Saturday, February 18, 2017

Nous Revenons à France - "We return to France"

Our last night in Portsmouth was great fun and quite emotional. We have strengthened the bond we feel for our PAYS pals, Jeffry, Alexis and Eddison and all the rest of them. They do a great job. I wish their system of supporting cruisers would catch on in other places. Plus, we made a lot of friends we'll keep for life (a line from Jerry Jeff Walker - Cowboy Boots and Bathing Suits!!!) It was hard to leave.

After our hike to the Chaudiere Pools we attended a jam session organized by Crazy Jim from Ullr - also an Island Packet 38. Heard from some amazing players and, as usual, I became quite the star after several rums. Got better as the evening wore on, as usual. Best part was playing with my new best friend, Lilly from "Slice of Life." They have a great story and you can find out more about it here. Mike, Kylie and their kids, Lilly and Sebastian are in the middle of a great adventure. Lovely family!!!

Lilly the ukelelier

Me and Lilly McGee
Our motorsail down to Roseau was uneventful... except that just as we pulled anchor we spotted a fishing boat full of lobster. We thought it was $15 EC per pound but it turned out to be $25. Never mind... we grabbed two little ones for supper later that day after we secured in Roseau. Yummm. Not sure if we love lobster or just drinking garlic butter.

That's a beauty - we'll take it!

Nice Boat!!! Blue Pearl in the evening sun at Roseau
Had a great sail from Roseau to St. Pierre. At one time during the trip the winds fell off completely - weird - but other than that we raced down doing an average of 6 something. Just off the south coast of Dominica we spotted a whale. Can't be sure what kind exactly. We'll know more once we've finished with the carcass. Just kidding. We didn't kill the whale. Pam wanted to harpoon it but our harpoon is out for sharpening! Pictures show a bunch of waves that don't look at all like whales... so no pictures. For the rest of the way we spotted 28 more waves that looked like whales.

We are relaxing in St. Pierre. Having been here before we are not rushing around, hiking and exploring. Had some beers at Le Reservoir (using their internet.) But going to the market was great as was the lunch at Restaurant "La Vague"... something like that.

View from Blue Pearl
Pelee with no clouds - devastation a century ago
Just off our bow - weak internet but serviceable!
Saturday market
Must be something we need!

Onto Anse Matin tomorrow.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Best Bus ride... Ever!

We had a fun day on Tuesday.

Friends told us about the Chaudiere Pools. Ed and Ann had already been there but wanted a hike. So off we went. Got on the bus in town and rode it for about 40 minutes across the island. At each stop, Ann asked the driver if this was our stop. Got to be kind of fun by the time we finally got there.

Full bus

End of the ride, start of the hike.

Garden

Pineapples

Only another 10 to 20 minutes
The hike into the pools is not insignificant. It was very hot, not much breeze and we are not in Saskatchewan. Either you are going uphill big-time or downhill big-time. So it was a great relief to get there after an hour long hot, hilly hike.

But the pools are terrific. You can jump into the 10 meter deep pools from the cliffs on the side - also about 10 meters or you can jump in off the ledge about 20 centimeters. Ed had no problem making the big jump. Ann took a bit of time to screw up her determination to jump... but she did! Me? Not on your life. It took me forever to work up the courage to jump the 20 centimeters. Pam just snorted.

Tarz-Ed

Water nymphs
Since the hike in was up and down... so was the hike out. So we arrived, tired, hot and sweaty at the store near the bus stop. We ran into Phillip - a character we had met earlier who actually has a house in Whiterock near home - and he spent a half hour entertaining us while we waited for the bus.

Waiting for the bus

Phillip telling us how to behave in Dominica
When the bus arrived it was full of school kids and there clearly wasn't room for us... except the bus driver wanted the fares so after a bit of re-arranging we set off with a bus of school kids.

I told the kids that I was a teacher and that they should all be quiet. That drew a bit of laughter and before too long, the class clown piped up about something. I started singing, "The Wheels on the Bus" and they all burst out in great voice. They never stopped singing all the way back to Portsmouth. They were amazing. What a great bus trip!!

So cute
And can they ever sing!!!

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More news soon!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Carnival in Dominica

Not sure if this is going to work. Thought I'd try to show you a snippet of the Carnival parade in Dominica. Some of it is too bizarre to describe.

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Jumbies

Miss Teen Dominica

Not sure about this one

Too much fun

No clue?! Ma Pazi?

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Butt Shakers

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Watch out for the high tension wires!


Michael Jackson

Gimmee some of that cotton candy!

For all your meat needs.

Delicious baked plantain stuffed with salt cod

Anyone can join the parade

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I'll see if these movies work and repost if I need to.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

CALLS Dominica

Sorry - the last blog post had a different focus and I didn't mention CALLS - the Centre Where Adolescents Learn to Love and Serve in Dominica.

Searching out CALLS to get them to do our laundry
Soon I will be able to change out of this attractive ensemble!
CALLS supports kids between 17 and 24 who have fallen through the cracks. Many of the girls have babies. All of the kids have been unsuccessful in the public school system for a variety of reasons.

CALLS' mandate is to build character and help the kids get enough of a grounding that they can be successful on their own.

It is the kind of program that takes a special staff to work with these damaged kids and I have always had great admiration for the efforts of people who work in these situations.

I met with Doug Primrose from Yale Secondary school and Jinder Sarowa from Robert Bateman Secondary School this summer before we came down to the boat to collect tee-shirts from past events. I know from experience that you order 250 tee-shirts for an event but you only use 225 of them. You never want to be short so you always end up with extras... and they sit in storage forever.

So Jinder and Doug gave us a ton (actually 50 pounds) of tee-shirts and assorted clothing. Westjet gave us free luggage to bring them down to the boat and we've been storing them to give to an appropriate charity. And CALLS seemed just like the right place.

Feels good to be able to help in a small way.

So, as we watched the parade to start off Carnival, it was heartwarming to see one of the shirts on a young man. I approached him just as he lit up a spliff and asked him if I could take a picture of him wearing the shirt.

He said, "No." So no photo.

You do what you can!!!

Down at the market, you can hear ladies cry out while on their heads they bear...

Bought some "Coolies" or jacks

And had them for lunch!

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Curious Case of the Naked French Boat

So... we are doing the things that one normally does in Dominica. We go on hikes, although not as frequently as our crazy-hiking boat neighbours. Some of these guys are going on a cross-island trek every day. We go to beach barbeques, drink too much rum punch and then dance like fools.

We've grown quite close to our neighbours, Nigel and Mike. They anchored right beside us... and they are really quite close... about a boat length.

PAYS BBQ with Mike and Nigel - the rum punch is lethal

Pigmy Cannon

Very attractive couple on the bluff overlooking Prince Rupert Bay

Wondering if we can load and fire it.

We've also been trying to do some boat maintenance. Keeping up with the stainless is an endless job. We should try to do just one little bit every day but we don't and then things get out of control. We are also trying to get coats of varnish on between rain showers. That is proving to be challenging!

Ack! Must clean it today... or tomorrow...

Varnish artist
Just after we got here a little boat came in with some combination of young men and women. We've never actually figured out who belongs on the boat and/or if some of them are just visiting. They spend a lot of time naked. We spotted one young man out in their kayak heading between boats and along the shore naked as the day he was born. Pam got a rash in her eyes from overuse of the binoculars. She tells me he is quite fit and has large hands. Same with the girls. They sit in the cockpit of their little boat erasing all evidence of tan lines.

This all became blog-worthy a couple of days ago when one of the Portsmouth Association of Yacht Security (PAYS) boat boys came out to their boat and took some combination of boy(s) and girl(s) to shore. A short time later the boat boy returned with one girl on board. We watched as he more-or-less flung her up onto their boat. It was as if she was drunk or comatose. It looked a little weird. Well, weird it was. After the boat boy left she began to wander around the deck of her little boat. At various times she was singing, laughing, crying and moaning. We were quite worried that she was either drunk or on some crazy-ass drug and might hurt herself. So along with a couple other nearby boats we just watched. She took off all her clothes and then started waving at people as they went past in their dinghies. At one stage she had a machete and was flinging it about as if she were a pirate. Then she hurled it in the water.

Finally, after an unsavory looking guy paddled up to her boat, a couple of PAYS boats came out and wrestled her into some clothes and took her away. The police got involved and hopefully found her some help. A couple of days later, two or three of them came out to the boat with a PAYS guy but they were only aboard for a moment - maybe to get passports??? - but other than that we haven't seen them since.

So there the little naked boat sits. We have drawn up several scenarios. Might be the basis of our first novel. Don't know what happens next.

Naked French boat

Monday, February 6, 2017

Dominica!!!

I'm sorry. I've been very neglectful of this blog. Too much fun? Too much rum?

Anyway, here we are in Dominica.

We left Antigua a week ago after lolly-gagging around with Quest (Sid and Cate,) Aurora (Harry and Marijke and WindSwept Dreams (Ed and Ann.)

It is hard to entertain more than 6 on the boat at once so we have arranged for several beach meetings. Fun to talk to a whole bunch of people who like the same things as us.

Island Packets in Five Islands Bay, Antigua

Beach party!

Who brought the meatballs?

Mr. Bo Jangles and his buddy
Home, Sid!

Our sail from Antigua was spectacularly uneventful - BUT WE DIDN'T CATCH A MAHI. What the hell?! We always catch a mahi in that stretch. I don't know what Pam was doing wrong.

WindSwept Dreams under sail to Deshaies - another IP38 just like Blue Pearl!
Master and Commander
It is cool getting to Deshaies... very french. Good thing I am fluent in French. We bought some French beer, went to French restaurants, wandered around the French grocery stores buying French wine and cheeses and listened to wonderful French music drifting from the restaurants. So nice!

I had the fish

Pam had the marlin brochettes

Breakfast on Blue Pearl

Snorkelers at Pigeon Island

Checking the anchor

Catching a rainbow
Deshaies to Les Saintes is easy-peasy for the first 12 miles. The last 7 is a bitch. It's like being in a washing machine. I hate it. Need to figure out a way to avoid that - without selling the boat, Pam.

Lunch in a cute Les Saintes restaurant 
Heard it was snowing at home?!

Our weather window for Dominica was yesterday. After that, the winds are getting up and it will be no fun out there. So off we went. Our sail down was great, averaging more than 6 knots. For the most part the waves were 3 to 4 feet but in some sections they were up to 8 feet. They were nicely spaced out so we didn't do any crashing and smashing.

Of all the places we've been with Blue Pearl I think Dominica is my favourite. Just like all of the other islands, there are tons of things to do and great things to see. The best part of it is that the people who make money from cruisers like us don't beg and hassle you. They are organized and have a code of conduct that they follow. They patrol the harbour at night so we feel very secure at anchor. They will arrange to get your clothes washed, take you on tours, deliver food and ice, help you with anchoring and more. All for a fee but you really don't mind paying a reasonable amount for good service.

Love Dominica!

First day... hike looking for a thermal pool. Never found it!
We were sitting in some shade waiting for friends and a local guy said to Pam, "Where are you from?" She said Vancouver - which we always start with before narrowing it down to Abbotsford. He said, "I'm from White Rock." Turns out he was born here and spends 6 months up there and 6 months down here. And, on top of that, apparently his kids go to school in Abbotsford. So we are all over that. Going to see if any of our school friends know them.

Small world!