Dis week we sail into Roseau, de capital of dis here Dominica. De white mon boat is hooked to de mooring ball. They speeke de English good but dems hard to understand some what dem say and makees us laff a lots !!!!!!
Yes we have arrived in Dominica. We are sitting off the capital, Roseau. We didn’t know what to expect, and the main reasons we are stopping here this season is to have one of our gas bottles refilled as we are not sure if or when we will get our NZ bottles filled again. Well we are so glad we made this stop. Our clearance in was so simple. You visit just one office, and if staying under two weeks you can clear out at the same time – wonderful. We are able to drop off our gas bottle and pick it up the same day – that will be done the following morning. After clearing in we wander the town. A cruise ship is in port so everything is open. The place is not crammed full of tourists which is nice, and the locals somehow no we are not off the ship. Maybe we now have taken on that bronzed weather-beaten look that long-term cruisers get. Also we don’t run around in our designer clothes, just cool and comfortable.
The place is colourful and the people so friendly. They enjoy meeting visitors and will stop you just for a chat. They are immensely proud of their Island. Some call it the “anti Caribbean” island as to date there is no mass tourism, partly because there are so very few sandy beaches. There are no flashy resorts and no direct international flights yet. The yachting community must make up the majority of tourists at present that visit the bays along the coastline. It is said that if Christopher Columbus were to return to the Caribbean today, that Dominica is the only Island he would recognize, as it is the most unspoiled. It remains relatively poor and is dependent on its banana exports.
This volcanic island is covered in lush untamed tropical rainforest. It has hot sulphur springs very similar to New Zealand. The population is about 70,000. Around 87% are of African descent, and about 3,000 are indigenous Kalinago (Caribs). Dominica is the last bastion of this once populous Caribbean tribe.This is a great island for longevity with about two dozen people over 100 years of age. The oldest person here lived to be 128 years – Ma Pampo – she died in 2003. Dominica became independent from Britain in 1978.
While our gas bottle was away being filled the following morning, Alec and I set off for the museum then the local markets. The museum is only small, but gives one a in-depth history and geography lesson of the island. Then on to the wonderful markets. Some of the best fruits and vegetables we have seen. Consequently we stocked up. The gas company is on “island time” and takes a little longer to be returned, but with that and some extra diesel and petrol cans filled, we depart for the northern end of the island.
We end up only going 11nm along the coast as we see a delightful bay which looks like a good nights stop. We drop anchor at Batalie Beach, Coulibistri. This is another place which looks so South Pacific. Fires smoking away on the beach under thatched roof huts with coconut palms nearly to the waters edge. Dogs and chicken everywhere, and fishermen returning with their days catch. Not to mention setting nets all around us – just hope we can get out of here in the morning. Then at about 03.30a.m. we are woken by about 400 roosters with their dawn chorus. I know what would be on my dinner plate that evening if we were to stay there !!!!!!!!
We are able to leave just before 8.00am as the nets are being brought in. Our last anchorage on Dominica is in Prince Rupert Bay, Portsmouth. We were still a good two miles out when we were approached by a speed boat – one of the many boat boys who would like to be “your helper” while you are there. They are not too pushy here and all very polite, so we did not mind. In fact they have formed a group which provides security and will help you with anything from shore side services to boat jobs, a water taxi service, etc. Cobra,our helper, left us alone till we were anchored, then came across and told us of all his services. We did take him up that afternoon for a cruise up the Indian River.
The Indian River trip was great. This is like something I would expect in South America, not the Caribbean. You enter a National Park, therefore we cannot use an engine, so you are rowed up the river which very quickly narrows and becomes completely overhung by huge swamp bloodwood trees which have this incredibly beautiful root system. Vines dangle down into the river, and there is an array of wildlife including birds, iguanas, crabs, fish etc. This was the ‘stage’ where ‘Pirates of the Caribbean 2’ was filmed, and the home of the witch Calypso has been rebuilt, and you are taken to visit it. Also skeletons hang from the odd branch mid river which were used in the movie. You reach a point where the boats can go no further as it changes into rapids, so out you hop and visit the Jungle Bar. We were taken on a jungle hike by a guy who showed us all the wild flowering plants etc. given fresh coconut juice to drink then rowed back down the river.
There are still a number of cruisers anchored here in Prince Rupert Bay, but most are now starting to head for their summer destinations. On Sunday nights the local boat boys hold a BBQ for all cruisers to help raise money to keep their projects running. We enjoyed the evening with a Belgium group. On one of walks along the beach we came across a rather unique dwelling – a boat house up in a tree !!! We were returning from the Purple Turtle Beach Club where we had been down-loading a weather report.
Then it was time to push on again, but definitely Dominica has been put on the list to return to. We will now do an overnight sail passing islands which we will return to visit, and head to Sint Maarten/St Martin.
So we will sign out for now
The Admiral and The Commander