Friday, June 21 - Monday, July 1, 2013
Woo hoo - we've finally made it to the Grenadines! For those of you who aren't familiar with the area, the Grenadines are a group of 30 islands and cays located south of St. Vincent, and help to make up the country of...what else?...St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Bequia (pronounced "BEK-way") is the most northerly of the Grenadines, lying just eight miles south of St. Vincent.
The seven-square-mile island's roots are steeped in boat-building and whaling, and Bequia has been granted international whaling rights that allow its people to harpoon up to four whales per year. Bequia also happens to be the last island we visited when we chartered a boat with Houston friends, John and Bonnie, six years ago. Just like the BVIs, the Grenadines have held a special place in our hearts, and we've been anxious to return to explore these beautiful islands at our own pace.
We left the Pitons at 6:30am for the 50nm trip to Admiralty Bay, Bequia. We were expecting somewhat rough conditions, and were thrilled to find the seas even calmer than predicted. What a change from last time! We crossed the 20-mile open-water passage between St. Lucia and St. Vincent with no problems (even Tux didn't complain too much), and were soon in calm waters in the lee of St. Vincent's west coast.
Half-way down the coast, we spotted four dolphins leaping through the water towards us. Before we knew it, they were joined by 20 of their closest friends. Incredible! The only problem? Our camera battery died! We both stood on the bow watching the show, debating whether they'd be gone by the time one of us went downstairs to get the replacement battery. Surprisingly, the pod danced around our boat for at least 10-15 minutes...plenty of time to change the dead battery in our camera.
After an easy check-in Saturday morning, we stopped by the tourist office to get more info on Bequia and the weekend's Carnival festivities. Talk about a great coincidence - we had no idea we'd arrived just in time for Bequia's Carnival until we listened to the VHF cruiser's net that morning. There would be parties on Saturday and Sunday nights, followed by a big street party "jump-up" Monday afternoon. We were in!
We spent the next couple of days wandering through town, snorkeling the reef between Princess Margaret Beach and Lower Beach (three morays and a spotted eel!), and exploring the interior of the island. We joined Out of Africa, Sea Schell, Trudy May, Crazy Cricket, Banjo, and Exit Strategy on Monday for a hike up to Peggy's Rock, which was said to offer phenomenal views of the anchorage and the rest of Bequia.
Kudos to Rene for making it all the way to the top and getting our photos. Stacy made it up the first few rocky inclines, but didn't quite have enough of the billy goat gene to finish the last peak. (Did I mention I have some training to do before we get to Grenada?)
After a cool-down swim and a nap, we heard someone call our boat name over the VHF; JoHo was here! We hadn't seen John and Jolanda since we'd left them in Guadaloupe nearly two months prior, and were excited to catch up with them. Even though John and Jolanda had been up since 3 a.m. for the trip down, they were troopers and joined us for the jump-up that afternoon.
The festivities had actually started at 4am Monday morning (or to be honest, they continued on from Sunday night - trust us, we heard Soca music ALL night). Whether the party-goers stopped for a nap or kept going, we have no idea. All we know is that as "Cruiser Midnight" (a.k.a. 9:30pm) approached, JoHo and Trudy May were the only ones heading back to Carnival. We're not worthy!
As always, our lives are dictated by the weather. We'd seen a strong wave forecasted to come through Friday and Saturday, bringing 30+ knot winds and 9' seas to the area. We spent a solid 20 hours thinking we'd head to the next island before the bad weather arrived. Surprise, surprise, being surrounded by such a great (and social) group of people convinced us to stay.
With talks of more hikes, beach barbecues, and island tours, how could we leave?? Although we skipped the group ferry ride to St. Vincent (the group's verdict? Not worth the trip), we joined everyone for a walk to the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary. "Brother" Hegg raises turtles from their eggs until they're old enough to have a better chance of survival on their own, typically 3-4 years.
For a small fee (15 EC) that goes towards the care of the turtles, you can see 6-month old hatchlings, 3-year olds nearing their release date, and a 15-year old behomoth who's kept separate from the others due to a shell defect that would make her a target. (But she LOVES to be scratched along her side and flaps her flippers like a dog!) The walk to the sanctuary took us past the Firefly plantation, along flower-lined roads, and within sight of Bequia's east coast. It was 2.5-3 miles each way, and well worth the trip.
As for our dining options? Yes, we managed to find a few favorites. Mac's Pizzeria is a Caribbean favorite and a legend of sorts, having been in business for the past 30 years. The Port Hole had fantastic rotis for lunch, and the Fig Tree hosted a "Fish Friday" where we had the option of grilled or fried mahi mahi, tuna, or kingfish plus sides for $25EC.
We also had some terrific meals of our own, thanks (again) to Out of Africa John's organizing a few afternoon potluck-BBQs on Princess Margaret Beach.
It's just about time to leave beautiful Bequia...but not before a final visit to Mac's! From here, we're heading south to the spectacular Tobago Cays. The cays are part of a marine park that offers some of the best snorkeling around, and we're anxious to have a few "gold star" (read: no money spent) days. Bequia has been a lot more affordable than you might expect, but we haven't been as...ummm...fiscally responsible? Tight fisted?...as we could be. Cheers!
Please enjoy more pictures here.
Fellow cruisers: if you're heading to Bequia, try to be here on a Saturday. A butcher from St. Vincent comes to Bequia every Saturday and offers fresh meats for terrific prices. Anne Bonny got a 4-5lb beef tenderloin for about $17US!