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  • Writer's pictureSailing Koinonia

S/V Koinonia Weekly Sailing Log - Exploring Dominica (Wed Aug 16 - Tue Aug 22, 2023)

Updated: Aug 25, 2023

Raising the Dominica courtesy flag on Sailing Koinonia

Highlights this week, we departed Guadeloupe and sailed to Portsmouth, Dominica; cleared in, and explored the town. Went ook a tour of Indian River, visited the public market, found a local bakery, and a couple of good restaurants (and ice cream, of course). Madelyn turned 16 and we celebrate at home on a rainy day. Super rolly conditions make for some uncomfortable nights. We hire a driver with a 4x4 mini-van and explore the interior of the island including a volcano crater, Calibishe, Red Rock, beautiful Syndicate Falls, and Free Up Farm; one of our most memorable days in the Caribbean!

Wed Aug 16 - kids and Amber do school. Ben took the dinghy ashore to drop off the trash and clear out of of Guadeloupe, which cost 4€.  Got back to the boat and made lunch then got the boat ready to get underway. Departed around 12:30 and sailed south for Dominica. Sea state was a bit lumpy but not too bad (4-5ft) with a period of 7 seconds and wind 15 kts at a 60deg angle, close reaching. Made Dominica in 3 hours. As we approached Portsmouth, Ben hung a marlin on one of his hand lines, which quickly broke off, but it made for an exciting 10 seconds. Met Albert with PAYS, who was waiting for us outside the entrance to the harbor in his skiff. We were previously introduced virtually by Don and LaVonne on S/V “Cat’s Meow.”  Albert escorted us to the mooring field, where we tied up and then got acquainted for a bit. Customs and clearance closed at 4pm, so we will wait to do clearance in the morning.

Scenic viewpoint in north Dominica
Scenic viewpoint in north Dominica; Koinonia is anchored below

Thu Aug 17 - woke up early and made breakfast. Amber and the kids do school. Ben took a ride with Albert to the bank to get some East Caribbean dollars (EC) and then went to the customs and clearance office to check in, which cost $20 (1 EC$ = $0.37 USD) with a max stay of two weeks.  Jumped back in the skiff with Albert and paid Andrew for our mooring ball, 25 EC$ (less than $10 USD) per night, for 7 days. Went home and Amber made quesadillas for lunch.  Ben rigged up some lines to go fishing in the afternoon; Albert picked Ben up around 3:30 and they headed offshore. Weather was a bit squally and the water clarity was off.  Caught one nice King Fish on a pink sea witch; it’s one of our favorite fish to eat. Got back to the boat, cleaned up the gear and the fish; Albert took the head to make a fish soup. Maddy and Lizzy made Puerto Rican beans and rice for dinner.

Fish with coconut curry and rice and peas
Fish with coconut curry and rice and peas

Fri Aug 18 - Amber and the kids do school; Albert picked us up at the boat and we went to eat lunch at De’s restaurant, right next to the open market. She prepares fresh local dishes with a different menu daily. Today she had fish with coconut sauce with a variety of sides or conch with coconut curry. Both were delicious.  Took a tour with Albert down the Indian River, so named because of the Arawak natives, and later the Carib, who used to live along its banks. We learned a lot about the indigenous flora and fauna. When we returned home, we resumed our game of Monopoly.

Indian River Tour

Sat Aug 19 - breakfast on the boat, then the girls gathered items to donate to a Dominican family; dropped the dinghy and went ashore to explore the Saturday market in Portsmouth. Amber and the kids didn’t want to wear ponchos due to the heat, so when it poured rain, they made makeshift coverings using plastic bags and putting reusable grocery bags from Wegmen’s over their heads; it was quite the scene!  Went to a local bakery and bought bread, then ate lunch at Water’s Edge, based on a recommendation from a local family we met; it did not disappoint!  Grabbed a few heavier items, like a watermelon, before heading back to the boat. Lizzy and Maddy made Maddy’s birthday cake, Sleeping Beauty theme complete with Maleficent and Aurora hand drawn, while Ben and Amber tag teamed making a big pot of butter chicken for dinner.

Sun Aug 20th - even though a tropical depression was forming as the storm passed Dominica, sometime around 3am, we had zero wind and almost zero current. The swells from the west side of the island turned the anchorage into a rolly nightmare and it remained that way most of the day. We couldn’t believe the near dead calm wind and lack of current!  Today is our sweet Madelyn’s 16th birthday. At Maddy’s request, Ben made homemade yeast cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Had our time of worship, then kids wanted to watch some movies.

Maddy's Sweet 16

Mon Aug 21 - today the kids have the day off from school. Cleaned out the forward head and gathered all the trash, which we took ashore and then went to have lunch again at Water’s Edge. We visited a craft store, the bakery, and several other stores before picking up some more fresh produce and heading back to the boat. Ben cleaned the starboard waterline of the boat that is rapidly growing green grass/slime that is very challenging to remove.  Amber made a ham and bean soup with local greens for dinner.

Volcanic crater, Red Rock, and Calibishie

Syndicate Falls

Free Up Farm in Syndicate

Tue Aug 22 - had an amazing and very full day today. Packed our stuff and met our mini bus driver and guide for the day, Alec, at the PAYS dinghy dock. Visited the volcano crater at the north end of the island and Cold Soufriere, m cold water spring that was bubbling with gas from the dormant volcano far beneath the surface. Also visited the east coast and Red Rock, then had dinner at a seaside restaurant in Calibishe, that was delicious. Then went to Syndicate Falls, hiking a short way into the lush jungle to the falls where we swam and had the place entirely to ourselves. Finished up the day visiting some new friends at Free Up Farm, an organic, permaculture, fully off-grid 7-acre farm run by a couple that looks to be about our age.  We got to sample an amazing variety of fruits, veggies, herbs, etc. We also saw several Sisserou/ Imperial Amazon Parrots, the national bird of Dominica which adorns the country’s flag. This parrot species only lives in Dominica and is critically endangered. Returned to the boat after a long day and ate leftovers. Albert delivered our laundry, since we are planning to depart Portsmouth and head south to Roseau, the capitol of Dominica, tomorrow.

God Bless,

S/V Koinonia

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