Dominica

  • ALBERT'S NEW BOAT: OPO Makes a Difference in Dominica

    Albert's boat profile

    Hank Schmitt of Offshore Passage Opportunities first met Albert the first time he pulled into Dominica while sailing the West Indies several years back. He was the very first islander Hank met, so he took him on as his "boat boy," though of course Albert is no boy, being all of 47 years old with three grown kids. "What struck me was how Albert was like any dad," says Hank. "His kids are in nursing school and high school, and his oldest is working in the construction business, but they would come down to the docks and Albert would empty his pockets to give them money almost as fast as he was making it. Just like any other struggling family man."

    Hank visited Dominica regularly, and when he learned Albert's daughter in nursing school needed a new computer, he handed Albert an old one he was replacing. When he learned how Albert spent the off-season fishing offshore in his rickety old wooden boat-boy skiff, which had definitely seen better days, Hank, a former offshore fisherman himself, decided he needed to help Albert get a better ride.

  • BUILDING MOORINGS: Yachtie Appreciation Week Postscript

    Cement guys

    I have just moved into Phase Two of my OPB Caribbean cruising season, of which more later, but wanted to share this last glimpse of the scene back in Prince Rupert’s Bay on Dominica. This occurring yesterday, as PAYS folk and various yacht people gathered on shore outside PAYS HQ to construct new mooring blocks, to witness said construction, and to enjoy a big pot-luck lunch together. This all being preceded by the inevitable island-time delay, as we waited around twiddling our thumbs for the cement-mixer guys to show up with their equipment, which did finally happen (see image up top), whereupon everything got rolling both figuratively and literally.

  • EYE OF THE STORM: Cleaning Up the Mess in the Caribbean

    Maria satellite image

    Here we go again! As I write this Hurricane Maria, a Category 3 storm due to ramp up soon to Cat 4 strength, is bearing down on the islands of Dominica and Martinique with its eye projected to pass through the channel that separates the two islands by the end of the day. From there the storm should pass close by St. Croix tomorrow night, clobber Puerto Rico on Wednesday, give the Dominican Republic a glancing blow early Thursday morning, and then run right over the Turks and Caicos on Friday.

    Maria track

  • OPB CARIBBEAN CRUISING: Making the Scene With PAYS and Company in Dominica

    Ranger out

    Phase One of my OPB (Other People’s Boats) Caribbean cruising season this winter begins in St. Maarten, where I flew in to meet Hank Schmitt and my old friend, the Swan 48 Avocation, which I once delivered to St. Maarten many moons ago after Hank first started managing her. Faithful readers will recall that I ran out of fuel at the very end of that trip waiting for the bridge to open to enter the Simpson Bay lagoon. So I considered it auspicious this time when we not only didn’t run out of fuel exiting the lagoon (which would have been extremely alarming, considering we had just left a fuel dock), but also got to queue up behind the big J-boat Ranger going out through the bridge (see photo up top).

    Our passage southeast to Dominica went very well, as the easterly tradewinds had just a whiff of a northerly slant to them, which allowed us to sail the whole course on port tack in just one board. This with only a bit of cheating with the motor--from St. Maarten up to St. Bart’s to dodge some squalls, and through the lee of Guadeloupe and its sister islands. We did lose our autopilot, but we had a large crew (myself, Hank, our mutual sailing buddy Johnathan Ishmael, and two of Hank’s OPO members, Janet Schuhl and Eva Gross) so hand-steering was not onerous.

  • YACHTIE APPRECIATION WEEK: Good Times and New Moorings at Dominica

    Prince Rupert's Bay

    Attention all Caribbean cruisers! This is an event you’ll want to check out if you’re in the area. My old partner-in-crime Hank Schmitt and his organization, Offshore Passage Opportunities (OPO), have conspired with the Tourism Board of Dominica and with the Dominica Portsmouth Association of Yacht Security (PAYS) to launch the first annual Yachtie Appreciation Week (YAW) in Prince Rupert’s Bay (see photo up top) this February 14-21. During the event all visiting yachts will get free moorings and their “yachtie” crews will be eligible for discounts on island tours and will also get to enjoy some serious partying in the evenings.

    My understanding is all you have to do to qualify is show up on a boat! Plus, if you’re wondering what to do afterwards, the St. Maarten Yacht Club is organizing a race/rally to feed boats from Dominica up to St. Maarten in time for the Heineken Regatta.

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