Well here we are in Dominica the highest island in the Caribbean. Because of its elevation it rains a lot! Even while it is sunny it rains! But that makes for beautiful scenery, magnificent waterfalls and the only true rain forest in the Caribbean.
We finally left Antigua and sailed to Guadeloupe. It was a fast and exciting romp all the way. We kept above 9kts the whole trip and had fun overhauling a catamaran (always fun to squash the myth of cats being faster off the wind). They even sent us a video of the event. We wound up in Deshaies for a few days, did some diving and socializing then went on to Pigeon Island for more diving.
We finally had the opportunity to dive the wreck of Franjak a 150′ motor ship that was sunk in 1995. It lies in 70 feet of water and was truly one of my favorite dives of all time. The corals and sponges were quite varied and healthy. The fish surrounding the hull were fun to watch as the schools of small fish darted around, and the bigger fish just lolled around looking at us. I penetrated the engine room which was a bit eerie, but good for photos.
After stocking up at the market and hitting the patisserie for goodies (yes mom I am getting a bit chunky) we sailed on down to the Saintes. We enjoy this little island group because they just look spectacular clustered together. We anchored in the lee of Ilet Cabrits this year and had a nice secluded few days. The trip to town on Terre de Haute in the dinghy old took 5 or 6 minutes, albeit a bit dodgy if the wind was up. Nothing that a nice Ti’ Punch couldn’t cure. After some more diving we decided to sail to some of the other dive spots around the islands but the wind being out of the north they were all untenable anchorages so we ended up just circumnavigating Terre de Bas island and re-anchoring back at Cabrits.
On Sunday I woke up and couldn’t move. My back had gone totally wonky overnight. It only happens once in a great while, but this one was one of the worst I’ve had since the accident. Oh well, we lounged around for a day, went for a good walk to stretch it out and by Wednesday we we’re off to Dominica. Nancy was in charge of this entire passage. She planned the route, the weather, sailed the whole way, brought us to anchor, and secured the ship. All I did was watch the world go quickly by. You don’t need to worry any longer about Nancy handling this big tugboat on her own. (By the way, we chased down another catamaran. They were 3 miles ahead of us when we left the Saintes and we passed them in a squall just as we reached Portsmouth.)
So we’ll be in Dominica for a few weeks. There is so much to see and do here. The Salty Dawgs group are having a rendezvous here so we’ve been involved in a few of their shindigs. The local maritime association has sponsored a few cook-outs that we’ve attended and we have taken a few guided tours already. Friday I went on a hike into the rain forest at 4500′ where I saw a lot of rain and forest. Then on to Syndicate Falls, a great gooey hike through mud and across rivers to a 70′ waterfall with a pool at its base. Several of us went for a swim, it was quite brisk! Nancy stayed at the boat to work on art and have a bit of personal time.
Saturday Nancy and I took a guided tour through the southern part of the island. We went up to the freshwater lake in the collapsed volcanic caldera. This was at about 1500′ in the cloud forest. Boy was it cloudy! A constant mist, interspersed with heavy rain, kept the lake all but invisible.
Then it was off to the Titou Gorge (where a scene of Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed). Here we donned life vests and swam through this tight gorge to the base of the water chute. Our guide took some action videos of the two of us and we drifted back out. Nancy found it exhilarating and a bit scary. I thought it a bit tricky and cold. Great fun all around! We stopped for lunch at a cafe just below Trafalgar falls, in a steep valley surrounded by the lushest greenery and volcanic outcroppings. Then it was on to the falls themselves. They are a pair of falls 125′ and 75′ respectively. With the heavy rains of the last week they were in full chat and quite remarkable. Although a large rockslide triggered by a tropical storm in 1995 reduced their size somewhat they are still roaring away.
The final stop was at the hot sulphur springs where we soaked our chilled bones for an hour. Yes, I said chilled. The air temperature at the lake was 52 degrees with the mist and rain. The water at the gorge was maybe 70 degrees and wet! So the hot springs pool was a delight. Our guide, Cobra, is fluent in 5 languages, knows all the flora and fauna on the island, their English, French, Creole and Latin names (and several ways to prepare most of them). He is a student of the historic architecture, well versed in the corrupt government’s activities, a successful entrepreneur, college (but not University) educated and truly loyal to his roots and country.
As a finale to the tour, we drove through Roseau, the capitol and went through the old French district with its distinctive architecture, the market place and the old English colonial district. We stopped every few minutes as Cobra was hailed by every other person along the way for a chat or just an exchange of friendly trash-talk. Quite an interesting island, its people are universally friendly and cheerful. We are looking forward to getting in some fantastic diving next week and seeing more of this enchanting spot.
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