Day 5: Exploring Dominica, Land Of The 5:15 AM In The Morning Pirates
Sailing To Dominica, Land Of The 5:15 AM In The Morning Pirates
Turns out Titus wasn’t a pirate at all. Titus was a member of their local tourism co-op, sort of a Dominica tourism brotherhood if you will. There’s a handful of different local operators, and they're all in competition with one another. So why the heck would a pangaman be up at 5 in the morning watching the horizon for sailboats coming into the harbor at daybreak? Not to pillage, quite the opposite -- to guide! These guys want your business. And they want it BAD.
Titus escorted us to one of his group’s mooring balls and helped us tie off. A personal observation: the skill these guys have with maneuvering a 22-foot wooden panga boat ONE handed with rudder steering while helping lift heavy mooring lines is simultaneously impressive and nerve-racking.
Once we secured the boat, Titus chatted with us briefly around what we’d like to do today, making sure to tell us about 15 times, “I’ll come pick you up at 6 AM and bring you into the island. If anyone else comes around, you just let them know you’re with Titus. Titus is your guy. I’m your guy, okay? Titus is taking care of you.” Titus...Titus...Titus...And with that, he was gone. Off into the distance in his speeding orange panga bullet.
Other Pirates, I Mean, Tour Guides On Dominica
We immediately figured out why Titus reiterated his point about him being our guy. Within minutes, there was a steady stream of these late, lazy birds just rolling out of bed at 5:35 AM (slackers), buzzing up to our boat, saying the most entertaining lines.
“Hey! We know you guys, you guys were here last season…I was your tour guide for Dominica! Oh, you weren’t? Oh, you’re just crew? Ah, well I know this boat, we took the previous owner out every time they would come in to visit Dominica.”
“Hey! I remember you guys. Back again? Oh, it wasn’t you? Ah, well I know the boat, did they ever mention Carl their tour guide for Dominica? I was their guy, I always toured the island with them. I can’t believe they didn’t mention me.”
“You guys were just here last week! Oh, no? The owners said you were supposed to tour with Bradley, right? I take the owners out every time they visit.”
These guys were the opening act for their operations.
Competition Is Fierce For Tour Guides On Dominica After The Hurricanes
Tourism took a significant hit after the 2017 hurricane season, so competition to book a boatload of tourists for a day’s worth of activities was fierce. This is the answer for why pirates in orange polos watch the horizon at 5 AM.
Once our steady stream of visitor-solicitors thinned out, we ate the best French breakfast (it’s French because we bought it on French soil, right?): sausage (chipotle, herb de Provence and Italian) with eggs, hashbrowns, and avocado.
Titus rejoined us, suggested some of his favorite activities ashore for the day, we convened and decided on an itinerary, and then joined him in his panga and went ashore.