Bequia, Grenadines

11th June - 13th July 2002

Anju anchored in Admiralty Bay, Bequia (10 points if you spot her!)

Phew, after covering 10 islands in 10 days with Diane and Graham, we were in need of somewhere quiet to slow down and recover for a while!    Fortunately Bequia fitted the bill perfectly.   We left St. Lucia on the evening of 10th June to sail overnight to Bequia.   Like all overnight passages it was quite tiring, as you don't have time to get used to the motion of the boat and actually get any sleep when you're off watch.   It was quite a mixed bag weather-wise, beautiful downwind sailing as we passed along the coast of St. Lucia.   The wind dropped as we got in the lee of the Piton mountains and we ended up motor-sailing for a while.   Once we were clear of St. Lucia and heading for St. Vincent the sea was unpleasantly choppy but the wind came back, joined by some rain showers and a fireball falling from the sky (Christine is quite sure she wasn't hallucinating at the time!).   Along the coast of St. Vincent we were motoring again and finally lumpy and windy from there to Bequia.   All in all it kept us quite busy.
On arrival, at about 8 am, we anchored off Princess Margaret beach, a little away from the metropolis of Port Elizabeth and settled down to a serious nap.   By 10 am many boats had left and Captain Phil decided to take the opportunity to get an anchoring spot closer to the beach and with more shelter, unfortunately this meant waking up the grumpy first mate!    So, with the crew now almost awake, we picked a spot about 100 yards nearer to the beach and slung our hook again.   However "The Beast",  as we call our 33 kg bruce anchor, decided not to get a grip and we found ourselves dragging.    Up came the anchor again, another spot about 50 yards further back was selected and the hook flung again.   Hmmmm, is the land moving or are we dragging again?    Up "The Beast" came again (thank goodness for our wonderful electric Lofrans windlass).    We moved another 50 yards further back and dropped the anchor again.   This time, fortunately this time "The Beast" got a firm grip as the First Mate was now bad tempered.   Those of you paying attention will have noticed that after an hour of frantic, grumpy activity, we ended up in the spot we started from and went back to bed.  Later in the day we emerged to check in at the brand, spanking new and wonderfully airconditioned customs/immigration/revenue/post office building, where we found the twenty or so staff completely overwhelmed, mostly with boredom.

After a couple of days of serious lolling about, we decided it was time to see the sights of the island.   On consulting a map of the island, a couple of the highlights seemed to be within easy walking distance, so off we set in the midday sun, like mad dogs, to the nearby fort.   On the map it was only about a mile from our anchorage, however the map didn't show that the mile was entirely upwards and by the time you followed the snaking road up the side of the hill to get there it was much further.  

So there we were, huffing and puffing up the hill, on what we could only hope was the right road, when along came a pickup truck and the driver, Fummy, offered us a lift to the top of the hill.    After a milli-second of contemplation, we agreed and leapt into his pickup.    He drove us past his own destination and all the way to the fort where he dropped us off and despite the fact that his vehicle was a taxi and he a professional taxi driver, wouldn't accept any EC-dollars from us.    As he disappeared around the bend into the distance, we suddenly realised that our rucksack, containing the map, hats and water, was still in his truck.    We had his card and decided after finding no phone at the fort, to head back to town and call him.   We'd just set off when he arrived back to return our bag and then offered us a lift to Hope Bay, where we were planning to walk next.    Our walk was turning out to be far less energetic than we had feared!   

Typical road in Bequia, tiring for walking and excellent as a test track for brake systems!


Fummy dropped us off at the top of the footpath down to Hope Bay, this time making sure we had all our personal belongings with us and we made our way down the wooded footpath to the beach.    On the way to the seafront we passed a small wooden house and later, as we strolled along the unspoiled beach, watching the Atlantic breakers, we were approached by the house's resident, Jacob Scott.    It turned out that Jacob is an artist, well-known worldwide for his creations made with corals washed up on the beach.    He was happy to show us his gallery of work waiting to be sold below his house, including amazing fan coral hats, baskets woven from ropes and corals and bangles made from coral, which has to undergo many time-consuming processes to be made malleable for him to create the finished articles.   He went to great trouble to explain the whole process to us and show us examples and his photo collection.

Jacob was so hospitable, he even showed us around his home, which he shared with a collection of wild birds and bats!

During our conversation, Phil happened to remark that we'd never tried fresh coconuts and before we knew it, Jacob took up his coconut harvesting stick and knocked a couple down from a nearby coconut palm, opened them up with his machete and handed them over for us to try.    One of the cows in the grounds, which had an amazing set of horns,  was particularly curious about the visitors and friendly, we also found out that she was rather partial to fresh coconut too!     All in all the we had a fun afternoon.


Phil (and rucksack!) walking through the woods to Hope Bay and Christine trying to look as though she walked all the way there!

Jacob, modelling one of his latest coral creations.


Jacob harvesting fresh coconuts for his visitors.

Next day we hired Fummy to give us a tour of the island in his taxi.   In two hours we'd seen all of the island, Friendship Bay, Paget Farm, the main town, the Whaling museum, Moonhole where a collection of houses are built into the cliffs and the old plantation in Spring. Finally we visited the turtle sanctuary at Industry Bay, established by islander Brother King, where turtle eggs are taken for protection until they hatch and then the turtles are raised until they are old enough to have an increased chance of survival in the wild.   It was fascinating to see the turtles so close up and also the piece of satellite which washed up on the beach!  (Maybe that's what Christine's mystery fireball was?) 

Hornbill turtle at the Turtle Sanctuary in Industry Bay.

Now we'd covered the sights of the island, all we had to do was relax and wait for our friends on "Fruity Fruits" to arrive, which they did about ten days later, to find us pretty laid back!

Once they arrived, Phil and Steffan, Jason and Stephanie started their PADI Open Water Scuba Diving Certification Course at "Dive Bequia".   The course was quite intense, five full days, lots of theory and pool work, along with five dives at nearby dive sights.     They all qualified and agreed that this was a perfect place to learn to dive, as the proliferation different species of fish and other marine life forms on the plentiful reef diving sites was quite amazing.    Even Christine and Carolyne, who weren't on the course managed to enjoy the reefs by snorkelling from the dive boat.   The rest of the time they enjoyed the peace and quiet, drank a lot of tea and even baked cakes to feed the hungry divers! 

A major benefit of this training was that Phil was able to dive under "Anju" to clean the propeller, anodes and check the state of the paint on the hull.   The downside is that we now know we need to haul Anju soon and maybe sandblast and repaint below the waterline as the expensive paint, applied in Antigua four months ago, is falling off in chunks.   Not happy bunnies.........

The pace of life in Bequia has been very relaxing.   Port Elizabeth manages to remain peaceful, despite all those visiting yachtspersons!   We've settled into our daily routine of going ashore for freshly baked bread and haggling for fruit and vegetables in the rastafarian market.  In fact now we've almost trained the high pressure rasta salesmen to wait for us to tell them what we want to buy, instead of surrounding us and thrusting all kinds of randomly selected produce at us!   Example:  Phil "Do you have any cabbages today?"  Salesman Mr. Time, "No, do you want a pineapple?".  Phil "No, pineapple doesn't really go with roast chicken and gravy, what vegetables do you have?"  Mr. Time, "Do you want mangoes?"  Phil, "No, I want vegetables...."etc, etc.  Once you get used to the sales techniques and stop feeling intimidated, it's really good entertainment!

So now we're thinking, after a month in Bequia, that maybe it's time to move on to the other Grenadine islands but we're finding that we seem to be anchored in superglue.    The delights and tranquility of Bequia have quite a firm grip on us but we will move on in the next few days, honest, besides we can come back again when we head north again!

Phil, Steffan, Jason, teacher Jan and Stephanie training hard in the pool at Dive Bequia.

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