Saturday 24th June 2017 to Dominica.
I don’t know how weather forecasting is done these days, but I believe the forecasters are a highly educated bunch, cocooned in air conditioned rooms, surrounded by the latest ‘super computers’, with access to the latest meteorological data from around the world?
So the forecast is, wind East F3/4, seas slight to moderate, chance of an isolated shower.
|Bashing away in the trades again!|
It is just over 25 miles to Portsmouth, Dominica; pretty much due south so should be a nice sail. Ha! Sailing gently out through the Passe du Sud Ouest we turn south to be confronted with a SE wind F5 and rough seas of 2 metres plus. Oh well only five hours of bashing to windward. Why do we do it? I suppose because we have checked out so we are obliged to leave the country. Really? I am sure it will be much nicer when we get to Prince Rupert bay (aka Portsmouth).
We sail to Prince Rupert bluff (the north point of the bay) and motor in. The bay is a sea of ‘white horses’ we had expected it to be calm. We are met by Titus, dressed head to toe in yellow waterproofs, he gets drenched several times as he manoeuvres alongside. Unable to hear each other over the wind we gesticulate that we will take a mooring (Lots of ball shapes between us and thumbs up signs). Poor Titus, he obviously drew the short straw as duty ‘boat boy’ this morning.
Titus helps us onto a mooring in front of the PAYS building and then assists another boat onto the mooring next to us. We agree that he will take us to customs to check in. At XCD 30 for the round trip it is better than getting a soaking in our dinghy. We agree to take the mooring for a week as this is the best deal. Titus will be back later to collect the money.
Before Titus comes back we have a visitor it is Martin (Providence). We have known Martin for many years and have a long chat, it transpires that it is his mooring we are on not a PAYS mooring. We confirm Titus has put us on the mooring. It is not a problem as the beauty of the PAYS arrangements is that everyone works together. The weekly deal just got better. Thanks Martin!
|Not quite the only boat in the anchorage!|
Settling down for the afternoon we get another visitor, this time it is Alexis, “welcome home” he says. I think we have explained here the town is Portsmouth. Our home port is Portsmouth. Everyone here still thinks it’s a huge joke. Even the customs are joining in! Ah well it is always nice to be home even if it is windy and a bit rolly but that just makes it feel even more like home!
The following day things have calmed down, no ‘white horses’, the bay is calmer with a gentle offshore breeze and it is raining (at least they got that right!) Still at least the rain has almost filled our water tanks. There are a few cruising boats here but things are winding down for the summer. Many of the beach bars are closed and the PAYS BBQ has stopped, there are just not enough boats to make it worthwhile.
|South Africans get everywhere!|
There are a couple of boats that we know here and we agree to meet at the Madiba bar for a sundowner. If it ever stops raining, which it eventually does.
Ashore we meet the crews of ‘Overstreet’ and ‘Shameles’, they have planned a trip to Wotton Waven sulphur springs near Roseau and invite us along. The plan is to go by public bus, we will have to change busses in Roseau but as seasoned island travellers we are looking forward to our adventure. While we are planning the trip one of the locals overhears our conversations and says he can arrange a driver for the day at XCD30 each. This seems even better as it will cost over 20 dollars each on the buses.
|One of many broken bridges|
The following day, we all (7 of us) climb into Charlie (Sunshine tours) taxi. It is a bit of a squash but no worse than a local bus. We have the scenic route south to Roseau. On the way there are several detours via Bailey bridges, crossing rivers where the road was washed away by the floods caused by Tropical Storm Erika in 2015. Subsequently one of the Bailey bridges was washed away as well! Crossing that river we had to use the old stone bridge that was built on the plantation in the 1800’s. Still standing but just wide enough for a car. Larger vehicles have to ford the river.
|Town hall cum Courthouse cum Police station|
We passed through many villages discovering another side of Dominica – a great range of architecture from colonial public building to traditional shingle houses.
We detour to drive the original old coast road which is only wide enough for one car, sometimes with the forest brushing one side and the sea right next to the wheels on the other. This used to be the only road between Roseau and Portsmouth.
|All rooms with a view|
We see the changes Erika made to the coastline. In some places villages on the sea have now got a beautiful beach that they previously didn’t have, while others have had the beach taken away, the sea is right up to the wall. It is all very interesting.
|The Old and New - Note the novel planters, recycling Dominica style!|
|Abandoned rum distillery outside Roseau|
Wotton Waven sulphur springs is deserted and we are the only visitors. The hot water bubbles and boils out of the ground in small pools and there is the smell of sulphur everywhere.
Charlie shows us a rock with a ‘mouse hole’ in it you can put your finger in it and feel the very hot air coming up from the ground.
|Even the shops were shut here|
From Wotton Waven we went on to Ti Kwen Glo Cho.
|These rodent like creatures are called Agouti - Not sure if they were part of a 'Zoo' or a larder? - The locals eat them.|
This is a beautiful spot with lovely landscaped gardens and hot volcanic baths.
The baths are fed by bamboo pipes with the hot spring water. Afterwards you can wash off in clear very cold spring water from the waterfalls in the gardens.
The freshwater showers are also fed by bamboo pipes making it look all very natural. Antheriums grow all over, I have never seen so many in one place.
|A Different Helliconium|
We are shaded by huge trees and tree ferns as we go from pool to pool up and down steps cut into the hillside edged in bamboo or wood.
Refreshed by our sulphur baths we adjourn for lunch to a lovely local restaurant with a view of the Trafalgar falls away in the distance up the river, River Rock Café and Bar.
|A Purple throated Carib - seen on the terrace over lunch.|
We return to Portsmouth late in the afternoon and have a late beer at the Madiba bar.
An excellent day out. We also were lucky with the weather as it stayed dry for the whole day. Tomorrow we will be back to sunshine and showers again!
Apart from the rain the forecast looks good for a passage south on Friday. We plan to make an early start and go all the way to St Pierre in Martinique. It will be a full day sailing.