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Anthem Adrift
Down Wind is Good Wind
06/06/2009, Portsmouth, Dominica

North Shore of Dominica

June 6

It would be hard to imagine a more verdant land than Dominica. Fruits, vegetables, spices grow here in amazing profusion. Even the nearly vertical sides of mountains are covered in lush vegetation. Every tropical fruit you can think of and some you can't blanket the roadsides and hillsides to be picked from tree/plant/vine or off the ground. Some land is private, some government and much is just open. An all-day tour also took our group of eight to a "cold soufriere" of bubbling sulfur water pools in the crater of the most northerly of eight volcanos. Next time you're in the neighborhood ignore the reports of a couple being tied up, beaten and robbed two weeks ago at the south end of our Prince Rupert Bay and stop by.

Rather at sixes and sevens for activity tomorrow. Would like a river tour, but haven't heard of anyone going. Attempting to go without a guide, thus circumventing their primary means of livelihood, is said to be met with active opprobrium. May also, or alternatively, visit nearby Cabrits National Park and Fort Shirley.

Preceding implications should not cause unwarranted inferences concerning visiting Dominica (not to be confused with Dominica (Doe-MIN-i-ka)). This is a wonderful place and has been a most positive experience, to this very moment. Also, if you're short of cash for beer, stand downwind of several places or individuals as have been encountered for a little second-hand cheer.

Had considered layover in capitol, Roseau, on the SW end, but now plan early Monday departure for St. Pierre, Martinique (about 53 miles). A day or two there then 13 NM to Fort de France.

Jack

Island Time
06/05/2009, Portsmouth, Dominica

Staghorn Coral

June 5

Snorkeling in the morning, goofing off in the afternoon, get-together at Blue Bay with 15 or 20 others at Blue Bay Bar and Restaurant, early bed.

OK, think I'm getting the hang of island time. Oh wait! Watched Danny, a boat boy, clean the bottom of ecology encrusted dinghy on the beach below late afternoon bacchanal and dinner. Walking over to check on him was very tiring!

Jack

Friends, an Insidious Influence
06/04/2009, Portsmouth, Dominica

Portsmouth Anchorage

June 4

Slightly choppy close reach using wind vane steering from Les Saintes to Portsmouth, Dominica (Doe-min-E-ka) this morning had anchor buried by 1130. Computer based pre-clearance actually worked, making process at customs a dollar eighty piece of cake.

However and dang! Caught up with numerous cruising friends. Planned to mellow out today for possible excursions beginning tomorrow, but became entrapped in the sticky web of social interaction, lubricated with something called a yellow bird produced, apparently in the gallons, by Melanie on Spectra (big trawler that towed Annie II from Luperon to Boqueron as you may recall). Future plans include movie night of "Captain Ron" (a classic) on same party barge for nine, soon to be ten, boats currently in residence.

Option tomorrow of local bus trip to Roseau (the capitol south end of island) at 0800 or snorkling at 0930. Choice made easier by stinko drunk Kiwis on S/V Cant (really) screaming Maori war chants during intended rejuvenating nap this afternoon and also to previously mentioned refreshment extending to cruiser's midnight.

Jack

Au Revoir Iles des Saintes
06/03/2009, Le Bourg, Les Saintes

June 3

Crew earned his keep today, completing all tasks with efficiency and aplomb (not a pre-desiccation prune).

After listening to weather and Coconut Telegraph, dinked into town to find local gendarme who handles customs duties. My end of the entire conversation with him was, "Bon jour, parlez vous Anglais?, oui, pardon, oui, oui, merci". So far, the French have been the easiest check-ins and Americans have been the biggest pricks.

Next, carried aromatic fabric items to laundry lady at Yacht Club des Saintes to be washed, but not dried, by 1600. She wanted to charge 30 Euro for admittedly large sack-o-clothes, but eventually settled for still outrageous 20. Boat currently resembles a low-end thrift shop.

Returned to gendarmerie for clearance papers (in and out) faxed back from Guadeloupe. No charge. Celebrated with cafe au lait, jus d'orange and pastry chocolat (no oeufs) for petite dejeuner after finally finding ATM. They speak only le Francais and take only euro. Le Bourg is very, pardon me for saying so, Sue, quaint.

After breakfast, climbed 300 some feet to Fort Napoleon (named after that short guy who had the little dust-up around the turn of the 18th century with British Admiral Nelson, who died kicking his derriere at Trafalgar) to discover three things: a beautifully maintained fort, an incredible view of the harbor and, after four and a half months on a boat, appalling endurance. Also got a hint why French fare so poorly in armed conflict. Their rifle positions for firing through thick fort walls are constructed backward. A small slit is on the outside with open angled field of fire facing inward. Somebody should have told them.

Second attempt at fixing fresh fish was significant leap forward with help from distaff member of Inspiration Lady crew. This possibly due to improved cleaning technique and species more amenable to fine dining.

Jack

Bloody Good Show
06/02/2009, Le Bourg, Les Saintes

Turtle

June 2

Dive at Pigeon Island much better than initial impression. Shallow areas just rocks, but hard coral, fish and turtles were revealed deeper. Abandoned Jacksters, enjoying additional dives there, to motorsail four hours to Le Bourg, Les Saintes, still flying quarantine flag. Immediate activity after setting hook was repairing to Inspiration Lady for appropriate celebration of... ummm, Whittuesday with five other boats. Most will leave AM. Could clear in and out tomorrow, have laundry done and climb mountain to Ft. Napoleon or could just sleep in until next happy hour. Slight lean toward that first thing due bouquet emanating from laundry bag, current repository of virtually all attire.

Laundry lady at Yacht Club des Saintes washes, but doesn't dry. No problem as everything gets wet immediately anyway. Despite angst concerning both, oil change and fuel can wait until Martinique. Being familiar, from a previous visit, with boudin creole, a favorite of Pat Barth, there is little reason to dawdle in these island, lovely as they are. The unexplored wilds of Dominica call, "Jacque, Jacque (int'l border), Jack, Jack".

Headline News tomorrow: "Mighty hunter and slayer of fish triumphs over pelagic denizen while transiting channel from Basse Terre to Le Bourg. Hundreds spared from ignominy of hamburgers and goat." Slightly exaggerated heft of recently expired creature to be blamed on irresponsible media. Current thinking assumes the fearsome big-eyed tuna as he's a tuna looking fellow with really big eyes. Extraneous information: Cheap gin has expected salutary effect on annoyed incipient dinner.

Jack

Second Offense
06/01/2009, Anse Malendure, Guadeloupe

June 1

Two great days of sailing, coincidence or a trend? I'm going with that second thing. Initial light ENE wind raised specter of bobbing into Guadeloupe at midnight, but it veered and filled with a comfortable quartering two to five foot sea. Love the places visited, love the people met (cruisers and locals), but sailing is the essence of the deal and this is how it should be. Arrived at Pigeon Island just after 1500.

Plan dive at the Cousteau Underwater Park AM with David and Jackie, then sail to Les Saintes PM. They're big into diving and Jackster has a compressor to refill tanks. Cool!

Beers ashore without clearing in extends crime spree to two. Customs people are enjoying righteousness with everyone else on Whitmonday so official entry into France (all French Antilles are regions of the mother country) will occur tomorrow (assuming arrival Saints on time). After receiving our three beer order, discovered that bar only takes Euros and we had none (not quite true as I had a grossly insufficient 40 centimes). No one spoke English... at all. After watching libation go warm and flat (less a problem than might be expected because friends are British and I like their beer), bartender returned with change from $20 at unsympathetic exchange rate. Had a cracking good time regardless.

Jack

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