Sunday, 14 April 2013



There is water and fuel on the dingy dock at Dominica Marine Services in Roseau and a little pub/take away overlooking the sea just next to it. The taxi drivers hang out here as it is also a petrol station forecourt, so island tours can be arranged here – or just ask Marcus and he will do it for you.

A Small business outside Roseau
If you walk to the right there is a small supermarket and just next to that is Sukies bakery for bread and cakes – we sampled the cherry cake – as good as homemade! To the left is a chandler who also refills gas, so with the showers which are basic but ok there is everything you could want. There is even Island Wash Laundry just across the road next to the football field and he has wifi.

Roseau street scene
We had to check in so walked to Roseau, about 5 mins and then another 5 to the ferry terminal where a witty and charming customs official cleared us in and out for 10days time. He also recommended a good pub, Garage in Hanover Street. We had a beer that afternoon and a lovely dinner on Wednesday night.

The town is vibrant and busy, all kinds of buildings from very old stone ones to wooden houses and modern shops all jumbled together. Loud Reggae music comes from every doorway and most of the vehicles. Fort Young is now a smart hotel, but still has polished brass canons at the entrance. There are several supermarkets and Astaphans which is a department store upstairs and a supermarket downstairs. There are fruit and vegetable sellers on the pavements as well. I am sure you could find anything you wanted here.

Back on the boat we invited Impressionist for dinner to celebrate Richards’s birthday, a pleasant end to the day.

The fridge had gone off in the night – disaster! But a bit of fiddling with the thermostat and it came back on. We asked at the chandlers and they called a repairman for us. He was out of town but would come the next day. Unfortunately, he never did, so the fridge is still in need of a service. We will have it done in Antigua.

From the dingy dock the water is so clear we could see all kinds of sea life: corals and sponges, urchins, cornet fish, trumpet fish, sergeant majors, a trunkfish and others. We swam off the back of the boat but did not see anything – we were moored in 35m! Overhead, the now usual frigate birds and terns as well as more pelicans. Lots of fishermen hauling nets and laying fish traps and almost every day a cruise liner came in, so there was plenty of entertainment. We also had two good green flashes at sunset, so they are definitely not just a legend!

We visited the Dominica Museum upstairs in what was once a grand old building. It was very interesting with the whole history of the island from its volcanic past to photographs after their last hurricane in 2008.There were artefacts from the Caribs, the sad history of slavery, and all the limes in Roses lime juice were originally from Dominica.

Local graffitti
As we were leaving Roseau, we found the mooring lines were tangled up around the mooring buoy. Marcus seeing we were having trouble swiftly came over to help. Not as easy as he first thought. After a bit of a struggle where he lost his cap in the water, then leaning over the bow of his Rib a pristine white T-shirt was reduced to a filthy mess we were off.

Marcus, a public apology for you shirt! We owe you one. You really looked the part of the moorings manager that morning, ten minutes later…. I’ll say no more.

On Good Friday we sailed to Portsmouth – yes, after nearly a year we are back home! Only here, they say Ports mouth not Portsmth like we do.

Portsmouth town
As seen in Portsmouth - I kid you not!
Entering Prince Rupert Bay (Portsmouth) a pirogue rushed to meet us – Monty – he would take care of us, arrange tours, whatever we needed. There is a “Boat Boys” association here, keeping an eye on everything and giving help and information. Once you have your personal guide, no one else bothers you, a great system. We anchored quite close to shore in 5m, though there are buoys if you want one.

The bay is really picturesque; a palm fringed beach with lots of colourful cottages, a few bars and jetties so shore access is really easy. A new hotel is being built on the north side and further round the bright red roofs of the restored Fort Shirley still guard the bay. We had the usual frigate birds and Royal turns flying around joined by some more pelicans and the occasional booby.

The Boat ‘boys’ are organised into PAYS (Portsmouth Assn. of Yacht services). They offer all kinds of services including Island tours, trips up the Indian River, laundry and filling your water jugs. You want it just ask and these entrepreneurs will arrange it. They are all known by their boat names. Our ‘boy’ was Monty- Lawrence of Arabia, just call ‘Lawrence’ on Ch. 16
View across the Island
We had arranged to do a tour with Impressionist. It is best to try to arrange a group tour as it reduces the cost per head. On the Saturday there were 8 of us on a tour of the northern part of the island. We were collected from the boat by ‘Cobra’. Paul our guide took us to the cold sulphur springs, visited a traditional basket weaver, a ‘hippy’ Rasta couple who gave us a talk on herbs and herbal remedies (no reference to where the real herbs were!). Her husband climbed a palm tree and we each had a green coconut. From there we went to Red rocks which are the end of a volcanic lava flow, finally to Chaudière pools and waterfalls (a steep hike down the valley), where we saw jacko parrots coming home to roost. It was dark by the time we got back to the bus from the hike and 20.00 before we got back to the boat. A really fascinating glimpse of the island and island life.

Cold sulphur springs and trees used for boat 'ribs'.

Hillside farming

The herbal garden

Steep trail to Chaudiere pools

On the Sunday Monty collected us at 0830 for a trip up the Indian River (The swamp scene in Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed here – very atmospheric, but more importantly a nature reserve). There is a park fee payable and only accredited guides allowed to row up the river. (No outboard motors). We were handed over to Alexis for our trip up river; the guides are very knowledgeable about the flora and fauna on the river. To become a guide they have to study and take a government test so there is a fair amount of investment by the guys.
Red Rocks

At the entrance to the river we saw an iguana up a tree! A kingfisher and an Osprey! As we ventured up the mangroves there were crabs, wonderful trees, and many birds in the tree canopy.

Iguana in the Indian river

It was difficult to see the bird life as we were at ground level but we did see a green heron. We stopped at a small bar at the ‘head of navigation’. A drink and we were rowed back down the river.

Indian river

Outside the entrance the outboard was back on and we were delivered back to our yacht at 20kts!

One of Dominica's 365 rivers enters the sea
Sunday evening was the PAYS beach BBQ. EC$50 per head, food and as much rum punch as you can drink! Music and dancing, all to raise money for PAYS to provide the security in the bay. Previously there had been a great deal of hassle and low level crime against yachts. (These guys are poor and trying to make a living but crime was driving the yachts away).

On Sunday morning Martin (Providence), came round collecting for another of the boat boy’s good causes, C.A.L.L.S This charity helps disadvantaged children and tries to keep them away from drugs and crime, they also help the elderly. How can one not help these people who are trying to help themselves?

 Martin was interesting to talk to, a trained botanist he is a champion for the eco-tourism Dominica is trying to promote. On a mountainous island, a nation of 65,000 with a mainly rural economy, struggles to compete on a world market. Mechanisation is impossible as the cultivated slopes are very steep. Produce is planted and harvested manually, the agriculture is very labour intensive but somehow they manage to export to the other Caribbean islands. The quality of the fruit and veg is excellent!
Anchorage from Fort Shirley
Tree Lizzard at Fort Shirley
Things are not all bad, we talked to a ‘local’ woman in the Laundromat, born in Clapham south London, she and her husband have returned to Dominica after visiting friends and family left behind after their parents immigrated to the UK. They prefer the lifestyle in the Caribbean. I understand where they are coming from!

After 10 days in Dominica it is time to go. Our departure date on arrival was given as 4th April 2013, so to avoid complications we should go.

Our clearance states “This is to certify to all whom it doth concern that Richard Mayhew, Master or Commander of the Galene, burden 10 Tons, navigated with 2 men, GRP built and bound for Les Saintes having on board ship stores, hath here entered and cleared his said vessel according to law” Signed etc. etc….

Cleared being the operative word. Not wishing to fall foul of Dominican customs law we will be off!

The winds are good for our trip north to Isles de Saintes, a dependency of Guadeloupe. A trip of 24 miles ‘door to door’, according to the log this took 4 hours (I will let the readers do the maths!)

We are back in France! But we still have to clear in. This can wait until tomorrow.


1 comment:

  1. Hi R & R, All that adventure !!!. Dominica sounds just like The Solent.(After too many The Folly) and all we managed to do was a Sutton Ms. visit to the Refurb'd CUTTY SARK. A lovely sunny Spring day 14th April at Greenwich. Very enjoyable. Regards. Keep safe.
    Old Vic (and her indoors)