The first month in
the Caribbean ……. continued
set of north again on January 4th. The weather had moderated and we
sailed up to Portsmouth in Dominica in two hops, just stopping in St. Pierre, Martinique
overnight. It was strange to think whilst anchored in the bay beneath Mount
Pelee that it was exactly here in 1908 that the entire town was wiped out when
that volcano exploded, killing over 30,000 inhabitants of St.
Pierre, then the capital of Martinique.
There was only one recorded survivor, a condemned murderer who was in an
underground prison cell!
sailed past the capital of Dominica,
Roseau up to Portsmouth at the northern end of the island.
Dominica has remained the
least developed of the Lesser Antilles, which
is becoming a blessing because the island is fast-growing eco-tourism industry.
has wonderful rain forests surrounding its 7 volcanic peaks. It is the highest,
lushest and wettest of this chain of islands!
boat boys at Portsmouth
used to have a fearsome reputation for constantly hassling visiting yachts, but
now they have organised themselves into a working association and our
experience of all of them was that they were helpful, courteous and
knowledgeable. Whilst here, everyone has to go on a trip up the Indian River, deep into the jungle. The boat boys will
organise this and take you. They will also organise any other tours you may
care to make and generally keep an eye on your boat during your stay. You do,
of course, have to pay for there services, but these boat boys added to our
experience of Dominica,
their island of which they are very proud.
Fishing in Portsmouth
Portsmouth, Dominica – their equivalent of Gun Wharf,
but much nicer!
were met as we approached Portsmouth
by a boat called ‘Lawrence of Arabia. The driver introduced himself as Lawrence, but we later
found out his name was Bogard. The boat boys (all grown men actually) all have
nick names which can lead to a lot of confusion. We were taken on the Indian River trip by ‘Uncle Sam’, who also
acted as out ill-fated taxi driver when we went into the rain forest a few days
entrance to the Indian River is hidden by one
of many small freighters or fishing boats that have been washed up onto the
shore in successive hurricanes. It is not as if they have hurricanes on Dominica
every year it is just that they never bother to remove the wrecks!
Rain clouds over Portsmouth
The Indian River
‘Uncle Sam’ rowing us up the river
took a local bus into the capital, Roseau,
so 25 miles away. Local buses are very cheap and great fun. If you want to meet
the locals there is no better way. Roseau
is a very pretty town with a lovely ‘French quarter’. The town is
noisy, hectic and chaotic, particularly the traffic, with buses and taxis
blocking roads until they have enough passengers to make their journey
worthwhile. This involves accosting anyone likely to want the bus and
convincing them that they will be the first to leave. Consequently you may get
3 or 4 busses all half full, but none willing to depart until full.
Olympics Caribbean style
the way back from Roseau to Portsmouth our ‘bus’, a glorified
mini-van had a minor accident, but next day when we took a tour to the rain
forest we managed to have two more incidents with vehicles. Firstly Uncle
Sam’s gearbox collapsed completely on a road half way up a mountain.
Fortunately mobile phones still have a signal there and after about an hour we
were picked up by another taxi driver, Winston, who was doing the same route
with a Canadian couple. So we continued the tour, the high spot of which was a
hike through the rain forest to a wonderful waterfall and pool, where we could
swim in the beautifully clear and cool river water whilst the up-welling
current from the waterfall threw you this way and that. The water was so
aerated by the waterfall that if you stopped swimming you just sunk!
made our way back up the hill, climbing in swimmers and boots, back to the
taxi, which then got stuck in the mud and gently slid sideways to rest at an
oblique angle against a couple of banana trees. Fortunately the driver,
Winston, lived in the nearby village so he trudged off to seek help whilst we
waited. Luckily we had his charming 11-year old daughter to entertain us in his
absence. After another hour he returned with several cousins and a pick-up
truck to tow us out and on our way again
The trek – Lucy not at her most elegant!
Waiting for rescue
Dominica – windward side
a lovely week in Dominica we
set off for Antigua as we had friend arriving
in a few days and the forecast was again for stronger winds. We stopped
overnight in Deshais, Guadeloupe, and
scrapping all our remaining Euros together had just enough to have a pleasant
meal in a beachfront restaurant, watching the boat anchored next to us slowly
drag its anchor. Fortunately it snagged a mooring buoy saving the owners a long
dinghy ride out to sea to collect their yacht!
had another cracking, windy sail over to Antigua, and took a mooring in Falmouth Harbour. How things have changed! It is
only 9 years since we were last there, but Falmouth
has now become the super-yacht centre in the Caribbean.
Even 100ft yacht looked insignificant alongside some of the mega-yachts berthed
at the Antigua Yacht Club Marina and the new Falmouth Marina.
‘Sea Wolf – the last boat Andy Brookes built
before ‘Snow Leopard’
Sea Wolf – an ocean going tug converted to super-yacht
OK, where is Jaluit?
‘Maltese Falcon’ – the largest private
sailing yacht in the world