We had a night good passage sailing down the windard side (east side) of the islands St. Lucia and St. Vincent to make a morning arrival in Admiralty Bay, on the island of Bequia. The country is St. Vincent and the Grenadines, SVG for short. We decided to bypass St. Lucia and St. Vincent because of their recent, and old ongoing, history of violent attacks on cruisers as well as the annoyance of overly aggressive boatboys. Now it’s not that you couldn’t have a perfectly fine time, especially in St Lucia, but I just don’t see spending money in places that haven’t dealt with basic security issues over the years that cruisers have been arriving to visit. Especially, when there are plenty of close by alternatives in the Caribbean. It’s interesting to compare the crime against cruisers in Pacific Mexico to that in the Eastern Caribbean. There’s plenty of petty crime in Mexico and stolen dinghies are common enough, but you rarely hear of violence against people --- barring the violence against and between the drug gangs. In the Eastern Carib the robberies too often come along with serious injuries and death (see website Caribbean security net).
OK, enough downer talk and anti-tourist-board propaganda. Bequia, besides being a cruisers hangout, has a long history of boat building and whaling. They still whale under the aborigine exceptions to the international whaling ban, although they didn’t kill any this year.
First off Chris had to take me out to a high-end bar to celebrate my birthday. Here I am at the Whaleboner (that is how they spell it) bar. Note the whale vertebra as bar stools and the whale jaw bar. Only the best for Chris’ honey.
One day, we took a ferry over from Bequia to Kingstown, St. Vincent so we could visit the botanical gardens. This armored truck came along for the ride. There are two botanical gardens on St Vincent. The Montreal Garden is up in the mountains about an hour away from Kingstown in the Mesopotamia Valley. The other is the National Botanical Garden in Kingstown, started in the 1790’s.
Not sure what you do with this fruit.
A Torch Ginger flower.
Life of a young fern.
As our botanist friend Diane taught us, this is a Little Boy Flower (aka Anthurium).
This is the factory where they make the anthuriums.
The Mesopotamia Valley below the gardens.
I would have enjoyed the trip to the two gardens more if the taxi driver and the Kingston garden’s ‘naturalist’ didn’t try to scam us. The taxi guy even got to the point of offering to call the cops as we re-negotiated the cost of the ride. No wonder the cruise ships quit coming here. I gotta say, I did enjoy the taxi drivers explanation about how the Prime Minister is into the cocaine and marijuana business and does everything he can to protect it.
Safely back in Bequia, we took a cab out to the Old Hegg Turtle Sancturay, founded by retired fisherman Orton G. ‘Brother’ King. They don’t actually hatch the critters here. They pick them up from the beach before they hit the water after hatching and raise them for 5 years. Then let them free in the islands of SVG. These Hawksbill turtles have some amazing navigation skills. Whatever spot they first go into the ocean is the place they will come back to to lay their eggs after they reach maturity between 10 and 25 years.
A turtle spotting us.
This guy was the only person working at the hatchery when we were there. He clearly liked the turtles and his job. He was most interesting as he explained to us how the churches only wanted our money and that Jesus doesn’t exist. He waxed on about how tough a job it was when he was drug dealer. “Toughest job in the world”... yikes. He was from the main island of St. Vincent. He says every time a crime happens on Bequia the police head for the St. Vincent boys – rounding up the usual suspects. When we were in St. Vincent we heard about the trouble the Bequia boys create.
We stopped at a sugar plantation turned restaurant-bar. I asked this guy to explain to me how I tell which of the fruits are plantains and which are bananas. In the past I’ve been told bananas grow up, as in this pic, and plantains grow down. He took me over to a tree and explained that the plantains come from plantain tree and the bananas from a banana tree – I’m sure he was thinking stupid tourist.
There’s not a lot of the historical boat building going in Bequia anymore. They say Bob Dylan had his 68’wooden schooner, Water Pearl, built on the beach here. However, there is a lot of model boat building. Here’s Chris discussing with one of the Sargeant brothers their modeling operation.
Another Sargeant brother working away on a model
A J-46 model
We left Bequia and spent a few days in the Tobago Cays. Its pretty crowded with charter boats but has some decent snorkeling. The marketing people like to say it is like the Bahamas, which is true. Just 10,000 times smaller.
I got my eye on you!