Indian River, Portsmouth, Dominica

When we arrive at an island we  like to investigate the local area and often hire a car with other cruisers or use a local guide to take us on an island tour. On the French islands we tend to hire a car but on  others, there are always locals readily available to show you their island. And so it was recently on Dominica.

Photo courtesy of Aussie mates, Annie and Cam on s/v Annacam

We arrived in Portsmouth on the north of the island after a brisk sail from Les Saintes and were greeted by a boat boy recommended to us, Martin, aka Providence. All the boat “boys” have nicknames: Lawrence of Arabia, Cobra, Providence. In Portsmouth they have a system where yachts are assigned a boat boy to assist you. It might be with mooring or anchoring, rubbish disposal, trips like island tours, etc. Really, whatever you want to know, just ask your boat boy and they will try very hard to help you out. Dominica is a poor country so they need yachties to stop by and inject some cash into their communities. There had been a small number of incidents in the past where yachts had been boarded or robbed and so a group of locals (boat boys) decided to set up Dominica PAYS – Portsmouth Association of Yacht Security – and provide services for yachties and this includes providing a safe anchorage. They do a great job and everyone is happy because EVERYONE loves Dominica 🙂

Martin aka Providence showing us some crabs on our Indian River Tour.

We participated in two tours with Martin: a day tour with eight other cruisers (five boats in all) visiting the northern part of Dominica and the Indian River Tour with four other cruisers (three boats).  The latter tour commenced at 6am in the morning with Martin rowing the six of us up and back down the Indian River in just over three hours.

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L-R: Rosemary and Tony (s/v English Rose), fellow Aussie Annie (s/v Annacam) and me paying close attention to Martin.

It is a magical place especially in the early morning with birds and crabs in abundance and Swamp Blood Trees (Pterocarpus officinalis) lining the river banks with their extraordinarily sculpted root systems. The river, like several places on Dominica, was a backdrop for the film Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and various skeletons adorn the banks creating a fun atmosphere (see pic below).

Yellow-Crowned Night Heron
Yellow-Crowned Night Heron

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Banks of the Indian River
Crab in roots of Swamp Blood Tree
Indian River

It really was a magical few hours listening to and feeling the rhythm of the river. Martin even sang the Dominican national anthem whilst rowing back down the river which was a goose-bump type of moment.

We spent a few weeks on Dominica in Portsmouth and down south in the capital Roseau, where we watched the 1st day of the Australia vs West Indies Cricket Test. Now, that’s a story for another time!

Thanks for reading and, until next time, take care. Sue & Mal.