Exploring and Cabrits National
This could be an interesting blog, we have each ‘done a
We decided to get up and go for a day of exploring, first
giving the outboard motor a throat clearing by roaring across the water to get
some pictures of this side of the bay. Cheesy skipper
having had a very competent one armed engineer service the outboard. Sad to see
the relic of a tug boat on the shore. Being laid back
Caribbean a boat called Abiding Love.
Prince Rupert Suites are part of the
quite expensive student lodgings of the Ross University
Medical School, home to about a thousand US medical students plus others
from the surrounding Caribbean islands. The view we
have of the medical school complex.
A little cutey called Sister. A
visiting Canadian boat called Caledonia and always
some activity going on. We then dropped in to the
town for a few vitals and to see if we could clear out the following day at the
Police Station, to be told by a woman you would not argue with “come back the
day you want to go”.
First time in my life I have bought eggs in
a bag. Should not have discovered home made nut
brittle at one of the bread stalls, here more nut than brittle.
Having dropped shopping and boat papers back to Beez it was off
to Cabrits. Cabrits National Parkland is located on the northern coast of Prince
Rupert Bay which has Portsmouth in the centre. A cruise ship was docked at the
entrance pier, so it was all open. We could not dinghy over to the occupied dock
as this is no longer allowed since 9/11 so we left the dinghy at the Purple
Turtle dock (just opposite Beez) and enjoyed a ten
minute walk, meeting various passengers along the way to the entrance. Evidence
of the changes going on, the future Maritime Training and
Development Institute. The floating dry dock
that we saw mincing in behind a tug the other day, is for sale because of some
financial difficulties between the owner and the Port Authorities.
We took a photo of a group of four friends from the cruise
ship, they took one of us. A Red
Throated Bullfinch coming to our table to collect bits of my rice. He
cottoned on to richer pickings when the man on the
next table turned his attention to a mobile phone call and got stuck in to his
The first view the cruise ship
passengers get of the tourist centre. The cruise ship
dock and the welcome sign.
The snack shop, big red buoys at the forest edge used by the cruise ships
and a painting of Cabrits Dockyard 1799, presented by
the artist Dr Lennox Honychurch.
The picture of the cruise ship I had
taken from the Ross Medical School side of the bay, one
taken of it from Fort Shirley. We opted for an
early local lunch (and beers) at the little snack bar and chatted to Scottish
and Northern passengers off Thompson Destiny, as well as watching the local
birdlife in continuing fascination. One retired BT engineer described the cruise
ship as “a floating council house estate”. Many of the people we spoke to were
fed up as they were supposed to have docked in Roseau, a last minute change had
brought them here. The lack of facilities, the walk to the beach meant many
stayed on board waggling their all-inclusive cards and enjoying the sun.
The visitor centre has some interesting
displays with good descriptions. Sadly seeing these black crabs was the closest I got to
The itself park is a uniquely saddle-shaped
peninsula that was formed by the twin peaks of a collapsed extinct volcano. It
was originally a separate island that eventually joined the mainland due to
silting up, and also includes a marine preservation area. The term 'Cabrits' is
derived from the French word for goat because sailors left goats to run wild on
the Cabrits as a source of fresh meat for future visits. On the north side of
Cabrits is Douglas Bay, the location of a marine sanctuary with a marked
underwater trail for snorkeling and diving. In the saddle of the peninsula is
found Prince Rupert's Garrison which was constructed between 1770 and 1815 (see
Fort Shirley blog).
Cabrits is connected to the mainland by an
emergent wetland, the largest on Dominica. This is a particularly important
wetland for migratory birds. In the morning, during the spring, small flocks of
white egrets can be seen flying northward into this swamp, an important foraging
area. In the dry forests of Cabrits, there is always the rustle of leaves during
spring, the dry season, this disturbance caused by the thousands of
The Cabrits was a military post
until 1854. The forest then gained control and it wasn't until 1986, when
Cabrits became part of the National Parks System that funding became available
from the EU to begin the restoration of Fort Shirley under the passionate
direction of Dr Lennox Honychurch. At this time only the main buildings have
been cleared. The old stone roadways are obvious though mostly overgrown with
vegetation, but the paths are easy enough to follow. We found fascinating relics
just “lying about the place”. Dr Honychurch’s vision to help education and
heritage as well as tourism is aimed also at the young Dominicans with the next
phase including an education and ecology centre.
There is certainly an abundance of
wildlife easily seen. We had a lovely wander
along the tracks observing lots of birds, hundreds of lizards who rustled about
in the dry leaves, as well as the largest hermit crab I have ever seen and one
of the local (non-poisonous) Grove snakes. Pepe was really excited by the crabs,
though saddened at the amount of large black crab debris from their nocturnal
The views to the north from the (very) precipitous
edge were stunning. I took this shot of Bear as he had bravely faced a snake, a hermit crab
(own blog) and a sheer drop to put up with.
ALL I ALL met loads
of lovely people from the cruise ship, catching up with news from the UK and had
a really good day.