Rude Awakenings

Most people who know me or have ever been away on school camp with me, know that I am a pretty sound sleeper and it takes a fair bit to jolt me into action if my sleep is interrupted. On the boat, however, I have found that there are a few things that demand immediate attention when you’re woken suddenly. For example, at 4am one morning in Roseau we were slowly woken by a tapping noise on the hull and then by some voices. It was still dark and upon inspection we meet our French neighbours whose mooring had broken. They calmly greeted us as they were trying to fend us off. We then went about trying to solve their immediate problem. While assisting them, Thomas noticed that both boats were tangling up in our stern lines that we had going to the dock and the dock was coming closer. Upon inspection of our own mooring, Thomas discovered that we were also suffering the same fate. Promptly, putting the engine on and sorting the rear lines we went forward and dropped an anchor. Our neighbours were a little confused and finally put their motor on and ended up leaving the bay. At least they wouldn’t run into us again. Luckily we only had some minor surface scratches. Another couple were woken by one of the business men in his dinghy a few days later as their mooring had also let go in the night. They were still blissfully sleeping until they too had the rude awakening.

One of our moorings in Dominica

One of our moorings in Dominica

We were still on Martinique in Saint Pierre when the anchor dragged at about 4am in the morning also. Thank goodness Thomas had put on the anchor alarm and this woke us before we’d drifted out to sea. Maybe we should just set our alarm for 4am to check on everything.

The weather in Dominica has been beautiful with the occasionally fresh shower and a very tolerable sun in between. We are still happy we have the tent over the cockpit for shade but unfortunately it doesn’t quite cover the back hatch to our cabin. We are usually woken by rain drops to close it leaving the cabin quite warm. The other morning Thomas had reopened it after a night of quite heavy rain. The wind has been picking up to about 25 knots each morning and this flapped the tent delivering a bucket load of water down our hatch waking us!!! Thomas has now fixed some of the dive weights to the hoses on the tent to direct the water into the tanks and water bottles. The fresh rainwater is divine to drink.

We have also had a few wake up calls about human nature as well. The Dominican people in general, are warm and welcoming. We had decided on a nice inexpensive day out getting ourselves to a particular waterfall by bus. On the way to the bus we asked a friendly fellow about which bus stop we would need to stand by to get us there. Seeing the opportunity, he promptly told us he would guide us there. Offering a very reasonable price, Thomas and I agreed, but checked if we were talking the same currency. He assured us we were and we turned on our heels to follow him. Well, he dealt with the bus driver and confused him so the driver changed the price half way up and so ‘Roy’ our guide got him to stop. We got out with quite a few kilometres to go. Unperturbed, we hiked for a short while before a nice young girl picked us up. Roy then took us to a nice view of the harbour and told us this is what everyone comes to see.

The harbour view that I could see when I went horse riding too

The harbour view that I could see when I went horse riding too

I asked him where the falls were. Oh, no that was too dangerous. Then he wanted more money!!! Thomas paid him a lesser amount and told him to get lost. He was a pretty strong bloke so we didn’t want to get him too cranky. He pointed us in the direction of the falls and he went the other way back to the road. After a short walk discussing how we should have stuck to our original plan of being out on our own, the track stopped. A friendly farmer pointed us in the correct direction, back to the road and to continue on the way we were going in the car. We found the waterfall, had a beautiful peaceful picnic on our own and relaxed. Hitching back to the highway wasn’t looking too successful with all the utes driving past full of fresh produce and some workers but then some nice gentlemen picked us up in their hire car and insisted on dropping us back off at the dinghy. Knowing that the Roys in the world are potentially harmless but out to make a quick buck, reminded us to stick to our guns and to be very firm about saying, NO to something we weren’t looking for in the first place. Our faith in Dominicans has been greatly restored since then with kind deeds and the thought that, ‘One bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch girl.’

Syndicate Falls - so lovely to go their on our own

Syndicate Falls – so lovely to go their on our own

I spoilt myself to a horse ride in the rainforest and had a lovely morning with Valerie and one of her workers, Marcus. Valerie also got me in touch with the local school where her daughter attended and helped me organise a visit. They were very keen for me to go along and help and I was surprised when I didn’t even need to sign in. The children were excited about me visiting and every child who passed me said good morning. They longed to chat and find out more about me. I had a lovely time and got to teach the whole class for most of the day. The children here are very friendly and good natured.

Me on 'Judy' the horse.

Me on ‘Judy’ the horse.

The next day we set off to the next bay for snorkelling and found a nice walk. Full of energy and the promise of a more interesting reef from our guidebook, we decided to head for the bay one hill further on. A continuing ascending gradient and old road signs lead us to questioning our bearings. Finding an open cafe we sought the directions from Owen Paul, the over enthusiastic proprietor. He was so happy to have company and told us the way and offered to come with us to ensure we got it right. Sharing a drink with us, he wanted to shower us with gifts of fruit from his garden and we couldn’t refuse two freshly picked grapefruit. His directions were good and we had a great snorkel in the bay of Toucari. There was a dive buoy about 300metres off shore and a breaking surf with lots of rip. We found a place where the waves weren’t pounding the beach and headed out. There was a lot of interesting coral and a nice little reef that was worth exploring. On the way back we hailed a bus and found that the driver was out with his family. The heavens opened and we grateful that we got the lift as it was a bit cool. Upon arrival back to the dinghy, they wouldn’t take any money for the ride. The Roys are everywhere in the world, we just have been lucky to avoid them on most occasions.

We are now in Les Saints, the islands that are to the south of Guadalupe. We are currently on a well serviced huge French mooring. I am feeling quite content that we will be still here in the morning despite the 25kts + gusts of wind coming down the valleys of the island from the Atlantic. The wreck of a modern ferry is identified by two yellow buoys and we enjoyed a snorkeling trip over it yesterday morning – a causality of a hurricane some years ago. Everything is walking distance on this island so their inexpensive scooter hire only slightly tempted us. We had a quick sail from Dominica with only a reefed main and head sail. Have to love those Trade Winds. We were snorkeling in a new country by the afternoon. There are a few forts and ruins to explore on the little islands and they’re easy to get to although they are up hill, the paths are old concrete roads. Thomas and I are beginning to feel a bit fitter now that we are back to swimming and walking. We are hoping the rude awakenings will be limited in this new playground.

Fort Josephine on the Lle a Cabrit looking over to the main town on Terre d' en haut

Fort Josephine on the Lle a Cabrit looking over to the main town on Terre d’ en haut



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