Friday, 11 April 2014

OCC Rally Dominica March 2014

We are off south to Dominica for the OCC rally . Since we joined, we have met many other people who are also members but apart from the Vice Commodore none who are going to the rally.We look forward to meeting a whole set of new OCC members and like minded people.

We had planned to do the trip from Antigua in 2 or 3 hops; Jolly harbour to Deshaies in Guadeloupe, then to the Saintes and finally the short hop to Prince Rupert bay in Dominica.

Our stern gland appeared to be holding up, no leaks and not overheating. We departed and had virtually no wind, what little there was, against us so we motored. We ended up motoring all the way to Deshaies as the wind was light.  The motor to Deshaies was fairly uneventful, I saw nothing but Rowena saw a whale dive! On consulting our book we decide it must have been a Humpback whale due to the shape and colour of the tail, just like a cartoon whale tail. A pretty impressive sight. We arrived in Deshaies just as it was getting dark and anchored near the edge at the outer part of the bay. We were not stopping apart from sleeping overnight as we planned to be away at first light in the morning.

 On doing the engine checks we noticed that we have water in the engine bilge, not a good sign. It will have to be monitored carefully as we will probably have to motor down the east coast of Guadeloupe as well. It seems the leak only occurs when we are motoring.

Early morning fishing - Note the diver in the water

The best laid plans etc… We wake up as it is getting light and are just getting ready to up anchor when the local fishermen decide to cast their net around the back of the boat. We can go nowhere as their net is touching the rudder and the last thing we want is a net caught around the rudder or the propeller. We wait until they have retrieved their net as there is nothing else we can do. We are now late departing and it will be unlikely to get a buoy in the Saintes late in the afternoon. Our experience earlier was that you need to be there by lunchtime to get a mooring off the town.

As expected we have to motor as there is no wind along the East coast of Guadeloupe. As we approach the southern end of the island the wind fills in, to sail to the Saintes would be difficult as it is very hard to windward, Prince Rupert bay in Dominica is a much better angle on the wind. We elect for Dominica even though it will be probably dark when we arrive. Motoring into the bay at dusk we are met by Titus who works for ‘Lawrence of Arabia’, he will be our ‘boat boy’ for our stay. We explain that we don’t need a mooring as we prefer to anchor and as we are with the OCC rally we won’t be doing any tours as the OCC have a programme of events organised. Titus is quite unconcerned and says to call if we do need anything.

Boats minus 'the boys' Fort Shirley on the hill to the left and the new hotel being built with the red roof. Galene amongst the masts
We are left to anchor and find a spot behind most of the fleet in about 7m of water. This will do for tonight -  if we feel the need to move we will do so in the morning. We wake to find we are in quite a good spot, an OCC boat directly in front, one slightly behind and 2 off our port side, OCC corner!

Before we do anything else we must check in so it is a choppy dinghy ride across the bay to the commercial dock so we can check in with Customs and Immigration. We also take the time to visit the IGA supermarket to stock up on some of the things we meant to get in the Saintes. Later that day we have a visit from John and Christine on ‘Oriole’ the Roving Rear Commodores from the OCC. We are given the programme of events and welcomed. A ‘formal’ lunch, various sundowners, a lunchtime cooking demo and a forest hike. Quite an exhausting programme.

The guest speaker at the lunch was Lennox Honeychurch, a Dominican historian, conservationist, writer and much more. He gave us the history of Cabrits Point, the hill above the anchorage, from prehistory till the present day. He showed us an engraving from the 1700’s  with square fronted canoes belonging to the local Indians who were selling supplies and water to the many sailing ships in Prince Rupert Bay! Not much has changed, except now the locals have 40hp engines! Lennox Honeychurch has also been very influential in restoring Fort Shirley making a good museum and function rooms. It was a lovely setting for our lunch.

Saturday morning market

 On Saturday Martin Carriere took us all to the market in Portsmouth to buy the fresh local produce we were going to learn to cook using traditional methods. We started with roasting breadfruit in the fire followed by plantain chips and saltfish cooked in frying pans on a coal pot as well as cocoa tea. Accompanied by a huge salad this made a delicious lunch.

Peeling the roasted breadfruit

We organised a dive with Fabian of Island Dive right on the beach at Portsmouth, he even collected us from the boat. We went round the corner to Douglas Bay, a marine reserve. We had two lovely dives, the first had a rather tight swim through with pretty white hydroids as we went in. It opened onto a vista of acres of colourful sponges and corals.

Exiting the swim through
Then we swam over the top of the reef where all our air was bubbling through.  

Above the swimthrough - Note the bubbles!

After some delicious fresh pineapple that Fabian had bought at the market on the way in we had our second dive, under a cliff which has dropped huge sections under the sea making a very scenic dive including a cave full of Glassy  Sweepers. Not that many fish as the locals are still allowed to fish here but we saw big yellowtail snapper and big glass eye snapper.

Shy Hamlet  - A rare fish in the Caribbean

 Sadly, there were quite a few lionfish – interestingly, here they are black, not red. There were big lobster, many different hamlets, anemones, corallimorphs (a new creature to me, a lot like anemones) many urchins and small creatures like arrow crabs and fireworms.

Is it an Orange Corallimorph? or what?

Dive boat at Split Rock

When we asked Fabian if we could wash our gear at the dive shop, he took it back and washed it for us, ready to collect after we had showered and had lunch! What service!

The stern gland is still leaking when we are motoring - this needs to be fixed. Fortunately we know a Volvo engineer in Jolly harbour so with his advice we will sort the problem. We ended up spending a week in Dominica before making our way back up north to Antigua.

Another new building project - a garden/beach treehouse

Our sail from Dominica to the Saintes was uneventful. We sailed all the way and motored as little as possible.

Off the coast of Guadeloupe -  A long way from Skye!

As we arrived in Terre de Haut in the Saintes we were met by a dolphin basking among the moorings. We slowed down and the creature looked at us from about 3 feet before slowly submerging to the depths! I could have sworn the look said ‘what are you doing here, disturbing my lunchtime snooze’!

Galene in The Saintes

Check in and out of the Saintes, sail to Pigeon Island and meet up with Longbow and Nyda, snorkelling not that good as viz poor but good reef life as usual.

After one night in a rolly anchorage we sail to Deshaies and anchor in the bay, very crowded and our anchor doesn’t bite 1st time, the wind drops and we all swing in different directions. Behind us 2 boats collide but very slowly so no damage done.

We are off early to sail to Jolly harbour and the forecast is perfect, East  F4 with 1-2 m seas, we sail with a small headsail, a reef in the main and the full mizzen and she sails herself. We cover the 54 miles in just over 8 hours only using the engine to get off our anchor and motor into Jolly harbour anchorage, a moving average of 6.5 knots, arriving just after lunch.

A fast run!

 A bonus on our journey is we see 2 big turtles as we arrive off Jolly Harbour (Irish bank). After a late lunch and a swim we are here and ready for our next round of boat repairs. Tomorrow is Monday so we should be able to start getting things organised.

No comments:

Post a Comment