Earlier this week I gave a presentation at the Essex Yacht Club about Brenda’s and my trip south through the Leeward Islands last winter and I have to say that sharing the photos and stories of our months cruising the islands brought back some wonderful memories. It also gave me an opportunity to make a plug for Antigua as a destination that EYC members really ought to visit, by boat or otherwise.
I also took the opportunity to make a formal exchange of club burgees between EYC and the Antigua Yacht Club. As it’s currently way below freezing here in CT, the thought of a visit to Antigua and the AYC looked plenty inviting to our members. Thanks to Commodore Thomsen for his support in granting reciprocity between the two clubs. When I return to Antigua later this month, I’ll present this “anointed” EYC burgee to AYC Commodore Braithwaite and close the loop that formally links our two clubs. Of course, it really got me thinking about what’s in store for our run south after Christmas when we return to Antigua.
Having Pandora in Antigua as our starting point this season will be terrific as it will put us right in the heart of some of the finest cruising areas in the world and there is so much that we haven’t yet explored.
The furthest south that we made it last year was Portsmouth Dominica on the NW side of the island, just south of Guadaloupe. Dominica is perhaps the least developed island in the Caribbean and as it’s quite mountainous, it has some spectacular rain forests and miles of hiking paths going the length of the island.
During the 2017 hurricane season the island took quite a beating and I am hopeful that with all the rain the the trees will soon leaf out again. Rebuilding is underway and I have been told that they are in need of plastic tarps to provide temporary roofing so we plan to bring along a small supply with us to donate when we visit.
While we were there last winter, Brenda and I took a number of tours and were blown away by how beautiful it was. When I say “tours”, I mean we hired a van with some friends for the day, pretty informal. It was great fun.
It’s hard to believe that there are still trees like this around. We saw ferns that were impossibly tall. I did the whole “Tarzan” thing over a stream. Twice, just to prove I could.
Of course, we visited a beautiful waterfall. And met some wonderful local folks. like this woman in a local market wearing traditional Caribbean garb. It’s worth noting that this market wasn’t in an area frequented by many tourists so she wasn’t dressed like this “just for show”. Unlike many of the islands further north, including the BVIs that are pretty arid, there is considerable rainfall here to support a wide variety of agriculture which makes for lots to choose from in the local markets. We enjoyed visiting Dominica and are hopeful that the forests will recover quickly.
In Portsmouth there is a group of local guys, and they are all guys, that have established a group, PAYS, the Portsmouth Association of Yacht Security. They offer services to visiting yachts and also patrol the harbor at night to be sure that visiting boats are safe. In the past, Portsmouth wasn’t the best place to be but now it’s a great spot to visit and every February they put on a week long festival, Yachtie Appreciation Week, with cookouts, tours and all sorts of fun events.
This year I plan to organize some social events, in conjunction with their activities, for fellow Salty Dawgs as well as other cruisers sporting the Seven Seas Cruising Association burgee. Brenda and I are members of both groups and it will be fun to catch up with them as well as make new friends.
Here’s a shot of Fauston Alexis, one of the PAYS guys, as he sped Along side Pandora last winter to “claim” us and welcome us to Dominica, shouting “welcome to Dominica, welcome to Paradise”. This post gives a pretty good feel for what we experienced during our first few days in Dominica. I really can’t wait to visit again.
Of course, there are plenty of islands south of Dominica for us to explore along the way and I am excited about what’s in store.
For now, we will enjoy the holidays and time with our family but in the back of my mind will be thoughts of what’s in store for us this season as we make our way south from Antigua to Grenada and back before I run Pandora north in the Spring.
When we return to Antigua we will move Pandora into Nelson’s Dockyard to enjoy the New Year’s Eve celebrations. I understand that there are a number of other Salty Dawg Rally boats that will be there with us. It will be fun to enjoy the festivities with them and 1,000 or more locals as we party our way into the new year. And, speaking of “where in the world is Pandora”, which I was, kinda, click here and see where she is”right now” The link will be current all winter as we explore new islands between Antigua and Grenada.
So, as they say, “but wait, there’s more”. Yes, there’s plenty in store.