Tuesday 17 January 2017

Goodbye Martinique, Hello Dominica

Wednesday 14th January was our last day on Martin at what we decided was the best spot we had been to in the boat, Les Anse D'Arlet a few miles south of Fort De France Bay. Lunch the previous day was so good we decided to go back for more but prior to that we had a swim from the beach. On the way there we stopped off at our new neighbours an Oyster 37 from the UK crewed by young couple Matt and Amey from Portsmouth and invited them over for drinks in the evening. We then bumped into them a number of times ashore!

First objective was to find a spot on the beach with a bit of shade from which to swim. The beach is lined with little bars/restaurants and so we inevitably ended up close to one and so a nice cold beer was on hand after our swim followed by a debate about whether to return to the place next door to eat which we knew provided great food or to try the new place. 

View at Lunch

We both concluded that on balance a return to what we knew would be a good lunch was the best option and it was another good lunch. After lunch a wander round a bit of shopping and we then headed back to the boat to receive our visitors.

Not on the Menu!
Matt and Amey are a charming couple in the early stages of their round the world experience and we spent a most enjoyable evening with them. They landed in Saint Lucia a week before we got to Martinique and suffered a broken boom in a squall which caused an accidental gybe. They were therefore waiting for a new boom to arrive in Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia and were returning the next day to collect it and commence fitting. They would then be heading south to Panama to transit the canal into the Pacific.

The next morning, Thursday 15th January we were up at 0400 in order to ensure we arrived in Roseau on Dominica in daylight. With the wind in the North East the passage along the west coast of Martinique was a mixture of calms requiring some motoring and squalls in flat water. 

The forecast was for 20+ knots from the NE and so we had a reef in the main in preparation for bigger winds to come. Approaching the NW tip of the island the squalls increased in intensity with higher mountains to windward and then the wind died down somewhat for a short period. It did not last however and we were soon sailing to windward under the reefed main and a well reefed Genoa in an increasingly lumpy sea as we progressed further into the gap between the islands. We saw a couple of other yachts in the vicinity but not many. Once again we were 'enjoying' a wet and bumpy ride. The boat handled the conditions well and we continued close hauled on a heading for Roseau at the 5+ required to get us in before dark.

On our approach to Scott Head, the most southerly point of Dominica we were eventually overhauled by slightly larger yacht from Denmark sailing well in the brisk conditions.

We eventually picked up a mooring at about 1700. There were a couple of locals out in their high speed boats touting for business and although our guide book said it was possible to anchor the moorings seemed to be in the best places and we didn't want to piss the locals off. $15 US a night was not to bad. Feeling quite tired after the long day we elected to remain on board for the evening and start our exploration the next day.

We got shore about midday on Monday - that seems to be the earliest we can make without a special effort!

Government House

First job was to check-in with Customs. Our guide book said there was an office in town and another further up the coast an a mile or so where the larger ships docked. It turned out we walked straight past the office in town. Still the walk was interesting enough – even though much of it was conducted in the pouring rain - and we got to see more of the local area than we might otherwise have done. On our return it was lunch time and the office was shut and so we of course had to have lunch. We found a great restaurant just over the road where we enjoyed an excellent meal at a very reasonable price and spent a couple of hours watching the rain come down.

Lunch stop
After lunch we checked in with Customs (they then dealt with immigration) and went off in search of a barbers and a bank and did some shopping. The town was a bit scruffy around the edges but had a vibrant and friendly atmosphere. There were a lot of reminders of the islands colonial past with a number of impressive buildings and a red post box outside the Post Office. We encountered a few hard sell merchants but most of the time everyone was friendly and we were able to wander freely. At the end of the day further down pours 'forced' us to eat ashore at the dock our moorings belonged to.

The island looks beautiful and is the location of a nature world heritage site. This afternoon we will take a bus up the coast and tomorrow we WILL get up early and take a bus into the mountains to explore properly! On Thursday we will sail up to Portsmouth at the north of the Island where we hope to meet up with Arvin, our guest on Christmas Day.

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