St Vincent & the Grenadines,
|Leaving Carriacou on 8th Jan we had a brisk and very
enjoyable sail, hard on the wind to Clifton, Union Island, where we cleared
in. We spent the night anchored off Newlands Reef, and met up with Overstreet
for a meal ashore at the Anchorage. Next morning we provisioned and collected
our emails before heading up to Salt Whistle Bay in Mayreau. This delightful
anchorage is very popular and was crowded with day visitors despite the
rolly conditions. We found it rather uncomfortable, so moved after lunch
to the Tobago Cays, which was much calmer.
Left: Sandy Island, Carriacou
in the Cays, with no protection from the wind, we started to appreciate
the capability of the new KISS wind generator. In 20 knots of wind and
the sun shining, our power gauge goes off the scale (over 25 amps) with
the KISS and our two solar panels in operation.
However, the weather has been unusually wet and windy, in what is normally the dry season. Through much of January we have had rain showers or squalls, and with strong trade winds and big seas it has not been favourable for making passages north.
Taking advantage of a slight easing of the wind, we headed up to Bequia and had another great days' sailing. We anchored initially off Princess Margaret's Beach (she visited here in 1958), a lovely stretch of sand with crystal clear waters. As the trade winds once more increased, the swell coming in to Admiralty Bay caused quite a roll, so we moved to the north side of the Bay, which is much more comfortable.
Right: Even with grey skies, the waters of the Tobago Cays are still a delightful shade of turquoise
|In the Cays, we used our new stainless steel Beugel anchor
(manufactured by Wasi). Unlike the CQR, which tends to lie on it's side,
the Beugel has dug in really well. This is important when the weather forecast
says it will be 25 knots or more! In fact, with the predictions being for
continuing strong winds and high seas, we knew we would be in Bequia for
a week or so, which gave us a good opportunity to go on a tour of the island.
Left: view of Admiralty Bay, Bequia from the lookout at Hamilton Battery
saw much of the island, with wonderful scenery and views. The highlight
of the tour was definitely our visit to the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary.
Brother King was once a skin-diving fisherman, who hunted turtles, as his
father did before him. Recognising that the local hawksbill turtles were
endangered, he established the sanctuary in 1995 to take young hatchlings
and bring them to maturity in safety.
This year, he has around 300 turtles, hawksbill and green, from a few days old up to about 3 years old. By that age, they can be released back into the sea - a favourite ceremony among visitors to the sanctuary. Hopefully in about 25 years time, they will return to breed.
Right: Brother King holds up one of the mature hawksbill turtles, which will soon be released to the sea
sanctuary has no funding and is entirely reliant on donations. Imagine
how much fish 300 turtles consume! Fortunately, these turtles also show
a taste for hibiscus flowers, and as we had been forewarned of this, we
arrived with a large bunch of freshly picked blooms as turtle treats. This
gave us a good opportunity to see them up close.
Left: the turtles appreciate hibiscus flowers as a change form their usual diet of fish
|Bequia has a stong seafaring tradition which the people are fiercely
proud of, and their traditional skills of boatbuilding and fishing are
still maintained. More controversially, they also still practice whaling,
although on a very small scale. They are the only Caribbean country licenced
by the International Whaling Commission, and are allowed to catch two whales
a year. The whales are hunted in the traditional manner from small sailing
boats, with a skilled harpoonist in the bows. Nowadays the whales are taken
to the uninhabited island of Petit Nevis for processing, and nothing is
wasted. There is a small museum, founded by the harpooner Aleuthera, whose
bravery is commemorated in a painting by Sam McDowell, who is well known
for his exquisite scrimshaw.
Right: entrance to the Whaling Museum near Paget Farm
|Bequia is a delightful place to be weather-bound! There
have been so many cruisers here that we know, that Carol has knicknamed
it "Hog Island North". So despite the weather, it has been a very sociable
time, with lots of people to visit and entertain.
|Top: B and Carol at the late
18th century Hamilton Battery
Above: Could that be a couple of bottles of Hairoun in front of Dave?
|Above: a charming waterfall at the Spring Pottery
|Top: the jungle quickly takes
Above: view of the islands from The Old Fort
|Above: Another view from the Old Fort
|Top: The fishing station, financed
with help from the Japanese, with Petit Nevis in the distance.
Above: Elson Taxi Service uses a typical four wheel drive truck with covered bench seats for his clients
|Above: Thanks to Elson for a very enjoyable and informative tour
All photographs copyright Graham Berry, 2002. Images on
this page have been size reduced and compressed.
High quality digital images available by arrangement - please contact us by email