From Martinique we stopped off at Dominica to break up our journey north. We nearly didn’t go to the island as like most people we confused it with the Dominican Republic but we were pleasantly surprised and even extended our stay there. (On the sail there Clive saw a whale while I was downstairs having a snooze. Typical!)
It was a nice smooth crossing and Peri sat up in the cockpit for a lot of the journey.
On our first day there we went on a taxi tour of the island with friends.
Our driver was called Winston and seemed to know everyone and everything about the island. (It turned out that he wasn’t married but had 6 children from 5 different women. One of the locals called him a ‘player’.) We went up into the rain forest and he pointed out the different villages and we saw where the oldest woman had lived. She was about 123 when she died. Apparently Dominica has the highest population of people over 100 for some reason. We drove up into the Carib Territory where the last of the Caribs now live. They have bronze coloured skin and almost oriental features. They were fierce, warlike people and completely killed off the Arawaks on a neighbouring island. We stopped at the Emerald Pool which is part of the National Park and went for a swim under the waterfall. I really wanted to see a parrot so was disappointed when Winston failed to deliver.
The following day we went on the Indian River Trip, starting at 7.15am. Albert, our guide, rowed us up a narrow river that ran between mangroves and swamp trees, the same area had been used in Pirates of the Caribbean 2. I was still desperate to see a parrot, but again no luck!
Later in the day Albert came over to Sephina for a chat and I gave him a cold drink of Orangina in a thermos cup with a straw. He was completely amazed that the drink was ice cold but the outside of the beaker was normal temperature. It really freaked him out. The things you take for granted!
After 4 days we decided to move on and went up to Isles de Saintes to join Stephen in preparations for his 60th birthday bash. The town was a bumpy dingy ride around the headland and was full of little French cafe’s, bars and colourful shops. Everyone seemed to have a scooter or an small electric buggy.
As I’d failed to see a real parrot I treated myself to a stuffed one that now swings happily over the lounge table.
For his birthday, Stephen had invited a crowd of people he’d kept in touch with from the Oyster World Rally and so over the next few days Oysters arrived and we gradually took over the small bay, Pain de Sucre. The birthday lasted for nearly 2 weeks and was one party after another, always starting at 5.30pm with sundowners. On the official day we were invited over to Bubbles (62 foot Oyster) for champagne and the most enormous breakfast spread, kindly put on by Karin and Leo. Then at lunchtime we all went ashore in our dinghies and took over a little beach, spreading out 3 huge Oyster flags and laying out a mouthwatering picnic. The locals seemed to be interested and I’m afraid we were quite loud!. In the evening we all got taxis into town and met up at a restaurant that Stephen had pre-booked weeks ago. He’d organised the menu and taken orders from everyone and ensured that we had exclusivity of the venue, which was just as well as the after dinner dancing was slightly raucous but most enjoyable.
The following morning 20 of us all assembled on Babes (54 foot Oyster) where Paul and Trish did us pancakes for breakfast. (Someone had given us duff information and told us it was Shrove Tuesday.) Stephen was the only one who could face a beer as most of us were bleary eyed and on water only. The next evening we assembled on Legend IV (54 foot Oyster) where Alan was doing his Tom Cruise cocktail impressions and Jean was rustling up the most delicious canapes. We then all went over to Amelie where Stephen barbecued 14 steaks which was an impressive feat.
The next day we sailed up to Saint Louis on Marie Galante and radioed over to Bubbles who had already anchored there. Gradually the others arrived and that evening we were feasted courtesy of Andrew and Suzanne from Pearl of Persia who were staying on Legend IV. They booked a restaurant in town for the 12 of us and as usual we took over the place. Paul ended up in the kitchen as we couldn't understand what the owner was talking about on the menu. He just kept getting louder and louder the more confused we looked.
After a few drinks we’d agreed that the next morning the women on the boats would go up the masts by 10am. I sat on deck on my lap top and waited nervously to see if anyone else would do it being quite relieved when 10am arrived and no one had started the climb. Our next plan was yoga on the beach at 11am. Everyone turned up for this and even the men took part. There were a few creaks and groans but we all felt like we’d earned a drink afterwards. That turned into lunch, a boules competition and beach tennis. That evening saw us take over yet another restaurant in town and this was our last supper together.
One by one we left and Clive and I sailed to Deshaies further up the island for a couple of nights where we checked out of Guadeloupe. Deshaies is a pretty little seaside village and was used in the series Death In Paradise. It’s like going from one film set to another at the moment. Babes and Legend IV were also at the anchorage there en route to somewhere else.
From there we motor sailed up to Antigua, arriving at Portsmouth Harbour and are now in Nelson’s Dockyard Marina. We booked in for a week and I expected that we wouldn’t see anyone that we knew during our stay here. But on the first day here we had a visit from Jean and Alan (Legend IV) who are in the next harbour, then we had a visit from David from Calypso who did the ARC with us . Strangest of all was a visit from a guy who said he’d been told to look out for us by a friend of mine and it turned out that we knew his sister really well. She went to my school and Clive and I went to her wedding. Then today we had lunch with Dave and Aleisha from Gozwoz who are old friends from Wales and who also did the ARC with us. It’s such a small world and to be in exactly the same place as people you know at exactly the same time is quite mind blowing.
So, we have a week here and then maybe we’ll scoot up to Nevis. Who knows?