We split our time on Dominica between the northwestern port of Portsmouth and the southwestern port of Roseau, the capital of the island. So, on Monday morning we weaved our way through the boats at anchor in Portsmouth and proceeded southward for twenty nautical miles. It was a pleasant motorsail in the protected waters in the lee of Dominica. Columbus spotted Dominica on Sunday, November 3, 1493 and called it Dominica (literally, Day of the Lord). It is a very mountainous island with lush rainforests and unspoiled natural beauty. In fact, it is said that if Columbus returned to the Caribbean today, the only island he would recognize would be Dominica due to its still rugged and mostly undeveloped appearance.
The quick passage down to Roseau took three hours. We were tied to a mooring ball just off the Dominica Marine Center by 10:45 a.m. After a quick lunch, we went off in search of Diet Pepsi or Diet Coke, or Diet Soda of any kind! But, there is no diet soda to be found on this island at all! We ran out two days ago and can’t find anymore. We looked in several stores in Portsmouth and in a couple in Roseau. I guess I’m taking a break from Diet Pepsi! What’s wrong with these Dominicans! I had called Sea Cat, the most highly recommended tour guide on the island, upon arrival in Roseau. His assistant motored over to Beatitude in the late afternoon to let me know I could join in on some hikes over the next two days. I was excited!
Around six, we took Dalí the one-hundred feet from our stern to the Dominica Marine Center Dinghy dock. We’ve gotten a little more diligent about our security now that we’ve worked our way further south in the Caribbean. I have the motion detector alarm inside Beatitude working and set when we are away or asleep. We’ve got our taser and bear spray at bedside. We’re also locking our dinghy and outboard motor to the dock whenever we go in to land. So… we locked Dalí to the dock and walked less than 1/2 mile toward town to the Fort Young Hotel for a wonderful evening meal. The hotel is set in an eighteenth century English fort. The ambience was special. We walked in and were offered free rum punch and h’ordeuvres in the bar area in the courtyard. We then partook of a scrumptious buffet in the main dining area, eating more than we should have. The 1/2-mile walk back to the dinghy dock was therapeutic.
On Tuesday, I was picked up from Beatitude by a Sea Cat team member. I then joined Sea Cat (whose real name is Octavius) and the three other members on our tour today: Collin, an Englander who captains Summer Breeze, and his visiting friends from Montreal, John and Sandra. Sea Cat took us to various sites around the island in his van, stopping multiple times throughout the day to pick fruit from roadside trees, climbing them or throwing rocks into the branches as needed. We sampled papaya, guava, cashews, cocoa beans, coffee beans, starfruit, cinnamon, lemongrass, and who knows what else I forgot. Our first official stop was at the sulfur springs, where the ground beneath me was felt like a heated carpet, and the pools and springs were bubbling with volcanic, sulfurous gas seeping from the hot core below. Cool! (Actually, Hot!)
We then drove up into the heights of Morne Trois Pitons National Park to visit one of the freshwater lakes which sit atop the volcano. We were definitely in the clouds at this point as the lake was totally obscured at times by the thick, rolling fog. From there we visited the Titou Gorge, a series of natural “rooms and ponds” with water flowing through, formed by high cliff walls (formed as molten lava cooled and split apart) and canopied with trees above. This was another site used in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie. The crystal clear water, which was quite cool at first, turned out to be quite refreshing. It is necessary to swim through the gorge since the water is about 15-feet deep throughout.
Sea Cat then drove us to another part of the National Park to Trafalgar Falls, a famous “twin” falls with the larger “Father” falls to the left and the “Mother” falls to the right. Sea Cat and I climbed over boulders and through streams up to the base of the “Father” falls. It was quite a hike, but well worth it. Just before arriving at the cold pool beneath the falls we stopped and sat beneath the flowing water of a hot spring which joins in with the water flowing from above. The plunge beneath the falls was invigorating… and amazing! The force with which the water pounded the rocks and pools below is hard to imagine without being there.
After the falls we stopped at a mountainside cafe for a late lunch, and then returned to the seaside for the return trip to our vessels. What a great day!
Later in the evening, we met my newly made friends and tour-mates for dinner and drinks.