Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Dominica, Portsmouth

After a walk into Roseau to stretch the legs and do some shopping we sailed up to Portsmouth. The wind was gusting as we left and as we passed the docked cruise ships the sea was showing decidedly more than the usual white horses. We reefed the Genoa more so the boat was more balanced, but the gusts kept coming and getting stronger. We had a lively 26 knots of wind but the gusts were in the 30's. So Sarah was kept busy trimming sails and moving the traveller to spill winds. Not the normal relaxed, non scary sailing that she has come to expect. More a white knuckled ride, clinging on, hoping for the best and no time to be sick.
The wind didn't drop as we entered Prince Rupert Bay, in fact it was covered in white horses. So we sped across the three miles with just the main out. Anchoring in gusting winds of over 30 knots can be an interesting and challenging experience, as the boat has a tendency to shear on the chain. So it took a couple of attempts before both skipper and crew were sure of the anchor set. But the last mooring buoy had been taken so we anchored in a good amount of space towards the back of the moored and anchored yachts.
The radio traffic added to the sense of foreboding as boats were dragging all over the bay or having problems getting their anchor to set. Difficulties arose in those boats that were dragging but no-one was aboard due to the beach barbecue! A boat boy came to visit and gave us a beautiful helliconia to welcome us to the bay.
As the evening progressed the wind kept blowing, accompanied by rain showers, so to set minds at rest Darrell slept in the cockpit until the wee small hours when things calmed slightly. With the wind and the amount the boat was swinging, it was quite a noisy night, so sleeping wasn't the easiest thing. 
We have got to know a good boat boy and local guide in Portsmouth, which is a way of minimising the visits from other boat boys. So Providence, real name Martin, came over for a chat and suggested a walk that we might like to try out. Darrell took notes so we wouldn't get lost and after breakfast we got a lift ashore. (With the wind still blowing hard we didn't want to launch the new dinghy until we have got the lifting harness sorted, although Martin did reassure us that the forecasts predicted the winds should moderate - but then they only seem to get it right about 50% of the time.)
The walk took us out of Portsmouth and quickly into rain forest. As we walked up the hills we could hear parrots, but unfortunately couldn't see them. But we did get a great view across the bay. We joined part of the Watakabuli trail as we carried on up the hill and began to wish we had put our boots on as it was really muddy and slidy. But it was a great way to stretch the legs and escape the wind for a while, before a pleasant creole lunch ashore in the bay and then returning to Stream, hoping for a more quiet night!

A pineapple growing in the rainforest.

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