Martinique and Dominica

Macron’s speech to the French people is 10 days away when we arrive at St Pierre. Although no one has officially talked about closed borders and curfews, we still have the feeling that there may be major changes quite soon, though not with as many closed borders as it became. This means, that as soon as we get the opportunity, we buy food or fuel diesel for the boat. We have heard that it is called the Cuba method. We are also starting to think that other people may be infected and we keep a little more distance to others than usual which is not always easy, like here in the market in St Pierre where we bought vegetables.

St Pierre

The day after Johan went home to Sweden, we sail up to St Pierre, the city that was devastated by a volcanic eruption in the early 1900s. We anchor here to check out of Martinique before sailing up to Dominica. The beach in the town is quite steep so it is not child friendly and it is also garbage. On the whole, we think that there is not much to experience here without renting a car, so we choose to sail on when the wind is good for sailing to Dominica. In addition, it is quite bleak with all the old burned house debris from the volcanic eruption over 100 years ago.

Dominica

After a windy sailing from Martinique up to Dominica with seasick children and adults, we drop anchor in the southern part of the bay at Portsmouth. The northern anchorage was full of sailboats while the south was almost empty which should have made us wonder why.

The idea is to only stay one night and then sail on to Les Saintes. But later in the afternoon Albert comes by with his boat and asks if we need something and he also advertises sightseeing in Indian River with him the next day. After a brief discussion with the rest of the crew, we accept his sightseeing proposal. We cannot pass Dominica without having been ashore and seen at least some part of the island. Albert also states that the southern anchorage is not considered safe at night because it is not patrolled by PAYS (Portsmouth Association Yacht Services) that Albert is a member of. We choose to stay because we think it is a little late to move now just when it is time for sundowner and food.

The next day Albert pick us up and we will go with a Finnish family on the boat EA. On the Indian River you can’t drive by motor, so Albert rows and tells about wildlife and some of Dominica’s history. We think he is a very good guide and liked the excursion. We are landed at a small bar on a small island in the woods where we are expected to buy a beer or drink, which we also do to cool off in the heat. The trip back down the river becomes a rehearsal as it is the same path and there is not much more to tell.

Since it is too late to sail up to Les Saintes after the excursion on the Indian River, we stay one more night and for safety, we move to the northern anchorage where we get another nice evening.

Albert and other boat boys

Before sailing to the Caribbean, we heard terrible stories about boat boys, especially around St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Fortunately, we have not experienced anything like that, but we have mostly had good experiences from our contact with boat boys around the islands we visited. We have met some younger guys who are too contentious and want us to make them happy by overpricing their services. Fortunately, we have only met such boat boys in Soufriere on St Lucia and Saline Bay on Mayreau, in both cases young boys, for 20 years.

We met Albert when he came to our boat when we were anchored in Prince Rupert Bay off Portsmouth on Dominica. His job is to help us sailboats with different services like adding to the mooring buoys which can be difficult to get from the front deck. He runs a boat taxi, sells fish and other food, takes care of our waste, sells excursions and BBQ evenings at restaurants.

When Albert drove me to Portsmouth Customs, he told me how he got blood poisoning in one leg after he barefoot trampled on three spots forming a triangle on the floor of his old boat. After a week or so, the foot became infected and it did not heal on its own. When he went to the doctor it was too late to save the foot and it was amputated. Unfortunately, the infection remained in the leg and it continued with new amputations and eventually, they were forced to amputate above the knee. He put his old boat on fire and while he was being treated he built a new boat in fiberglass to avoid getting such mold in the boat one more time. He told me that he grew up in Portsmouth where they built houses in swampy lands where it is cheap to buy land (mosquitoes and mosquitoes here can mean dengue fever). The last house disappeared in the last hurricane that passed Dominica and now he is building and building a new one in the same place, this time with stone walls.

For us, as visitors to these poor countries, it is natural to buy the services they sell when we need them, such as leaving trash, buying bread, or getting help with the mooring buoy. That money goes directly to someone who lives on the island.

Up Next

In the next blog we sail to the small islands Les Saintes south of Guadeloupe. Les Saintes belongs to Guadeloupe that is French territory.. We have read about how corona has hit Italy and France and that things are going on, so it feels better to be in the EU if something very drastic happens.