From Martinique, we headed for Dominica which is an independent country but the ex-British influence does at least mean that they drive on the left! We decided to put a ‘day in hand’ and head straight for Portsmouth at the North end of the island. This was a wonderful anchorage with the large bay providing shallow (ish) water for lots of anchoring options. We tucked in close again and explored ashore but we had missed the customs deadline for ‘clearing in’ so we enjoyed Sandy’s bar before returning to Hejira for a meal on board.
Walking the length of the bay to clear in and out in the morning we experienced the joys of this wonderfully ethnic and unspoilt island. It is a favourite!
The 20 mile sail to the pretty Les Isles de Saintes just south of Guadeloupe took us to an altogether different experience and I will let John expound on this:-
The sail from Martinique to the top of Dominica was just over 51 miles and was again a great mixture of big blue seas and a steady force 4 to 5, occasionally less as we sailed into the wind shadows of the 4500 ft mountains of the Dominican interior, and sometime a lot more as the wind got squeezed through narrow valleys in between.
And on into St Rupert’s Bay and the little town of Portsmouth with a bar called Sandy’s a stone’s throw away from the boat. A lovely anchorage but a windy one, and of course in the whole two miles of available beach where we could anchor, we had to anchor right over the top of a bloody water pipe! That night I was constantly woken, sleeping as I do, in the forward cabin right aft of the anchor windlass. Creaks, thumps and bangs went on throughout the night. I listened for the dreaded judder of a slipping anchor, and the expensive jerk of a water pipe being ripped open, but luckily it didn’t happen and in the end after sticking my head out of the hatch after a couple of particularly loud thumps, it was a case of “oh sod it!” and I slept like a baby until morning.
Before we leave Dominica and Sandy’s Bar in the wake of our voyage northwards, I’d just like to say that the local people there are lovely. We were walking through the little town towards the Customs office, when this little old lady and I exchanged a “Good Morning” and before I knew it, I had a potted bio of Mrs Clarabelle Symonds, who had lived for fifteen years in Lewisham, and how the kids were still there and so on. It was great that for once someone just wanted to chat and not try and extract money from me. And so it was with everyone else too. The roads were as pot-holed as anywhere else in this part of the world but here people greeted each other like they were all one big family and just passed the time just being themselves.
We filled in the customs forms and on the way back went into the police station to get a Dominican stamp in our passports. The police motorbikes were pristine Chinese motors called of all things a police bike could be called “Jailer”! Someone MUST have known surely…
Mistake of the day: Lifting the anchor, the bloody thing swung and ‘dinked’ the hull. I said I’d put a piece of chewing gum over the 2mm chip in the gel coat when I could find the right colour match. I think banana flavoured gum should do it…
A great romp over to Le Saintes Isles just south of Guadeloupe, which seem to be a bit of a holiday destination even by Caribbean standards, with boatloads of people coming over from Guadeloupe to sit in the beachside bars and play in the crystal waters. It’s as if someone took a lump of the South of France and mixed it with a fishing village and plonked it on a hilly version of the Scilly Isles! We had a couple of decent rum punches and later a really nice dinner. All terribly French and actually really quite cool…
Nick’s smug highlight today: Translating from Germanic English into French and back, between a German yachtie and a local engineer who’d fixed his boat. Nick thinks he’d solved the issue and brought two great nations closer together but why did I hear police sirens and see an ambulance outside the bar a bit later?
Nick’s talents: Farting like a trooper, snoring like a jack-hammer and being able to sleep on a bar-stool without falling over. All quite impressive attributes it has to be said.