Friday, July 2, 2010


We are currently in Dominica enjoying the beauty of this island.  But before I get to telling you what we've been up to, I should tell you a little bit about the trip here.  To give you a full picture of our life and in the interest of full disclosure you might as well know about the bad as well as the good.  There are no pictures of our trip from St. Kitt's to Montserrat to Guadeloupe because, well, it was miserable to say the least.  Actually miserable is a bit of an understatement.
Montserrat to Guadeloupe goes down in the top 5 list of our all time worst sails.
I can't think of the other 4 at the moment but I'm sure there were others.  This one is still fresh in my mind.
Forget the forecast.  It wasn't even close.  4-6 foot forecasted seas were 8 feet with the occasional 10 footer.  Winds were in the mid 20's with gusts in the 30's.  Confused, sloppy seas.  We were able to tack NE and then south to Guadeloupe on one tack, close hauled flying the staysail and reefed mainsail.  Waves were crashing over the bow and a few made their way into the cockpit.  We arrived salty and exhausted.  It wasn't any better for Pat and Carol on S/V Songbird who were traveling with us.  Big boat or little, it was a rough sail.  We were very happy to stay in Deshaies for a few days.  We needed the break.

After all that rough sailing, it was nice to have an easy, short sail down the coast to Pigeon Island.  Located just off the west coast of Guadeloupe, Pigeon Island is home of the Jacques Cousteau Marine Park.  We were looking forward to some great snorkeling.

Heavy rain showers blew through shortly after we arrived.  When the seas calmed once again it was time to jump in for a swim.  Carol and Pat yelled over for us to hurry, we didn't have much time.  The heavy rains had washed soil and debris down the mountains and into the ocean.  A dark mud-line was visible along Guadeloupe and the current was pushing it our way.
That light-colored line is dirt, sticks, branches, leaves and garbage that have all been washed out to sea.  We enjoyed about 15-20 minutes of great snorkeling before the water started to cloud and we began to see debris in the water.  We were only back on the boat for about 10 minutes when the mud-slick surrounded us.  It continued to surround us for the rest of the night.  By morning it had all been swept away and the water was amazingly clear again. 

The next morning we sailed to Les Saintes, a group of islands south of Guadeloupe.  Still lots of rain in the area but not right where we were.  It was a beautiful sail.  Almost made me forget the trip from St. Kitt's.  Almost.

Last Sunday we enjoyed another perfect sail to Dominica.  The weather forecast was good for several more days but we opted to stay in Portsmouth where we could catch up with our favorite tour guide Alexis, do some hiking and explore more of this beautiful island.
We wasted no time!  Monday we headed out with Pat, Carol, Alexis (right) and our taxi driver Stanley (left) for a day of hiking.

Alexis took us up in the mountains where small farms dotted the countryside.  In Dominica they are called plantations, probably a holdover from colonial days.  The plantation owners usually live in one of the villages and come to their plantation each day to work the fields.  They were growing bananas, pineapple, mangoes, avocado, papaya, watermelon, pumpkin, limes, dasheen, cocoa, coffee, nutmeg, ginger, herbs, the list goes on and on.  I think you could bury an old shoe here and it would probably grow.  The soil is that fertile.

Alexis took us up and down the hills pointing out the various plants and picking fruits and herbs for us to take back to our boats.  Eventually the trail led us to a waterfall, only the first one of the day!

This is a processing building were the produce is crated for shipping.

We stopped at this plantation to purchase fresh-picked pineapples.  They might be the best we've ever tasted, sweet and juicy.

Bananas cut and waiting to be sent to market or shipped to other Caribbean islands and Europe.

A short stop for take-away food from the food shacks near the university and we were off to the second hike of the day to another waterfall.

This one was a bit more strenuous.  The trail followed the riverbed and sometimes was actually in the river as we had to pick our way upward toward the falls.

The scenery was breathtaking!

Our reward was a magnificent waterfall with a pool to swim in.

Every turn brought something beautiful to see.

Hiking finished, Stanley took us for a drive-by of the Prime Minister's house.


End of the day.  We stop in the village of Penville to meet Alexis' mom and then we head down the street to a rum shack for something cold.

A nice, cold Kabuli, the local beer.

Look at all those happy faces!
Left to right; Felix (Alexis' dad), Stanley, Jim, Pat, Alexis and Marie, the proprietor.
Alexis spending some time with dad.

It's been a long, wonderful day.  Time to take our precious cargo and head back to the boat.