We went ashore about six on Sunday evening as we thought we’d go into the local beach bar prior to going to the PAYS BBQ. We purchased a beer and were quickly driven out by the painfully loud Soca music … we are pretty used to it, especially having been to carnival, but this was mad. If you looked hard enough you could see the individual grains of sand on the beach jumping to the beat!! Exiting left – fast – we wandered the beach to the Purple Turtle which is next to the PAYS structure. Purchased another beer here and then moved onto the BBQ itself. We started on beer deliberately as the BBQ tickets include all you can eat food and drink, but that consists of a lethal rum punch only! So we were pacing ourselves….
Alexis – our boat boy – was helping with the cooking tonight but he came over for a little while to chat. We were surprised by how many cruisers were in attendance as there didn’t seem to be that many boats in the anchorage ….. so I reckon Eddison and his lads had done a really good selling job. Well – at EC $50 a head (£12.50) – it is pretty reasonable. Tonight Don (the diver) is the dedicated security guy in the anchorage so he has promised – in return for a rum punch – to circle Morphie at least once every ten minutes! It was really nice to hang out with the local boat boys and catch up with them. Amazing that they really do seem to remember us even though they must have thousands of boats go through here in a season….. Anyway dinner of rice / salad / chicken / fish served – and most of us went back for seconds. As much as you could eat was right….. And I had a dog friend who followed me around – who quickly realised that I would be a soft touch for leftovers. He was right of course!
After we had all eaten the tables were moved out and people either moved onto the black sand beach to chat (which was us) or they went inside to dance. This was more ‘Dad’ dancing than anything else, particularly bearing in mind the average age of the people in attendance. By now the rum had started to take its toll. One woman, in particular, was so out of it her husband tried to manhandle her into their dinghy and ended up in the drink himself…. Oh dear – in the end one of the boat boys took pity on them and helped them into his boat and gave them a ride home. Good night had by all and we got back to Morphie safe and sound…
Monday morning and we have nothing planned…. and the heavens opened. It rained on and off all day so we actually did nothing – sleeping, eating, reading and chatting. Lovely!
Tuesday we were up early to get ready to go diving again. When Don came for us Marcus – the photographer – was already on the boat so there was a little inward groan from both of us. But Aon was also on board so he was diving with him and we were diving with Fabian. Result!!!! The first dive was to a wreck of an old tug boat, lying in about 80-100 feet of water. Loads of little critters around and beautiful corals…. and then we worked our way back towards the reef. Fabian was killing lionfish and managed to catch about six in all…. and we got a moray eel to eat one, but didn’t become the focus of the dive, which was good. Saw quite a lot of the usual suspects but my favourite this time was a spotted eel which was so sleek it looked like a sea snake…. and he had beautiful markings and very kindly stayed put while I had a good look at him. No photos again I’m afraid – way too deep. Second dive of the day was very close to the shoreline…. so it was a shallow reef that dropped off into the depths. It was a pretty damp surface interval as the rain came down again…. Oh well, never mind, we were wet anyway!
We swam out to the rocks and back and were constantly surrounded by these huge schools of fish. The corals were spectacular in colour with amazing large sponges. All very dramatic with cuts and curves, overhangs and gulleys all covered in soft and hard corals with an aquarium full of fish, some so small they were barely visible to the naked eye. It felt like we had stumbled into a fish nursery! During the dive, we came across Marcus – doing his usual photographic thing – who was getting Aon to pose for him. Aon was in the military for 14 years and did say before he went in the water that if anybody had managed to get his photo during that time he wasn’t doing his job properly – so was a pretty reluctant model! Seeing Aon being moved around for photos got Fabian, Richard and me giggling as we went by and I’m sure our dive was at least five minutes shorter as a result of the excess air used. When we surfaced we got our camera passed down to us and managed to get a few shots from just below the surface of our fishy friends.
Back on board for a quiet afternoon after cleaning off all our gear and we went ashore for sundowners at the Blue Bay grill. Met up with Fabian and had a couple of beers while we enjoyed another lovely sunset over the anchorage.
Wednesday morning we spoke to Rachel, Kiera and made noises at Finlay as he is not six months old yet. Was lovely to do this using Facetime on the iPad – we don’t feel like we’re missing out on these special little ones growing up now. Around lunchtime we went into Portsmouth and as Richard had “only” had bananas, papaya and mango for breakfast he persuaded me to go to Ray’s roti shack. He managed to eat his way through both a chicken and a vegetable one in very short order – I had an egg roll. After that we walked through the backstreets to find the bakery and came across loads of very very poor housing – basically traditional shacks which look like they could be blown over by the next puff of wind that comes through. And they are living alongside many large substantial concrete structures. I guess you build what you can afford?
Anyway, found the bakery and got some supplies, then off to the supermarket for a few bits – via the computer shop as I’d put together some basic income / expenditure / balance sheets for Fabian to use in his newly-registered diving business and needed to get them printed.
All jobs done and with full bellies we wandered back to the main fishing jetty. One of the boats had just come in and was unloading watched by an attentive audience. They were speaking Creole so couldn’t understand them but it sounded like they were enjoying some good banter. Well…. the fisherman had bags and bags of lobsters which he transferred into a large cage which he then dropped into the sea to keep them alive and fresh. I’m not sure when they actually sell them to the public – clearly not yesterday – but am hopeful to get some before we leave Portsmouth.
Back on board, we did some laundry before having a lazy afternoon and into the Blue Bay for a light fish supper and a couple of beers. While I was explaining to Fabian how to use the book-keeping sheets, Richard was asked by Jeffrey (who heads up the PAYS organisation) to come over and talk to this guy. Turns out to be the Dominican Minister for Tourism – who wanted to hear how they could improve things for cruisers in Portsmouth and Dominica more generally. That was a turn up for the books! Nice to get a voice for sure. Eventually back to Morphie for an early night although it was really really rolly again…..but we were so tired doing not much that all it did was rock us off to sleep!
Thursday and we had a late start. We ran the generator to make some water and charged everything up at the same time. After brunch we went snorkelling under the cruise ship dock – this is only for small Windjammer types, not huge ones. This is a great site with loads of brilliant-coloured corals on the poles…. Really enjoyed ourselves and, of course, we managed to get photos this time!
Back on board, cleaned up and we are staying put. Dink is up on his davits and we have just watched the sun go down…. and the moon come up. Lovely…. and planning a quiet night onboard with dinner followed by an early night.
Bye for now