Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Dominica Nica Nica

Purple Turtle Beach near Portsmouth
Dominica is the first place where we encountered "boat boys." In the Caribbean, the term refers to the local men that come out to your boat and offer various services or items for sale. It's not considered a derogatory term, I'm told. In some places they can be somewhat tenacious, as in they won't go away if you don't give them something.

Still carrying the baggage of my American sensibilities, I was not really looking forward to dealing with this unaccustomed invasion of my personal space (so to speak). On a side note, Mark has a habit of getting inches away from people when he's talking to them. Usually, strangers seem to think it's funny, but he's only six. We're working on this with him because it won't be too cute anymore when he's nine.

Saturday morning market in Portsmouth.
In Dominica, the boat boys have organized themselves and offer valuable services in a friendly and relatively laid back way. They put in moorings and virtually eliminated the dinghy theft that was common before they started patrolling the harbor.

As we approached the harbor, a boat boy came speeding toward us in his panga. We were sailing in at a brisk 8 knots so he had a hard time pulling alongside. Even though this is standard procedure, it was a little disconcerting seeing a wooden boat seemingly speeding right for you.

After we anchored, Titus came over and talked to us about the various tours he offers. Over the next few days, other boat boys came by to offer services and fruit for sale. They were not persistent and we found them to be friendly and polite. We have heard that the boat boys in Dominica are the easiest to deal with in the Caribbean.

Why me?! Why do I have to walk?
The Internet is a great thing and offers a wealth of information to cruisers. It's nice not to have to reinvent the wheel every time we go somewhere new. However, prior research can be a little misleading because reports tend to skew towards the bad things. Despite the poverty, Dominica is a beautiful place that is much friendlier and safer than our hometown of Chicago.

House that looks like an ark.
I had the following exchange with a local woman at the beach the day we got to Portsmouth. I thought it was amusing.
  • Me: Hi.
  • Woman at the beach: Hi, are you still here?
  • Me: Oh, we just got here today.
  • Woman at the beach: I did laundry for you, remember?
  • Me: That must have been someone that looked like me.
  • Woman at the beach (confidently): No, it was you. I remember you.
  • Me: Well, we just got here today.
  • Woman at the beach (less confidently): You just got here. And you've never been here before?
  • Me: Nope.
  • Woman at the beach: Well, you look just like her.
  • Me (joking): Yeah well, all we Asians look alike.
  • Woman at the beach (sincerely nodding): Yes!

We made great time from Guadeloupe to Dominica. The winds from just slightly north of east gave us the first nice beam reach sail we have had in a long while. This time, Matt did not believe the 15-knot wind prediction. It is almost always predicted to be 15 knots but then turns out to be 25 knots or more. He put two reefs in the main, which is a good thing because we saw gusts of 40 knots true.

Trafalgar Falls
We took a bus from Roseau to Trafalgar Falls. The buses here and elsewhere are really small vans and they look just like the taxis. The fare for the buses is reasonable (they're what the locals use) but the way they speed around hairpin turns on the hilly roads, honking frenetically to warn cars and pedestrians around the blind corners, is scary.
Trafalgar Falls is a set of two waterfalls, one of which is 200 feet. There are hot spring pools and cool water pools that you can climb down to and swim in. No one slipped and fell but it was just risky enough that it probably would be roped off in the U.S. because of risk of litigation.

On the way down, we harvested some sweet bananas and passion fruit. We have been finding all kinds of fruit here. Conrad is sick of mangoes, poor kid. We have heard Dominica described as the poorest island where no one starves because of the abundance of fruits that grow everywhere.

Water fight!

Hot springs.


  1. Mangoes, bananas and passion fruit sound awfully good to me although it's cherry season here and that's hard to beat.

  2. Cherries are Conrad's favorite!


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