For all those who don’t ‘do’ facebook (of which we were one until very recently), my apologies for lack of updates.
We have just completed our fifth aid delivery to Dominica and are anchored in Portsmouth doing some much needed bilge pump maintenance, and hopefully some leak stopping. As well as catching up on a little well-earned rest and recuperation.
After our trip to Antigua we headed back down to Grenada, managing to get caught in some seriously rough weather, with our passengers on-board, and towing a yacht (with Angie and two others on-board). The yacht had been damaged in Irma and although partly fixed had run into trouble going between Guadeloupe and Martinique. Angie phoned us as we left Portsmouth and we picked them up just off Roseau as we headed south. We spent two nights in Fort de France waiting for a weather window between the on-coming tropical-waves, and then still managed to get a pasting going down to Bequia. We were there two nights also, and Henry left us to sort out his house and get ready for his return to Germany.
When we finally got to Grenada we spent less than a week there before loading up and heading north again, with Tom as our replacement crew, and Kim and Lylette who were going to Dominica to distribute water purification systems that we had on board. Overall they didn’t have as many supplies to pick-up as they’d hoped (although there were 13 coffins), so once we left there we stopped off in St. Vincent to pick up supplies (and Dr. James who was coming to joint a medical team), and stopped again in St. Lucia. Loading during the day and sailing through the nights made for a tiring few days.
We arrived in Roseau early in the morning and eventually got permission to go to the main dock. Unfortunately things in Roseau seem to have got worse rather than better. Bureaucracy rules, people were no longer allowed to enter the dock area to collect their own packages, customs seemed to be arbitrarily deciding what was exempt from duty and what wasn’t, we had to off-load everything ourselves as no external help was allowed. And all around the port was full of containers and supplies that are not getting out to the people who still so desperately need it. It made for a depressing and frustrating visit.
We left Roseau as soon as we could and headed to Portsmouth. To be met with warmth and appreciation and lots of willing helpers, together with the knowledge that everything off-loaded would be going, courtesy of Cobra and his ‘soldiers’, to people who really needed it. The contrast was, and continues to be, amazing.
It took us just over a day to finish unloading and pump off some diesel for the distribution trucks and then we went out to anchor. This was the last run we were doing with the support of the Grenadian group (fronted by Hiro and Dave) who had raised monies to fund our fuel and expenses and collect supplies for shipping. After working tirelessly for over six weeks, they were beginning to find that ‘donation fatigue’ was setting in and the amount of aid being donated was dwindling. This phenomena is apparent in many of the other islands in the chain and, given the number of islands that have been so badly damaged this hurricane season it’s hardly surprising. (It a supermarket in Kingstown, St. Vincent, there was a donation barrel on which a printed sign read: “Please give generously to help the people of the Barbuda, St. Martin, BVIs and USVIs”, and in pen “Dominica” had been added to the top of the list.)
So, not quite knowing what the next step would be, we spent a few days resting up and catching up with the never ending Buzzard maintenance jobs, and contacting people about further funding. Thanks to Kim, who put us in touch with the Dominica Rotary Club, within two days we were given money for fuel and were on our way to Guadeloupe to pick up a load of supplies there.
We left here first light Monday morning, arrived Pointe a Pitre in the early afternoon, loaded what was there, loaded more the following day, left in the afternoon and were back on the dock unloading in Portsmouth early the next morning, Just over 48 hours from start to finish. Unfortunately there wasn’t so much to pick up in the way of food, but heavy wood and building materials which is what seems to be needed here now.
It was our first time in the centre of the butterfly of Guadeloupe and I hadn’t realised just how built up and industrialised this part of the country is. We were in the main commercial container dock across the channel from the high-rises and tower blocks and continuous light shows. The morning we were there our wonderful agent Gerard took us in search of various boat parts and supplies and the retail/commercial area was a complete shock to the system. There were miles of shops and offices and restaurants, and more shops, and people and traffic-jams and concrete and chaos and cars. It was hard to comprehend the contrast between this teaming, metropolitan, city which appeared to be fueled by rampant consumerism, and Dominica where most people still don’t have enough food and water and are living under tarps … and they’re less than forty miles apart!
Of course this was only one area of Guadeloupe and I’m sure that the countryside in the north is totally different, and I know for a fact that, like most Caribbean countries, the consumer culture we witnessed is restricted to those people in the right area with the right jobs, with many locals still struggling to make a living.
Within the next couple of days we should know what our next step will be, whether it’s back to St. Lucia to pick up another load (which is looking like the most likely option), or back to Grenada to do some much needed more intensive maintenance. Either way I’m sure we’ll be back in Dominica before long … unfortunately the need here isn’t going away anytime soon.
ONE LOVE … ONE WORLD … PEACE