Well it has been awhile since I have updated our site…. Wondering if there are still folk out there reading it? We have been creating photo books of our travels to keep as reminders so I have been doing less blogging…. But for those of you out there I will do a short update since January 6!After we bid farewell to Reid and Kathy we hung out in Grenada for another few days… sadly we had to replace “George” our autopilot – after testing it was determined that the intermittent problems were irreparable – the smart pilot had been mounted in an area with moisture and was corroded. So a few days (and dollars later) we were headed north once more. We enjoyed spending time exploring and hiking on the island of Carriacou. We anchored in Tyrrel Bay this time and completed a few more boat chores too, including cleaning the bottom of the boat (again!).
The end of January found us in Bequia in time for the Mount Gay Music Fest. It was a phenomenal weekend of music and fun. The highlight was the Dana Gillespie band on Friday night – the guitarist and keyboardist were incredible. After 3 days and nights of music we were ready to move on… and headed up to Rodney Bay, St. Lucia to see some friends before they headed further north. It was great to catch up with Doug and Wendy and Tim & Linda for a few days. We spent a little time exploring Rodney Bay but left it until when we return to explore it with Reid and Kathy at Spring Break.
The Saintes, a little group of adorable French islands just off the coast of Guadelope was our next stop. For 10 days we explored these lovely islands enjoying their French charm, delightful beaches , great vistas atop the hills…. and did I mention the delicious daily snack of fresh baguettes and cheeses? Fort Napolean (1867) has been carefully restored and provides commanding views of the harbor and Guadalope in the distance. We spent a morning exploring, absorbing the history, gardens, iguanas and incredible views. The main and busiest island, Terre den Bas is barely 2 by 2 nautical miles so we traversed all of it and checked out all the beaches too. Le Chameau is the highest point on the island at 1000’ and also the site of an old Napoleonic tower. The views include a peak of Dominica in the south and towards the opposite side of the harbor as Fort Napolean. We made the walk up on the old road and then scrambled down the back side to the stunning Anse Crawen. The weather was a little unsettled during our stay with north swell and big seas and winds so we were a little rolly at times and we stayed until we had some better conditions. We had hoped to sail to Marie Galante, however, the wind and sea never cooperated so off to Dominica we went.
Ahhhhhh Dominica…….. touted as the “nature island” it truly lives up to its name! Love, love, love this unspoiled, rugged, delightful island! It is a hiker’s paradise with 365 rivers, countless waterfalls, a recently completed 115 mile “Waitukabuli Trail” that begins from the southernmost tip in Scots Head and ends at the northernmost part of the island at the Cabrits, and for us the as yet unseen “valley of desolation”. We headed to the southern end of the island to hook up with good friends Ken and Lynn aboard Silverheels III. They had already been in Roseau for a couple of weeks and have visited Dominica several times so it was great to get the heads up on what, where and how to do things… and it was fun to have company for many hikes and outings. In addition, Lynn had reconnected with three girlfriends from Dominica whom she (or her sister) went to school with at a Catholic Girls’ school in London, Ontario‼ So we had a local tour guide all to our own for a day, in addition to two evenings at their homes for delicious dinners and entertainment… what a special way to experience Dominica!
SeaCat is a famous local guide based in Roseau and we spent an amazing day with him. His knowledge, expertise, friendly way, passion for his country and its history made the day truly memorable. A “rasta man” and friend to all on the island it seems we made frequent stops where we learned or tasted something new. The first stop was a rasta village for bakes and grilled plantains followed by a stop at a lovely lodge on the Atlantic side with fabulous views. We made our way up island to Petite to sample the local moonshine. Along the way we made stops on the side of the road to sample: tamarind, “skin ups”, coconut water, cashews, cocoa and the delicious “jungle m&m’s, grapefruit, almonds, cinnamon, bay oil and what else I can’t remember‼ SeaCat is phenomenal trail guide and led us up to the spectacular Vic Falls, crossing the river 7 times as we scrambled over boulders and through the forest. Upon reaching the falls, Glen opted to stay ashore while SeaCat pushed my boundaries as we swam and made our way through the pool and close to the falls. He then coaxed and coached me through a series of dives and rock hugging manoeuvres calling and reaching for me all the time until we were underneath the falls. The power and majesty was incredible and exhilarating to behold from this vantage point. Just when I thought I had done all I could and was wondering how we were going to make our way back he had me diving to the bottom to check depth and then scrambling some rocks. At this point he said – “ok jump” and insisted I go first! With little choice, a deep breath and off I went – again WOWZA‼! Returning to the start of the trail we then had THE most delicious Ital lunch out of cassava bowls with coconut spoons. The local rasta man, Moses, has a little hut, garden and fire pit where he created a delicious dish of lentil stew all from his garden (lentils being the only addition). With our stomachs full we were off on yet another adventure. SeaCat said he had a plan for another hike to the beach on the Atlantic side (Aba Wavine Cyrique) that required upper body strength and a little rope work! OK, that was an understatement‼‼‼ So twice in one day I pushed beyond my comfort zone! What started innocently as a gentle downhill walk, followed by a series of fern tree steps cut into the soil quickly turned nasty! We rappelled, scrambled down roots, held on for dear life and at one point descended a very scary, teeny, weeny, flimsy rope ladder to make it to the blackest sand beach we have ever seen. SeaCat led the way calling encouragement, directions and constant reminders of “make a good step” and “hold on firm”. The black sand was incredible and the little water fall cascading from high above a refreshing way to end. Whew! Going back up was a ‘little’ easier and less daunting (well except the rope ladder part mentioned above). What a DAY! I just ran across a Dominica guide that describes the above trail as follows:
“This activity is suited to extreme sport enthusiasts who are not afraid of heights and are in top physical shape. Go down the groomed trail for 15 minutes until reaching a steep precipice where a rope, tree stumps and a rope ladder will aid you for the final descent to the beach.”
Other highlights from Roseau included the Kalinago reserve and visits to the schools, Cassava bread, the Waitukabuli trail, Champagne Reef, Trafalgar Falls and as I mentioned above the chance to meet and visit with Lynn’s Dominican friends. After a week’s hiking our blistered feet needed a bit of a rest from hiking in soggy shoes. We are keen to do the infamous “boiling lake and desolation valley” hike, however, SeaCat only had large (20+) groups going out and we wanted to wait until he was less busy…so on our return this will be a MUST.
Our next stop was the north end of the island and the friendly anchorage and town of Portsmouth. This is a great little place that the local ‘yacht service boys’ are trying to make the most friendly and ‘go to’ place in Dominica… and are doing a fabulous job. We have been using Providence’s services and Martin is the gentlest, nicest professional we have encountered in this field. With each trip/visit/service he always delivers a little something – a bird he has woven from grasses, helconia flowers all delivered with the most beautiful smile! The hiking continues as we traverse through more rainforest and to more vistas! This island is truly a hiker’s paradise! With plans to return in April if seas and winds cooperate we prepare to depart Dominica and set sail for Martinique. We are making our way south to St.Lucia for” Reid & Kathy’s Most Excellent Adventure Part III”….. we love having company and are bound to have endless adventures and stories to tell as we explore St.Lucia with them so stay tuned.