April 08, 2015

Cruiser God

Our sail adventures throughout the Caribbean islands have been made a ton easier through the use of sailing guide books. The books give us useful navigation tips for each island, things to do, things to be aware of and where all the necessary cruiser amenities are located. The best of their breed are written by a fellow named Chris Doyle who has been sailing these waters for longer than I have been on this earth. In the guides he refers too many of the locals on each island by name and you get the sense that he has an active interest in the betterment of the islands and the people. Amongst the cruisers he is revered as the “Cruiser God”.

While in Dominica we followed Chris Doyle’s advice and took an Indian River tour with a fellow named Martin. Chris had recommended both in his book. Martin picked us up early in the morning and motored us to the mouth of the river and then the river paddle began.  The paddle was lovely but not really for us. We never usually do paid tours and this tour confirmed for us that we were not “tour” people or perhaps we just aren't bird people?

Martin moved from the back of the boat where the motor was to the front to paddle. He was within a foot from Graham and I who were on the front bench. We were literally knee to knee. As he extended his arms on each paddle, I worried I might get an accidental boob punch. Alex graciously offered to switch me spots. Martin let us know the river was 700 meters long……omg…this was our first shock. We were expecting to travel a way inland, especially since we were paying about $25 Canadian each. He pointed out all the different birds along the way..."There is a pigeon"…."There is the soft underbelly of the yellow bellied finch"….."There is a humming bird". He was really knowledgeable on birds and remarked on foliage and the healing powers and uses of the various plants. Maybe I just needed to be a few years older to enjoy this tour ;-). Sorry to all those bird lovers out there.

Martin was really kind and you could see he genuinely loved his island and had a passion for his work. Throughout the tour he also spoke of Chris Doyle constantly. You could see he respected him so much. We mentioned to Martin that we would be attending the "Boogie Woogie" cruiser night that Martin’s group organizes every Saturday night. Martin said we would be in for a real treat as Chris Doyle was anchored in the bay and would be attending! He also let us know that Anne Vanderhoof the author of "Embarrassment of Mangoes" would be attending. A star studded cast for cruisers ;-). We were all looking forward to the evening.

At 7pm all the cruiser dinghies converged on the dinghy dock in the dark. Flashlights bobbing about everywhere. The dinghy dock was loaded full. As we approached the open air tent we noticed all the lights were out. Unfortunately power was out for the whole bay. We decided to drop the kids off and run back to the boat for our lantern.

On our return we found the kids had sat themselves at a table with the one and only "Chris Doyle" and his friend "Pinkie". They were all laughing and looked to be fast friends. I couldn't help but laugh, my kids had found the cruiser celebrity and were monopolizing him. Graham and I joined them and for our $25cdn entrance fee we were able to eat, drink (rum punch) and dance as much as we wanted. Much better way to spend $25 dollars ;-). We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and even ran into some cruiser friends we had made a month earlier. At one point in the evening, Alex, Amelia and I had joined hands and were dancing circles around the two of them as "blurred lines" boomed in the background. My face hurt from laughing so much.

I guess to make a long story short……"I prefer boogie woogie to birds…."

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