Thursday we explored again by car – this time going up to Fort Shirley accompanied by a local dog who decided to be a guide…. Bit disappointed with this Fort – looks amazing from the outside with the renovated ramparts, the cannons and the buildings….but go inside and it looks like it is being kitted out as a wedding venue rather than a restored historic monument.
After walking back down we got back in our trusty jeep and decided to drive around the volcanic crater. Up and down these roads – some concrete, some tarmac, some mud – through lush greenery and constantly being struck dumb by the views….and terrified by the hairpin bends! Going past the crater we came across a young lady carrying a baby who asked for a lift – so we helped her out and gave her a lift up and down the mountain. Letting her out at her family home a young girl came out and shouted at her ‘ What you doing going with a white man???’… Oh well you can’t win them all!
Carrying on up and around and we were asked for another lift by a local guy at the bus stop. Admittedly not keen – but Richard has much more faith in human nature than I do – so we picked him up and drove him to his girlfriend’s house. Short tour through the fruit trees in the gardens and his girlfriend opens up an outbuilding and, lo and behold, it is a small bar / rum shop! So we had a beer each and Richard had to sample some local rums until we then moved on again. A really nice couple who are thinking of getting married – but didn’t want to rush it, as they had only been together four years and are in their fifties!!! Finished our excursion by having a late lunch at the Portsmouth Beach Hotel to be flagged down by the security guard who thanked us for giving his baby a lift home earlier today…. Small world!
Friday morning back out diving again with Don and his cousin Fabian who is a dive master. Fantastic visibility today and almost perfect conditions. We did two dive sites – one where a huge cliff rock fall has created an underwater aquarium with swim throughs, caves and encrusted coral. Saw mostly small stuff including loads of lobsters, reef fish – particularly cute baby trunk fish – a very large spiny puffer and a good-sized eagle ray which swam in out of the blue. Bad news that there are quite a lot of lion fish about – they are not indigenous and are prolific hunters / breeders. There is a kill programme in the Caribbean to eradicate the nuisance but clearly they are gaining ground….. The reef fish need to recognise them as a danger so that they stay clear – and people don’t like to handle them either as they have very toxic spines…. Apparently they are good eating but we haven’t found them on a menu yet!!!
Friday afternoon we had a lazy time and then went ashore to a local beach bar to meet Alexis and the dive guys for a farewell drink. We had a really nice time – listened to the local guy playing live – and had a lot of laughs. When they left I went to settle our bill to find that they had cleared it for us!!!! All we had to pay for was our last two beers…. This generous gesture – especially as we would not get the opportunity to say thank you – completely blew us away. Thanks guys!
Saturday morning up bright and early as we are heading down to Roseau, the capital of Dominica. By 7.15 am we had slipped out of Portsmouth and said goodbye to Alexis on the radio… Headed out to 10 miles offshore as we were told that this is where the whales hang out. Well – we couldn’t sail it despite trying hard due to lack of wind – so got into position, turned the engine off and waited. We saw some disturbance on the water and saw two dolphins going by to join their pod. But no whales. Or at least none that showed themselves. Interestingly though, we were in 2,000 feet of water but there was something under our boat that kept moving our depth gauge from between 25 and 40 feet. Could have been anything but who knows! As we turned towards Roseau we enjoyed the cloud formations and the rugged coastline to find the wind now completely on our nose so we ended up motoring into the town.
We had already pre-arranged a mooring with SeaCat – this anchorage is way too deep – and his colleague Desmond came out to greet us as we neared the coast. Took us towards the ball and we hooked on quickly. We then asked him to take us to Customs as we need to hand over our cruising permit to get permission to stay down this end of the island before we move on towards Martinique, our next port of call. We got the formalities out of the way and went ashore for sundowners at the Drop Anchor bar which we are moored directly opposite. Wow sunsets are gorgeous here….and Morphie looks so good enjoying her new anchorage.
Sunday is St Patrick’s Day…and the Drop Anchor’s landlady has an Irish dad….so celebrations are going to be happening here… So boat job morning including loads of washing and cleaning and then ashore to listen to Danny Boy, the Irish Rover and other Irish ditties… Good time had by all, although Richard was a bit melancholy for a while thinking about his family, especially those who are prematurely no longer with us….
Monday everything is quiet – we have noticed this in Dominica, we think the locals party real hard on a Sunday so Monday is a recovery day, with loads of shops closed! But actually there is a cruise ship in so we head into town for a wander about….
Roseau is a mix of old buildings; new cars; some western influences such as Pizza Hut and Subway and loads of people milling around trying to sell the cruise ship passengers tours and t-shirts. We enjoyed people watching although have been a bit concerned about the number of amputees around – apparently, though, this is due to the huge amount of natural sugar in their diet and a consequence of diabetes. But there seemed to be fewer people begging here than we came across in Portsmouth – although perhaps I’ve become immune????
Arriving back into the anchorage Glen and Pam on Blue Pearl – who we last saw in Antigua – have caught up with us as they run down island. We arrange for them to come on board for sundowners and we had a really nice time catching up – and Glen and Richard enjoyed trying all the new rums we now have on board…. Passion fruit, lime, cocoa, coconut to name a few…..
Early to bed and late to rise…..it’s now Tuesday…and we are doing more boat jobs, particularly generating water as we are a bit low. Richard has also given dink’s bottom a good old clean. Anyway…nothing planned for today apart from meeting Glen and Pam later…. We are thinking about what to do before we leave here – there are a couple of things we are considering – and that’s about it. Oh yes, and we woke up to a rainbow….
Bye for now.