Halsway Grace
Robin and Sue carter
Thu 28 Feb 2013 20:47
17,00.70N  61,53.39W
We are now back in Jolly Harbour where John and Melinda join us tomorrow. After our fast sail from Martinique to Dominca things have been a bit quieter on the ocean wave and the next island hop to Guadeloupe was on a gentle reach in 15 – 20 knots of wind in a calm sea and the one after that from Guadeloupe here was even gentler with only 12-15 knots wind but luckily on the beam so we made good speed.
Our 6 days in Dominica was as good as the previous visit. Again P.A.Y.S. , the organisation that the boat boys have formed to look after visiting boats, treated us very well and we were lucky to be there for the Sunday night BBQ they organise to raise funds for the night security patrol boat. We thought it couldn’t be better than last year but it was as least as good with copious helpings of rum punch breaking down barriers of the many different languages being spoken. There were few British boats amongst the American, Canadian, French, German, Hong Kong, Dutch, Danish, Finnish and Italian yachts but once the dancing started we were all one happy community!! There was a local youth steel band, later replaced by a DJ with a good taste in the type of music we, who allegedly have the grey pound, used to dance to.
While we were at anchor (and hence  our long stay) it was very windy which provided some entertainment for us. A charter boat which had left the anchorage that morning came limping back in with a blown out headsail and no sooner were they helped onto a mooring buoy than an anchored catamaran broke loose and collided with them before shooting out into the bay to be rescued by the boat boys in their pirogues and helped onto another mooring. We chose not to  leave Halsway Grace on that day but the following day we caught the bus (these are privately owned minibuses which are more like a tardis as there always seems to be room for just one more) to take us the 30 miles down to the capital Rousseau, this cost us the equivalent of £2.50 each, even without Robin’s bus pass. Rousseau was a vibrant town with lovely old colonial buildings and as usual here, very friendly people who would just stop us in the street to say hi. the Botanical Gardens housed some Siserou parrots, native to this island and featuring on the national flag. They were very large and most colourful. Also very large was the huge Banyan tree in the grounds. There is a memorial to Hurricane David which hit in 1979 causing a tree to fall crushing a school bus luckily unoccupied at the time but it has been left as it was.
All the senior school children go to high school in Rousseau which can be a 100 mile round trip for some. They do get slightly reduced bus fares. There is also a university in the town which we were told can be accessed by local students as well as Americans and other nationalities. On  our final day on the island (also my birthday) our boat boy, Monty, who also looked after us last year took us snorkelling to the next bay where huge numbers of reef fish allowed us to swim through them. We saw an elusive black and white Drum fish as well as Sergeant Majors, lots of Grunts, Chromis, which are  midnight blue in colour and many more. What a treat!
The weather looked settled for a few days so we took the opportunity to whizz up to Guadeloupe and then on to Antigua the next day where we recovered at anchor in Falmouth Harbour just off Pigeon Beach with turtles feeding off the sea grass between the boats. My delayed birthday meal at the delightful French Cap Horn restaurant was yummy and we bumped into John and Chris from ‘Oriole’ who run the Ocean Cruising Club radio net. We last met them in a very cold and wet South Devon in November.
We swam a lot and caught up on lots of jobs and revised our respective French and Spanish and then came around to Jolly Harbour to provision at the supermarket here and for Robin to start drilling through the stainless steel tubes to effect a temporary repair to our misaligned Hydrovane steering system. Hopefully this will see us through to Cuba and on to the States and then we can get it properly repaired back in the UK. So far he has clocked up about 8 hours of drilling!
More entertainment yesterday in this small marina when just before sunset 6 chartered catamarans arrived to negotiate the stern to moorings between posts. The process was made all the more challenging as 4 of the boats had Eastern European crews and 2 had Italian crews, both with little English. One came in sideways and when they threw a rope to the shore it wasn’t attached to the boat, another tried to pin William, the dockmaster between a post and their boat, another dismantled a dockside electricity/water pillar by forgetting it had a dinghy on davits at the back and it was all accompanied by loud shouting and little comprehension. We find this a difficult marina to enter let alone with a strange boat, inexperienced crew and no hope of communication
When John and Melinda join us we are heading to pastures new and sailing to Nevis and St Kitts where they leave us and then we will attempt to visit Statia and Saba, challenging anchorages, little visited and then on to the Virgin Islands.
It would be good to hear from any of you with a minute to spare. we would love to hear any snippets of news.
Love from us both
Robin and Sue