The sail over to Bequia from Tobago Cays wasn’t that bad, but it did take most of the day. (We’re getting too used to all this convenient island hopping! )
When we arrived, I was blown away by the amount of sailing boats anchored in the bay. Here there was actually space for those really big sailing vessels (the ones with the multiple masts) to come right into the middle of the bay and anchor.
We had to anchor quite a long way out, but Conditioner is in working order, so it wasn’t that bad. We only went exploring the day after arriving, pretty excited because the guide book had given a good report of the place.
Next day (the last day of 2015) we had decided to get a good start on the day, And the plan was to be off the boat by 8o’clock. O, the wonderful sailing life . . . we had some delays, since the shower sump had judged this an excellent time to stop working. My dad worked at it for a while, so in the end we left at around 10.
Bequia is very nice – a little bit ‘over-tourist’ed, I think, but that’s understandable, since it really is adorable!
We got rid of our garbage, and found out a little at the tourist information hut. We hired a taxi for two hours.
The most taxis here are what I think of as ‘tourist taxis’. It’s basically a bakkie (pick-up truck) with a metal frame making up seats – with cushions on – and a sail for a roof. They have flaps you can roll down in the case of rain, but otherwise it’s just open. O, and the whole back doesn’t open up like a moat – there is a little door, and the bumper doubles up as a step. (With carpet on. )
We went to visit the turtle farm. Well, actually it’s a rescue centre. It’s run by the man who first started it. He takes baby hawk-billed turtles when they just come out of the sand, and then keeps them in shallow pools built with bricks and painted over. He then takes care of them until they are about 4-6 years old. (Or as he says it: when they look big enough) and then takes them back to the beach were he got them from.
Hawksbill turtles take around 25 years to mature, so the man hasn’t actually seen any of the turtles that he’s taken care of return to lay eggs yet. This year he is expecting the first ones.
He runs the whole thing on donations, so it isn’t that extremely big, but it’s nice. He has one specific turtle that he keeps as his pet, since he used her a lot in finding out things about the turtles. He showed us that there is a line on the shell, where, if you drag your fingertips along it, the turtle can feel it. It’s like tickling it. When you do it, the turtle makes; these funny waddling movements in the water, but doesn’t try to move away. Conclusion: it must like it. One of the other ones we tickled waddled so much that he splashed us a lot!
The man marks his turtles with two holes drilled through the very back of their shell. While we were there, he was putting three of them into a tub to take to Mystique (he had gotten them from there) so that he could let them free. The way he carries the turtles shocked some of the tourists, and there were exclamations of “How can he?” We asked him why he doesn’t carry the turtles by their shells. His response was as follows: This way, they don’t hit him with their fins, and also, they are very much the younger and more robust of the pair. (He is getting on into his sixties, I believe.)
(Going out on a tangent here). Mystique is a privately owned island, so it’s very expensive to go there. I think the people who go there are very rich or something, but anyway – they call when they want the guy to come set free some turtles. (I’m assuming they do it for an audience. ) He also took along a few really little, baby turtles, just to show. (Brings those back afterward. )
We really enjoyed the turtle place. ^_^
After that we went to some high point on the Island, but you couldn’t really see very much of the island, so I didn’t think it was really worth it. You could see the Tobago Cays from there when it is a clear day. (The wind was still very much present, so it wasn’t such a clear day. )
After that first active ”land” day, we didn’t go to shore so often – only when we needed to get rid of our rubbish and buy some fresh fruit and vegetables.
The night of the 31st, we made pizza for supper, (while my dad slept) and then we had a movie night. (I think we watched a James Bond. ) When it was ten to twelve, we all went to sit on the deck. Around 12:05 the fireworks started. ^_^
We enjoyed it a lot – there were some random flares that some people shot in between, and a a few went up from the hill, but mostly there was a show from the shore. It was beautiful! My favorite (as in Rio) is the one that looks as if it explodes into sparkles. (Literally like the small sparkle dust one gets. ) A close second is the ”golden palm tree” as we dubbed it. Like Tinkerbell fairy dust forming a tree. It was amazing.
The day after that we just relaxed. Spent the whole day reading books, doing Sudoku and baking cookies.
During the previous day we had found out that the Yoshimas was with us in Bequia! (They were supposed to have gone on to St Vincent or St. Lucia by this time, but they had reached Bequia and liked it too much not to stay longer. )
So later that day we went over to their boat and met some new people. (Parents both from Uruguay, but living in Canada. ) We played Pictureka with all the kids, while Maria and Juca were telling us about the surprise party they wanted to organise for their mother the next day.
They were soooo excited, and I said I would bake the cake, and the other family said they would bring decorations, and so it was organised. 😉
The next morning over the Cruisers’ Radio Net, we heard that AmarSemFim had lost their dingy during the night! It is a terrific blow to lose a dingy – especially if you have no backup! Right after the net was over, my Dad, Karin and Sophia went over to assess the situation and offer that they borrow Shampoo.
We still went ahead with the surprise party, which was a success (it was a surprise ;). Unfortunately they never found the dingy, so they headed off to Martinique without one.
We stayed on in Bequia for another week and a half. On the 3rd we started with school again, and found a terrific rythm – get up at six and eat a quick breakfast, then school until twelve. (Franci and I – the others only got up later. ) The rest of the day we usually dived. It was awesome! There were some sites just around the corner, and the water was flat. Completely calm. (The Christmas winds died out some time after new year. ) We just loaded our gear into Conditioner, rounded the point, tied her up and dived. It was amazing! I really, really loved the diving in Bequia. SO MUCH life, it was beautiful.
Karin and Sophia did their first night dive in Bequia – one under the boat, and one on one of the dive sites. I think there were three, but we only ever dived on two – a wreck, and devil’s table. That one I liked the most.
Between diving and schooling we did occasional trips to shore to buy the extremely expensive fruit and veg, but also once to a small museum of model ships, and twice just to go for a walk.
It really felt like a holiday. (While schooling! ) I guess it was because Pappa was so relaxed. This was what he had had in mind when thinking of sailing around the world . . .
Our delightful time in Bequia came to an end as we had to move on.
We couldn’t really buy water in Bequia, as the island itself runs on rain water, and the last place we had topped up was in Carriacou just before we left.
We sailed to St. Vincent. At first we had thought to just sail directly to Martinique, but then we decided to make Wallilabou bay our last port of call for St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Wallilabou bay is pretty secluded. It looks as if the bay is nestled in a valley between two hills that are chopped off so that they end in cliffs facing the sea.
We haven’t watched any pirates of the Caribbean movies yet, but this is where some scenes in the third and second movie were shot. (I think. ) Recognise anything?
Since the land slopes down very steeply from the shore there (even in the bay) we had to listen to a boat boy and let him help us to tie up. (For a fee, if course. ) First step: put out anchor in 20 metres of water (at what felt like 20 metres from the shore. ) Second step: while gingerly reversing, hand a rope (length very long) to the helping local, and then just secure everything.
It actually went very smoothly, and even though we ended up quite close to another boat, we were safe and sound.
When we talk about the St. Vincent/Wallilabou experience now, there are different opinions. I remember going to see the (really old) movie set, and thinking it was all pretty cool. We picked up a few broken conch shells on the beach, and I had to go with my dad when he went to clear out. Overall for me, I remember it in a happy glow.
For my dad, however, the tinted glass he was looking through didn’t prove to be half as rosy. It was at St. Vincent that he really started having trouble with his leg. When we had gotten to St. Vincent, we had first planned to do at least one dive, but in the end we just left, with dad not even being able to help with the sailing so much. (First time Franci and I hoisted the main sail on our own!) He did stay in the cockpit the whole trip though.
So we were off to Martinique.