In Dominica we mostly went on hikes on ourselves without any guide, but a few trips we did with a guide. One of them was the Indian River boat tour we wrote about in a previous blog post and another was a day trip by car to different locations on the island. For this trip we went with a guide called Paul and we drove through a lot of villages, he gave some history of the island and the different villages we passed by.
Our first stop on the trip was to the red rocks near Calibishe. It was a fascinating place with the red rocks just by the seaside. At one place you could go down in a canyon and walk through a pretty narrow patch through the rocks.
The next stop of the day was to the chocolate factory, here we could see every step of the chocolate making, from bean to bar. We got to taste some delicious chocolate and of course we bought a couple of chocolate bars!
Next up was a drive and stop at the Kalinago territory. Dominica is the only island in the Eastern Caribbean that’s still home to the Kalinago people (pre-Colombian indigenous people). It is a quite big territory and some homes still have traditional structures. They have a small museum, Kalinago Barana Auté, which is a recreated traditional village. After a tour there we stop at a restaurant with a really cool view for some nice lunch.
After a delicious local lunch we continued to a waterfall, the Spanny Falls. It is a twin fall, where you walk over some rock to get to the second fall. AT the first fall you can easily swim, which we did.
After a long, but really nice day we went back to our boats to prepare for our next Dominican adventure.
Dominica is really “Natur-island” and offers a lot of hikes and we had a lot of planned hikes we wanted to do on our stay there. So we had a quite busy hiking schedule!
Our next hike would be a segment of the Waitikubuli trail. It is a hiking trail that goes from the south part of Dominica all the way to the north. It is divided into 14 segments of different levels. We had decided to walk along the 13th segment up in the north. We took a minibus together with Emma and Roger from Sanuti and Bram from Calypso, from Portsmouth to Capuchin were segment 13 started.
It was a pretty trail along the north coast, with some cool scenery along the way. The trail was clear all the way and it was quite an easy hike.
The segment ended near Penville and from there we walked along the main road back to Portsmouth. From the road we took a small detour to see some cold water sulphur springs. A cool place were it bubbled up from the earth below. The smell was really bad though!
The following day we went on another hike, and the mission with this hike would be to find a waterfall we could swim in! We took another bus from Portsmouth south towards Roseau but jumped of were the road to the Syndicate Falls started. We had hoped that we would be able to hitchhike with some farmers to the path towards Syndicate Falls, but we didn’t see any car. So instead we walked along the road through the farm lands, which took about one and a half hour.
We found the path to the falls and in order to get to the fall we had to cross the river four times.
After we had finished swimming below the waterfall we started heading back. We got surprised by a big shower and were really happy when we got a ride with some local farmers back to the main road. We got dropped off by the main road where we were able to catch a minibus. There are no scheduled busses like the ones we are used to back home here in Dominica. In Portsmouth and Roseau there are bus stations and the minibuses leave when they are full, and then they are really full! When you think that you cannot fit another person in the minibus another seat magically pops up! When heading back you just stand by the road until you see a minibus, wave to them and if they have room they stop and pick you up.
The day after this hike we had a chill day around Portsmouth, hanged out a local bar, played some volleyball etc.
After we had gotten the results of our final PCR test (negative!) we were allowed to walk ashore in Dominica. The first thing we did was to take a walk around close to the Indian River (in the outskirts of Portsmouth) entrance to find a lunch place with Lady Ann. Finally we found a cheap burger place (not the best burgers but really good with some food).
After the lunch we walked back into Portsmouth and met up with Emma and Roger from Sanuti and Bram from Calypso and had a drink. And we also started planning what hike would be the first. We decided to try to find a waterfall called Brandy falls. It is not a very famous waterfall in Dominica and according to some hikesites it might be hard to find the path by the end. But we brought a machete and went of on the hike.
We started walking next to the Indian River, which offered some really cool scenaries. The Indian river was one of the filming locations for Pirates of the Caribbean 2.
After the river we continued along the path, saw an incredibly green field, some cows and got lost and had to find the path several times.
We finally got close to the falls, and while we walked on the road close to the fall we asked a local farmer about directions. She said that the path to the falls had been blocked by rocks during the latest hurricane and that it might be hard to find the fall. But we wanted to give it a try anyway, but after about one hour fighting through the jungle with the machete we gave up and turned back. We could at least hear the fall.
We got back to the main road and managed to catch a minibus (busses on Dominica are quite cheap, an example rate is Portsmouth-Roseau for 10 XCD (East Caribbean Dollars). Tired as we were after a long hike we sat down at the bar Purple Turtle by the beach, drank some beers and watch the sunset.
The following day we decided to go do some snorkeling, we walked to a bay north of Portsmouth. The snorkeling was not supergood, but the highlight of the snorkeling was that we heard whale song under the water! Very cool experience! The rest of the day we were just chilling, drinking some beers at Purple Turtle.
Our next trip in Dominica was the Indian River boat tour. On the Indian river you are not allowed to drive a boat with an engine, so easiest way to see it is with a guide. We went with the guide Titus.
We started the tour at the river entrance and we got to see different animals, mostly birds, crabs and fish, that lived by the river. We also saw the Tia Dalma’s hut from the Pirates-movies. The Indian River guides has rebuilt the hut by the river for tourists.
After a while we stopped and went on a farm trip. We got to see how a lot fruits and vegetables we normally eat were grown, and also got a lot of herbs with us. This was very interesting!
After the farm tour we went back to the river and followed the river back, the sun was almost about to set and it was cool to see the river by golden hour!
When we had taken our exit test in Bequia we did the last preparations to leave for Dominica. The sail would take more than 24hrs and the forecast promised quite strong winds. We left Bequia quite early in the morning. As it was a lot of wind we had quite little sail up but still manage to sail above 7 knots between the islands (in the lee of the islands we made less speed). We tried to sail as close hauled as was comfortable and thus followed the islands instead of sailing strait north (if you look at a map you can see that Dominica lays almost strait north of St Vincent. The reason for following the islands was that we heard that you can easily get pushed west by currents and by sailing as much east as you can you don’t have to tack, if the winds are coming a bit from the northeast.
All in all, it was a good sail. Even though it was quite strong winds it felt very safe and controlled. It really gave us a good feeling for the Atlantic Crossing back to Europe. We arrived to Portsmouth at the northern tip of Dominica (we were not allowed to enter in Roseau due to Corona) just before lunchtime. When we were just outside Prince Ruperts Bay (were Portsmouths is ) we started the engine and heard some strange sounds and saw that there was white smoke coming out from the exhaust…
We had no idea what the issue was and didn’t dare to push the engine, so we took up the sails again and turned of the engine. We managed to anchor without turning on the engine (first time we ever done that) and prepared for some engine work during our quarantine days. The quarantine would be five days and then we would take another test, and we would be free to go ashore when we had received the result of the last test.
The following day we went ashore to take our first PCR-test and after that we started with the troubleshooting of the engine. We were really, really afraid that there would be something wrong inside the engine, and that we would have to order something to Dominica. The white smoke that came out from the exhaust gave us some clue that it could be water or diesel that hadn’t been burned.
After two days of troubleshooting we realized that the issue was the diesel injection pump. We removed and started taking it apart, and it didn’t take long until we found the issue. A screw to the injection timing advance system had gotten loose at some point and started getting worn down. Amazingly nothing else inside the injection pump had gotten damaged!
Before we left Sweden we found another injection pump in the trash room back home, almost the same model as the one we have. We brought that injection pump with us, and could use the screw from that.
We took apart the pump completely, thoroughly cleaned the injection pump, reassemble it once more and put it back on the engine. And the main issue was solved! 🙂 It was not completely prefect though, we still had some follow-up issues with high rpm when running idle that started after mounting the pump back. After a couple of turns playing and trying different adjustments for the injection pump it finally behaved normal again. By this time we only had one more day in quarantine, so it was pretty good timing.
All in all, it was really good that the engine problem happened when it did. As we could solve it ourselves and didn’t have to order anything it was really good that we could work on this while we were in quarantine.
We took our final PCR test and got the results, which was negative and we were finally allowed to explore Dominica.
After a couple of weeks sailing in the Grenadines islands we returned to Bequia. We had some places we wanted to see before we left Saint Vincent & the Grenadines and we also had a lot of paperwork to prepare before we were gonna leave for Dominica. We did some smaller excursions around Bequia, but mostly we prepared for our sail to Dominica.
With Corona it is a lot more paperwork leaving and entering countries, but not impossible. We contacted an agent in Dominica, took an exit test in Bequia and got approval to do the entry quarantine in Dominica. We also bought some food and made sure we had entertainment downloaded for the days in quarantine.
We also had some time for fun stuff before we left, not only work. We played volleyball on the beach, had a bonfire evening and went to a wholeroasted pig party. At the bonfire evening we met Laura Dekker, she is the youngest person to solo-circumnavigate the world. Very cool to meet her! 🙂
We stayed in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines for about five weeks, which was really nice! One thing this pandemic has done is to make it harder to travel between countries but in our case that has mostly been a good thing. If we would be able to move between the islands as you usually can do then we probably would have stressed through the islands so that we would be able to explore as much as possible. By staying longer in one place you get to now it better and also start to know some of the locals and you start to get rid of the tourist stamp.
Thought we would list our favorite places in the Grenadines, which you shouldn’t miss if you sail there. So here goes our favorites:
Salt Whistle Bay, Mayreau
Chatham Bay, Union Island
Port Elizabeth Bay, Bequia
Not necessarily in that order, they all offer quite different things.
We really liked SVG and glad that we stayed there for so long, but we were also really excited about our next island, Dominica!