Dominica beckons….

Well we didn’t go where we had planned – being my usual clumsy self I managed to open a locker, leave the cover on the floor and then promptly walk into it, damaging my little toe!!! Ouch… Not the first time I’ve done this….but the hike over the hill to the beach is starting to look a bit dodgy. So we went exploring by dink again… And this time we ended up in Baie de Marigot having a look around. This bay is very shallow and we had to run the gauntlet of reefs and weed to get ashore. And then we had to wade the last few feet through sea grass, squidgy mud and crabs to pull dink up out of the water.

We did wonder whether it was all worth it – but boy, it was. We came across La Paillote restaurant which was full of locals having lunch with some sounds playing and even a bit of dancing going on…. So we were drawn like moths to a light bulb and ended up having a great time there – and, thankfully, the owner came out and explained the menu as it was quite complicated! Well – the food was fantastic. Chicken curry with lentils for me and a plate of raw smoked fish for Richard…. Yummmm…. All washed down with a nice Sauvignon Blanc.

Not what we were expecting to do that afternoon but we had an amazing time….. We complimented the owner on her restaurant and she explained to us that they have been mentioned in Conde Nast before – what a find tucked away in a little bay in the middle of nowhere! 

Back on board for an early night while we debate what to do next. We had planned to go back to visit Point a Pitre in mainland Guadeloupe so that we could explore – but the weather is against us again….. Wind and tide both in the wrong direction. So we talked it through and decided, actually, what we were going there for was to visit the natural beauty of the island – and Dominica our next stop is famous for this too… So we’ll move on down there instead…… after our final day here on Sunday with a morning of boat jobs and an afternoon with a picnic on the beach combined with some bobbing.

Monday morning up early and went into town to check out of customs and to have our last French breakfast at the patisserie…. This was another day when I managed to get through the whole ordering and purchasing process without a word of English – hurrah! Even Richard is managing to utter the odd word too…. So some progress on the linguistic front but we know that we both have to learn Spanish before we leave the Caribbean whenever that may be. Oh well, that’s another challenge for another day!

We finally slipped from the Iles des Saintes at around 10.30 and started to motor out through the shallow cut between two islands, which would cut off a bit of the journey. Got through there OK and then got out the sails. Oh yes, this was forecast for a low wind day, and guess what? 23 knots was the highest recorded. But who cares???!!!??? We had a great close hauled sail and made the 20+ miles without having to put a single tack in. The water was deep blue – reflecting its depth of almost two miles – and we saw numerous flying fish and at one point a large fish, we think it was a marlin, jump out of the water. But sadly still no signs of any whales even though we have been honing our whale talking skills….. Oh yes, half way across the channel to Dominica, we were hailed on the VHF by a boat we could see coming the other way on the AIS. Another British boat which was passing on ‘hellos’ from Ruth and Dan on Evensong… This couple had been hoping to catch up with us as they headed north but unfortunately our timing was out! What a shame…

Arrived into Portsmouth, Dominica, Monday afternoon and were met by Alexis one of the PAYS boat boys. These guys have created a yacht services organisation which offers mooring assistance; guided tours by boat, taxi and on foot; water taxi to and from shore; as well as offering 24 hour security for the yachts in the area that they patrol. A bargain – and for only £5 a night for the ball! Result….so we took him up on his offer and he helped us pick up a mooring ball. Actually he was a hindrance… we are much better on our own… but at least I didn’t kill him in the process as I was on the helm at the time!!!

We then went ashore to do the customs bit – almost half a mile past the town – and we get to the port dock and it is really high and inhospitable… But we have no choice so we tie dink up, climb up onto the dock, and with fingers crossed we go to the customs shed. We fill in forms with carbon paper inserted – can’t remember the last time I actually saw carbon paper – and eventually got approval from customs. But because we may want to stay longer than two weeks we have to go to immigration too, which is in the police station in town. So back in the dinghy and go to another dock – this time being met by a really nice security guy who helped us fuel up first – and then wandered down to the police station. Immigration weren’t there but they were summoned – we passed over our bit of paper from customs and we are good to go. Although a bit concerned by the couple of guys who came to sign in – the Dominican equivalent of having a tag!

Dominica is a really friendly place and is largely unspoilt with lush green scenery and is actually the only place where you can still come across descendents of the original Carib Indians, the indigenous people of the Caribbean. But it is also very poor and even in the town we saw evidence of people living in corrugated metal shacks with no facilities…. Sometimes it is hard to believe that this is 2013. And this is the first time we have actually been pestered for spare change – nicely and in a non-threatening way – but we were surprised nevertheless. All formalities completed back on board for a quiet evening and even purchased a few bananas from one of the travelling salesmen who peddle their wares around the anchorage…. We put dink back up on his davits for the night – the saying here is lift it, lock it or lose it – and suddenly we heard this big bang. Neither of us knew what it was…. and eventually tracked it down to dink. The cable bridle had snapped. Luckily it held on one side and hadn’t happened when we were underway as this could have been really nasty – and potentially we could have lost our brand new outboard in the process. This is the third thing that has gone wrong recently so hopefully we’re done for a while!

This morning – Tuesday – we were up reasonably early and did a few boat jobs….then went into town to visit the chandlery trying to get another bilge shower pump. But they didn’t have it…. Oh well…. But we did manage to get some new chain to make a bridle with… Again we were hit on by a variety of locals looking for some spare change one of whom was a bit threatening – not to us, but pretending to shoot people with his fingers shaped like a gun was a bit offputting. But we didn’t give him anything and he went away eventually. Anyway…went shopping for a few bits of groceries and ended up in a place called Big Papas on the beach across from Morphie…. Really nice time and had a chat with a few locals, one of whom was a local policeman, and he explained that you always get the occasional nutter / crack-head but that, actually, this is a pretty safe place. Glad to hear it! Back on board now and Alexis has just come by so that we can sort out a few trips ashore….. Really looking forward to exploring this island and our first one tomorrow morning is a boat ride up the Indian River.

Quiet night planned now… Bye for now.