, but little fun; as we had to motor the 17 miles directly into the wind and swells, both coming from the north. It is great to be here though, talking to the marine services boys and awaiting a big barbecue beach party for Sunday night. Last year, with brother Ken's help, I had made some placards in English and French for Bounty (who says we are his adoptive parents), explaining what services he could offer to visiting yachts. He reports it has resulted in a significant increase in business.
Lorna and Brian left Anse Chaudiere,in Martinique on the 4th of January, the day after our last weblog. They returned to Rodney Bay St Lucia for an insurance survey and to enjoy some time with many of the cruisers who return there after each Christmas. We enjoyed one last lazy day in that beautiful calm anchorage, then started to travel north.
Our first intended stop was Schoelcher, just across the large bay of Fort de France. The trip was like open ocean, with sharp waves and wind gusts to 27 knots. We found good holding in close, up behind some local moored boats and made tracks to find an advertised craft beer brewery. The brewery was in a big restaurant which was in a massive theatre that had many showings - possibly a dozen. It must be movie central for the whole island. However, we noticed they were all blonde beers, no scenery, and at a premium price; so we lost interest, and determined that we'd buy two cold 1/2 litre Lorraine beers when we pick up the groceries, and drink them on the dock, looking at the ocean. We did just that, and then headed back to our boat just after 1500h so we wouldn't be late for the Cat Tales Happy Hour.
However, Happy Hour was not to be. As soon as we left the dock, we noticed that Cat Tales was ass-to-the-wind. Getting closer allowed us to see a half dozen pirogues with fishermen, one of which had tied a rope to our swimmer's handle and was using his 40-50 hp to pull her back along the anchor chain against the 20+ knot wind. We quickly got on and tried to put some sense to the scene, but the fishermen were yelling in patois, and my bit of French was of little value. It seems, or we guess that they had set a large net behind Cat Tales, and the current was carrying it into our boat before they could either set it correctly or harvest the fish or something. We untied their line, turned the boat around, picked up the anchor, and made a very large arc away from the activity and back to sea. I was quite happy to check that the little handle was not pulled out or loosened, and a little angry that the men had not considered tying to the giant cleat just a few feet away (assuming all that had gone on was necessary). As we have learned, this kind of (possibly callous) treatment by the fishermen is common in most of the islands. Indeed, we have learned that most island people do not understand the economic benefit of anything unless the money goes directly and immediately into their hand, and often act against their best interest because of this poor understanding. This is a statement not made in anger, but in sadness.
We put our boat into high gear, and, after finding no near anchorages that suited us and the weather conditions, finally put a hook down in St. Pierre, just before dark.
|A view of St. Pierre, Martinique from our hike up the hill. This is a typical cemetery found in the French islands.|
|Mount Pele, just outside of St. Pierre. It's rare to see it without clouds covering the top!|
|Laurie walking the beach south of St. Pierre|
|We were surprised to find okra growing along the roadside. It grows on top of a long a tall skinny stick like bush. Okra is the thickening agent used in gumbo because of its sticky consistency.|
St. Pierre was very pleasant. We combined our trip to clear customs with a hike up and out of the town and then a truly excellent French lunch. While we waited for a weather window, we also got in a great snorkel and swim and a walk on the beach. Sadly, on a wreck in shallow water, we counted six lionfish - an invasive species that looks beautiful, but has long, poisonous barbs that look like long feathers. This species is very docile, but just sits and vacuums up the young reef-dwellers we love to visit. Which reminds me, I had bought a rubber band-loaded trident in Marin, and had killed my first lionfish in Anse Chaudiere. These ones, however, were too deep for me.
Denis of Tiger Lily II, our weatherman, told us Tuesday was a great time to get to Dominica, and it was a fun sail - for me. Dawn found it just a little bit scary. We stopped at Roseau and rented a mooring ball for 3 nights. We spent one full day hiking in and around Roseau, and the next with a hired guide who took us to the east side of Dominica and up the White River to Victoria Falls. The tour was with 3 other couples and we were all picked up at our boats at 9:00 am and delivered back in the dark around 6:00 pm. The drive to get there and back was outrageous, especially with the damage done in Hurricane Erica a season ago. I'll let the pictures tell you that story.
|Roseau as seen from our hike up Morne Bruce.|
|Dawn hiking up "Jack's Walk" to Morne Bruce Fort from the Botanical Gardens in Roseau, Dominica|
|More outdoor furniture ideas for the resourceful!|
|Moses, a rasta who lives at the base of our hike, fed us "Ital" lunch. He made us a vegetarian stew made of roots and vegetables from his land.|
|Hearty Ital stew full of starchy roots, carrots, green beans and okra to thicken. The rastas don't eat salt, but it could have used a smidge...|
Not much good news here. I have to research some anomalies in our Raymarine electronics to see what is up. Hopefully some calibration might straighten most of it, but we are also getting error messages about the AIS antenna.
We had the bad luck of burning up an alternator belt on the way in to Roseau. Repair was quickly accomplished, but I have spent at least an hour cleaning up the black soot that totally coats the port engine compartment. As well, the search for the source of a nuisance leak in the port hull continues.
Good news is that I was able to source an Italian tap for the bathroom while in Canada, and replaced the existing one that was deteriorating earlier this month. Of course, like anything on Cat Tales, it is easily done if you know how to stand on your head!