We left Dominica on Sunday after nearly 2 weeks there. It felt good to help out a bit and it was rewarding (and challenging) cleaning up the galvanized from the sea floor. We ended up with quite the pile!
Bill and Jeff’s fabulous haul!
We had a wonderful sail to Pointe a Pitre in Guadeloupe – probably the best sail we’ve ever had in the Caribbean. We were close hauled all the way, and the true wind speed was only 10-15 knots, but Toodle-oo! was flying along – great fun.
We arrived and anchored in Pointe a Pitre close to our friends Bob and Anne on Baloo and for the next couple of days were highly productive – laundry, restocking the boat, buying Christmas Dinner, and sourcing various bits for the boat. Unfortunately, our generator is acting up again – it’s making a lot more noise than normal and turns itself off at random times. Very frustrating! However, we have spare parts being brought to us just after the New Year by Laurie’s brother Neal, so hopefully we can limp by until then.
We left Pointe a Pitre today (Wednesday) and had another cracking sail, this time to the small island of Marie Galante where we hope to decompress for a bit! We’re spending Christmas with our friends David and Leanne on Perigee – but it sure would be nice if we knew where – The Saintes or Antigua seem to be the two choices and there’s only 4 days between now and Christmas Eve!
Looking forward to Abigail joining the boat of a few days around the New Year… we’ll be in Antigua, a hotbed of buff young sailors – and she’s on the prowl!!
Today we went mostly free-diving for Galvanized Roofing Sheets – there are loads of these sheets strewn around the bottom creating a real anchoring nightmare. In one morning we collected all these pieces – from just a small area of the anchorage.
Diving for Galvanized!
Got a bit of a scare when I got my leg tied up in the hauling line just before surfacing – that gets the adrenaline flowing!!
The morning’s haul!
Meanwhile, the kitchen counter is ready for pouring…
Ready for the counter-top to be poured…
Work continues in Portsmouth – on island time…
Island Time… The Womens Club has the coldest beers!
Unfortunately, we’ve still not started on the moorings but the Pavilion is coming along nicely. It won’t look finished until the roof is done – which has been contracted out by a charity organization that Hank Schmidt operates – they’ve raised over $25,000 for the Portsmouth area – including the roof!
Preparing for the footing
How many engineers to hang a flag?
The kitchen counter takes shape
Chief Engineer, Bill from Alembic
Meanwhile, we took some time off to do the Indian River Tour with Albert and his son Avin. Helen on Alembic had been insistent that Albert join us – his first trip up the river since losing one leg below the knee shortly before Maria struck. He was in fine spirits as Alvin rowed us up the river. Sadly the river is not in such spirits and I’ve included a couple of shots from last year to compare with this year’s river…
Indian River December – same spot…
The Indian River pre-Maria
Indian River close to the Jungle Bar
Pre Maria close by the Jungle Bar
The Jungle Bar :-(
Even so, we had an interesting tour and saw quite a variety of wildlife.
A group of happy OCCers. From back left to front right: Albert, Carl (Northern Star, Bill (Toodle-oo!), Ardys (Northern Star), Helen (Alembic), Bill (Alembic), Laurie (Toodle-oo!)
Can’t remember the name of this pretty bird
Green Backed Heron. (I think it had a different name on our last visit!)
The four OCC boats filled two large tables of ‘stuff’ – from Tarps to bandages, toys to solar lights, Tuna to reading glasses… Our gratitude again to the Centenary United Methodist Church of Attleboro for their generous donation – along with that from Frances and George of Kittiwake.
Several of the PAYS guys, who’d lost their houses, gratefully accepted various bits and pieces, and the school supplies and medical stuff was delivered by the OCC contingent to the local school and hospital.
Meanwhile, back at the PAYS pavilion, Bill from Alembic kept bashing on to get the kitchen area finished.
Meanwhile, Toodle-oo! took a bit of a time out to take a bus ride down to Roseau, capital of Dominica, to get a feel for the damage the rest of the island had seen… Some places on the route seemed to have been wiped out completely, but for the most part, damage was similar to that seen in Portsmouth – which is to say extensive, but recoverable – given time. Unfortunately, photos were impossible in our racing bus – it had darkened windows (that were dirty!) and anything taken would surely have been blurred!!! Got to love these Caribbean buses!!!
All the OCC boats got right to it today making repairs and improvements to the PAYS pavilion and dock. There was a really nice cooperation going on between cruisers and islanders – all messing in to help.
- The PAYS dock is now fully functional
- The kitchen area has its foundation poured – and it’s planned to be ready for Christmas Eve’s bash!
- Moorings have been located for repair
Ardys and Helen cutting wood for forms…
Helen and Laurie cutting re-bar for the footing
Helen (Alembic) levels the concrete footing
Sinking a footing for the dock’s on-ramp
On comes the covering
The finished ramp
The end of the dock is installed
Tomorrow: More of the same!
It would be really helpful if any boats coming to Portsmouth to assist could look at bringing some ¾” mooring chain for the moorings that they are working on.
There are no doubt a bunch of OCC members arriving with the ARC in St. Lucia – perhaps some will feel inclined to join the effort in Portsmouth.
On Friday we’ll be distributing the aid that various boats have brought with them – to schools, medical centers, PAYS and individuals in need…
We went ashore in Dominica this morning and walked into the center of Portsmouth. What a mess. Not to say that they hadn’t done a good job of getting back on their feet – but what a mess!
There are spaces full of debris where a house once was. The forest beside the town is broken and battered.
A house used to stand here…
The destructive power of 200mph winds…
The beach beside the PAYS pavilion
The waterfront in Portsmouth…
But the people are still Dominicans. Still very happy and friendly. Still very pleased that you’ve come to their island to visit.
In the afternoon, we got together with Jeff, President of PAYS who look after all the moorings and provide security for the Yotties… He immediately set us to work and we dug a trench for a new kitchen wall and counter in the PAYS pavilion – where he’s planning that they will hold their first BBQ of the season on Christmas Eve – just 3 weeks from now. Bill on Alembic was in his element and quickly came up with specifications for the trench and set the whole thing up. Tomorrow we go back to PAYS at 08:30 to lay the footing for the new kitchen.
We’ve also got plans to assist them in refurbishing the pavilion itself which is missing some of it’s roof, we’re to build a new storage area (so he doesn’t have to store stuff in the Ladies room(!) ) and we’re going to start laying mooring balls tomorrow afternoon. There’s lots to do, and we’re planning on getting on and doing it! So far we have 4 OCC boats in Dominica for the express purpose of helping out – Toodle-oo!, Cranstackie, Alembic and Northern Star. We’re hoping others will be joining us in the coming days as there’s lots to be done! (If anyone is coming up from Martinique or down from Antigua, we need some Mooring Chain – 3/4″ stuff…
The items the various boats have brought to Dominica will be collected together tomorrow and Thursday and then distributed on Friday. Looking forward to that whole process.
We’ll have more details and photos tomorrow…
We’re in the Saintes… last year we climbed a few hills to get to various forts – this year on our brief stop we decided to climb to the highest point – another fort…
The highest point in the Saintes… got to do it!
A great view over Bourg de Saintes
See red arrow! Great views on the way up – but sadly none of Dominica, our next destination just 30 miles south, but hidden in haze. Sensibly, we walked up to the fort by way of a disused road – steep but doable. Stupidly, we decided to come down the other way via a steep footpath (blue arrow)… Now just remember that the Saintes suffered from the huge hurricane, Maria… we managed to lose the path very quickly and ended up bushwhacking our way down through nasty prickly thorny things and very a steep descent…
Today we checked out of the Saintes (having got our washing done) and sailed to Dominica. Our arrival was somewhat sad – it’s clear that they suffered major devastation as a consequence of hurricane Maria – massive de-forestation, damage to buildings and structures…
This hotel under construction had a red roof last year… no more…
The Dock is messed up, so is the building and the trees…
On the approach, it’s clear that there’s been extensive damage to the forests…
We arrived too late to check in, so anchored close to shore and will do the immigration thing in the morning. Meanwhile, I dived on the anchor to ensure its not snarled up with some hurricane wreckage (it’s not) and set the boat up for a gentle evening. There are 3 OCC boats here already for our relief efforts – Toodle-oo!, Alembic and Cranstackie. More will arrive tomorrow.
Now in the Isles des Saintes – and in sight of Dominica – our immediate goal.
Seems like we have a bunch of sailboats converging on Portsmouth, Dominica next week to assist in relief efforts – though it’s difficult to work out if there will be 3 or 30! I suspect maybe 5 or 7 will show up but let’s hope for more!
Looking forward to assisting them in their efforts to rebuild after the devastation of Hurricane Maria. I think when we get there, we’ll be tasked with getting the PAYS organization back on its feet – this is the group that controls the harbor – and it’s an important role, since money comes into Dominica via tourists – and in this case the tourists arrive in boats like Toodle-oo!.
They hope to have 20 moorings up and running by Christmas and the full compliment of 50 by February – in time for Yottie Appreciation week – when typically, about 100 boats descend on Portsmouth bringing needs for supplies and tours – therefore cash for the island…
We are scheduled to arrive there on Tuesday December 5th – but we might just go a day earlier to see what gives and be able to guide the rest of the fleet home…