Around 8:30, on Friday morning, the 20th of May, we slipped away from our mooring in the Îles des Saintes. We would have left a little earlier, but my age-deteriorated mind interfered. I knew that the main halyard had slipped off the sheave prior to raising the mainsail. But, I forgot and didn’t remember until it was almost all the way up. Figuring I should go ahead and deal with it then and there, Cindy hoisting me up the mast to once again dislodge the jammed halyard. We’ll fix this permanently in Grenada, but I hope to avoid additional temporary repairs until we get there.
The sail down to Dominica was rougher than expected. We had brisk 15-20 knot winds on our port beam which means we were able to sail. But, the 4-5 foot (short and steep again) waves were coming from about 40° to the port side. This meant we were in for another bronco ride to Dominica. Oh, well! We arrived shortly after noon, covering the 22.2 nautical miles in about 3 1/2 hours. We dropped our hook in Prince Rupert Bay in about 20 feet of water and made sure it was securely set before going into clear into our latest port — Portsmouth, Dominica. Dalí transported us to the customs dock where clearing in and out (Yes, we could clear into and out of the country at the same time!) was a breeze. The fees were all of $3.75. Nice! After clearing in, we went for a short walk to the Riverview Restaurant where we sat out on a big balcony overlooking the river (more like a creek) and enjoyed some good Chinese food.
At 7 am on Saturday morning, Lawrence of Arabia pulled up to the stern of our vessel. Lawrence is one of several young men who provide the main yacht services (PAYS) in Portsmouth. The gentlemen, most of whom have interesting nicknames, can provide just about anything you need, including tours. We had arranged for a tour of the Indian River with Lawrence. The command of Lawrence of Arabia’s small motor boat was transferred to James Bond just before we entered the river. James was a wonderful guide, friendly, funny, and easy to understand (which isn’t always the case with the island accents). The Indian River quickly narrows and is soon completely overhung by huge swamp bloodwood trees on both sides (They are called bloodwood trees because of the red sap which they produce. The Carib Indians would use the sap to paint their faces). Scores of crabs scrambled into hiding as James Bond rowed us up the river (It is illegal to use a motor in the river). The highlight of the tour is a short detour up a narrow offshoot of the Indian River where a little shack is perched in the mangroves, home of the sea goddess, Calypso. This river and shack was used in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. It was cool! We also stopped at a Jungle Bar up the river for refreshing drinks and relaxation before returning to Beatitude. The rest of the day was spent chilling for the most part, except for a brief trip into town to scout out the local Anglican Church. We were initially misdirected by a couple of locals to a Methodist church, but eventually found the right one and noted the service times on the church sign. In the evening we watched one of the most hilarious movies of all time, “What About Bob?”
On Sunday, we awoke shortly after 5 am. It’s my fault. My body has attuned itself to the diurnal rhythms of the stars and the sun. The sun is rising around 5:30 am and setting around 6:30. I’m up with the sun and ready to sleep when darkness makes his descent. We left Beatitude around 10:15 to dinghy into Portsmouth to attend church. Our scouting mission the day before revealed that the Anglican Church service started at 11:00. We walked to the church and arrived just after 10:30. The doors were locked. We waited… and waited. At 11:00, no one was there. We questioned a passing pedestrian who informed us that they don’t have service every Sunday at this church. Hmmm! Go figure! I concluded that they likely hold services in different communities on the island on different Sundays. It’s not easy attending church in the islands although we always try our best to do so. If the church has a website, it is often poorly designed and out of date and rarely has service times (and if it does, it is likely incorrect). We will usually go into town the day before and hunt down the church and read the service times off the sign out front — as we did this time. Notwithstanding our efforts, we often find our plans to worship thwarted. So, today we returned to Beatitude and worshipped together using the Daily Morning Prayer from the Daily Office in the Book of Common Prayer. As the scripture says, “Where two or three…!”
We spent the afternoon on board Beatitude and was excited to go ashore in the evening for the PAYS (Portsmouth Associate of Yacht Services) Beachside BBQ. The proceeds went to their organization which, as the name implies, provide yacht services to cruisers (maintaining moorings, etc.) The food and rum punch was good, and it was nice to be around a lot of other cruisers. We spent most of our time getting to know Audrey and Javier, a French-speaking couple from Belgium who’ve been cruising for the past year. They (Meaning “He”; She flew to meet him in Barbados) sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in November. They are a younger couple and very friendly. They’ll be leaving their boat in Martinique for the hurricane season while they return to Belgium to make some money for more cruising. We left the gathering before it was too late so as to be ready to move our home the next morning.