sails along the Northern end of Martinique towards
February - St. Pierre, Martinique to Roseau,
- Up at 0630 to lash the dingy to the deck and
prepare for our passage to Dominica. When the caffeine
kicked in at around 0645, I was able to appreciate what a
beautiful morning it was with the sun's rays creeping over Mt.
Pele illuminating the town, mist rising from the still waters
of the protected harbor, boats bobbing at anchor, church bells
ringing at 0700.
ghost boats of last night were all clustered around the town
pier where Venla was anchored. When we arrived
yesterday, there were five boats in the anchorage, when we
went to sleep, 15, when we woke up, 35!
is not much room in here and only a narrow strip shallow
enough for anchoring so I'm glad the wind did not decide to
swing around to the West and kick up or we all would have been
motored out just after 0700 with Venla. Although it was
dead calm in St. Pierre, the forecast for the gap between
Martinique and Dominica was for 20 knots of wind from the
North East and 7-10 foot seas, so we kept the double reef in
the main. Sure enough, as soon as we were out of the lee
of Martinique the wind and seas filled in. We had a
romping sail to Dominica with 75% of the genoa out and
averaged 7-8 knots at an apparent wind angle of about 50
degrees. As usual, every 10-15 minutes we were soaked by
large waves breaking over the dodger, with the salt water then
washed off by torrential rain squalls every half hour or
so. On a short passage though, its just exhilarating
rather than depressing.
was eyeing fish at the multitude of grocery stores we visited
in Martinique, but I would not let her buy any as the primary
fish hunter gatherer in the partnership. I put the
killer Bequia lure / Meenie Greenie rig out as we left
Martinique and hoped for the best. We were traveling at
a good trolling speed and sure enough, as we approached
Dominica the reel started howling. I ran back and
tightened the drag as Colleen slowed the boat from 7 to 2
knots by furling in the genoa and heading up. 20 minutes
later, we landed a nice 20-25 pound dorado (dolphin
fish). 33 foot Venla had kept up pretty well making over
6 knots and was catching up to us as we finally got the fish
aboard, subdued, and bled.
to the races again dragging the fish with the genoa out.
Dominica, the Caribbean's highest island, loomed large off the
starboard bow. As soon as we rounded Scott's Head on the
southwest corner of the island, the wind died and we motored
in towards Roseau, the capital of Dominica and main southern
port of entry. We took a mooring buoy offered by a boat
boy who offered to give us 2-3 days on the buoy in exchange
for the fish! Must be valuable stuff. Sorry but no
- we're eating it - here is your US$10 for two days. We
gave them the head and carcass though and they were pretty
excited. They said they will make a fish soup out of it.
we tied up the mooring buoy, we were excited to see Far
Niente at anchor! We had not been able to contact
Rob and Christine since we arrived back in the Caribbean and
were happy and surprised to see them here.
went to check in and Colleen went for a snorkel in the
afternoon. When I came back, she was on the back of a
boat from Boston called Carlena. Lou and Carlene and
their 14 year old daughter Alex just sailed down from Rhode
Island this past fall and are cruising the
brought the fish over to Far Niente in the evening, and along
with Venla, the six of us had a huge Dorado BBQ. Even
after gorging ourselves, there was still enough left over that
we could give both Far Niente and Venla a huge slab as well as
bring home a full filet for us.
February - Roseau, Dominica
- We walked into town with Heikki and Cheryl in the
morning. Although poor, Dominica somehow has an upbeat
and happy feel about it. The locals seem to do a lot
with what little they have and take pride in their
properties. This is a real "working" town with
minimal exposure to tourists - but just enough such that we
are not out of place. The result is a lack of the hassle
and rip-off attitude we experienced in St. Vincent and St.
Lucia. Down to earth. Not
made for TV. Real. We strolled through a botanical
garden (with a huge tree that fell on top of a bus 20 years
ago in a hurricane and has grown roots down around it) and
then watched the Sunday cricket match on the beautiful town
got a kick out of the sign over Suki's bread shop - "From
a Humble Beginning" they have developed into a major
Roseau commercial institution - this is as big as commerce
gets in Dominica. Bicycle delivered bread.
then figured out how to get a 50 cent local bus to the Trafalgar
Falls area. The local people were very helpful in
a scenic ride through the green valleys near Roseau, the bus
let us off a mile or so below the falls. A quick walk up
to the ranger station by the falls where we had to pay US$2
each to proceed.
boat boys were trying to get us to pay about US$50 for this
trip. All four of us were able to do the whole thing for
US$10. The walk to the falls was short, but we had to
climb over large boulders to get all the way to the
falls. The girls stayed below the biggest boulders, but
Heikki and I pushed on and had a dip under the thundering
water. I've seen my fair share of water falls in recent
weeks, but these were certainly the best so far. No
people either. Beautiful.
the way back, we mentioned to the park ranger that we were
thinking of hiking up to Boiling Lake tomorrow, but could not
get a good price for a trip from any of the guides / boat boys
at the Anchorage - they wanted US$200 - we are willing to pay
US$100 for of us. Hainson the Ranger said that tomorrow
(Sunday) was his day off and he'd take us for US$100
in town, a huge local Carnival-related parade was starting
when we returned. Very local and everyone was having a
staying dry in Dominica. We are just getting used to
getting wet every 1/2 hour and then drying off again as the
sun comes out.
February - Roseau, Dominica
- The day of our "big
hike". We have been hearing about the "8
hour" journey to boiling lake. In fact the Finns on
Venla really pushed us over the edge to go on the hike.
They had pre-planned this as one of their big events to go to
Dominica for. Gigolo said that they ached for days after
the hike, but it was worth it, with fabulous scenery.
were a little late starting out. We met Hainson, the park
ranger we contracted to be our guide at about 8:10 am. Sunday,
his day off, so he is making some extra dough guiding us
up. He picked us up in his very beaten up old pickup
truck-good time to be a lady, they sit up front in the cabin
with him, men in back. Not a big deal except that its
pretty overcast, and we are all a bit underdressed in
tee-shirts. The winding ride up the mountains is very
cool and windy.
start off on the hike through the rainforest. Hainson is
almost too keen to give rolling commentary on flora and
fauna. The ground is like a complete mud pit, and its
raining on and off. We are constantly thinking of the
"mega hike" we have in front of us and a bit anxious
to lower the decibels on the nature spiel, and pick up the
fairly robust rain shower hit us about 30 minutes into the
rainforest. We were strictly warned not to bring
raincoats as it was "extra weight, we could hide under
trees, and we would dry off soon with the heat".
Obviously not the advice for today. Despite our efforts
to crouch under the trees, we were all fairly drenched within
fifteen minutes, and the rain wasn't really stopping.
Finally Hainson said, we need to move on. If we keep
moving our body heat will keep us in good state. 45
minutes later we were confronted with the next
"shower". We tried to take cover, and despite
the overhang of trees, we were drenched to the skin.
Finally Hainson said, we need to make time lets move on,
despite what now seems like storm-like sleets of rain.
crossed a small river in the rain, and started a long climb up
a mountain. The "trail", was one slick of
solid mud/waterfall. We needed our arms to lift us up.
Despite the difficulty of effectively climbing a winding small
waterfall, we tried to move fast as the rain was beating down
on us and we were really starting to get cold. As we
reached the summit, we were wet, it was still windy, but at
least the rain had stopped. Every inch of us, right
through the "waterproof" backpacks was drenched and
muddy. The summit was so high, it was in the
clouds. We kept the pace up, hoping to find a place for
warmth. Eventually we hit the decent into the
"Valley of Desolation". I'm not making that
up, its actually the name. The valley is totally
exposed, with cracks venting hot volcanic steam and sulfur
water flows which create small warm multi-colored
streams. Not much vegetation can exist in this
environment. Mount Doom-scape. Frodo we know how
squall hit us as we descended. Aaron and I were a bit
ahead of the Finns and the guide. We forged on, just
hoping to get through the worst of the decent and find a bush
to hide under until the squall passed. I felt like I was
crawling down the side of the mountain that was so wet it was
an active waterfall. The water seeks the path of least
resistance, that being the hiking path, and just streams down,
eroding the surface away as we went. The wind must have
been gusting 30 miles per hour and we had to yell to
communicate. The rain whipped by in sheets.
we were half way down, I started to be pretty freaked
out. I was in shock that we were in this
situation. How could anyone suggest a raincoat wouldn't
be in order? Hypothermia was my main concern.
Secondary was the thought, what if one was to sprain an ankle;
you couldn't be airlifted out (we are in the clouds), and its
so steep and treacherous, your party couldn't carry you
out. In the few hours wait for help, you could be
crushed by the elements anyway.
and I yelled to each other that we needed to stop before we
went further and wait for the rest of our party. But there was
no cover. Finally we agreed that a bush only about 3
feet high was the best we could do and we crouched behind it
in the mud, just hoping for a bit of respite from the wind and
rain. 10 minutes later the guide came down to report
that the Finns had turned back. They were too cold and
scared to make the decent in this weather and said they would
see us at the base. Later Cheryl reported her hands were
so cold she couldn't feel them and didn't think she could
climb any further in such a state.
thought about climbing backup the decent we had just made in
the storm and thought no way, I'll wait for the boiling lake,
at least there will be cover there. Ha Ha (later I was
to find no such luck...) My decision was made when my chivalrous
husband said, "well I'm moving on, see you later."
we descended more, I was horrified to see we need to cross
small raging rivers with rapids holding hands across
rocks. I was thinking, this can't be. How is it that
none of this was mentioned by anyone. Later I was to
discover that what we were experiencing was the immediate
effects of the rain storm generated flash floods swelling the
streams up. We moved on and on. I was now in
survival mode just trying to hang on for the boiling lake,
thinking I could at least go in and warm up. As we grew
closer our guide dispelled my misconceptions; "the
boiling lake is actually boiling, you can't go in
it". Oh my god, how will I restore my body temperature.
At least there's shelter?
no, its totally exposed, not even a bush". We can't stay
long, lest the rain starts again. I was barely
interested in the natural wonder we encountered as we finally
reached the lake.
eat the meager lunch I have for us, drink enough water
and turn around before the rain starts again. We
were at the lake about 10 minutes, wolfing down food
when I realized my hands were going numb.
Internally, I started to panic. "I think we
need to go-NOW." We tramped off.
time back was practically record, only 2.5 hours in what was
supposed to be a 4 hour pass. Though overcast the whole
time, we never saw substantial rain again. Only light
showers. With the fear of God in me, we basically just
wouldn't stop on the path. We forced our poor guide to
walk practically nonstop! When we finally got to the
base camp the Finns were there huddled up, still freezing.
February - Roseau, Dominica
- We have still been unable to get anyone to
let us use a phone line to make an international call (we are
happy to pay!) to upload our e-mails. Seems to be a
mental block ("we don't offer that service, only voice
phone calls" - "but its the same thing!!!! Don't you
want to make some $$$$" - blank stares). At the
Internet cafe we tried in vain to get our messages via our
POP3 server and sent hate mail to ATT Global (which for some
reason has "revoked" our userid) but never received
any help messages back.
Internet Cafe was nice and we hung out with the crew of
Carlena (Lou, Carlena, and Alex), surfed the net and had a
great lunch of
bagel sandwiches. Colleen and Carelena went to vegetable market while
we boys killed more time at another cafe.
the afternoon, Colleen went for a long snorkel in
reefs around the anchorage. I took a shorter one - good visibility
- we are right over a reef with lots of fish.
Gang came over for dinner
and stayed till midnight. Lots of fun discussing their years
as teachers in a difficult school system in North Providence
February - Roseau to Prince Rupert Bay, Dominica
- We let go of the mooring and left Roseau at
1100. We were lazy and did not bother to
hoist the main as there was no reliable wind under the lee of
the high mountains at the southern end of Dominica, and we motored
the 20 miles to Prince Rupert Bay. Our other excuse for
motoring was that we needed to make water. But basically
we were just lazy and did not feel like sailing even though
the wind built to 20 knots or so as we neared the northern end
of the island which is a lot lower.
dropped the pick at around
1500. Prince Rupert Bay is a beautiful large bay and
there is plenty of good holding in 8-10 meters. Nice
change from St. Pierre and Roseau where is was very steep to
and crowded. A few boat boys approached and tried to
talk us into the "Indian River Trip" - but everyone
we have talked to says its not worth the ten bucks so we were
pretty standoffish to great effect with the BB's and we were
not too hassled.
dingied over to Far Niente,
picked up the gang (Christine, Rob and baby RC) whizzed over
to the old fort on the northern head of the bay. We
tied up the dingy to a massive ferry terminal reserved for
cruise ships that call on Portsmouth (the town on the eastern
shore of the bay), paid a nominal park entry fee, and started
off on a nice walk through the woods towards a lookout
point. This will go down in history as the "reptile
tour". The path was covered in geckos, lizards,
and, every 100-200 feet or so, a snake. There was a lot
of walking along looking down going on.
survived though and then checked out the fort. This was
a major stronghold of the British in the 1700-1800's.
Beautiful views. Found some mango's and papaya's growing
among the ruins and brought a bunch back.
February - Prince Rupert Bay, Dominica
- We dingied into town at around 1100 after a lazy morning.
The alarm clock is broken, so I am using that as a good excuse
for sloth. This was the first day, however, we have not
got up early in awhile. Normally I am not a morning
person, but when on the boat, it is so easy to fall asleep
early (no late night distractions like TV and when I hit the
hay I am not playing endless feedback loops filled with the
obsessions of working life - office politics, the next deal
etc....) that it's easy to wake up early. I normally get
up at 0645 on the boat, make coffee, listen to the news on NPR
or BBC at 0700, "George's" weather at 0715,
"Alex's net" and more weather till 0745, talk to
other boats / listen out for anyone calling us till 0815, then
its the "Murder and Mayhem" net followed by Master
David Jones of the Caribbean Weather Service at 0830.
All the while I diddle over the charts, pilots, and other
planning rags, slurp more coffee and eat cookies.
this is a one road / one horse town. Bit dusty and hassly
- not great. I tried unsuccessfully to get on
line - no luck even with the phone company Cable and Wireless
("we don't offer the service" - look back down at
newspaper). Argh. Colleen did not even want to
spend time in the shops. It was that depressing.
I went to try to find some fishing hooks, Colleen went back to
the dingy. She was hassled by a local guy who was
chatting us up and giving us his sob story when we came in,
and then wanted US$5 for having "looked after" our
dingy. She said no way. He said he'd give us a
break as we are young - we had only to buy him a beer.
Forget it. He then said he hopes something does not
happen to our dingy next time..... Ok buddy.
on the boat we bottled up a 20 liter batch of ginger
beer. This is great stuff and many people are asking for
the recipe. Click here to get it: Flashdance
II Ginger Beer.
the afternoon we checked out and then worked to negotiate a
ride tomorrow morning to the "Syndicate Trail" a
nature hike in the hills with lots of parrot sighting
opportunities apparently. "Einstein" ended up
negotiating us a van ride with "Shadow" for US$40 up
to the start of the trail. He wanted US$100 at first for
a round trip (can't imagine we want to walk down), and then
asked us not to tell anyone else how cheap we got it for cause
"US$40 is not the price" - well I guess it is cause
that's what we will be paying no matter how many folks we get
to cram into the van (they always want to do "per
person" - give em credit for trying).
February - Prince Rupert Bay, Dominica
- Up at 0630, picked up FN at 0700 and then
met 4Fins and Shadow for ride to Syndicate Trail to look at
parrots. Nice easy one mile walk, saw a few parrots at
end, AH saw wild pig. Walk down took 4 hrs - saw lots of
parrots, banana plantations, really great walk.
for Back to boat, swim, shower, visited by boat boy from BCN,
passed out..... guess will go to Saints tomorrow.
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