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Dominica, the 15nm difference

by Art on

I read in the Doyle island Guide about Dominica and how the southern end of the island had so much to offer in hikes, diving, snorkeling, etc. I spoke with our captain about stopping here first before moving to the north end of the island. He said the capital city of Roseau was considered a dangerous anchorage and we should pass it by for the safer anchorage to the north at Portmouth.

After reading about Roseau, I thought we should at least stop in and take a look for ourselves as the guidebook had glowing reports about how lovely it was with so many things to do. After all, it was the capital of Dominica, could it really be so bad?

When we came into the bay in front of Roseau first of all, we saw very few sailing yachts there, perhaps 3-4 and it appeared they were local not transients like us. The second thing we noticed was how run-down the waterfront area was. Most of the buildings were falling apart and few had any kind of dock for dinghies.

Boat boy transportation in the Caribbean As is typical in the southern Caribbean a local boat boy came out to meet us and offered to let us use one of his mooring balls. Be very careful as these guys are all financially motivated and don't know or care if your boat is too big for the mooring or not. The one he wanted us to use was way too small for our boat and we would obviously swing into the other boats next us in a wind shift.

After taking in the whole picture (bad mooring/anchoring possibilities along with a very shoddy waterfront presentation) I agreed with our captain, this was no place for us to be, so we turned out of the bay and proceeded to the north end of the island.

It was obvious this was the place to be.

Upon our arrival in Portsmouth, in Prince Rupert Bay, we found a completely different picture. With about 40 yachts all anchored out and a beehive of activity with local boat boys motoring around it was obvious this was the place to be.

Aside from some gusty winds coming down the slopes of the mountains followed by daily rain showers this was easily one of the nicest places we had visited so far. We were able to get gasoline for our outboard from the fishing dock and also arranged to pick up a full load of duty-free fuel at the cruise ship dock. It turned out to be the cheapest diesel fuel of the season at about €0.78 per liter. Contrast that with about €1.50 per liter in Italy and you can see how pleased we were! A note about Martinique, we were close to running out of gasoline for the tender but the entire island (actually all the French islands) were on strike for some reason or another and no fuel was available. Nice, eh?

The boat boys were good and arranged various excursions for us around the island, the only caveat is to make sure you know in advance what they are charging for an activity. Remember, while you might take a taxi for a tour, the taxi driver is not the only one making money. His boss takes a cut as does the boat boy so the charge to you is higher than you would think. Just ask in advance to make sure you are OK before committing to use them.

I wish all islands made customs this easy!

The other wonderful thing about Dominica is clearing customs. It's dead simple and the people are very nice to deal with. One of the unique things is the ability to clear in and clear out at the same time with the provision to stay for any length of time up to two weeks. This made is very easy to decide when we would leave. The price was right too as it cost me EC$ 20 (about US$ 8) to clear in and out. I wish all islands made customs this easy!

So, please do visit Dominica on your next passage in the Caribbean. Easily one of the best stops we experienced! It's on our list to go back!

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