Sarah has a new friend

Darrell Jackson and Sarah Barnes
Fri 11 Apr 2014 17:33
15:34.85N 61:27.95W

Darrell decided that it was time to teach Sarah how to put a reef in the main sail. Having had to replace the first reefing line in Antigua (remember the hatch incident) we hadn't needed to put a reef in the sail as the winds had been manageable. So as we came off the mooring Darrell ran the reefing lesson successfully and we set sail with one reef in the main sail. This turned out to be a very good call as the winds were constant about 22 knots with gusts up to 26 knots, which meant we needed to reef the genoa too. We set off close hauled to allow for leeway, so as we approached Dominica we could bear away and ease the sheets. We had 9 knots through the water at one point, but averaged about 7 knots. The seas were big and we took a fair amount of water into the cockpit and it was hard work on the helm as we neared Dominica where the winds  are compressed around the northern shores.
As we approached Prince Rupert Bay at Portsmouth we were met a mile off the headland by Providence, a local guide and member of PAYS (Portsmouth Association for Yacht Security) who welcomed us to Dominica and offered his services. PAYS are a local group committed to ensure the safety of the yachts in their area and promote tourism by providing guides and services to yachts. They help get provisions for the boats, take laundry, despose of rubbish, find technicians and act as water taxis, generally everything that you need living on a boat. They work in a group to ensure that yachts have a good stay and promote the area as a safe place for yachts to come for a good stay on the island. As trained guides they can also lead trips along the rivers and up into the rainforest, or anywhere on the island, they know all about the history, the plants and animals, so they are the people to know if you are going to base yourself at Portsmouth. They also patrol the bay at night to ensure safety. They are a cheerful professional bunch and have a great reputation and by linking up with one of them it ensures you are not hassled by boat boys, some of whom work independently and may not be as reliable or accountable. As we were anchoring, we were approached by a boat boy who wanted to know if we required assistance mooring and was confused to why we wanted to anchor. PAYS do run a system of mooring buoys in the bay, but we had great difficulty in working out which ones were buoys. They were not the normal ones we have used but seemed to be marked by fishing floats or bottles, thus requiring the aid of one of the members to secure lines. Not realising this we had already dropped the anchor and were hoping that, in the strong wind and swell, it would set quickly and once it did we were not up for moving.
We unfortunately, had to decline all the offers as we are moving down south to Rousseau on Wednesday, where we will meet up with SeaCat who was our guide last time we were here.
After a cup of tea, we decided we would brave the dinghy ride to go to customs. We managed to moor on the new fishing dock and were surprisingly dry as we route marched the mile or so to the customs building for Darrell to complete the formalities. After a quick bit of shopping and a bus trip back, it was back to Stream just in time to catch the green flash!

The wind did not drop during the night and neither did the swell. So it was a rather noisy and uncomfortable night. The promised rain did not materialise either, so it was down to Darrell to wash the salt off the boat in the morning, while Sarah did the usual cleaning in preparation for guests. We had several visitors during the morning, Nature Boy came asking if we needed any fruit, Cosmo asked if we had any rubbish and two French hitchhikers came to the boat asking for a passage south, unfortunately our berths are booked for the next few weeks. After lunch we decided that a walk (and a visit to Budget Marine!) was required so it was a bouncy dinghy ride back to the fishing dock. Again Darrell seems to have improved his dinghy skills and we were only slightly damp. (Go as fast as possible and head into the wind until you are in calmer waters. This doesn't always work, but did today)
Portsmouth is Dominica's second city and is set in a beautiful bay with the mountains covered in rainforest behind it. It is a friendly, cheerful town - an enchanting mix of the old and new, the poor and the wealthy. Some of the smaller buildings have great style and colour. Every garden and house front is full of plants: vegetables and fruit and flowers. It is not touristy, although they do rely on tourists and the American medical university students.
As we wandered down the main road we were approached by a man wondering if we would like some limes and passion fruit. Sarah said she would on the way back. We found a bar on the beach that did wifi and fresh juices and spent an hour catching up. As we walked back to the dinghy, we were approached by another young man, wearing a grubby white t shirt and loose fitting long trousers, carrying part of a Bird of Prey inflorescence (flower stem), the conversation went something like this:
Young Man: "This is a very nice flower!"
Sarah: "Yes it is."
Young Man: "This is a very nice flower!"
Sarah (wishing to move the conversation on) : "Yes it is, what sort is it?"
Young Man (with anger and frustration in his voice): "It is a very nice flower! How much will you give me for it? You could put it on your boat."
Sarah: "No Thank You."
Young Man: "I could stick it on your dinghy for you!"
Darrell (wishing to end the conversation politely and not to tell him where else he could stick it): "It is a very nice flower but we do not want it!"
Darrell and Sarah exit stage right.
Five minutes later Sarah met her other friend who reminded her that she wanted some limes and passion fruit. So we followed him to his friends bar, where the passion fruit was growing on the vines growing through the roof and loud reggae music played. We had obviously interrupted their game of dominoes, as our friend was trying to complete a picture he had done for Sarah, but he had not got the right colour of wax crayon. So he apologetically disappeared on his bike, leaving us with our three passion fruit and a coconut (we didn't know we wanted one, but were going with the flow). He returned after we had played a game of dominoes, with a handful of a plant, which he said the locals made into tea, used as a herb in stews and as an anaesthetic for tooth ache. It smelt a bit like sage with a hint of mint. He called it 'Terre tea'. He also brought ten limes, which were much smaller than the ones we grow in our greenhouse, but proved to be quite tasty in our sundowners. He then disappeared again, returning with a squash, some ginger roots and some crayons. He completed the picture and dedicated it: "The Paradise to come!" Just as we were about to leave, 'It's a nice flower' reappeared only to be dealt with by our local artisan, although he did try his luck a little later as we neared the fishing dock, but the flower head seemed to have lost a few of its flowers by then.
Another windy, rolley night saw us up before 8 and preparing for a stormy sail south to Roseau and a hopeful rendezvous with Atlantic sailor Adam, returning for some more mile building.