Written by Jay Pokorski, Incognito

Roughly a dozen Salty Dawgs left Les Saintes Sunday morning for a glorious sail to Dominica, three days before the Salty Dawg Rendezvous officially started. Arrivals continued through the week, until every mooring was taken and the anchorage was full, with roughly 40 Dawgs boats participating. Incognito picked up a mooring right off the P.A.Y.S dock and settled in for a relaxing afternoon before checking in. Once again, our social director had a packed week planned for the Dawgs. Hiking, tours, dinners, and a round of Mexican Train Dominoes to fill in a brief gap Sunday afternoon. Each day turned out to be better than the last. We started out touring the southern side of the island, then began working our way north. Waterfalls, volcanic craters, parrots, hot (hot hot) springs, and more waterfalls. Everywhere we went, the Dominicians were exceptionally welcoming to their spectacular country.

Three things really stood out for me. First, the market day on Saturday, followed by a hands-on cooking demonstration led by Clavita. Among other things, we discovered just how amazing the local produce is - breadfruit, cassava bread, and more. By the end of the morning, we had prepared a fantastic lunch of salad, breadfruit, and saltfish.

Second, we stopped at Free Up Farm during our tour of the Syndicate region. Aubrey, a Northeastern graduate who traveled the world before settling in his father’s homeland, has built an amazing farm that implements Permaculture, a sustainable farming approach that mixes dozens of different plants side by side, from cocoa and vanilla to breadfruit, taro, and cranberry hibiscus. The farm is laid out with windbreaks to protect crops from hurricanes, and capture and retain rainfall. Aubrey showcased the wide variety of crops in partnership with Alex, a top Chef from Rosseau. Together, they put an amazing lunch together from produce gathered that morning and a perfectly braised goat stew. Aubrey is interested in expanding this model of sustainable agriculture in partnership with the government, local restaurants, and neighboring farms.

Finally, the Portsmouth Association of Yacht Services - P.A.Y.S. for short. This team worked tirelessly through the week, getting boats on moorings, tending to security, shuttling us around, and doing everything possible to take care of us. Right off the bat, they worked with Bob Osborne and Mark Hoenke to expand the dinghy dock. As the winds and swell veered to the south, and the mooring field became exposed, they secured several boats that had problems, and did a heroic job getting Dawgs back to their boats as the swell and roll increased. Due to the changing wind and swell, we departed a day before the end of the rendezvous. Other Dawgs relocated to the south and less exposed side of the bay. Unfortunately, the unusual swell dismantled many of the improvements to the P.A.Y.S. dock and pushed at least two vessels ashore (one, an abandoned fishing boat).

In our short week and a half, we feel like we got just a small taste of Dominica. It’s high on our list for next year - we’re looking forward to hiking a good portion of the 200km Waitukubuli National Trail, continuing to explore the island, and enjoying the hospitality of the Dominicans.