Tuesday, April 4, 2017

1980 (13) - Bequia Revisited

Postcard - The National Bird of St. Vincent

To go to the beginning of this book, Tropic Moon: Memories, click HERE.

After our three-day stopover in St. Lucia, we bypassed St. Vincent and sailed to the island of Bequia, 55 miles south of St. Lucia.  We left at 7:00 a.m. and arrived in Bequia at 8:00 p.m.  We had anticipated entering the harbor in the dark.  We felt confident doing this because we were familiar with Admiralty Bay from our stop there the previous year, when we’d been heading north with Tony and Joyce.  We anchored Tropic Moon after my unsuccessful attempt at running down a buoy.  Ed had pointed out two lights ahead of us, and told me to aim in that direction.  I incorrectly assumed that both lights were on shore.  After a bit, Ed signaled me to turn a little more to starboard and, when I did, we slipped past the large, lighted buoy that I hadn't realized was there….

In bed that night, I woke up around 1:00 a.m.  A little voice said, "Why don't you go take a look outside?"  It was common practice, if one of us got up during the night, to pop our head out the hatch and take a look around.  I tried snuggling deeper into my pillow but the voice seemed insistent, so I sleepily started out of my bunk.  I was startled to see Ed fly off his bunk, head for the companionway, and dash up on deck.  Our anchor had dragged, and we were quickly drifting out of the harbor.  Tropic Moon had managed to pass three sailboats, without hitting any of them.  We had open water till we either went out to sea, or ended up on the rocky coast we would have had to bypass.  I started the engine, Ed pulled up the anchor, and we motored back into the bay to reset it. 

It was an exceptionally windy night and, as we saw the next morning by the positions of the boats, we weren't the only ones who had dragged.  I thought it rather curious that I had woken with a feeling that something might be wrong.  I asked Ed what signaled him, because he knew before we got on deck that we’d dragged.  He said the sound of the water was different.  It was lapping against the side of the hull, meaning that we were crosswise to the wind, rather than pointing into it - as you do when you're safely anchored.  His antennae were working well that night. 

Bequia, a small island, is the northernmost of the Grenadines, a 50-mile chain of islands belonging to St. Vincent.  Bequia's official flag is the flag of St. Vincent.  The unofficial flag of Bequia (above) features three black waves, which stand for the Bequia Channel, the Caribbean Sea, and the Atlantic Ocean, as well as a black humpback whale, Bequia's main icon.

Bequia was one of the few inhabited Grenadines.  The town of Port Elizabeth in Admiralty Bay was the center of the island's population.  We’d wander down one road, and a couple branch streets, and we'd have covered Port Elizabeth.  The combination Police Station/Post Office also housed Customs and Immigration.  Tourist shops, grocery stores, a church, a bank, and a gas station lined the main street.  I was pleased with the "supermarket" which seemed very well stocked with several items, like peanut butter, that I hadn't been able to buy in the French islands.  

Postcard - Friendship Rose

While at the store, I asked for bread.  I was told the boat wasn’t in yet.  All bread and baked goods came from St. Vincent, five miles north of Bequia.  The food arrived, along with other supplies, six days a week, on a native trading schooner, Friendship Rose.  The bread was usually unloaded around 3:30 p.m.  The mob scene at the store was unreal.  I got caught in it my first day, and was trapped in a crush of about twenty people, all grabbing for the bread.  Taken with the mood of the crowd, I overbought by about three loaves.  Most of it molded before we could eat it.  That didn’t happen again, because I discovered that if I came in at 4:00 p.m., there was still plenty of bread left.

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