Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Goodbye, Dominica

Friday, May 31 - Thursday, June 6, 2013
Yes, it's really going to happen. We're finally leaving Dominica. We've spent over two weeks in Portsmouth, and have toured much of the island. Still, with 365 rivers and nearly as many waterfalls and hikes, we know we've only scratched the surface. We're already thinking about the places we'll visit when we return.

Our last week here was a bit quieter than the previous one. We finally managed to do a few daytime boat projects (like vacuuming, laundry, etc.), saving our outings for the evening. We enjoyed beach-side happy hours with friends at Blue Bay Bar, sometimes meeting other cruisers on their way south. Our big event was on Saturday, when we attended Dominica's "National Tourism Cocktail Party". The function was hosted by (and benefited) the tourism board and was held at Fort Shirley in the Cabrits National Park. For $60 ECs (about $23 US), we got a booklet of food, drink, and gift vouchers to be used at various tents that were set up around the grounds. They even offered free massages! Many of the locals showed up in their very best (6" stilettos and all), and it was a great night for people watching.

Monday, we joined Anne Bonny for a hike through the rain forest to find Cobra's Indian River Bush Bar. We'd tried this soon after our Indian River tour (the bar was closed when we arrived by canoe), but were never able to find the right path. This time, Andrew (Sea Bird) gave us much better directions, and we had no problem finding the trail. We enjoyed a gorgeous walk through dense woods. We still felt like we were in a fantasy movie as we stepped over old train rails and the massive system of tree roots. We spotted birds and big iguanas in the trees, and ripe mangoes were just waiting for us on the forest floor. We'd expected a long hike to the Bush Bar, but spotted the building's roof after only 10-15 minutes. The bar was open this time (yay!), so we finally got to try their infamous "dynamite" punch. Even if you're not a big rum drinker, you've got to try one of these. Made with freshly-squeezed juices and local spices, they go down awfully fast. Fair warning, though: we've been told you explode after your third one! 
If you want to find the Bush Bar on foot, tie your dinghy up at the Indian River dock. Turn right onto the main road, go past the bank and gas station, and take the first left after Woody's Pizza. At the top of the street, turn left just before the big yellow house. Go straight through the field until you see a bridge leading into the forest. Follow the path for 10-15 minutes, and you'll arrive at the Bush Bar. Pretend it was a much longer hike, and congratulate yourself for having earned a rum drink. HOWEVER: as lovely as the walk to the Bush Bar is, it doesn't come close to replacing the experience of a guided canoe trip up the river. Albert and the other "boat boys" are terrific guides, and this is definitely a place where we enjoy stimulating the local economy. Your best option? Do both!

Wednesday we decided to move the boat to Roseau in order to shorten the jump to Martinique. It was only 18 miles from Portsmouth to Roseau, and the forecast called for 15-20kts of wind with 4-5' seas. Anne Bonny had called us the night before with an anchorage update, telling it wasn't nearly as rolly as we'd heard from others. We had an easy motor-sail down to Roseau, with conditions even calmer than had been forecasted for a change. We managed to find a spot to drop the anchor near Anne Bonny, Catatude, and Pa'la O'la, the only trick being finding a shallow enough spot amidst the local mooring balls. One word of warning for our friends on their way here: the water is still 25+ feet deep 100 feet from shore, and you often spin in circles and find your stern near the shoreline. It's pretty intimidating! For $10 US a night, you can pick up a good mooring ball. That might be a better option if the winds are expected to pick up.

We spent Wednesday afternoon wandering through town, and Thursday Desmond on Sea Cat took us down to Champagne Beach. Champagne Beach's claim to fame is its underwater thermal springs that release bubbles from the ocean floor. The bubbles make you feel like you're in a sea of champagne, and the water temp is closer to that of bath water. We snorkeled through the bubbles, found a gorgeous reef with plenty of fish to photograph, and even found a small pool that was super-heated by the underground vents, thanks to the surrounding rocks that reduced the inflow of cooling sea water. All in all, we had a fantastic's not every day you get to swim over a volcano. :-)

Thank you again, Dominica. We've had an unforgettable time here, and can't wait to come back after hurricane season. In the meantime, we're planning to make a quick stop in Martinique before continuing on to St. Lucia. We'd like to be in Grenada by mid-July, and still have a lot of beautiful ground to cover. Til next time...

FYI: Champagne Beach is south of Roseau. You can reach it by bus, but it's faster and easier to do it by boat. We recommend Sea Cat (available on VHF 16), who will run you down in a fast skiff for 25 EC ($10 US) per person. Just make sure you have sturdy sandals or shoes...the beach is made up of all sizes of smooth rocks/boulders that can shift like marbles and are surprisingly painful to the feet!

Please enjoy more pics of Dominica here.

1 comment:

Troy and Deana Jones said...

I can't wait til next season! We will be there for sure... Miss y'all..