Our 2002 Hylas 46

Monday, March 20, 2017

Dominica - Portsmouth - The Deluge

We arrived in Dominica on Sunday March 5th after a nice sail from Les Saintes – as usual, the wind was not what was predicted and rather than have winds on our beam, they were about 40 degrees off the bow. Not the most comfortable angle for sailing but it eventually got us to where we wanted to be!

Portsmouth – our first Dominica destination has a wonderfully effective system in place to assist yachts.  There is a group that is sanctioned and licensed by the government to act as the primary points of contact. The organization is called PAYS – Portsmouth Association of Yacht Services. This very profession group replaced a very ad-hoc group, of individuals all trying to secure whatever business they could get from the boats. The PAYS gents are all trained tour guides and their roll is to provide a secure and organized experience for us boaters. They assist in locating a mooring, providing information about propane refilling, their Sunday night benefit BBQ on the beach, directions to the closest ATM, a shuttle to Customs if you want and lastly they sell their services for guided tours.


Our PAYS master was Uncle Sam and he certainly lived up to the role. He got us to our mooring ball, customs and then made sure we got our tickets for the BBQ that night.  They also do a great job of intervening in the event of a conflict between yachts and some of the guys selling their fruit or whatever off of surfboards! Every island needs to learn from what Portsmouth has going to welcome yachts.

Our Sunday night PAYS BBQ turned out to be a sold out affair serving at least 75 or 80 folks with chicken and fish and an all you want rum punch!

Island Tour with Uncle Sam.
We reserved a car tour of the northern section of the island with Uncle Sam and we were happy that the weather was in our favour. This trip started by heading inland into the rain forest of Dominica – awesome! We drove for a couple hours visiting the only remaining Caribe Indian settlement – in all the other islands they were murdered of kicked out. Much like our native Indians – they receive government funding but from what we could see, they work extremely hard at cultivating fruits and vegetables on the VERY steep hillsides.
West Coast

West Coast

A stop for lunch overlooking the western shore of the island offered us the chance to experience some new to us treats – “poulet boucané” along with a plateful of unknown vegetables!

The last impressive stop was a beautiful waterfall called the Emerald Pool and it really does live up t its name. A spectacular spot indeed.

Emerald Falls

Emerald Falls

Video of Emerald Falls

Wanting to get all the touristy items in, we booked an Indian River tour for the next day. Mid afternoon, Uncle Sam picked us up at the boat and we headed off to Indian River. The guides are not permitted to use the boats engine to tour the river, so they row us the entire afternoon. What now makes this a famous spot is that it is where a few of the swamp scenes in Pirates of the Caribbean 2 were filmed.  Of note is the witch Calypso’s hut.

Witch Calypso's Hut

Indian River

The trees grow completely over the river making for an incredibly beautiful experience. The tree roots are so twisted and intertwined that it looks spooky – good thing it is daylight!

Gnarly Roots

At the top of the tour is a swamp hut bar – how very convenient of them! The rum punch was deadly – could not have two of these!

The next 4 days turned to to be an absolute deluge of rain. Normally this is their dry season. It rained almost without stop for the entire 4 days. This turned out to be a major weather event for Dominica.

Washed out bridge on the main road

The airport was closed down for 2 days due to weather and flooding of the taxiways. The main highway (in Dominican terms this means a FULL two lanes!) between Portsmouth and Roseau suffered a bridge washout that will have the highway closed for weeks if not months.

In the harbour where we were anchored, the water turned brown and the trees stumps, branches and whatever else would float passed us!

Damp day on board

Very grey.....

The other event was the lose of two fishing boats near us, each about 80 or 100 foot long. Both had been abandoned for some time but none the less – once broke free from its mooring and disappeared over the horizon, the other slowly over two days filled up with water and rolled over and sank in 30 feet of water. 



Well the rain did stop and after been cooped up on board, it was great to get out and walk about. We took the opportunity to hike up the Cabrits National Park and the restored Fort Shirley, dating from the 18th century. 

The rain is gone!!!

Fort Cabrits
Fort Cabrits
Fort Cabrits
Fort Cabrits

Up the mast looking for land!

We did have one VERY surprising coincidence while we were in Portsmouth. A gentleman stopped by one afternoon and stated that he almost confused our boat for his! We chatted for a while about the Hylas 46 model and as the conversation progressed, I asked him the name of the boat – he answered Capers but the prior name was Tranquilite. WOW – when we were looking for a Hylas 46 there was only two available on the US East Coast – one was Tranquilite and the other was to become Ambition. We had turned our back on Tranquilite because the boat was in a terrible condition inside. The woodwork was deeply gouged, scratched and damaged by water.  Plus the boat just did not feel good for us. Here we are some 3 ½ years later and the two boats are side by side in a bay in Dominica! It is an awfully small world indeed!

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