Things have been going very well, I think. I have had a couple of very good weeks since the last post. I hung out in Martinique for quite some time and then moved to Dominica. Dominica is amazing, what a fantastic island. The 5 days or so that I spent there were huge, it was awesome. I can’t believe more people don’t know about it. On top of that I feel like a cloud has slowly lifted from my mind.

Before I begin though, I want to bring a dose of reality to all those who read this blog as a bit of escapism. Its nice to think of cruising the world, crossing oceans, catching fish, hiking, diving and seeing things. I can understand the escape. The underlying reality though is that this is very dangerous. I bring this up as my friend, Dilak, a Turkish female-singlehander lost her boat two days out of Cape Verde. I still haven’t heard the full circumstances other than it was a collision with something that broke her rudder and caused other damage. That is a potential consequence of this life. Luckily though she was rescued by a passing freighter and is safe home in Istanbul now.

OK, back to the escapism. So let’s start with Martinique since I always go in time-order anyway. I hung out in La Marin for a long time. It was easy, I had friends there. Jenny and Gio from Carabosse and the the Scope folks showed up. Hanging out in La Marin, I can see why it is the destination for all the French sailors. It is just such an easy place to get comfortable. And, if your French, well, it’s basically France, so you can get extra comfy. Jenny and Gio were even nice enough to have yet another crepe-party on Slick, it was every bit as delicious as the last time they did that for my tummy and I, in Gibraltar.

Maybe the highlight of hanging out there though was the fantastic holding that allowed us to rent a car for the day and drive around the island. The first stop was a rum distillery. It was a nice old plantation with lots of old machinery and aging casks of rum. The cool thing though was that at the end you got to taste some really great rum. I almost bought a bottle of the good stuff but I know in the end I would have just drank it all pretty quickly. I settled for just for the tastings. I hardly drink anymore.

We drove quite a bit and the next place we stopped was a gorge with a waterfall. This required a very steep hike down and then you take off your shoes and walk up a stream between walls that are maybe 5 feet apart. A little bit of climbing and scrambling later and you are up a couple of small waterfalls to the bigger one. That was the first shower I had in a week, the water in the anchorage is filthy (around 1500 boats in that place). This was a really great little trek, and the hike out was easier than expected.

The next stop was the town of St. Pierre. This is the old capital and was destroyed by Mt Pelee in an eruption 108 years ago or so. Nearly 28,000 people died and a new type of eruption was observed, Pyroclastic Density Currents, the most destructive of weapon a volcano has, making this a fairly famous place in volcanology. There were only two survivors, the most famous one was a prisoner who was in a cell and was rescued three days later. The town today has not really rebounded, the capital was moved to Fort De France, but it is certainly a nice seaside setting. We walked along and saw the ruins. I guess it has been 108 years so it was no where near the devastruction of Rabaul.

Well, things were getting a little too comfy in La Marin. The authorities were wondering if I was going to apply for a French driver’s license. Mine expired. So I took that as a hint to get out of there. I didn’t go far, just around the corner to Anse Mitan. The Carabosse crew came that day too, so I still had some friends. I managed a run on the beach and then when I got back to Slick I jumped in and couldn’t believe the bottom growth from La Marin. It was incredible. I scrubbed the hull but I need a paint scraper. The French want like 10 euro even for a disposable one. So that waits.

When I left my friends and headed north I felt unbelievable lonely again. I guess there are other things going on to make me lonely too, but its always nice to have friends nearby. When I left, I left that too. Well, its a shame but they are staying in Martinique for some time, being young, and French, they will try to get some employment and stay awhile. Hopefully, they’ll come sailing into Boston one day, I certainly miss them already.

That night I anchored off St. Pierre and Mt. Pelee came out of the clouds for a photo-op. That mountain is almost never visible. The town was really beautiful from the sea. I wanted to stay awhile and do some wreck diving since there were a lot of ships burned and sunk in the eruption, but I just couldn’t bring myself to bother and headed for Dominica.

The passage was easy, gusty winds and small squalls. I motored, it rained. When I arrived in Roseau, Dominica though, things cleared up, a lot of things seemed to clear up. Almost immediately I felt very good about the place. There was none of the bullshit that everyone talks about. Everyone was so friendly, even the customs guy asked for a Slick Sticker to put on his fridge. I walked around to the two dive shops to book some diving. Only one had a boat going out the next three days so I went with them.

That night I was relaxing on Slick and I heard some voices around the boat as the sun was going down. I looked in the water and there were three guys with spears and they said they were going lion fish hunting. I asked if they minded if I joined and they said – hop in. So I grabbed my dive gear and a spear and in I went. It was pretty cool, the water was murky so it wasn’t the usual embryonic-night-dive experience. They speared two big lion fish. I didn’t, I just watched mostly. Then when the dive was done we took the dinghy back to the bar for a rinse and a few drinks. These guys were really cool. That was a really great introduction to the island. I almost immediately made friends with a group of optometrists at the bar and everything seemed alright, the way it should be, I was enjoying my life.

The next three days I went on six more dives. Each one was something unique and different. The main dive sights are in a caldera at the southern end of the island. The first dive was around an enormous pinnacle, the second over a reef with lots of canyons. The third dive was was around two large pinnacles and the fourth around some shallow ones. Finally, on the last day, we did a fantastic wall dive called Swiss Cheese, its a big wall and then there are a few swim-throughs that bring you to the top of the reef to enjoy your safety stop. What was even more amazing though was the last dive. It was just over some shallow grass patches and a part of the Dominican-Signature dive, Champagne Reef. The grass was great, lots of things hiding in there, including a large octopus and some fish I had never seen before and can’t quite recall the name. Then over on the reef is a fumarole that vents underwater. So there is lots of volcanic gasses bubbling about, hence the Champagne. Pretty cool, I was happy with the diving. It wasn’t Palau but it was pretty close to Red Sea quality.

I took a day off and rested because Monday was saved for something amazing. I heard about this difficult hike and at the end was something special. I booked a tour, because I really wanted to get up there and I thought I would have the guide all to myself. There ended up being three other people but no big deal. The hike was pretty challenging, especially since I haven’t really done any hiking since La Gomera. Up and up, and then down a ravine and back up again to a peak. That was all just rainforest hiking. The next section though descended though thick mud into the “Valley of Desolation”. That proved to be an adequate name as you walk by lots of venting gas and boiling water from the hot earth below. The volcano still has a lot of pressure to let out. The colors in this valley were incredible. Different minerals flowing out and mixing together giving whites, blacks, reds and blues all in the rock and in the water. Combine that with yellow sulfur and venting steam and you have something special.

The prize of the hike though was still another valley away. To be fair it wasn’t a tough valley, but you come around a corner and there is just steam blowing in your face as you stand upon a ledge. I looked down and couldn’t see much at first, until the wind blew the vapor clear. It was a lake and it fucking boils! This is the second largest boiling lake in the world, I guess there is one larger in New Zealand. I have seen a lot of things in my short life, amazing things, but I’ve never seen a boiling lake before. We sat there and had lunch and just watched it churn. To be fair, the lake is actually at about 95C, so it isn’t totally boiling but there is a pretty big fumarole under it so some of it churns. Pretty incredible and well worth it.

The hike out was the same, but in reverse. Actually it was easier as the muddy trail was harder to descend than climb. As if things couldn’t get any better, at the trail head was a guy selling beer, cheap too. I thought to myself “It don’t get any better than this.” But then it did. Ti-Tou Gorge is right there. Apparently this is of Pirates of the Caribbean fame. Anyway, you can just swim in, but the guide advised me to jump in. Well, I like jumping off things and so I climbed out on the ledge and the gorge at this point was maybe 6 feet wide and I was twenty feet up and I went. It was pretty cool having the walls rush by with in an arms length, and the water, the cold water, was so refreshing after the hike. I swam around a bit, climbed a small fall and played in a big one. It was really cool, it made the gorge in Martinique seem a little less significant. I loved it.

That evening was the start of carnival on the island. So, sore as I was, I had to go see the festival. This wasn’t quite Junkanoo, but it was fun, not classy in any way mind you. Just good old Caribbean island music pumped though enormous speakers, towed behind a semi and lots of people dancing. That’s a Dominican Float and it was nice to see a bunch of happy people even happier. That night I relaxed at the bar and hung out with eye-people. It was the end of a really great time.

I moved up to Prince Rupert the next day. The wind was whipping through the anchorage at like 25-30 knots and it took me over an hour and a half to get moored. A local guy had to come out and help me. While hoisting the dinghy on deck, I accidentally got a rope caught on one of the already broken blades of Jocelyn, shearing it off completely. Now she looks like a boomerang on pole instead of a wind-turbine. Guess she is even more useless now.

Dominica was so awesome and so fantastic. It was by far my favorite island in the Caribbean. The rest coming up will have a lot to live up to if they want me to compliment them. As if the island knew I was leaving, it looked sad and got a little rainy and then gave me the fairest of wind for a jib sail over to Guadalupe. Slick T. Rocketship loved it and we barely went under 7.5 knots the whole way. I landed in Isle des Saintes.

I checked in, easy as always with the French. Got some laundry done. Ran up two different mountains. Hills really, the tall one I could honestly only run half way up. Anyway, this place is chill, very chill. Nothing really goes on. Scope arrived, so I can hang out. Its a good rest after the big week in Dominica.

Next on the menu, I head to Antigua, then down to Monsterat where I hope to see some devastruction from a recent eruption that destroyed yet another capital. After that – Nevis and St. Kitts, Saba and then up to meet a friend whose cruise ship is pulling in for a day in St. Martin. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll get another visitor from Boston in USVI as well as see a dive-master friend from Palau there too.

So, I am doing OK, no, make that I am doing almost great. After establishing a healthy amount of contact with people, the fog of loneliness and confusion is lifted. I can only concentrate on the future now. I know what I want, a lot of it is beyond my control. Funny thing, when you are doing a trip like this, everything you get and see comes from your capacity to take it, take it in, do it, fight it, kill it, eat it, climb it, hike it, dive it, run it, whatever, just do it and don’t fail. There is no safety net, and the consequence of failure is huge. I’m realizing the real world isn’t quite like that. When it comes to involving other people, if they don’t want it, you can’t make them. You can’t force your will within your capacity. Its just not so primal, its like pushing a chain. For example, I’m trying to find a job, but they hide really well. I keep applying but nothing comes. So now I am leaning more toward my own start-up. Either way, though I need help, either in a place willing to take a chance on my return to normalcy or investors. Once I get the chance, and the rest is up to me, I’m confident I won’t fail at whatever comes next. I just wish I knew what it was, because the future is coming fast.