Dominica “The Nature Island”

Christopher Columbus sailed passed the island’s east coast shores on a Sunday, November 3rd 1493. Unable to make landing, he never set foot on the island but he gave the name Dominica after Dominigo for Sunday. As was the case with the rest of the Caribbean, Dominica was already inhabited by the native Kalinago people, who used the name Wait’tukubuli meaning ‘Tall is her body”. The Kalinago (previously known as the Carib Indians) had settled on the island from around 1000AD. Some 3,000 Carib Indians still living on Dominica are the only pre-Columbian population remaining in the eastern Caribbean. Now that’s interesting!

Dominica is largely covered by rainforest and is home to the world’s second-largest boiling lake. Dominica has many waterfalls, springs, and rivers. Some plants and animals thought to be extinct on surrounding islands can still be found in Dominica’s forests. The volcanic nature of the island and the lack of sandy beaches have made Dominica a popular scuba diving spot. They say that Dominica has 365 rivers.

Story told is that when his royal sponsors asked Christopher Columbus to describe this island in the “New World”, he crumpled a piece of parchment roughly and threw it on the table. This, Columbus explained, is what Dominica looks like—completely covered with mountains with hardly any flat spots! Following the European’s arrival, the island remained a neutral territory for many years, serving as a refueling for ships. At this time there was much trading between the Europeans and Kaliango. During the 1700’s the British and the French fought several times over control of the island before the British gained control in the early 1800s. The island gained independence from Britain in 1978.

Check out this site for more about Dominica: http://justfunfacts.com/interesting-facts-about-dominica/

 

Came across this crazy looking house in Portsmouth.

Well, would you look at that….we found a Mee Kee Dee’s! Wonder if they serve burgers!

This young man was proud to show me his toy. His friends said that he might now be famous on Face Book. We thought it was great that something so simple could entertain a boy this age. You would not see this in the states!

Local fishing boats. They are all painted orange inside so that they can be spotted easily if the fishermsn is on them and they get stranded offshore. It’s a long way of open sea until the next island if they breakdown.

Our adventures start in Portsmouth, it is on the north coast and it’s the second largest city in Dominica. From where we are anchored in the bay we have a view of the town and have Fort Shirley up above us. Portsmouth is a laid back non-touristy town. Portsmouth Dominica was originally selected to be the capital of the mountainous island in 1760. Unfortunately, there are swamps nearby and an outbreak of malaria caused Roseau to be chosen instead, leaving Portsmouth with the sad distinction of having been the capital for only a year.

Our first adventure was to take a tour up the Indian River. The Indian River is the main attraction for Portsmouth. The river is a protected area of Dominica’s National Parks. Only certified guides can take a boat up the river and there are no engines allowed! When we got to the mouth of the river our guide Andrew pulled his boat to the side and told us that we would have to walk to a nearby gas station to purchase our park access ticket. After a short walk we returned for our adventure. Andrew moved into his rowing position and rowed us through the winding river.

Brian, our river guide and the Bush Bar keeper.

 

It was beautiful but we couldn’t help to think about what it must have been like before hurricane Maria ravaged the area. Once he rowed as far as we could go (the river was blocked with debris) Andrew pulled us up to a wooden dock at the rivers edge. We hopped out of his boat and onto the dock for a stop at the “Bush Bar”. Seems that someone was thoughtful enough to build a watering hole for us cruisers along the riverfront. Brian and I treated ourselves and our guide Andrew to a couple of local beers called “Kubuli”. The flowers were plentiful and amazing here!

On our way back down Andrew took us up a side branch of the river to show us where they filmed parts of Pirates of the Caribbean 2, Dead Man’s Chest.Tia Dalma aka Calypso from Pirates of the Caribbean had her shack here, (no longer in existence, the building is covered with brush and debris) It was still cool to see the shooting location, to think that Johnny Depp was once here too!

This was the filming location for the Pirates of the Caribbean movie, “Dead Man’s Chest”

We really enjoyed the trip. The bloodroot tree’s root system were what most stood out to us, they were amazing! Lots of birds, land crabs and of course fish. We enjoyed our tour and Andrew was a great guide.

We’ve walked around town a bit, not much to see. Seems to be like most Caribbean towns. The most noticeable difference was the damage caused by recent hurricane Maria.

Hurricane Maria made landfall on the southwest coast of Dominica on September 18th as a Category 5 hurricane, with 160 mph wind speed and higher gusts. The hurricane force resulted in intense storm surges, torrential downpour, overflowing raging rivers, and extremely high winds across the island left 31 people dead, 37 missing. 65,000 people, around 80% of the population, were directly affected and more than 90% of roofs were damaged or destroyed. Maria passed mostly over the southern part of the island, (we are on the north side now) so sadly, the damage that we are seeing might just get worse.

Check out this parking job!

This house was not so lucky in Hurricane Maria.

Tent for the World Food Program that was here to help after Hurricane Maria.

 

Our next adventure lead us up to an 18th century Brittish fort, Fort Shirley. It sits overlooking the bay and is part of Cabrits National Park. The fort has been restored beautifully. We spent the day exploring trails surrounding the fort and even found more ruins and cannons along the way. The views from the top were outstanding!

Brian trying to see if they could fire upon Moon from the fort.

 

 

 

Whew, I think that we’ve written a book this time! So much to share. As we are writing this it is Easter Sunday. The local PAYS group is having a barbecue fund raiser tonight so that will be Easter dinner for us…yum, my favorite :-). Well, I won’t have to cook anyway so that will be a treat. Meeting some other sailors and unlimited rum punch doesn’t sound bad either!
Hope that you all have/had a wonderful Easter too!

Until next time,
Jennifer and Brian SV/Moon

This is the PAYS pavilion where they host their Sunday night bbq.

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Guadeloupe To Dominica

Our sail to Dominica was perfect.The winds were light to start but we were able to sail conserving our fuel and the seas were calm so we had a comfortable ride. We hauled anchor at 7:15 and arrived at 12:30 in the afternoon in beautiful Dominica.

Here we are leaving the islands of The Saints and you can see mainland of Guadeloupe in the background.

Dominica in the distance off of our bow.

Arriving in Dominica, bit of ha hazy day for pics though.

Entering Prince Rupert Bay.

We kept a sharp eye out for whales which are supposed to be numerous in Dominica this time of year and I think that I saw one breach just once off in the distance but we were not rewarded with any real sightings. As we rounded the corner to the anchorage in Prince Rupert Bay, Portsmouth, we were greeted by a “boat boy”. (These guys are not actually boys but full grown men that operate small boats in the area that cater to the needs of cruisers.) They provide tours and services and this is their livelihood. They have worked out a system where they all take turns with the arriving yachts so they all get a chance to make something. We’ve noticed that not all boats that arrive actually take advantage of their services so it can be a hit or miss for these guys if they make anything for the day. We were greeted by Andrew from Seabird and the first words out of his mouth were: “Welcome to paradise!”

Passing by a fort as we enter the harbor. You can see all of the damage to the trees from hurricane Maria.

Brian talking to one of the “boat boys” that helped us tie up to the mooring ball.

We thought that was a awesome welcoming! As we came into the anchorage we were surprised and delighted to see lots of other cruising boats. There were boats anchored and on mooring balls but we chose to pick up a mooring ball to support the local PAYS (Portsmouth Association of Yacht Services). The local Indian River guides formed the group to help promote saftey for cruisers visiting the harbor. Crime was once a issue here for visiting yachts and cruisers would bypass the bay however since the PAYS group was formed saftey seems to not be an issue. They patrol the harbor at night during high season and host various functions for visitors. Of course we still take our precautions but, we are thankful for PAYS because they gave us the comfort of feeling more secure so we can visit their beautiful bay. We found our spot in the anchorage and settled in.

This guide looks fun. This is a tour coming back from the Indian River.

The views of the mountains from the harbor are amazing! We’re going to write more about Dominica in our next post. It is known as “The Nature Island”. So far we have explored the nearby town by foot and taken a tour up the Indian River (famous for it`s beauty and for being also being in one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies). It was beautiful! I want to get this posted so we will save that story for our next post. Lots to do here and we still have our eyes peeled for whales. I just know that we will spot some!

Take care for now. Jennifer and Brian SV/Moon

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More On Guadeloupe

Hope that you enjoyed our last post. We’ve been taking lots of pictures and exploring so much here. It is impossible to share all that we’ve seen and experienced, we feel ilke we are leaving so much out! We hiked to Fort Josephine on a small nearby island yesterday. The views from the top were amazing…we could even see Moon anchored in the harbor below.

As I am writing this it is our last day in Guadeloupe, for now anyway. Today we prepare to sail to Dominica tomorrow. For me this means securing items around the boat and preparing some easy grab food for the journey. It’s kinda crazy. We only have to go about 18 miles and that might not sound like much, just jump in the car and you are there in 15 minutes…but on a sailboat it is a whole different story.

Amazing…look at the tree and roots growing on the old fort wall!

Depending on the conditions of the seas and the wind direction it could take 4 hours or 8 hours! Of course we plan and try to pick our weather but we have said it before and you all know that Mother Nature can change her plans in a heartbeat. We are hoping for the best but alway plan for the unexpected too.

We will visit customs today to clear out (here that means clearing out on a computer in the internet cafe), stop at the store one more time (being in a French country, this is the place to stock up on wine, cheese, olives and of course french bread) and if we have time visit one more fort that sits overlooking the harbor.

We hope that you are all doing well. Hopefully getting internet in Dominica won’t be such a challenge and we will be able to share all of it’s beauty with you.

I have a bunch of pictures to share with you but it has been a trial and error for me. My computer is on the fritz. I thought that I had everything perpared to post when we came in today to the internet cafe but most of our pictures did not come out. I will try, try again so we can share beautiful Dominica with you all 😊

 

Take care all,
Jennifer and Brian SV/Moon

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On the Move In Guadeloupe

Known by the Caribs as Karukera (Island of Pretty Waters), it is part of France. Yes, they speak French and we don’t! That has been a challenge for us but it is so worth it, the island or we should say islands are beautiful! It is called the butterfly island because the shape of the two main islands look like a butterfly with a narrow mangrove channel that separates them. Then there are also several small islands just off of the coastline.

Approaching The Saints.

We sailed into Deshaies where we cleared in and then it was off to the famous Jacque Cousteau’s National Park and Piegon Island. The snorkeling here was fablous! We anchored Moon close to the mainland and paddled over to the island where it was full of tourists. There are several companies that rent kayaks and there were lots of people there. It was still nice though and I think that most people were a bit scared to snorkel where we did (it was deep, around 30- 50ft  but the visibility was incredible, around 90ft) we mostly had divers below us. It was so clear and the corals and fish were awesome!

We spent a couple of nights there and then sailed on to Basse-Terre which is a big city where we were hoping to go into town and get a SIM card so we could have phone and internet service.

Seems that internet is a bit of a challenge here. We had been on the hunt for a SIM card since we arrived. When we would ask around for one we were sent from one location to another only to find out that no one seemed to have a SIM card. We spent $20.00 US traveling on a bus one day for over 3 hours to a location that was supposed to have one only to get there and find out that they did not…but lucky us, they told us where we might be able to get one…yea, right!

Pigeon Beach.

We thought that it was funny when we were clearing in and we saw a t-shirt that said “No Internet Here”,  we thought that they were only talking about the town that we were in but, not so! This seems to be true for most of the Island!

This is our friend David that we first met in Luperon, DR. As we were sailing down the coast our paths crossed…it was awsome to see him again! We chatted for a while but we were going opposite directions. It was a nice surprise running into him all the way down here!

Thought that this little town nestled in the hillside was so cute that we sailed by.

Storm coming up on us when we were sailing over to The Saints.

When we anchored off of the big town of Basse-Terre it was sort of an open anchorage, not very protected. The weather started picking up and squalls moved over us so we did not feel safe leaving the boat to go into town. So we decided that we would just sail on to the next town and if we were able to get internet that we would just consider ourselves lucky! I was anxious to talk to Rachel though just to let her know that we were OK and safe.

A goat and a chicken begging for food at the beach!

From Basse-Terre we left the main land (left side of the butterfly) and headed to a group of small islands off of the coast called “Les Saints”. We pulled into a very busy harbor and found a mooring ball near town. Turns out that we were lucky to get a ball because they get filled up fast! If you have to anchor here you have to anchor way off of town in a very rolly anchorage so we really lucked out! The name of the island we anchored at is called “Terre-de-Haut” and it is absolutely georgeous!

 

The Saints

One of the views form our boat towards town.

Seems that we really hit the jackpot with this stop. This is a very popular spot for tourists with ferrys coming and going from the mainland all through out the day and the harbors all around are filled with cruising boats. There had to be at least a couple of hundred boats.

One of Z houses along the main street.

 

Securely on our mooring we jumped in our dinghy and went to shore. What a cute town! Narrow streets with mopeds and golf carts as the main mode of transportation scooting all over the place. Shops everywhere and bagettes and pastries and women on the streets selling little cakes, homemade savory filled pies, homemade ice cream and who knows what else…

We were finally able to use the internet when we found a internet cafe! Woo Hoo…communication! It was great to get a message out that we were OK and so importantly check the weather!

Vieww as we hike to the top of Fort Caroline.

Brian on top of Fort Caroline.

Enjoying the view on to of Fort Caroline.

We’ve had a chance to snorkel some here, hike to a fort high up a mountain top and to some local beaches. There is so much to do here that we could easily spend a month and never get board. Heck, if we stayed here that long we might even be able to speak French by then! We’re learning some simple words to get by but it would be great to have a real conversation.

Shy puffer fish.

So much to share and I could ramble on forever! For now this will be it. Our plan as of writing this is to sail on to Dominica on Tuesday or Wednesday of this week. As always we will post something as soon as we can. Hopefully internet will not be as much as a challenge there but they were hit by a Cat 5 hurricane just some months ago so we will have to see on that one.

Take care for now all.

Jennifer and Brian SV/Moon

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Antigua To Guadeloupe

Our sail from Antigua to Guadeloupe was awesome! We hauled anchor at 6:30 AM in Falmouth Harbour and dropped anchor at 1:30 in the afternoon in Deshaies, (pronounced Day-ay) Guadeloupe. It was about a 40 mile sail.

Did we mention how great a sail it was? We started out with winds around 10 – 15 knts on our foward beam and about halfway there the wind moved aft beam and it was almost like a downwind sail, making it a very comfortable ride.

As we approached the harbor the view was just amazing! It is a horseshoe shaped harbor with sheer mountains and a quaint little town nestled inbetween.

For the same reason that we made our passage the just about perfect weather conditions, the harbor was packed! Seems that we were not the only ones on the move that day.  We toured the anchorage and finally found a spot that we were happy with. Anchors away! Once we were sure the anchor was set we hopped in the dinghy and set out to find the customs office in this new and foreign land.

 What a cute little town! There were a few tourist shops open but the street was mostly lined with restaurants that looked like they only opened in the evenings. It took us some time to find the place to clear in…turns out it was in one of the tourist shops called Pelican’s. Once the formalities were out of the way we were free to roam and explore the beautiful butterfly islands of Guadeloupe.

Although this anchorage was beautiful we found it to be a bit rolly and too crowded for our liking so we hauled anchor after breakfast the next day. Heading to Jack Cousteau’s underwater park at Pigeon Island just 8 miles away. Can’t wait to explore and yes, we want to see it all!

Take care for now…
Brian and Jennifer SV/Moon

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Guadeloupe

Hello all, we made it to Guadeloupe…it is beautiful but little to no internet…taking lots of pictures and will hopefully make a post soon.

 

Brian and Jennifer SV/Moon

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Sunday Fun-Day

This past Sunday we got to have fun and help a local cause that we believe in.

The local sailing academy had it’s annual fund raiser. It is such a great program to support and you can check out more about the school here: https://www.nationalsailingacademy.org/

When we first saw the posters around town announcing that the sailing academy was having a fund raiser it was a must attend for us. We see this program in action all of the time. One of the programs that the school has is that instructors take disabled children sailing. We see them sail by our boat all of the time, big smiles on their faces we are sure that it is the highlight of their day to get out, sail and be on the water. They also teach local underprivileged school children how to swim and sail and all free of charge! What a wonderful program teaching these children a healthy and safe way to have fun!

Pan Band entertaining us.

We started the day by registering for the walk, getting our official t-shirt and finding a seat among the crowd to wait for the events to begin. As we were sitting there working on our first bucket of beers, (yes…first bucket, don’t judge and we were told that we had to buy the bucket because it was cheaper…so who were we to argue that?) but anyhow while we were sitting there a lady came by and told us that they were short racers for a sailboat race that they were having and she was wondering if Brian would mind joining a team. Well, she did not have to ask twice Brian was stoked to be part of a sailing race verses a walk-a-thon and all of it’s speaches! Go figure 🙂

We found out that the race was also part of the charity event and that it was crew from the mega yachts that were racing. We learned later that some them had never been on a sailing boat and I have to say that it showed, lots of flipping over and a bit of crashing into things!

It was a “dinghy race” and although there were rules to follow it was mostly for fun. Brian had a great time with his team members.

The four people in the middle of the pic are Brian and his team.

I took some time and went to enjoy the other festivities. I walked down to the Nelson’s Dockyard and was just in time to see the walkers all leaving and heading back to the academy. I followed them back to the school where some good old fashioned fun was happening. There was a clown and some people playing tug a war. Good times! What a fun-day Sunday we had all supporting a great cause!

I know we’ve said it a couple times before but it is looking like the time has come for us to sail on to Guadeloupe. If the weather holds out as we expect and it should we plan on leaving on Friday. We will sure miss this beautiful island but are excited about new adventures!

Take Care All!

Brian and Jennifer SV/Moon

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Party Like A Rock Star!

It all started as I was sitting below on the boat and I noticed two suspicious guys approach a boat that was anchored nearby. Being a good neighbor I kept a watch to see what was going on. These guys were dressed in tie-dye shirts and had big, I mean really big afros you could tell that they were wearing wigs so I was sure that something was not right! They shouted at the boat a few times and when they did not get a response they left a note tucked under the grill. Alright, I felt better. I figured whoever was on the boat just had some fun friends coming over to see them. We are after all in a very active harbor with lots of different people. I dismissed them and went about my business. Next thing I know there is shouting going on outside of my boat. I look out and the guys are yelling to me. What the heck is going on I wondered… I popped up on deck to see and was greeted by the same two guys with big hair and smiles holding an invitation to a mega yacht dock party! The yacht SKAT was having a party and the whole anchorage was invited, how about that!

The party was a “Funk You Up” theme so we searched though the boat for something that we could dress up in. Luckily it seems that we are pretty much stuck in the 70’s so it was not hard to look the look and find something fitting to wear. We were ready to party like a rock star!

On the evening of the party we arrived and were greeted by the crew of SKAT. We were told to help ourselves to whatever we wanted. There was unlimited BBQ, pitchers of free flowing rum punch and a pool filled of seemingly unlimited Heineken. Dennis you would have been in heaven!!

As the night continued on we had a blast. It started out slow but more and more people kept coming and the party moved all the way down the dock, there were so many people! As you can probably tell we had great time. The pictures are a bit blurry and so were we! A great big thank you goes out to SKAT and her crew for a night full of fun!

Brian and Jennifer SV/Moon

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It Is the Right Part…

So, for those of you who were wondering if our part that we have been waiting on for over a month came in…

Well, things started out great when we went to Budget Marine to see if it was there. We were excited that the store clerk right away recognized us , “Your back!” He said with a big smile. “Your part finally came in”. All right, things are looking good and our stove can be finally installed properly. The cleck goes to the back of the store and returns with our tiny package. It should be a left handed threaded G quarter fitting. (The thing-a-ma-bob that attaches our stove to our propane tank)

Brian gives the part a once over and as his brows start to come together I know that is not the right part. He goes and gets the catalog from the store counter and finds the part in it, shows it to the clerk and tells him that it is not the right part and that the part number is not the same as the one that we ordered. Straight faced the clerk says that it is the right part but that they changed the part number. What? Not so! The part that we ordered was a $50.00 part and the one that arrived was a $17.00 part. It would have been awesome if it would have worked but unfortunately for us, not.

Well, there it is. No part for us and for now we are not going to give it another try, at least not here. Turns out the stove is a French stovetop and the part is hard to get. Wish that we would have known that before we ordered and installed it! Maybe we will have some luck since the next island we are visiting is a French island and they just might have it there.

Meanwhile we will have to console ourselves. One of the Mega Yachts “SKAT” is having a dock party tonight and the whole anchorage is invited. Food and drinks included in the fun…maybe wih enough rum we might forget all about our wrong part adventure!

Brian and Jennifer SV / Moon

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Surprise!

OK…so we know that it has been forever since we have made a post… but there is a good reason. Our surprise was that we flew home to visit with our daughter Rachel. I should say that I got to visit with Rachel and Brian had to work. Our boss asked Brian to come to PCB to help get things rolling for the season and so we went.

Adventures At Sea, the marina that we work at in PCB.

It was awesome to spend time with Rachel! I was unlucky enough to get some kind of flu bug somewhere along the way and the first week is a bit of a blur to me but we made the most of the second week spending as much time together as we could. Rachel is working and going to school full time so it was a challenge to find time to “hang out” but just being together was all that we needed.

Shell Island a uninhabited island just of of PCB that is a popular
place to visit by boat…very rare that one else was here on the day we visited. It was 80 degrees too…nice warm day!

On her day off we took a boat to beautiful Shell Island for the day and I even ran into some of my old swimming buddies….dolphins! I was quite the sight leaning over the boat, trying to get a picture and pointing with a big grin on my face like I’ve never seen a dolphin before let alone take people to see them for a living! We had a great day together and Rachel had a chance to just relax.

Of course our time went by too quickly and we had to fly back to our beloved Moon. The flight back was a whole adventure in it’s self. The plan was to take three connecting flights from PCB to Antigua. When we arrived at the San Juan, Puerto Rico airport we read on the reader board that our last connection to Antigua was delayed by an hour. That left us with 4 hours in the airport. There is a couple of very expensive restaurants, stores and some fast food places to hang out so we opted for some fast food and grabbed a couple of rocking chairs in the hall and watched the world go by. Closer to the time for our flight to leave we went to our terminal…down a long open empty hallway and then into a dark long corridor with no tiles and wires hanging down from the roof.

We were just waiting for the zombies to come out from around the corner! Are we heading in the right direction we wondered? Finally we arrived at the end of the dark hallway and we came to a small terminal with a few people in chairs presumably waiting for the flight too. As we sat waiting the airline employees were having quite a discussion (all in Spanish so we had no idea what they were talking about). Finally Brian went to the desk to make sure that we were in the right place and the employee said that they were about to make a announcement……drum roll please…..the flight was canceled! Seems that they had been deciding who was going to be the one to tell the customers!

Still lots of blue tarps on roofs in Puerto Rico.

Dark hallway we walked down to get our flight to Antigua.

Well, it was upsetting of course but what can you do? There was one older woman there that was heading home to Antigua and she really went off on the agent telling her pretty much how we all felt. After all of the commotion we were ushered along to another part of the airport and they put us up in a roach motel for the night along with taxi and a $10.00 meal voucher per a person. Our flight was rescheduled for 8:00 AM the next morning meaning that we would have to arrive at 6:00 AM and go through a long customs line again! Good times!

Party bike that we saw in San Juan when we were on our way to find some dinner. Drink, drink, peddle, peddle!

Flying high over the beautiful island of Nevis.

As you figured by now we are back on the boat and things are getting back to normal here. We go in tomorrow and see if our part has arrived that we have been waiting on. Hopefully a month was long enough for it to get here! Good news is that the weather window for us looks like it might be next week to go to Guadeloupe. New adventures on the horizon! I think that deserves a big WOO HOO! That is it for us for now…

Until next time you all take care….love and miss you already Rachel!!

Brian and Jennifer SV/Moon

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