The anchor is up in Roseau at 8:45 on Saturday morning 2/15 for an uneventful 18 mile sail north to Prince Rupert Bay on the northwest coast of Dominica. Many times, sailing in the lee of an island with high rugged mountains is an exercise in futility. The wind is frequently fluky, changing speed and direction every few minutes. Today, however, moderate easterly winds remain relatively constant for the entire journey.
At noon, Cutter Loose is bobbing on a mooring near the town of Portsmouth in Prince Rupert Bay. Portsmouth was originally selected to be the capital city of Dominica. However, this never came to fruition as a swamp on the northwestern corner of the Bay afflicted the original settlers with malaria and yellow fever. Today, Portsmouth’s economy is based on tourism, fishing and the presence of the Ross University medical school. Despite its tired appearance, there is no shortage of interesting things to see and do on Main Street.
Tonight is the weekly barbeque sponsored by PAYS, Portsmouth Area Yacht Security. This is a fundraising event to support local efforts to keep the Bay safe for visiting yachts. The boat boys here are very helpful and not aggressive in the least. They formed the PAYS organization several years ago in a cooperative effort to service cruisers with transportation, tours and other services. The barbeque is well-attended this evening. This event is a good opportunity to make new friends and to reconnect with folks we have not seen in recent weeks, such as Island Packet friends Jan and Richard aboard Morpheus of London. We have not seen these folks since departing Grenada in December.
Sunday, 2/16 marks the first day of a two week Carnival celebration in Dominica. To commemorate the beginning of Carnival, a Mas (masquerade) parade is scheduled in downtown Portsmouth. Townsfolk and tourists alike line the sidewalks of Main Street in anticipation of this event. The parade consists of costumed characters, female drill teams, stilt dancers and a thumping hip hop band on a flatbed truck with a diesel generator in tow.
This is a low budget, high attendance event. The Carnival queen contestants wave to the crowd from their seats in the beds of dented pickup trucks. Vendors along the parade route offer a variety of snacks and beverages to the crowd. There is a considerable police presence controlling traffic and everyone seems to be enjoying the parade. There is no apparent disorderly conduct, even amongst the professional party contingent. A late afternoon shower sends spectators scurrying for shelter, but the band continues to perform into the early evening hours.
On Monday morning, 2/17, Cutter Loose will be bound for Guadeloupe. At dusk, a hasty retreat to the boat dodging raindrops provides time to prepare for tomorrow morning’s departure.