We were excited to leave Martinique and head to Dominica. They say if old Chris Columbus sailed back to the Caribbean today, Dominica would be the only island that he would recognize, because as Frankenfurter says, it’s still a wild and untamed thing, largely devoid of physical signs of tourism.
The sail across the strait was rollicking, the apparent wind touching 30kts a few times with a reasonable swell thrown in for good measure. But distances are short and we soon rounded the impressive Scotts Head at the bottom of Dominica.
Our first stop was Roseau, which a lot of cruisers bypass going straight to Portsmouth. Roseau is convenient to some of the most spectacular spots on top as well as underneath the sea. We picked up a mooring from Marcus (which are the best ones there with large blocks of concrete, connected to chain) in 23m of water and he dinghied us over to Customs. Customs and Immigration were reasonably straightforward costing us 20 euros to check in and out of the country at the same time (as we were staying less than 2 weeks). Then it was off to explore the town and pick up some duty-free grog at Pirates.
Next day it was up early and off to the Boiling Lake with Armstrong. The whole day cost us a 150 East Caribbean Dollars (75AUD, 60USD) each and involved a 6 and a half hour hike up, up, up and down, down, down. We soon wished we’d done a bit more hiking before we tackled this little challenge. The walk was quite spectacular going through untouched rainforest and down into the Valley of Desolation, before chambering up a river valley, down a rope climb and then to the rim of the boiling lake itself, the second largest in the world after Rotorua in NZ. As we approached it started to rain and we got soaked as we ate lunch at the Lake.
That afternoon, Seacat put another Cat on a mooring quite close to us. We asked Marcus about it and he said he never put a boat on our mooring when Seacat had one on that particular mooring but said it would be okay because we were both Cats and would swing the same. I was still a bit nervous but didn’t do anything about it.
Then it was off to the Anchorage Hotel to wait for Klara to arrive. She was flying from Europe via Miami and Puerto Rico – the downside of Dominica is getting there is difficult.
As we were going to bed, the wind dropped off to nothing and we managed to “sail” forward over our mooring and hit the other boat, chipping off a bit of our gelcoat as we hit the sharp metal rub rail of the older Outremer. Bummer. We both put fenders out and we got Marcus to get us another mooring first thing in the morning. The moral of the story is that if you have any doubts then act on them. Otherwise shit happens.
Next day we could hardly walk but there was no rest for the wicked as we headed off on another Armstrong adventure in his minivan. First stop was Emerald Falls where we swam underneath the falls, the cold clear water reinvigorating our weary legs. This was followed by a drive to Fresh Water Lake in the mountains and then off to Titou Falls, where Johnny D. jumped off a cliff in the second Pirates movie. Armstrong did a recreation as did one of the others but Dee and I chickened out and took the stairs down into the pool. Armstrong then swam us through the narrow gorge to the first waterfall and helps us get to a small indent where we could stand by pulling us through the rapidly flowing water on a life buoy. He then managed to somehow climb the waterfall and then jump off it into the pool below next to us. One of the other guys managed to do the same and Dee gave it a shot but there had been a lot of rain and the waterfall was too powerful.
Our last stop of the day was Trafalgar Falls, two very impressive falls, and here we walked/climbed out to the base of the falls over some slippery rocks and sat in the warm sulphur pools at the base of the falls. By the time we scampered back down again it was getting dark and we were glad to get off the rocks whilst we still had a smidgen of light. Another great day on Dominica.
We started to slow down a bit on Day 3, Desmond took us by boat a couple of miles south to do some snorkeling on Champagne Reef where the sulphuric bubbles come out of the seabed. Pretty cool snorkeling over the top of a group of bubbles. The sea life and corals were pretty good also. A real must see. After getting out Desmond took us around the corner to the cute little village of Soufriere, where, in front of the Church, there was some hot springs coming right out the beach into a man-made rock pool where you just lay and soak yourself in a mixture of cool sea water and hot spring water. And there is a bar! It took a lot of talking to convince Dee to leave.
Day 4 was diving day. You have to dive with a local dive operator in Dominica and we booked with Anchorage Hotel as this was the cheapest. They had a great dive boat as well, an 80 foot cat. We did a couple of dives around Champagne Reef and were impressed by the coral and the fish life. Saw a really cool sea snake and some very large crabs. Dee got to try out her new complete set of dive gear she got for Xmas and it worked a treat. Loved the fact that we were back diving in 3mm wetsuits. Perfect.
Diving over, it was off to the opening parade for Mardi Gras. We had a great time checking out all the costumes and the music as well as all the Miss Carnivale entrants, of course. We finished the day with a nice dinner at The Loft with a whole group of yachties.
Then Sunday came and we were off to Portsmouth, a 15nm sail/motor up the west coast. The sailing is superb between the islands but the wind gets a bit fickle sailing in the wind shadow of the islands.
And The Best Thing about Dominica was the friendly people!!!!