As dawn was starting to light up the green mountains next to us, Captain Sergyey Komakin maneuvered Sea Cloud up the dock, just below Fort Shirley, located at the extreme northwest corner of Prince Rupert Bay. This was within Cabrits National Park, one of three national parks of Dominica, also known as “The Nature Island.” I was thrilled to be here – finally!

Immediately after breakfast we boarded buses to “wend our way” up the mountain. After 45 minutes we entered Morne Diablotin National Park and walked the Syndicate Nature Trail in the company of our local experts. The land was first protected in 1977 as a forest reserve; more forest was added in 1989 as a parrot reserve. The region was then expanded and made into a park in January 2000, mostly for the protection of two endemic parrot species: the imperial and red-necked parrots. Although we looked and listened, we caught only glimpses of the red-necked parrot; however hummingbirds and others put in brief appearances.

Later in the day, we were honored to hear from Dr. Lennox Honychurch (who we invited on board for lunch, of course!). After enjoying lunch on the lido deck, Dr. Honychurch gave an introductory talk. Then during our visit to Fort Shirley, he explained the history of the “re-appearance” of the fort from the surrounding forest. Due largely to his efforts and research, the walls of the fort now overlook Prince Rupert Bay, cannons and all, and are no longer covered in vines, trees, and brush.

For the last part of the afternoon we finally got into the water at Purple Turtle Beach. For our first time snorkeling we saw loads of fish — what a great start to the snorkeling part of our expedition!