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 DOMINICA, CARIBBEAN
When the weather finally settled in Martinique, we set sail for Dominica with Djarrka. The seas were still unsettled and the swell caused Ascension to rock n roll but we were sailing 7 to 8 knots consistently under full sail. Our intention was to only go as far as the northern tip of Martinique but we were making such good time we decided to continue across to Dominica.

Portsmouth

We had about 3 hours of rough seas, but were still making such good speed that we bypassed Roseau in the southern part of Dominica and set our sights for Portsmouth, a better anchorage.

Late that afternoon we sailing into the anchorage...70 plus miles, all in daylight! Since it was Boxing Day and a holiday, we couldn't check in right away.

December 27

Everything in Portsmouth is closed. It is their boxing day so we walked around the streets just to get some exercise. That evening we had a birthday celebration onboard Ascension for Gord. Dinner and boardgames with Djarrka made for a fun evening!

December 28

We arranged an island tour with one of the Boat Boys, who took us to Customs first to take care of business. An Australian couple on a cat anchored close to us joined us to share the expenses of the roadtrip.

In my opinion, Dominica is certainly one of the most beautiful island we have visited to date. Still very traditional, and looking the same unspoilt way it did hundreds of years ago. Valleys, gorges and mountains set the scene for wood clad shacks set on hillside villages surrounded by coconut, banana, mango, starfruit, papaya trees and every spice imaginable in a tangle of vines, flowering shrubs and ferns. Driving down the narrow rutted roads was magical, reminiscent of the South Pacific.

Dominica is a hikers paradise and I wish we could have stayed longer to enjoy some of the numerous waterfalls and walks through the tropical rainforests. Everywhere lush mountains beckon, their dark green summits disappearing into the clouds. There are a number of active volcanoes on the island and many hot pools and sulphur springs as a result.

The villages in Dominica mostly remain untouched by tourism, aside from quaint lodgings scattered along the coast. Everywhere the people are super friendly.

Quaint mountain villages

Man's face matches his shirt

Typical Dominica home

The local Travel Agency

Oldest woman in the world lived
here for 123 years

The local Bakery

Our guide explained a lot of the medicinal uses for the plants and trees as we drove through the tropical rainforest. He showed us his old schoolhouse, now abandoned >>>

Along the road, an old rum factory, overgrown but its coral walls still perfectly intact.

Our guide, Winston, posses with Gord.

We drove through the Northern Forest Reserve to the town of Calibishe along a twisty road carved through the jungle of fruit trees and wildflowers. The Atlantic coastline had many lovely beaches, both white and black sand.
We stopped at several beaches along the route. A family was using a creek flowing into the sea for laundry and bathing.

Great views of the Atlantic waves crashing onto the shore

A local returns from working in the plantations

Typical Dominica houses along the road

Bridges crossing
serene rivers

 

We visited the traditional Kalinago Barana Carib Village on the Atlantic coast in the Carib Territory. Our guide explained how the Carib Indians were the first people on Dominica, but their culture has been all but lost. A replica village gave an insight to the way of life of the indigenous Indians.

Grinding wheel for coconut

Chief's meeting house

 

The cooking house

Baskets Galore

The Indians are known for their basketry and they had lots to offer for sale.

The grounds overlooked some nice views of the Atlantic.


Waterfall in the Rain

We walked to a waterfall through the rainforest, which lived up to its name....it poured and we returned to the van pretty much drenched! The trail through the forest really reminded us of the hikes we took in New Zealand, very dense and lush.

The trail culminated at a pretty waterfall, but it was raining to hard to linger longer so we headed back.

We took a lunch break in a local restaurant with a wonderful view.

Our plate contained dasheen, cooked green banana, chicken, dumpling, and breadfruit. Yummy!

Roadside baskets

Fresh Casava is grated with this wheel and cooked with coconut
over an open flame for a delicious filling bread.

Poinsettia bush

Our journey back to the boat quickly ended in darkness so we missed seeing many of the villages along the way. It was sometimes hard to doge the iguanas on the road. We finally reached Portsmouth around 7 pm.

December 29

Although Dominica is reputed to have excellent diving, our snorkelling adventure around the area proved disappointing. Perhaps we have just been too spoiled by the excellent coral and fish we have seen around the world, or maybe the last hurricane destroyed the reefs. It was good to get in the water anyway as it was the first snorkelling we have done in almost 10 months!

Since there is some unsettled weather coming our way, we will stay here for another day or so, then sail to The Saints, near Guadeloupe. We are hoping to stay with our friends on  Djarrka as long as possible as they are familiar with all the islands and can give us advice on depths getting into anchorages.

December 30 - January 4, 2011

Our plans for New Year's Eve were kyboshed by the weather. The winds howled, the rain pounded down and boats were dragging. So we stayed on the boat and were in bed by 10:30! We were awoken at midnight by hoots and whistles and HAPPY NEW YEAR'S!! Music blared from the shores through the night and well into the next day.

The following 4 days were were confined onboard with the winds gusting at intervals and the rain relentless. After the stiffness was no longer bearable, we decided to attempt a walk on terra firma. It was good to stretch our legs but just as we returned to the boats, the skies opened up again and we got drenched. Soaked to the skin by the time we climbed back on the boat.

Next >>>> The Saints