Born of the Sea

Preparing for a phased retirement on the sea. Muirgen (Gaelic for 'born of the sea')

14 May 2024 | Union Island, SVG
10 May 2024 | Mayreau, Grenadines
09 May 2024 | Tobago Cays, Grenadines
07 May 2024 | Mayreau, Grenadines
05 May 2024 | Mustique, Grenadines
02 May 2024 | Baliceaux, Grenadines
01 May 2024 | Bequia, SVG
22 April 2024 | Saint Vincent
15 April 2024 | Marigot Bay, Saint Lucia
08 April 2024 | Saint Lucia National Parks
06 April 2024 | Rodney Bay / Gros Islet, Saint Lucia
31 March 2024 | Sainte Anne, Martinique
13 March 2024 | Iles des Saintes
10 March 2024 | Deshaies, Guadeloupe
03 March 2024 | Monserrat to Guadeloupe
02 March 2024 | Monserrat

Dominica - Jewel of the Caribbean - North End of the Island

19 March 2024 | Portsmouth, Dominica
Donna Cariss
We put the mainsail up as we left the anchorage at Terre-de-Haut and the foresail shortly afterwards, as we approached the headland and picked up some wind. Because we were sailing between the islands, the winds were fluky; up and down and all over the place, making it difficult to control. I was on the helm and feeling nervous as we headed towards the reef, which appeared to only have a narrow gap. The engine battery was on, just in case we needed to start the engine if the light wind failed us at the wrong moment. We cleared the reef without the engine and had a good sail over to Dominica, in close company with Freedom Girl for much of the time. There was an odd squall and the winds were variable but we were happy with a reef in all the way. We passed a Portuguese man o' war, with its magenta sail up to carry it along. Eventually, Freedom Girl left us behind and they arrived in Portsmouth about 20 to 30 minutes ahead of us. On our way into the anchorage, we were met by Elvis, one of the PAYS boat boys, who gave us his card, saying he could help with trips, taxis, laundry etc. FG had anchored in front of a big, decrepit, red fishing boat called Sea Siren, so we anchored alongside them. Their boat boy was called Titus and they had agreed we would use the same person (sorry Elvis). Alexis, another boat boy (they are all men, not boys!), came alongside selling tickets for the PAYS beach BBQ and collecting donations and useful items for the under-privileged school children. I gave him a pack of coloured pencils, a note pad and a pack of playing cards. We said we would consider the BBQ later. Jimbo came across in his dinghy to collect Pete so they could go to clear in. As Pete handed Jimbo our file of papers and passports, he missed and it went in the water. Jimbo couldn't reach it and Pete jumped in, fully clothed, to retrieve it. The one time he didn't put it in a dry bag and he drops it! That put paid to clearing in, as we had to lay everything out to dry. Luckily there was no permanent damage done. Cock up number 2 was Pete pouring my dilute lemon juice in the kettle to boil to wash the rice, thinking it was water. Number 3 came after tea. We were sitting in the cockpit after sunset when we started to get very close to the Sea Siren. We had to move quickly to avoid hitting it as we swung in different directions. I had to motor out of its way while Pete was lifting the anchor. We motored close to Freedom Girl, giving the 'whoop whoop' signal as loud as we could, to alert them to the danger. Eventually they heard us and were also able to move, just in time. Sea Siren was on a very long line. It was now fully dark, so we set the anchor well behind the fishing boat, rather than try to find a space anywhere else. Freedom Girl followed and anchored close by. Pete and Jimbo slept in their respective cockpits, to keep watch and I was up and down all night checking, as I could hear Pete snoring. It was crazy how Sea Siren moved as the wind and current changed; sometimes in front of us, sometimes to port and sometimes to starboard. Jimbo and Lil had to move again at 2230 hours and dropped anchor well away without putting any instruments on.
First thing next morning, we re-anchored close to the north side of the bay, having looked close to Freedom Girl and found they were in 18 metres of water. Jimbo and Lil followed and anchored just behind us. Pete and Jimbo then went to clear in, down near Indian River. Although in 1 dinghy and not using the dinghy dock, which was terrible,, they were still charged 15 EC each for using the dock, in addition to the 10 EC to clear in. They had no issues with the fact they hadn't cleared out of Guadeloupe. While they were away, I swam over to Freedom Girl and had a cup of tea with Lil and we discussed the BBQ and potential taxi tours. I spotted another Westerly coming into the anchorage; it was another Typhoon, Nessa V, number TN38 (we are TN28), sailed by Nigel and Sara. Later, we went into town with Jimbo and Lil to get cash, buy courtesy flags and have a couple of beers. Kubuli is the local beer in Dominica. The old / local name for Dominica is Ytokubuli. You remember this by the joke, 'Why 2 Kubuli? Because 1 is not enough!'. Back on board, I managed to break one of our new glasses, having left it upside down to drain. A bow wave from a fast boat created a big rock and the glass flew off the worktop and smashed all over the saloon and galley. We had just finished clearing up when we head a 'whoop whoop' but it didn't come from Freedom Girl. Tantrum, another catamaran based in Jolly Harbour, was motoring in to drop anchor, right beside us. It was time for our pick up to go to the BBQ, so we didn't have time to say a proper hello.
At the BBQ, we met Maurice and Jackie, from Amble in the North East, who have a yacht called Fiddlers Green. Marie-Anne (Dutch) and Bill, from Tantrum joined us at the BBQ for drinks only. We enjoyed the tuna steak with rice and salad and the rum punch, all for 60 EC (less than £20) per head. There was live music and we were soon dancing on the tables, too much rum punch consumed by all!
The following morning, I struggled but did get up, dressed and packed for our Dominica north island tour. Titus collected us in his boat and we went over to get Jimbo and Lil. There was no sign of life and after knocking on the hull, Jimbo appeared and said they were too hungover to do the trip. I was relieved and went back to bed, as Titus agreed to reschedule for tomorrow. Always beware the rum punch; it's all great until it suddenly hits you. We were invited for sundowners on Tantrum. I refused all alcohol but everyone else went for the hair of the dog. Marie-Anne passed on all her knowledge of anchorages in Martinique and I committed as much to memory as I could. All of a sudden, we realised that Muirgen was dragging her anchor and drifting sideways down the anchorage towards other yachts. Pete and Jimbo jumped in the dinghy, as did people from 2 other yachts and went to rescue her. Luckily she didn't hit anything. The PAYS boat also came out. PAYS (Portsmouth Association of Yacht Services) is a great organisation. They look after every boat, organise events, arrange tours for you, get your laundry done and take you for water or fuel. They make Portsmouth a very secure anchorage and ensure nobody bothers you. All the people in town appear very friendly and welcoming too. Pete anchored in 7 metres of water with 50 metres of chain out. Overnight we put the anchor alarm on and we didn't drag again.
Next day, we were all fit and well for our rescheduled tour and Bill agreed to watch the boats while we were out for the day. A friend of Titus came to pick us up, dropped us at the PAYS dock and introduced us to our driver, Bongo. He told us a lot of Dominica's history as we travelled through town and up into the hills. It started pouring with rain, so we decided to go directly to Syndicate / Milton Falls, rather than stop for a while in the forest. There were beautiful flowers around the parking lot, as well as a small bar. Bongo stayed behind while we walked to the falls, crossing the river 4 times, using stones and a rope across the river. We were lucky to be there almost on our own; just one other couple who were mostly out of sight. It was a pretty waterfall but not particularly high or spectacular. However, it was fun crossing the river back and forth. As we made our way back, several minibuses of cruise passengers arrived. Back at the bar, we enjoyed the obligatory rum punch, this one with lime and enjoyed the view out over the valley to the mountains opposite. From there, Bongo took us to the chocolate factory, where we had a tour. It was very small, just 2 rooms and drying tables outside but they produced about 10 to 15 varieties of chocolate. We all bought a bar after having a tasting. Next stop was Calibishie, on the Atlantic side of the island. It was wild and pretty with surf rolling in over the rocky foreshore. We had a massive lunch at Coral Beach, which probably wasn't the best thing given the steep and winding roads we would be driven round later. We visited Red Rock, a small area of coastline that was red in colour, interesting and again we were alone there. Bongo then took us around the northern coast and over the tops to see the views. All the way, there were beautiful red-leaved plants at the side of the road, purposely planted for effect. Bongo decided to have some music on and it was terrible, as well as loud. I had indigestion from the food and was ready for home. We passed the source, where people can go to fill up with fresh water but we didn't stop. The tour cost 350 XCD per couple, which wasn't bad. Back on board, we relaxed with a beer, set the anchor alarm and then went to bed. It was a rolling night and I eventually moved into the saloon and read a book for 3 hours. I slept in until 8am.
The wind was really up and we suspected that we had dragged again, although not as far or as fast as before, so at 0930 hours we moved to a mooring buoy, not far from the PAYS dinghy dock. We had called up PAYS before picking up the buoy but there was no answer. It was Sunday and everyone would be at church. Pete snorkelled to check the mooring and it had a new chain and shackle so we felt safe. There was a small reef by the buoy, made from the rocks that had been dug up to make room for the mooring plate and it was alive with little fish. It turned out to be 30 EC dollars a night (about £8.50) for the buoy so we said we were staying 3 nights. At 3pm, Bounty Bonto, another boat boy, picked us all up to do the Indian River trip, which was 60 XCD per person. We also had to buy a permit for the national park, which we should also have had for our trip yesterday. We bought a weekly one for US$12 each. Highlight of the river trip was passing Calypso's house, from Pirates of the Caribbean and having the dynamite rum at the bar up river. We didn't see much wildlife up the river, other than an egret. We have been up some spectacular mangrove rivers in Mexico and Margarita, so the river was a disappointment to us but everyone else loved it. We had another roly night on board.
The rocking didn't stop next morning and I was starting to feel quite debilitated by it, so we went over to Freedom Girl for a while, as catamarans are more stable, with their 2 hulls. At around 11am, 2 beautiful Clipper cruise yachts came in, one with 5 masts and the other with 4. We later discovered, from Jackie and Bill, who we spoke to in a bar in town, that they slept 230 and 160 people respectively. Pete and I needed to go into town for more cash, as we had booked a south of the island tour for the following day, so we called to see Peter and Ingrid on Ocean Deva on our way. In town, we shopped, visiting about 10 stores to buy about 10 items and had a Jamaican chicken pasty in a bar; tasty. In the evening, Jimbo and Lil came to us for sundowners and as the sun set, we watched the Clippers raise their sails and sail out to sea.
Comments
Vessel Name: Muirgen
Vessel Make/Model: Westerly Typhoon
Hailing Port: Hull
Crew: Donna and Peter Cariss
Muirgen's Photos - Main
No Photos
Created 1 April 2024
26 Photos
Created 22 March 2024
49 Photos
Created 22 March 2024
19 Photos
Created 22 March 2024
30 Photos
Created 3 March 2024
5 Photos
Created 3 March 2024
84 Photos
Created 3 March 2024
7 Photos
Created 3 March 2024
29 Photos
Created 4 February 2024
22 Photos
Created 4 February 2024
32 Photos
Created 24 January 2024
31 Photos
Created 24 January 2024
14 Photos
Created 27 December 2023
9 Photos
Created 11 September 2023
15 Photos
Created 11 September 2023
44 Photos
Created 11 September 2023
13 Photos
Created 9 August 2023
9 Photos
Created 9 August 2023
10 Photos
Created 9 August 2023
12 Photos
Created 9 August 2023
9 Photos
Created 19 July 2023
10 Photos
Created 19 July 2023
66 Photos
Created 14 July 2023
10 Photos
Created 14 July 2023
3 Photos
Created 24 May 2023
65 Photos
Created 20 September 2022
56 Photos
Created 9 July 2022
13 Photos
Created 7 July 2022
7 Photos
Created 18 April 2022
19 Photos
Created 3 April 2022
22 Photos
Created 3 April 2022
3 Photos
Created 10 September 2021
3 Photos
Created 10 September 2021
4 Photos
Created 2 October 2020
16 Photos
Created 26 September 2020
13 Photos
Created 23 September 2020
11 Photos
Created 27 August 2020
27 Photos
Created 25 August 2020
9 Photos
Created 25 August 2020
11 Photos
Created 18 August 2020
16 Photos
Created 15 August 2020
22 Photos
Created 15 August 2020
18 Photos
Created 10 August 2020
10 Photos
Created 7 August 2020
20 Photos
Created 3 August 2020
14 Photos
Created 3 August 2020
20 Photos
Created 27 July 2020
10 Photos
Created 26 July 2020
29 Photos
Created 18 July 2020
5 Photos
Created 18 July 2020
12 Photos
Created 18 July 2020
Photos of Muirgen preparations
8 Photos
Created 12 July 2020
39 Photos
Created 11 August 2017
52 Photos
Created 6 August 2017
35 Photos
Created 6 August 2017
10 Photos
Created 6 August 2017
26 Photos
Created 6 August 2017
4 Photos
Created 21 July 2017
13 Photos
Created 21 July 2017
14 Photos
Created 21 July 2017
5 Photos
Created 21 July 2017
10 Photos
Created 21 July 2017
6 Photos
Created 21 July 2017
13 Photos
Created 21 July 2017
30 Photos
Created 1 July 2017
15 Photos
Created 23 June 2017
Photos are limited as the weather was dreadful and was mostly a white out. Photos are from the phone as too wet to take the cameras.
10 Photos
Created 19 June 2017
9 Photos
Created 17 June 2017
11 Photos
Created 15 June 2017
17 Photos
Created 15 June 2017
The Beautiful Kvitsoy
5 Photos
Created 5 June 2017
Weekend with Hommersak Divers at Kvitsoy
8 Photos
Created 5 June 2017
13 Photos
Created 30 May 2017
Mad creatures
16 Photos
Created 29 May 2017
Getting to Norway and waiting for Donna to fly out
6 Photos
Created 18 May 2017
12 Photos
Created 6 December 2016
Buying Muirgen
6 Photos
Created 26 November 2016