Dominica, Uproar doubled up with more aid and new friends.
09 November 2017
Uproar was loaded with relief supplies but we were stuck, waiting for the Luci Lights to arrive. Luci Lights are amazing LED/solar charged lights within a blow-up little globe. Imagine a small, cylindrical beach ball with bright LED's shining through. They are the modern version of the old Coleman gas lanterns. They are bright and after a day of solar they run all night.
Lisa thought they would be perfect for people who don't have electricity to get light in the dark, Caribbean nights. The Luci Light website mentioned that 39,000 of their lights had been sent as disaster relief and offered a discount for lights they would supply for relief efforts. Yes, they would offer the discount to us but we needed to buy 60 lights. Gulp, still expensive, especially with the $200 Global Priority shipping which advertised 2 to 3 day shipping to Martinique. But that was two weeks ago and still, no lights.
Don't misunderstand, we love Martinique. The waiting for the Luci Lights was frustrating but we enjoyed our stay and did a few boat projects. We had our longed-for cafe au lait and pain au chocolat for breakfast and the find French food. Lisa was reading a post on a Martinique cruiser's site that a group on Martinique wanted to find a boat going to Dominica to deliver supplies. She answered that we would be willing to help.
Laura from Art Power called. She explained that they held several concerts to raise money and had bought supplies. They had a friend in the Kalinago area of Dominica, a remote area where the last remaining descendants of the Caribe Indians lived. We agreed to deliver the supplies and she said a person or two from their group would possibly go with us. Taking passengers to a different country can be risky for a cruiser. The captain takes on some responsibilities that can carry a huge financial burden. But their cause was the same as ours. We agreed.
Luci Lights were still in limbo somewhere. We decided to leave for Dominica on Sunday, sailing through the night. Laura and Nicholas from Art Power met us at the dock in St. Anne. Nicholas is a musician and Laura a fashion designer. They were accompanied by family and friends and two loaded vans. They had 18 heavy boxes and a generator. It took 4 dinghy trips to load Uproar, already loaded with our supplies. She was sunk down past the waterline. It was a real leap of faith for Laura and Nicholas to jump on a boat with strangers to make a night, open ocean passage, 85 nautical miles to Portsmouth, Dominica.
Laura and Nicholas spoke perfect English. Both had lived in Paris for awhile and Laura lived in London as well. They are about the age of our children. We were delighted to have them join us. Laura was most gracious when she became a little seasick. She did not blame my duck curry! Nicholas brought a guitar and played blues, reggae and jazz by the full moonlight. Wind was light at times in the lee of Martinique but blew steadily for most of the passage. Waves were quite low and Uproar even hit 8 knots at times, in spite of her heavy load.
Lights from most islands can be seen for 30 or 40 miles. Dominica remained dark. Scotts Head light house was flashing brightly. Ten miles out we were able to see the dark outlines of Dominnca's towering mountains. But there were no lights on shore. We expected things to be dark with no power but the island had an ominous air in the moonlit shadows.
We slowed Uproar the last few hours to arrive just after dawn. Portsmouth had a few lights but the town was quiet. Laura and I were nearly in tears when the dawn light revealed the destroyed forest. We expected to see this but were not ready for the full impact. Houses and villages hidden by trees were starkly visible and so was the damage to most buildings.
Customs was a breeze and our Dominican friend, Boudah, met us at the customs dock. Laura and Nicholas had arranged with their friend, Kevin to meet us there too. But he had not yet arrived. We were instructed that all aid must be unloaded at the customs dock. We returned to Uproar by dinghy, pulled anchor and proceeded to the customs dock. Boudah and his brother Andrew brought their trucks right to Uproar. It took almost an hour to unload the aid supplies. Laura and Nicholas were at a loss about Kevin. They didn't know Boudah and loading their precious cargo in his van was a concern. No problem, Boudah said he would take them and their cargo to the Kalinago area, where Kevin lived. He would call us when he got back to Portsmouth.
Lisa and I took a two hour nap, waiting for Boudah to return.