Friday, March 20, 2009

The Boiling Lake Hike in Dominica

The hike is not for the unfit. Sources say the hike is from 9 to 12 miles total which is not out of hand. What is difficult is the terrain. It would be considered the black diamond of hiking. Up one side of a muddy mountain and down the other, slinging mud, roots and hazards abound. Team Prudence described the hike as "the death march."

But here is the thing and this is a truism not just exclusive to the boiling lake hike. Most places that shock the soul with beauty are not easy to get to and pretty much is unreachable to most of the worlds population. The summit of Everest is just out of reach for me but I have experienced the ocean alone, not an easy thing to accomplish but that is what makes the experience and the memory so juicy. Dominica has been like that, very juicy.

Anyway, I left with Colin and Lindsey from SV Buxom and was picked up by "Dr. Love" who is the "Rasta Mon" coach driver and we raced at a significant clip, reggae blasting (a little early in opinion) toward the southern end of the island. We picked up two more folks, Laurel from the UK, but is Dominican and then a Dominican girl named Aunucia. The thing about cruising throughtout the islands is that things are really never clear. So for Americans used to itineraries and clarity, these types of days can be rattling. I am one that likes a plan, but am getting better with the ambiguity that ensues. It tooks us about two hours to arrive at the trail head. The ride in and of itself is full of adventure as you travel through the rural sections of the island and the Capital of Roseau. Dominica is a very poor country and the housing is shocking. I will pretty much let the pictures tell the story. You can click here to go directly to My Google Album and the Dominican photo folder. The hike was really intense. In the Desolation Valley, which is the inside of an ancient volcano, the earth has opened up with bubbling and boiling water. The smell of sulfer permeates everything. As the Rain falls in the mountains the water flows downward and becomes superheated and flows to the boiling lake which is fresh water being heated by fissures in the earths crust. Multiple streams flow and because of the sulpher the water turns an aqua blue. It almost looks fake. We bathed in hotsprings with water around 90 degrees. It was awesome and really awesome day.

Two of the girls really struggled to make it back from the boiling lake. Shaky legs and aching legs. I finally made it back to Christa well after dark and sleeped like a rock.

I'm still on for a move south to St Lucia. I'll leave early tomorrow and should have a wonderful broad reach. Rodney Bay sits on the NW tip of the island and is about 90 miles from my current location. I may do it in one shot or I may anchor for a night in Martinique. So that wraps things up here in Dominica.

Capt Chris

PS: You can check my position and track history by clicking "My Position in Google Maps" located under my Photo's, Video's and links on the right hand side. Expand the map out and you can see the amount of real estate I have covered.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Having a Blast in Dominica

I've been busy with touring around and meeting some good folks and even running into some of the old crowd from last year. Tomorrow i'm off bright and early for an all day guided hike to the boiling lake. I'll have a full report of course.

Looking ahead, I have a tenative plan to depart this coming weekend for a 24 hour sail to St Lucia to meet up with Team Sandpiper. Wahoo!

Capt Chris
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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Indian River

Dominica is an extremely lush, mountainous tropical island. Today's picture was captured on the Indian River which flows from the mountainous interior and surges into Prince Rupert Bay where Christa is currently anchored. The Dominican people are very well organized and super super friendly. The local boat boys have organized into an association to cater to the cruising and charter boat crowd. They are all certified guides. They all have to take a six month course to become conversant as naturalists, they have standard tours so each group will essentially get the same experience for the same price as the next group. They appear to be very industrious in between blunts. They will get your water, they bring fresh fruit by daily and during these exchanges is when they let you know about a trip that may be forming. Each trip is a set price and it's wonderful that they go from boat to boat to maximize the number of tourists to keep the cost down.

But today, I wasn't so organized and I had to hire my own guide. His name is "Lawrence of Arabia." It is pretty funny because another boat boy's name is "Antonio Banderas." I get such a chuckle out of the whole thing and so do the guides. So today Lawrence rowed me way up the Indian River a bar set in the jungle. It is true jungle. In fact portions of Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Man's Chest were filmed on the river. The opening scene features Tia Dalma the Fortune Teller in a jungle house. Lawrence took me to the spot it was filmed. I should have the pictures and video uploaded soon. It was beautiful and really interesting and fun to do. Thanks Lawrence!

Capt Chris

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

How Do I Steer Christa at Sea?

I have two methods for steering other than my deft hand. One is the Monitor Wind Vane and the other is a Tillerpilot. The Tillerpilot is used exclusively for motoring and only light wind sailing. My Monitor, named "Big Daddy" is an amazing invention and the evolution of the gizmo is a truly interesting story in its own right. You can read all about it on Scanmars website. I have heard stories over and over of how sailors become emotionally attached to their windvane's. I'm no different, I love my appendage. So with that I have prepared a video so you can see what is going on. Like I said, some of the plesure of self steering is it does take some skill and finesse to get the boat balanced and giggered properly so Big Daddy can function properly. For lazy sailors who don't necessarily want to trim sails properly or work for the correct sail combination will be forced to work the boat. This describes me up until recently. But now that I'm starting to "get it" my sailing experience is much enhanced. I have always been one to get a new gizmo, rip open the box, swiftly toss the instruction manual aside and get to it. This is always always a mistake. After initial frustration with BD, I revisted the comprehensive manual provided and sure enough every short coming I experienced has been swiftly delt with in the instruction manual. Note to self: Read the instructions.

Capt Chris
Anchored in Dominica