ST. VINCENT & THE GRENADINES -
Monday, October 26 -
We got inside the bay at Union Island outside of the town of Clifton at 3:45pm, and didn’t think we had time to anchor. Skeeter grabbed a VHF radio, our passports, and clearance papers and jumped into the dinghy (crossing our fingers that it would run properly!) and put-putted to the dinghy dock and ran to the customs office.
In the meantime, I was driving Salt Whistle, trying to keep her in one place in the bay, fighting against a strong outgoing tide on my beam and the wind on my bow. This was my first time driving Salt Whistle without Skeeter aboard. In the back of my mind I was worrying about what I would do if I lost power while inside the tight bay, with shallow reef directly downwind from me. Dropping anchor is easier said than done when the anchored is tied off on the bow and I cannot leave the helm even for a second.
I then heard Skeeter hail me on the VHF. The customs office in Clifton does not take payments after 3:30pm (though they’re open until 4:30), so he’d have to walk to the airport. Crap!
|Skeeter had to run to the airport to check into customs|
Skeeter ran to the airport as I continued to hold position. At the airport he was charged the overtime fees after all (80EC, $32US), even though the clock read 4:31pm and he had just gone on a wild goose chase to clear in! Anyway, I was extremely relieved when Skeeter got back to the boat because the sun was starting to go down, I was tired of holding position and fighting the wind and current, and I really had to pee but couldn’t leave the helm!
|The sun was setting, and we weren't yet anchored for the night|
We had planned to spend the night in Chatham Bay on Union Island, but instead we decided to motor to Frigate Island because it was closer and we were racing the sunset. We anchored there in time, went for a sunset swim and took our daily boat showers.
I heated up leftover spaghetti and made some plantains and salad for dinner, and we watched “Into the Blue.” Dad thought it was hokey but highly entertaining.
Tuesday, October 27 -
We woke up at 6am and managed to begin our sail to Bequia at 7am. I always love getting an early start. It was a beautiful day to sail. The sky was clear, the seas were calm, and the winds were a steady 10 knots. These were the calmest conditions we had ever experienced. We played some Bob Marley and Jack Johnson as we sailed. Dad slept most of the way.
|Calm enough seas to be up on the bow!|
At around 11am we decided to use the engine and motor sail so we could arrive with some daylight to spare. Near the fort at the entrance to our anchorage, Port Elizabeth, Bequia there was an old shipwreck. We were checking that out when all of a sudden we saw dolphins! They were passing by us to take advantage of a big fish boil in the distance.
|Shipwreck at the entrance to Port Elizabeth, Bequia|
|Dropping the mainsail as we enter the bay|
|Motoring into Port Elizabeth|
We arrived in Bequia at around 2:30pm. It’s a beautiful island, and the bay at Port Elizabeth is dotted with old fishing boats, sailboats, and tall ships. We saw our friends’ boat, Cosmos Mariner, in the anchorage too!
|Cosmos Mariner, Windjammer, & a Lagoon catamaran|
We dropped anchor, then went for a snorkel by the boat. The bottom was a mixture of sand and sea grass. Dad was very excited to see a gold spotted eel, and was determined that it was a snake. He watched it for a long time, and dove down to get a closer look.
|A goldspotted eel|
After our boat showers we put on the dinghy motor and dinghied into shore. We walked around town and did some exploring. October 27th is Independence Day for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, so it was a lively atmosphere. There was a lot of music, drinking, and dancing in the streets.
|The entrance to this place, the Whale Boner, is made from whale ribs. Sadly, Bequia still hunts whales :(|
Most places were closed for the holiday, but we did manage to find an open restaurant called Maria’s. It was next door to "Pizza Hut." We all ordered Fish & Chips, and watched the sunset. Service was very slow, but the food was delicious. It was not your typical deep fried fish & chips. The fish was fresh caught kingfish, baked in island spices. Our waitress told us proudly that her son caught our fish.
|Bequia's "Pizza Hut"|
|Sunset our first night in Bequia|
We went back to the boat and relaxed, and started watching “Shallow Hal,” but Dad fell asleep just a few minutes into it so we decided to call it a night.
Wednesday, October 28th -
This morning we dinghied to shore and met up with our friends Rob & Deb next to the ferry dock.
|This ferry goes to the main island, St. Vincent|
Rob and Deb are on S/V Cosmos Mariner (and also have a blog). We shared a safari style taxi and went to the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary, on the other side of the island.
|Deb & Rob from S/V Cosmos Mariner|
|Dad is excited to be going to the Turtle Sanctuary|
|Skeeter on the open air taxi|
We were all excited to be visiting the turtle sanctuary. We all love turtles, and are eager to learn as much as we can and to help them survive.
|Dad outside the sanctuary|
We paid our entrance fee, and stepped inside to the sanctuary. The entrance fee goes toward feeding the turtles and maintaining their tanks. They need to clean the tanks and change the water daily.
There were numerous big rectangular pools, surrounded by smaller square pools. The turtles were separated by age. The biggest turtles were nearly big enough to be released back into the wild. Some of the smaller pools contained the turtles who needed to be separated from the others for their own health and safety or that of the others.
|Brother King educates people about the turtles|
|The turtle on the left is a Hawksbill, and the one on the right is the only Green at the sanctuary.|
|Joshua is one of Brother King's knowledgeable assistants|
There were also smaller circular pools that contained lots and lots of tiny turtle hatchlings.
|A pool of Hawksbill turtle hatchlings|
And some circular pools that contained one or two big turtles.
|She was a very interactive Hawksbill turtle|
The sanctuary is owned and operated by a retired local fisherman, Brother King, who started trying to help the endangered Hawksbill sea turtles have a better chance of survival.
|Brother King, the founder of the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary|
He collects turtle eggs and raises them in his sanctuary until they are about 3 years old and big enough to have a better chance of survival on their own. He releases them at the same beaches where he found them, in hopes that when the females reach maturity they will return to lay eggs of their own.
Brother educates both tourists and locals, and hopes he can help save these magnificent reptiles from extinction. They are still hunted in this area of the Caribbean, and their populations are dwindling.
After our visit to the turtle sanctuary we took a walk around the beach town of Port Elizabeth.
|The Friendship Rose, a tall ship that does charters|
Then we took a walk along the boardwalk. It runs along the waterfront, in front of various shops and restaurants.
If you hike over the hill it turns into a lookout deck and staircase along rocky cliffs overlooking the anchorage. We could see Salt Whistle & Cosmos Mariner down below.
It then follows the cliffs and runs just above sea level toward the picturesque Princess Margaret Beach.
On the beach we met a local woman named Fay, who has been selling her handicrafts and souvenirs in Bequia for decades. Dad found some nice little handmade fish keychain souvenirs for his friends at the Senior Center.
|Princess Margaret Beach|
|Fay's beach stall on Princess Margaret Beach|
On the way back from Princess Margaret Beach, Skeeter and I thought about how badly we need to scrape the hull and get the months and months of growth off before our big sail to St. Lucia. It is a 63 nautical mile sail, and that extra drag on the hull would slow us down significantly. With a clean hull we would move through the water much more easily, and it could add an entire knot of speed, reducing our total sail by hours.
|Taking a little rest on the walk back|
|The dive shop where we rented tanks|
We decided to stop in at Dive Bequia on the boardwalk and see if we could rent some tanks. We got 2 tanks ($15 each) and high-tailed it to the boat since we had to get the tanks back to the dive shop by 4pm and it was already 2.
We scarfed down some sandwiches, threw on our scuba gear, grabbed some scrapers and a green scrubby sponge, and got to work.
|Getting geared up to go scrape the hull|
|Covered from head to toe, ready to scrape|
We covered ourselves well with hoods, gloves, and wetsuits, realizing that we would be encountering millions of pinching shrimp, crabs, hydroids, fire coral, and other organisms. It took us an hour and a half, and the hull looked beautifully clean.
While cleaning the propeller, I noticed that the prop nut had vibrated itself loose. Yikes! Skeeter got a crescent wrench and tightened it down. That could have been bad! We dropped down to the bottom and took turns brushing the shrimp, crabs, and other sea life off of each other. I even had a baby lobster on me!
|No one wants to lose a propeller at sea!|
When we ascended, Dad told us that it was almost 4pm, our deadline for returning the scuba tanks and for checking out of customs without incurring any overtime charges! We didn't want to have to pay absurd overtime fees again! We took off our scuba gear as quickly as we could, and rinsed off. I dropped Skeeter off at the customs dock, and then Dad & I headed over to the dive shop to return the tanks. We had to wait around for the dive boat to return. They were out for a dive, and running late getting back.
After returning the tanks, Dad really wanted to go for a swim. off the docks with the Bequia swim team. He didn't get in the water when we were scrubbing the hull for two reasons. First, he would have gotten covered in all of the nasty buggers we were scraping off the hull, and second, people drive their boats through that anchorage like maniacs so it isn't safe to swim there. The coach was very nice, and welcomed him to join in their practice. He said anytime visitors would like to practice with the team they are more than welcome.
|The Bequia United Swim Club|
The kids are great swimmers who work very hard. They swim miles and miles every day in the open ocean. They are headed to Antigua soon for a big competition. They have a "Go-Fund-Me" page, if you'd like to help support them.
In the meantime, Skeeter and I ran over to Knights Trading Supermarket and grabbed a few groceries. Our stocks were running pretty low.
|Heading back to the boat|
We headed back to the boat and had leftover Caribbean curry for dinner, watched Star Trek – Into Darkness, and prepared the boat for our long passage to St. Lucia tomorrow.
Thursday, October 29 -
We woke up at 5am, before the sunrise, and left Bequia by 6am.
|Skeeter, with coffee in hand|
We were so glad to have scraped the hull. We could feel Salt Whistle gliding through the water better and were seeing noticeable results in our speed. Conditions were once again absolutely gorgeous.
|Seas this calm don't happen often!|
|Seas were like glass!|
|You missed a little on your nose ;)|
Dad would be getting his first sailing lesson today, so he decided to do some studying before he had to take the helm.
We decided to motor sail so we could make good time, and arrive well before sunset. This would be our longest sail, about 65 nautical miles. We had to sail across from Port Elizabeth, Bequia to St. Vincent, past the entire island of St. Vincent, sail across to St. Lucia, and more than half way up the coast of St. Lucia. Sailing alone would have taken us well over 13 hours, but with the motor we were able to cut it down to just over 9.5 hours.
|Mainsail up for stability and a little extra push|
At 8:30am I thought I saw two logs in the water. But then I saw one of the logs move. They weren’t logs, they were sleeping dolphins! We had never seen sleeping dolphins before! They sleep on the surface, and look very similar to logs. Only 45 minutes later we saw more dolphins, and one of them breached, playfully jumping out of the water.
Dad was very enthralled by the flying fish as well. He couldn’t believe how far they could glide!
To be continued...