Mon 8 Apr 2013 15:58
It was a bit windy when we left Portsmouth (Portsmouth Dominica, of course, not UK, it's the first time we've stayed at an English named place, I think, although one could get a bus to Yorkshire in Barbados!). We had to keep waiting for the gusts to die down whilst we were lifting the anchor. But we'd experienced such a wind shadow when we came up on the lee side of the island a few weeks ago that we were confident that we'd have a smooth sail down the coast. We didn't. It was gusting to nearly 40 knots and the wind was coming from all directions! We tucked in close to the coast in order to try and get some protection from the land, but all the same we had about 30 knots of wind. On the map Roseau looks fairly exposed but it was lovely and calm when we got in, albeit with a bit of a swell setting everyone rolling. The coast shelves very steeply here so it's too deep to anchor and we had to take a mooring. The Amorosas had told us Sea Cat was the man to get a mooring from so we were confident it would be well maintained and keep us secure.
We were delighted to see little yellow Limbo moored right between us and the shore! We'd not seen Tim and Natalie since Barbados so we had a lot of catching up to do.
The town here is delightful, a real mixture of old, restored and new buildings. It feels very vibrant, people everywhere. We visited the museum, well worth it, it put so much in context here and also explained the geology of the Island. There are lots of Chinese shops, with everything you could imagine, and many more things that you never imagined could be needed in this life, cheaply for sale within. There are also stalls all along the pavements, some just a few yams and mangoes, others much more extensive including a huge range of herbal creams, teas and balms.
When a cruise ship is in it totally dwarfs the town, there was one in as we arrived, looking like a massive block of flats.
The following day we breakfasted at a very smart hotel, Fort Young, overlooking the cruise ship dock (happily empty that day), enjoying salt fish and johnny cakes, passion fruit juice and fresh papaya as well as the more familiar porridge and scrambled eggs! As we were enjoying the view a traditional fishing canoe, like the one we saw the Caribs making (but with a 40hp outboard attached!), came and using the traditional methods set a net and fished. They lay a net in a circle, throwing rocks ahead of them as they did it to chase the fish into the net. As the gap closes they hit the water with their oars to stop the fish making for the gap. Then they simply haul in, with one swimming inside the circle to chase the fish against the gill net, where they get caught. Some more fishermen were good enough to repeat this alongside our boat so we were able to get a photograph.
The next day we flagged down a taxi bus with Natalie and Tim and went along the coast a little to Champagne Reef in order to snorkel. Champagne Reef is over low level volcanic activity so bubbles are released in streams all over it. Of course t's like swimming in champagne, hence the name. They tickle as they come past, looking so beautiful floating up through the water. Phil raised lots of giggles by swimming over one and opening the leg of his swim shorts so they filled up like a balloon. Quite apart from the bubbles the reef is great to snorkel over. We saw three moray eels, two adult, one tiddler, along with big bright parrot fish, lots of angel fish and damsel fish, sea slugs and anemones. We saw some new ones for us, little bright yellow ones but with pink caps on, and pairs of salmon pink fish, about a foot long, hiding under the edge of rocks. Phil says they are squirrel fish. And he said others were goat fish. I'm not sure if I should believe him or not, perhaps he's just making up names. It will be pig fish and chicken fish next! Afterwards we wondered down the road to a cafe where we had lunch and enjoyed the company of the owner, Melvina, and her sister. She told us all about the Island and made us very welcome, inviting us to come back for music and dancing on saturday night. When we'd eaten she insisted that her husband drive us in her car back to the anchorage - such a generous, welcoming and kind family! It was the start of a magical stay here in the south of Dominica.