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Update: St Vincent & the Grenadines,
Jan 2002
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

Anchored 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

We 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

The 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.

Cruiser's notes:
Doris is excellent for provisioning with foodstuffs that can be hard to source elsewhere. Knight's Trading supermarket is fine for basic supplies. The Rasta's fruit and veg market is an experience - be prepared to be firm about what you want and you will get "respect", but their prices are often higher than the roadside stalls. Good wholewheat bread from the lady under the trees. Freshly baked baguettes from the bakery in the blue and white building next to the Customs and Revenue. Both banks have ATMs. Internet access above the Bequia bookshop (13.75EC for 30 minutes), or at Gingerbread (cheaper, charges by the second). You can make cheaper international phone calls at both places than using a calling card. Restaurants: We had a pleasant (but expensive) meal at the Timberhouse with Overstreet and Endymion, overlooking the bay, accompanied by keyboards, sax and vocals - we all joined in with dancing before the night was out!
Good rotis at the Green Boley. Good pizzas and quiches at Mac's Pizzeria (with Alba, Hand Basket and Overstreet). Good burgers at De Bistro.
Laundry - I do it myself at Papa Mitch's, 8EC per load. Or they will do it for you, or Daffodil will come and collect.
Snorkelling: Devil's Table is said to be the best place locally, but has been rather rough recently. The area between Princess Margaret and Lower Bay has a good variety of fish and small barrel sponges. Something we haven't done but has been recommended by other cruisers: Take a day trip on the frequent ferry to St Vincent (28 EC return) to see the largest Botanical Gardens in the Caribbean.

Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary
Views of Bequia's lovely bays

More views from our Island Tour
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 over!
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

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