Dominica lies between Martinique and Guadaloup; our first stop there on April 6th was Roseau, the capital, and we dealt with immigration formalities in the most well-hidden office so far. We explored the town centre during the afternoon and ate ashore in the evening. Some of the buildings were dilapidated and had not been reinstated following hurricane damage.
The following day, Good Friday, we made the short hop up the coast to Prince Rupert Bay 15:34.00N 061:25.50W which, our 2015 pilot book by Jaques Patuelli suggested, is one of the best anchorages on Dominica. On the other hand, the same pilot book was a bit negative about the security for yachts and hassle from local boatmen and we didn’t know what to expect. The reality was quite different: it was yacht friendly and well organized. The Portsmouth Association of Yacht Security (PAYS) – Portsmouth is the main town- had pulled all the boatmen under one organizational umbrella and provided assistance with mooring, anchoring, tours, water, etc. without competitive hassle. PAYS also organized a weekly Sunday evening barbeque with unlimited rum punch included in the price. The PAYS syndicate was well-run and determined that visiting yachts went away with a positive impression of Dominica.
On our first morning ashore, Saturday, we had arranged a trip up the Indian River -described as a mini Amazon and named because until quite recently a community of indigenous Caribs (Indians?) had lived along the river banks. The Carib community were relocated to a ‘reservation’ after hurricane damage had made their situation on the river untenable. We set off in a local boat at 6am and the early morning river was atmospheric winding between dense foliage that overhung the water. There were birds, shoals of fish in the brownish water and colourful plants on the banks pointed out by the boatman who had to row because petrol engines are not allowed on the river. We could have taken ourselves there had our electric outboard motor still been working.
After the river trip we shopped for fruit veggies in the Saturday produce market and then Cilla and I took a tour of the island driven by Jeff and arranged by Monty the boatman who guided us on the Indian River. The tour included plantations growing pineapples, avocados, mangos and a host of other fruit and veg, rain forest with vast and ancient trees, a chocolate factory and some strange red, moonscape, rocks on the coast. Just as an addition: some of trees we saw are called Gomiers and are straight and unbranched for 30 metres, some were 8 feet in diameter and were/are used to make dugout canoes also called Gomiers.
On Sunday morning we walked through Portsmouth to a bakery and listened to singing emanating from the packed church. In the afternoon we did a bit more snorkel diving under the boat to scrape off barnacles which have accumulated rapidly since our pressure wash in Grenada, in early February. The Coppercoat antifouling on our underside, admittedly past it’s sell by date is not cutting it in these tropical waters. At the PAYS barbeque we were ready for a beer.
On Monday 10th, we got our anchor up and took on water from a mooring with a hose supply attached and then set off for Les Saintes, a group of small islands 6 miles south of Guadaloup. Both Les Saintes and Guadaloup are part of France - more croissants!