Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Portsmouth, Dominica

We left Les Saintes after filling up our water tanks at a buoy off the beach. It holds up the end of the hose! The winds were right on the nose as we motor sailed down to Portsmouth, Dominica. The waves diminished as we came into the lee of the island and the first of the "boat boys", Ravioli, greeted us quite a way out from the anchorage. These young men make their living guiding and assisting cruisers while they visit Dominica (this is also true of St. Vincent, which we hadn't visited on the way south).
Our guidebook had recommneded Martin on "Providence" so we called him on the VHF. He is one of the leaders of the Indian River Guides, an organization that has made this group more professional and easier for cruisers to deal with. They also patrol the harbor, taking turns, at night for security. We met Paul and Cheryl on "Que Rico" and arranged a day long tour of the island the next day with Martin (that's us eating just picked bananas). What a fantastic day it was! Martin was charming and very knowledgeable. We were introduced to all the spices, flora and fauna, considerable varieties, on the island (eating quite a few). That's cashews growing at the end of the fruits above! This is a beautiful, undeveloped island with lovely people. Martin picked us up in his long wooden row boat early in the morning for a trip up the Indian River.
Mangroves, many huge, lined the way with their long convoluted roots stretching towards us. We learned about the various birds both in the trees and the water. Next we drove around the north end of the island on narrow but mostly paved roads with hardly another car in sight the whole day. One hike was out to the red rocks caused by distant lava flow.
The views were spectacular and off the shore a large group of white racing sailboats from Les Saintes dotted the very blue ocean (you may have to click on this picture to see the boats well). After a quick but tasty lunch at a small store, we drove down the windward side of the island. This is a generally more rugged coastline but with some lovely beaches. We hiked down to a deserted one where we swam in a river
in fresh water and then walked a few feet to the surf breaking on the long white beach. It was hard to leave! We also saw a "cold sofriere" (bubbling gasses in a marsh land from underground volcanic activity). Martin picked some coconuts up from the side of the road and used his machete to cut off the husk and open them up for us to have for dessert. Delicious! This was one of the most memorable days of our voyage so far. Thank you Martin!

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