We sailed the few miles from Fort de France to Saint Pierre on the NW tip of Martinique intending to leave the following day to Dominica. The customs office in Marin has a notice in the window with the opening times of the other clearance offices and Saint Pierre was supposed to be open during the afternoon until 1800.
The anchorage was roomy on first glance but the beach shelves very quickly to over 30 metres so you need to get in close to the shore. We were there by 1400 so found a good spot, anchoring in good holding black sand, next to our friends on Halsway Grace.
Another excellent dinghy dock and short walk up the hill to the Tourist Office by 1430 just led to a closed office with a notice of their opening hours, 0900 – 1400 and only Monday to Friday. Perhaps the Marin customs officer doesn’t know the satellite offices don’t open when he thinks they do!!
There was nothing for it but to wander around the town, which is full of the history of the volcanic eruption in 1902 which killed all the former thriving town’s inhabitants of almost 30K people, except for 2, one in his cellar and the other in the jail. There is a museum and countless ruined buildings.
A few shops, an Esso station for our outboard petrol but the fuel was very expensive – better to buy on another island.
We had drinks with Robin and Sue as we watched the sun go down and then ate out for a change, at Le Tamaya, a small French restaurant which is to the right of the dinghy dock in the road behind, where 2 courses with wine was 90 euros for the 3 of us. There is a nautical theme to the place and the service was friendly.
The next morning I was off in the dinghy to look at the market on the seafront, bought 2 huge avocados for 1 euro each and was outside the Tourist Office waiting to clear out by 0830. They actually opened early and being first in the queue I was back on the boat and we were motoring out of the anchorage by 0930.
We had a brilliant sail across to Roseau, the capital of Dominica, being moored up by 1500 having logged 40 nm. Fantastic sailing, none of that downwind rubbish!! Beyzano bombs along when she is sailing to windward.
As we approached Roseau a couple of the yacht service boats (aka boat boys) came out to meet us. Both Pancho and SeaCat are mentioned in the sailing guide, so we knew they were reliable. Pancho was the first to greet us, took our bow line through one of the mooring buoys right outside his house, took me off to the customs office in the cruise ship terminal, which is quite a way from the anchorage and gave us the code for his Wi-Fi. He will also take our laundry, get supplies and can organise tours of the island or snorkelling trips to the marine park.
The mooring is about 7 pounds a night and being close to the shore and his house we felt very secure there. The buoy is attached to a huge seabed block and the lines all look well maintained. His own boat is not though, but has a huge engine so we travelled at a shocking speed despite the leaks! I was at customs in no time and the process was quick and uneventful and gives us clearance both in and out, so if we stay less than a fortnight I don’t need to go back again, which makes life much easier. There are rocks close to the shore but sand once the water deepens, so the moorings seemed a better option this time.
Dominica is beautiful, so lush and the mountains are completely covered in thick vegetation. It rains a lot, briefly, so no wonder the island is so green. The people are very helpful and welcoming and have a great sense of humour.
We went into town today to soak up some of the local culture and will stay here for a few days before heading off to ‘The Saintes’ which are less than 15 nm from the north of the island. The weather forecast gave increased winds for a couple of days but Saturday looks a good day to move north and we are making good progress to the BVI.
The city centre was vibrant and full of little shops with great characters manning them. We stumbled across Old Stone Grill & Bar in Castle Street which had a great atmosphere with a cool interior, stone walls and ceiling fans. They also let us use their internet connection at the bar. Their menu offers spare ribs, jerk pork, fish, chicken and local specialities such as curried goat but the shrimps in coconut cream, rum, tomato, tropical fruits and mushrooms was my favourite! The prices are all very reasonable, much cheaper than the French islands at around 15 pounds for 2 courses.
We tied up the dinghy at the Dominica Marine Centre, a jetty with fuel and water available and another bar with Wi-Fi. Again, the staff are laid back, friendly and helpful. Many offer island tours and all the taxi drivers are trained in natural history.