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Date: 23 Jun 2007 15:39:38
Title: Dominica

Hello Friends                                    "15:34.69N 61:27.72W"
 
We have two new crew and a new Island to report, in fact we've been so busy that the blog is LATE !! Oops.
 
Ian Pass (Michael's brother) and Alan Cornwell (his friend), arrived on schedule on the 15th and we spent the weekend chilling out in Les Saintes for acclimatisation and getting used to 'island time' - ie. real slow. We checked out of Guadeloupe on Tuesday and sailed south to Dominica - (pronounced with long 'e' - 'DominEEca' to distinguish it from the Dominican Republic, the eastern half of Hispaniola, which is pronounced with a short 'e'.
 
Yet another good sail with brisk easterly trades - just one reef in the main and a reefed genoa though we managed over 9 knots on a comfortable crossing. But you must all be getting bored with reports of glorious sailing...
 
Dominica's catchprhase is 'Nature Island' and is one of the least spoilt or developed islands in the Caribbean. The population is only about 70,000 and as you can see from the blog map, it's a pretty big island.
 
We took the Indian River tour in Portsmouth in the NW corner - being punted up a river through dense jungle. The river banks twitching with land crabs and birdsong, though fortunately not with too many bugs. Here is Charlie who was the very competent helper who adopted us.
 
 
We had been rather ambitious and asked for a taxi tour to see the Carib reservation and island sights. We were delivered to Winston, who, like most of the locals in Portsmouth, seemed to know everyone on the island. His taxi was  named 'more bling' and we thought of 119 King George Street!
 
 
Winston was a superb guide with great enthusiasm for his home island - we took a diversion to see his village and home, where Winston Rum Special is a local tipple. Here he is bringing back a sprig of citronella (the 'special' flavouring) for us to examine.
 
 
We visited the Carib Reservation or the "Kalinago Territory" to be more correct, the one remaining home of the native indians. It is not a theme park - they just go about their lives in that part of Dominica, but there is a well organised visitor area where the histroy of the people is explained and the traditional buildings and canoes are on display. We bought some cassava bread from a roadside 'bakery' and jolly good it was too.
 
 
The raw vegetable is ground on the wheel behind the baker on the right, then dried in the kiln on the left before being baked into discs on the hotter plate in centre of the pic.
 
In the course of the tour we stopped at numerous points of interest and can recognise breadfruit trees, mangoes (everywhere) nutmeg, guava etc. etc.There is a sense of pride in the island and almost all homes have flowers and ornamental plants around the perimeter of the garden. Even if home is just a very simple hut, which most of them are.
 
Here we stopped at a roadside cinnamon processor - this is what cinnamon looks like as the bark is stripped form the branch.
 
 
We had such a long tour that we didn't get back to the yacht until 20:00, fairly exhausted after the tour but very impressed with Dominica.
 
Anyway, as promised, over to our guest bloggers.....
 
Ian here :
 
Having spent a little time on Blue Sky in 2005, I knew something of what to expect, though island hopping in the Carribean is a whole new dimension in comparison to the coast of Cornwall.
 
One thing was the same though ~ if you DON'T want to be looked after, or well (superbly), fed and watered, then Blue Sky is not the place for you.  Huge thanks to George & Mike from Alan and Ian for a beyond reproach performance !
 
I knew that the island of Guadaloupe was a French territory, but hadn't realised that is was part of France / part of the EU complete with EU grants for this and that all over the place. 
 
Although Dominica is only a few miles across, parts of it rise above 4,800 feet, so that vessels downwind of this pick up fairly non-trivial turbulence  ~  trust me, with the deck at about 40 degrees to the horizontal and see rushing over the ship's rail onto the deck, it makes it quite "entertaining" ~ ~ ~
 
~ ~ ~ in fact, so entertaining, that it makes a chap turn quite lyrical (or something), and I offer the following thoughts.
 
Blue Sky Yacht, Oh! Blue Sky Yacht
T'is sojourn style that time forgot
Until our valiant twain
(In stark contrast to busy feet
Pacing down their rush hour street)
Set forth across the main.
 
Blue Sky Yacht, Dear Blue Sky Yacht
Such hopes and schemes from this are what
The rest of us have dreamed
To fly o'er waves with halyards, sheets
straining through their holding cleats ~
~ 'beyond reality' it seemed.
 
Blue Sky Yacht, Our Blue Sky Yacht
as with you we throw our lot
If from our cares we're freed
To venture t'ward some western isle
Or sit at home and nurse wry smile ~
~ and say "You lived, we dreamed"!
 
 
Best Wishes
 
George, Michael, Ian and Alan
 
 

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