|Barbados & Bequia||
January 14, 2009
Our time in Barbados was a nice reprieve from so many days at sea. The anchorage was comfortable albeit a bit noisy at times with music from the beach bars. It was much nicer to hear calypso than 80s dance music though! We saw many sea turtles and the water was perfect for swimming in the mornings. Two nearby wrecks provided exciting snorkeling with thousands of fish. Schools of blue fish, striped fish, tiny yellow fish and narrow blue fish with pointy snouts swam around us. Guess we should get a fish identification book to learn the names.
The careenage at Bridgetown, Barbados
We explored Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados. Small, old buildings full of character mingled with modern, blocky ones along the downtown streets. Much of the shopping area appears dedicated to the thousands of cruise ship tourists passing through each month.
Normally we dine in our cockpit but one afternoon we splurged and ate at the Waterfront Cafe to sample the local specialties - flying fish, cou cou, plantain and pepperpot. They were all tasty and the pepperpot, marinated beef, was spicy and absolutely delicious. The server told me the restaurant tones it down for tourists, the Bajans eat it much hotter.
Friday, January 9, we dinghied into town to visit Customs, Immigration and the Port Authorities for clearance to leave the country. It took us a while to find the right location, having followed a cabbies directions to the wrong (and a couple of miles further) merchant customs. I wish one of the other yachties would have said "just follow the path along the water until you get to the cruise ships." A bit more walking on a hot day than we had planned! Once at the right place we waited in the cruise ship terminal for the customs officer who was off on one of the behemoths. After nearly three hours we were officially able to depart.
Shortly after 3:00 pm we weighed anchor and set sail for the small island of Bequia a little more than 100 miles to the west. We had a wonderful overnight sail with winds 17-25 knots dead downwind. With the jib poled out Tenaya sailed along nicely. Only a few squalls passed to darken the full moon lit night. Another magical night at sea.
See Map of Caribbean
Tenaya at anchor in Admiralty Bay, Bequia
We arrived at Bequia the following morning and are now officially in the Caribbean Sea. The anchorage at Admiralty Bay, off the town of Port Elizabeth, is enormous. We found a nice quiet location to drop the hook. Checking in with Customs, Immigration and the Port Authorities was simple as all are in the same modern building very close to a dinghy dock.
The anchorage at Admiralty Bay
Some shops along the main street in Port Elizabeth
On the few streets of Port Elizabeth small shops and stands offer locally made handicrafts, jewelry and clothing. A marvelous open air market offers fresh fruit and veggies sold by local Rastas. Restaurants are plentiful and all overlook the bay. It's possible to sit outside under leafy trees or on verandas at most of them. Once a week several have a barbeque dinner and a "Jump Up" with live local music.
Vendors along the main street selling locally handcrafted items
This kind fellow helped me choose local fruit and veggies and makes a killer hot sauce
He told me how to prepare a soup with callaloo, christophene and a few other ingredients not listed in my guide book
Band playing at a Thursday evening barbeque Jump Up at Frangipani
A guy putts through the anchorage each morning about 0700 selling fresh bread. Another service will send a boat to bring ice, pick up laundry, wash it and return it, and deliver water and fuel. Several boat guys will bring provisions and sell drinks. Why did we buy any other courtesy flags? I could be happy spending the season here!
Yesterday we walked up to the northern part of the island. Heading for the turtle sanctuary, we missed the turn and were treated to gorgeous views from high atop the hills. A cab driver stopped and steered us in the right direction, back down the hill and along the coast. Right. That makes sense for turtles, on the coast. It was a lovely walk in the warm sunshine and brisk trade winds. Shade was plentiful from the lush vegetation.
Idle fishing boat on the beach, net strung between palms
One of the many types of colorful flowers that abound
Vines grow everywhere
The Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary was started by a retired dive fisherman, Brother King. A labor of love, King's sanctuary is responsible for the increasing number of endangered Hawksbill turtles and heightened environmental consciousness in Bequia. Turtle eggs are collected on the beach and brought to the sanctuary where they are reared until they able to fend for themselves at which point they are released back to the sea.
Baby Hawksbill turtles with Jim's fingers for scale. No, he wasn't touching them.
It was fascinating to see the many Hawksbill and other turtles, at various ages, in the square, concrete enclosures. Baby turtles are fed canned tuna and the larger turtles are fed fish caught in nets just off the beach. The fish are frozen until ready to feed to the turtles each morning.
A large Greenback turtle on the edge of his enclosure. Note all the enclosures in the background.
All kinds of turtles are cared for at the sanctuary. Should they be rescued from a fishing net or abandoned as a pet, they are taken in and cared for at this special place by Brother King and his helper.
Sometimes there is nothing better than a cold beer
On our way back to Port Elizabeth we stopped for lunch at the Crescent Beach Inn and Restaurant. Relaxing in the shade of many trees we quenched our thirst and ate yummy sandwiches at our table by the beach. Yup, we're in paradise on a tropical island!
Katie's new friend at the Crescent Beach Restaurant
We continue to enjoy ourselves at Bequia while we wait for our new roller furler to arrive. We are meeting other cruisers both new to us and already known. How small the world seemed when we saw a boat anchored near us with a home port of Berkeley, CA, dinghied up to say hello, and recognized them immediately as folks we've met before. We met Lance and Susie of Eaux Vives last year at the Oakland Strictly Sail Boat show. We are all members of the Seven Seas Cruising Assn. and had volunteered to work the booth. Over sundowners on both our boats they graciously gave us ideas of places to anchor and spots to see as we work our way up the Windwards, Leewards and Virgin Islands. We are grateful for their time and insight.
It doesn't get much fresher than this!
These model sailboats are powered only by the wind
Saturday we took a PADI refresher diving course and did a dive at Moonhole. It was amazing! We saw so many reef fish and different types of sponges and corals. Our instructor and owner of Dive Adventures, Ron, pointed out a camouflaged flounder, a spotted eel, a partially hidden lobster and a small sea horse smong other creatures. We saw parrot fish, groupers, butterfly fish, damselfish, stickfish and many more I haven't learned the names of yet. It was an incredible adventure and Ron's mellow attitude and helpful hints were ideal. We can't wait to go again!
Although we didin't take this photo, the location is Moonhole