Blackfish Adventures in St Lucia, Martinique & Dominica
Al from Blackfish Sailing in Victoria, British Columbia brought two fellow Blackfish crew with him from the snowy wastes, and they were joined by Mike, a pilot from Illinois on his first sailing holiday. It was Fun with a capital F!
Al, JJ, Mike and Ian Sail from St Lucia to Dominica
[dropcap]A[/dropcap]n all boy crew on our leg from St Lucia to Dominica was fantastic fun. The three Canadians already knew each other a little and had sailed together in Victoria, but Mike quickly slotted into the team despite it being his first time sailing and was a natural and relaxed sailor. It’s not often that we have extra tall people on Ibis, so with Mike and JJ both weighing in at 6′ 4″ it was quite a novelty. Everyone proved to be active and outdoorsy, with Al, a seasoned wilderness tour leader, and Ian a keen hiker/kayaker/wilderness explorer and a long distance swimmer to boot!
Rodney Bay to Petit Piton & Marigot
We all met up at Rodney Bay Marina to the North of St Lucia, and after a night settling in we set off South the next afternoon for the Pitons with the wind on the beam and the sun shining. A national reserve, the Pitons are a spectacular sight as you sail down the coast, twin volcanic peaks towering over the local town of Soufriere. Both Ian and Al were keen to don their hiking boots and head off uphill.
There are bouyed moorings around the town of Soufriere and the Pitons, some of which are managed by the local Marine Reserve, and others which are privately owned; after the usual bunfight with the local Boat Boys for a peaceful stop for the night we settled on a bouy with a line ashore; Ian went for an unusually long swim, following which the boys headed into town to suss out the hiking possibilities for the next [pullquote_right]”Mike realised his sneakers just weren’t man enough for the job”[/pullquote_right] day. They managed to find a nice local eaterie and arranged a guide for the next morning’s hike up Petit Piton – the smaller of the two peaks but the lesser travelled. The next morning, after a hearty breakfast the guide arrived and 4 set off for the top while the Skipper mended a leaking toilet.
Mike was quickly back, having realised that his sneakers just weren’t man enough for the job, and this was borne out by the pictures later, with near vertical ascents and knotted ropes for ladders. 3 arrived back jubilant but exhausted with some fab pictures from the top and during their hike.
It was a shame the guide felt it necessary to try and swizz Al for extra money at the end having previously agreed a price, and when the Boat Boys started messing about with moorings and shore lines we pulled ours on board and motored swiftly up the coast to Marigot.
Although a very pretty “anchorage” – anchoring is not really possible in Marigot any more since the locals have set up mooring bouys in the anchoring area and demand money with menaces. After an evening and a following morning of hassles and Customs formalities, we slipped our lines and were happy to be sailing north for Martinique and civilisation!
Martinique – Gros Ans d’Arlet, Fort de France & St Pierre
We had a great sail between St Lucia and Martinique, arriving in the afternoon at the pretty seaside town of Gros Anse d’Arlet where we stopped for the night, and after a quick and fruitless hunt for french bread & croissants the next morning we headed on to the capital, Fort de France. The huge bay made for some FANTASTIC sailing close hauled with lots of tacking practice to our destination in the lee of the Fort itself.
After a 5 minute internet check in that afternoon, there was time for exploring the waterfront town and a nice meal ashore. The next morning we headed off bright and early up the coast again to St Pierre, a [pullquote_left]”I only wish I’d bought the box of rum”[/pullquote_left]seaside town set on a black sand beach at the foot of a quite recently active volcano.
With a drizzling rain setting in, we all took a walk up to the Depaz Rum Distillery which made for a great afternoon out, if a little on the wet side. I only wish I’d bought the BOX of rum and not just a bottle!
Roseau Roads & Prince Rupert Bay
It was another beautiful sail North from St Pierre to the southern end of Dominica and the capital town of Roseau with its bustling markets and vibrant character; Desmond, our Boat Boy here is a world away from those in St Lucia. After organising the next day’s tour inland, Mike and JJ, the two tall Rednecks headed into town to taste the local beverages whilst Al & Ian went swimming. Arriving back late, JJ decided to try his hand at fishing from the back of the boat and I only wish I had a picture of the one that got away! Seriously…it was quite a big jack and would have made a nice barbecue lunch the next day.
The boys made a tour of the Sulphur Springs, Middleham Falls and Ti Tou Gorge, where they filmed part of Pirates of the Caribbean, ending up at the lookout point of Morne Bruce with it’s view over the town and bay. The atmosphere was heighted by the arrival of 2 magnificent tall ships that anchored nearby.
And after a day ashore we set off under sail again for Prince Rupert Bay and the ramshackle town of Portsmouth [pullquote_right]”the felt was damp and smelly, the floor was uneven and there were balls missing”[/pullquote_right]to the Northern end of Dominica. Although the winds were light to begin with, by the afternoon we had a nice on shore breeze and the sail into Prince Rupert Bay was another exhilarating round of tacking practice. We were able to sail practically all the way to our anchor spot.
We all took the Indian River tour as the sun was setting and Alexis proved, once again, to be an entertaining and knowledgeable guide on the river and its flora and fauna. A couple of rum punches at the fruit farm bar and we headed back to the boat for a shower and dinner ashore at the local restaurant and a few games of pool on the pitiful upstairs tables – the felt was damp and smelly, the floor was uneven and there were balls missing, but it didn’t seem to matter…it was a fab last night for Mike who headed off early morning to catch his flight – good job he remembered his passport before he got too far away! – and JJ who left later in the afternoon.
Post Sailing Adventures
Ian and Al stayed on in Dominica and helped to sail Ibis back down to Roseau where the next guests were joining. Al had gathered together a suitcase full of toys and gifts for the local Caribe community, one of the last pockets of the original Caribe Indian race that populated the Caribbean islands before the arrival of the Europeans and their slave ships. You can see some pics of his visit with the Chief here.
Ian set off on his own adventures into the mountains and rainforests with a visit to the Cloud Forest and the Boiling Lake. Dominica has recently launched the fabulous Waitukubuli National Trail the length of the island which will be a wonderful way to explore this amazing island.
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just remembering through me rum goggles ? an evening at the bar at the pirates of the caribbean film set ? me and the womiting wikings ? after you said dont drink too much cos we have to be up at 3 er 4 sam ? and after a coupla 3 rum punches and you came to pick us up , we lost the light sticks and lots more ? and we were incapable of boarding the zodiac ? well we were laughing for norway, think I went to bed early ? dont know what everyone else did ? but I was up at 4 to sail to st lucia , see I told you not to worry, and sure enough after a triple decker bacon and egg sandwich was back on track to aid and assist as necessary ? what a holiday ? you are the best sam ! am I gonna repeat this ? course I am, and a new fridge…oh death where is your sting ? love and kisses aders xxx
I haven’t forgotten the night on board with ‘the world’s most boring couple’…even the dodgy tin of peanuts that’d been kicking around for months didn’t give them a hint!