Flexibility is the key
25 April 2012
April 25, 12
Yesterday we left Deshaies early…5:20am and set sail for Bequia…and at 5:00pm we arrived at Roseau, Dominica…let me tell you how that happened.
Our intention was to sail along the coast of Guadeloupe, which we cleared at 8:45am, then alter course to Bequia to take advantage of the forecasted East winds. Forecast – Smorecast! When we weren’t becalmed, due to the closeness of the island, we experienced 28 knts in a squall off the southern coast. Winds veering from SE to SW – What!, then 2-3 foot chop, on the nose of course, until we got to the gap between Guadeloupe and Dominica, then it was 4-6 in the open water. We were able to sail at 7 – 8 knts with wind 20+ knts from the east for 1.5 hours then we hit Dominica and experienced MORE crazy wind … or rather less as it switched to 5 knts from the SW again. By 11:45 we had dropped the sails and I was saying to myself things like…’This Stinks!’ Perhaps with a bit more emphasis and maybe a few different words…but, well – you get the picture. Near 1pm we saw a big splash ahead and shortly after discovered a pod of dolphins racing to join us. They played off our bows for 10 minutes or so, before racing off to find a new game…Absolutely magnificent…then by 1:24 the wind was back and we were sailing again…ok – this doesn’t COMPLETELY stink anymore. By 2:20 the winds clocked around, again, and we were motoring, uncomfortably in a bumpy 6+ ft sea head on…hmmm, look, right there, off our port bow….look at that nice island, with a nice anchorage, and oh, look right here…the book says they have mooring balls. I am fine with pounding into this mess all night and into tomorrow if YOU want to…but if you need a rest, we could just put in right there. Decision Made! And well ‘right there’ was still several hours off, but eventually after we made the turn the sea state improved, as did crew moral.
As we approached Roseau, Dominica’s capital city, the Celebrity Summit, at the cruise ship dock radios the pilot to advise they will be leaving at 5:00pm. Just at the time we are approaching she is letting go lines and moving off the dock as we are passing by. Jim pushes those engines a little harder and we clear her bow in short order, then off she goes to the south. A boat boy from the Dominica Marine Center comes out to see if we would like a mooring and we say “Absoulutely!’ In short order Marcus has us secured to a mooring right outside of the dingy dock, and we are set for the night. Marcus tells us all bout what we can get and see in town, and offers to help with whatever we might need, plus, he advises that they maintain good security thru the harbor as well. So for the princely sum of $20 US, and a few buck for our man Marcus and his help, we are tucked into Roseau for two nights, and while I have to admit the anchorage is a little rolly with the southern swell – it is bliss compared to the last 12 hours! We saw a lovely sunset tonight, drifting down into some wispy clouds, and others that look like boats or buildings on the horizon. After seeing the green flash two nights in a row in Deshaies this was a unique sunset special to Dominica. I told Jim I think the sky is prettier when anchored than when sailing…just my opinion.
Today, we dingy ashore to clear customs and see a little of Dominica, as we intend to leave tomorrow this is just a small taste of the island. We find a vibrant town a short walk to the north, and after finding the customs office (around the north side of the ferry dock, and thru an unmarked gate) we wander around town experiencing the shops and vendors. As usual in a small island town we are continually asked if we need a taxi to ... wherever, or if not a tour, or if not to the stadium for the Cricket Tournement, a week long event going on just now. It is as if Everyone in town is a member of the tourist department offering to help, give directions, or offer a service. ‘No Thanks’ gets as much of a smile as I imagine a yes would. Wonderful people, from the porter at the ferry terminal who when I asked directions to customs for Yacht clearance says, ‘Come’, and leads us right to the gate, and points the rest of the way. Or the lady in the bread store who takes all my small EC change (1c, 2c, 5c, etc) and happily gives me a dollar for it. Or the gentlemen at customs chatting with Jim about Cricket, or the lady selling us apples or water, all happy to help.
Shortly after getting back to the boat around 12:30 we are surprised to see Marcus’ boat, the rescue boat, drifting off from the dingy dock. Fortunately, our dingy is launched, so we hop in it and race to catch the boat before it runs up on shore. Marcus, who sees it drifting just after we do is very glad for the assistance, and after we return to the boat stops by and offers some fresh mangos and thanks us again, ‘for rescuing the rescue boat’!