Farewell Dominica

Mystic of Holyhead (successor to Lynn Rival)
Rachel and Paul Chandler
Fri 1 Apr 2016 20:06
15:34.84N 061:27.78W

After our exhausting hike we took a few days off, giving our (mainly Paul's)  legs a chance to recover.  We visited Roseau, where even on a Tuesday the fresh produce market had plenty on offer and the supermarket even sold "English" sausages.  (The availability of sausages that taste remotely like we are used to is one of the standards by which we judge a place.  English bacon, which we found (frozen) on St Vincent, is another big tick.) 

Dolphin fish in Roseau market

We spent a few evenings at the nearby Anchorage Hotel, which lived up to its reputation, having a pleasant bar and good food.  If on board in the evening we were usually greeted by Marcus, a local boatman with a big torch, who patrols the anchorage at night.

Lynn Rival moored at Roseau - on cruise ship days we usually stayed aboard!

Finally after 10 days in one place we got Lynn Rival shipshape again.  It's not just a question of unravelling the mooring/anchor warps, bringing the dinghy on board and stowing the outboard, but also taking down the awnings we put up to keep both the sun and rain off while at anchor.   Beans retrieved the line he'd taken ashore for us (and tied to a tree to keep us lying into the swell).  It then took us about 4 hours to sail 18 miles up the coast, with the wind gusting off the mountains but the seas flat.  And our wind instruments had stopped working so Paul spent most of the passage down below fixing their power supply!

A village on the leeward coast

Entering Prince Rupert Bay on the northwest coast of Dominica we were greeted by Martin Providence, one of the local tour guides that provides yacht services, recommended by Beans.  The bay, off the town of Portsmouth, is a very popular anchorage and Martin is one of a number of local guides that formed an association (PAYS).  It used to be a chaotic free-for-all, with numerous guides competing to sell the usual services, and the security wasn't good.  Now it's a pleasure to do business with them and the anchorage is patrolled at night.  They have some moorings but none were available.  It didn't matter as there is plenty of room to anchor.  Nevertheless, it took two goes to get it dug in because of weed on the seabed.

Looking around us we could see a number of British-registered boats and it wasn't long before we had a visit from John Lyttle on Oriole.  He's the OCC Roving Rear Commodore for the Caribbean and was organising a drinks party for the following evening (Easter Saturday).  It was a fun do - a mix of long-term Caribbean cruisers and newcomers like us.  John and his wife, Christine, have been sailing winters here for a long time.  Two years ago they experienced the cruisers worst nightmare (other than being attacked by pirates) of being mown down by a runaway ferry while at anchor in Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou.  Fortunately Oriole didn't sink but the damage was extensive, including a broken mast.  They limped back to Trinidad and got her repaired there.

After the drinks party we met up with the two younger couples who came on the Boiling Lake hike with us.  Anna and Marcin, who are Polish, wanted to read our book and were amazed to hear that there is a Polish edition.  They now have the one copy we had on board - a collector's item because it's out of print.

Portsmouth is a small town, pleasant enough but not as attractive as Roseau.  Relatively few visitors other than yachties come here.  There is a cruise ship dock but we didn't see any using it.  One of the main local attractions, other than numerous hikes, is the Indian River.  Apart from being one of the settings for a Pirates of the Caribbean movie, it's a fascinating place, with very different flora and fauna from those we've seen before.  Martin took us on an early-morning row up-river.  The tree roots are curved in all sorts of dramatic shapes - and, like mangroves, can cope with salt water. 

Up the Indian River - we'll spare you the pics of the Pirates of the Caribbean sets

The weather was very unsettled while at Portsmouth and it rained a great deal but we managed to walk up to nearby Fort Shirley, built in the 18th century in what is now the Cabrits National Park, and restored in the 1980s.  It's another fascinating place where you can walk around and enjoy spectacular views but also there's good information about both the history and botany.

Prince Rupert bay and Portsmouth, from the fort

Our new gas bottle with American fittings had run out so we took it into town to get a refill.  We were told it would have to be taken to Roseau!  Rather than wait a few days we got on a minibus heading south.  Unlike in some places we've visited our driver didn't pack us in very tight so the ride down the coast was pleasant and only took an hour.  And, if you negotiate in advance the drivers will deviate a short distance so we were dropped right at the gate of Sukie's, the gas depot.  The road is good except for a few places where torrential rain - presumably Tropical Storm Erika - has washed away the bridges.  On the way back the driver brought us all the way to the dinghy dock, past the usual drop off point in the centre of town.  The bus system works well here.

When we got a forecast for a day without rain squalls we left Dominica, knowing that we can return on our way south.  Making our way north towards Guadaloupe we had difficulty escaping the windshadow from the northwest tip of Dominica but once clear we had a good sail to The Saints, the small island group just off the southwest tip of Guadaloupe.