Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Levent had inquired about good places in Dominica, and learned that the only restaurant not to be missed was owned by a Belgian couple in Batalie. We had never heard of it, but found it in the map. It was half-way between Roseau and Porstmouth, so we decided to make it a lunch stop on the way, moored to their ball.

First thing in the morning was to get water, so we asked Pancho to give us a hand getting tied to the pier of Drop Anchor. We had done that before, and it was a breeze to get water. We also had to buy bread, so we dragged Pancho from bed at 7:30, and moved over. While we were filling our tanks, Levent and Guylaine went to find fresh bread. They came back in no time, mentioning that there was only one type made at Sukie's bakery. We had our breakfast while tied at the pier, and got underway about an hour after.

While we were in the lee of the island, there was no need to set sail. Batalie beach was about two hours away, so it was a leisurely sail, motoring. Thanks to the GPS, we spotted the building obscured by vegetation, and came close to the corner of the small bay. There was one mono-hull anchored, as well as tied to a buoy from the side front. Immediately to its aft was a mooring ball. I called over VHF several times for help, but no answer. While trying to decide what to do, Al went ahead and approached the mooring ball. It was so close to the other boat that if I had missed we would bump into it. The sea was calm, so I did not miss, but I had my share of excitement for the day in the process.

The boats were swinging freely, so we thought tying ours to shore would be a good idea. Then we saw some long and different coloured lines lying at the stony beach. Al and Levent got the dinghy down, got to the beach and started bringing the longest looking one to Ruyam II. However it was not long enough, so I brought our long line, attached it to the aft cleat and gave it to Levent. The two hooked it through the line and tied it back to the boat. The lenght was just right! I hade a sigh of releif, seeing the other boat swinging away from us.

The water seemed clean, the weather hot; nobody can keep me away from swimming for long. Al was the first to get in, and mentioned that it was cold, due to a little spring flowing into the bay. That was it, Levent crossed his arms and said forget it. I swam around the boat, and felt the temperature changing in the water in different streaks. It appeared that cold fresh water was dispersing in the warmer sea, making it interesting, and very clean, since the little stream was coming from the wilderness of the rain forests at the back. The swim was wonderful, and I urged Guylaine to join me. Well she was not sorry for it, we swam almost an hour, around the boat and away.

When it was time to have lunch, we went ashore. We had asked Pancho to make a reservation, so it was imperative. The setting of the restaurant was nice but laid back, overlooking the bay through palm trees and flowers, but the menu was a disappointment. Too high prices for not much to eat. I ended up with fish soup, which I think was the only item worth its price. Guylaine did not like it, so switched with Levent's calaloo soup. As a parantheses, Martinique does not have caloo! When we mentioned that fact to the server, she could not beleive it, and Guylaine was intrigued.

Guylaine further asked for a cheese sandwich, the guys for hamburgers - all disasters, from presentation to taste. The worst was the toilet, although clean, it had no running water. That was it for me, I was disgusted, and made a show of washing Guylaine's hands with drinking water (she was the first to go). The owner came by a little later, and explained that they had a problem with their water pump, and her husband had been busy with the repairs. At least!

When I asked the server if we could spend the night there, she said they were full. Apparently they had 12 rooms. When we corrected that we wished to stay on our boat at the mooring ball, that was no problem and free of charge. So that was good.
Our dinner on bord RUYAM II was much better I tell you, with raki and such. Who needs to eat out. I have been weaned out of the restaurants in the Caribbean, if the place is decent, the prices are astronomical. The islanders try to cook for peanuts, but their taste in cooking is foreign to us. Martinique was the best, having the French cuisine as a guide. English cuisine is non existent, so the one developed in their islands is a hodg podge of tasteless greasy food. This is my opinion, others might differ.

Staying the night at Batalie Beach was pleasent. The next morning, we had no hurry to start, so three of us, Levent excepted, swam in the morning as well, and started around 10:00 am. We reached Portsmouth before noon, and got gelp from one of Cobra's guys to get his mooring. As a matter of fact, he was the only guy looking for customers, everybody else being busy partying on the last day of the carnival. Thank God it was over, any other life is a standstill while it is on!

When we asked to be taken to Indian River, Cobra's guy promised to come for us at 3:30 pm. Ample time to explore the Cabrits. All of us were tired from the sun or the earlier swim, climbing as far as Fort Shirley was more than enough.

The Cabrits national park is immense, covering a whole mountain at the north edge of the Portsmouth bay. The fort looks miniscule, situated at a third of the height of the mountain, overlooking the bay, so climbing the paved road was not that impressive.

Last time we were at Portsmouth, we had taken water from the cruise dock at the foot of the park. This time we saw a mega sailing yacht docked there. While the passengers were loitering around the decks, the crew (mostly Asian) were scattered around the small coffee shop, adjacent to the park interpretation centre. It had WiFi, and dozens of tiny young men were concentrating on a laptop or pad, as if their life depended on them. I guess the mega yacht had also stopped only to get water, since by the time we went back to Ruyam II, it was gone.

The small interpretation centre/museum at the base of the fort had a familiar feel - with good reason; Al showed me the plate commemorating its funding and architects as the Canadian government.

We returned to the boat five minutes before Cobra's guy came to pick us up with a pirogue, with three more people, two young men and a girl. All French, who had just returned from a sailing trip to Montreal, Que and back. When they saw our Ruyam II was registered in Montreal, they blurted it out.

We sped to the mouth of Indian River, which was not too far away from the anchorage. There we changed boats (motors are not allowed on the shallow river). Our rower was the same as the last time, and the ride was equally enchanting. I had never seen the type of trees anywhere in the world, and the variety of birds. Our guests liked what they saw,and took many pictures and videos. Money well spent!
We were looking forward to having a beer at Cobra's bar, at the end of the river; however the prices seemed outrageous, so we just sat there, waiting for the other group to finish their stroll. Our major mistake was not taking bug spray along; I was eaten alive, and had to keep moving around in the garden behind the bar. It is interesting that there were no mosquitos on the water, although the river is almost still, but the bugs were on land. To be on water is always a relief!

That concluded our excursion and the holiday of our guests. Poor things work so hard six days a week, and everyday that they close shop is lost revenue. They took advantage of the general holiday for the carnival, when they had to close for three days anyway, and made it a break. Having a personal service business without any helpers is a real trap. I had experienced it as well, before I started working for the Canadian government. I never lost sight of how lucky I had been in my later years to be able to retire from that job, which felt as play anyway. Going to work every morning was a celebration, until I was ready for retirement.

We spent one more day in Roseau, and started our passage back to St Pierre, Martinique. Although the wind was the right strenght and there were no waves, the swells hammered us. Moving around was impossible on the boat, so Guylaine slept, and I read for the first time, while Levent and Al sat at the helm. I found that reading was more soothing than watching the mountains of waves. Live and learn!

St Pierre anchorage was not as crowded the second time around, so anchoring was easy. We lazed around for the last night, and felt sad that it was over so soon. Since we had been on the move almost every day, the time passed very quickly.

Next morning we started early, sails full until the Arlets, but had to supplement with one or both of the engines. After we passed the Grand Anse D'Arlet, we lowered the sails, and revved the engines. The ride back to St Anne is beating against the wind and sea after turning the soutwest corner. The last time we were coming back from the Arlet, we had passed from the inside of Diamant Rock, but found the channel hard, with at least two knots of current against, which had slowed us considerably. This time we turned around the rock, but found out that it was almost the same lenght of time, since the way was longer. No way to win!

The trip from St Pierre to Le Marin was almost 6 hours, last portion of beating more than one third of the time. After getting water at the service dock at le marin, anchoring and lowering the dinghy to take our guests to the marina, across where they work and live, it was mid afternoon.

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