|Posted by yachtmoonlight on December 28, 2009 at 8:36 AM|
The first swim in the beautiful clear water after we arrived on Saturday 12th December was very welcome. The sea was noticeably warmer than in Europe and the sea life much more abundant and interesting.
It was quite a windy day and I soon discovered that I had to swim very hard to go nowhere. John and Becky got out before me and as I tried to swim back to the boat I found I was running out of puff (no doubt partly due to the lack of exercise for the past three weeks). I just managed to grab hold of the swimming ladder with one hand as the wind gusted and tried to drag me away in the water. As I clung on to the ladder for dear life, one of the handles holding it onto the boat jumped off which really didn’t help and left both the ladder and me hanging precariously from the side of the boat with my legs flapping in the wind. After taking a deep breath, I took advantage of a brief lull in the wind to get the ladder back in place and somehow clamber up into the boat. Collapsing into the cockpit, exhausted from my ordeal, I found John and Becky quietly reading in the cockpit and explained between gulps of air how I had nearly been swept to Panama, only for John to tell me not to exaggerate as the wind wasn’t that strong. Next time I think I’ll let myself be swept away. That’ll show him.
After I had sufficiently recovered, we called up a company called Daffodil Yacht Services who (amongst other things) collect laundry from boats and deliver it back, on the VHF radio. A chap who said he was a taxi driver replied and said no-one from Daffodil was available but he would collect our washing and take it to them for us. It was only after we had given all our towels, bedding and most of our clothes to a random chap in a wooden boat that we wondered whether we were ever going to see it again.
In the afternoon, we ventured ashore and found a restaurant John and I visited when we were here a couple of years ago and we enjoyed a fabulous conch roti each washed down with fresh fruit punches.
(The anchorage from ashore - there are lots more pictures of Bequia on the Photo Gallery page)
Dinghying back the boat, we hadn’t noticed the dark clouds approaching and just as we well on our way the heavens opened and a torrential downpour drenched us to our skins, but as it was hot it was strangely refreshing and we all saw the funny side.
When we dried off we celebrated our first Caribbean sunset with Champagne and all felt so lucky and happy to be here.
The following day we swam in the morning around the boat and John cleaned off hundreds of tiny barnacles that had attached themselves during the crossing (to the boat that is, not to John) which attracted a rather hungry fish who had quite a feast as they were brushed into the water.
While John was amusing himself with this and other boat jobs, Becky and I dug out the Christmas decorations I bought in Cascais and Madeira.
(Sorting out the Christmas decorations)
We put up dangling things with bells, tinsel and our stockings before deciding to make some paper snowflakes. We soon realised as neither of us had made paper snowflakes since primary school and the first few attempts were rather rubbish. And square. I was about to email my friend Debbie to ask for advice from her primary school class when we finally cracked it.
(The decorated saloon!)
The free internet access in the bay was very slow and unreliable, so we bit the bullet and bought a week of access from a fast and reliable provider and checked the ARC website for any news of our friend Ron, discovering that he was due to arrive in St Lucia on Tuesday.
Hearing a knock on the side of the boat, we found a local chap on a surf board by the boat selling fruit from a plastic bag. We bought some bananas from him for no reason other than he said his name was Mr Bob, which I thought was a fine name.
We had promised Becky a lobster dinner, and we heard that a nearby restaurant had live music on a Sunday night, so we went along and found a huge pool of live lobsters, some of which were giant mutant killer monster lobsters. I had to confess that I’d never tried lobster (they weren’t too common in Grantham when I was growing up) but I was rather impressed by the taste, if not the price.
The musicians, a guitarist, a saxophonist and a keyboard player who also sang (like Chris Rea with a bad cold on the day his wife left him and his dog died) were very good and as they played, John struggled to prise the lobster meat from the shell to the point I wasn’t sure if he was eating it or dancing with it.
(John's dancing partner)
A passing waitress noticed John struggling and took his cutlery off him (I thought at first because she thought he was a danger to himself) and showed him how to get the meat out, sticking her thumb in the middle of his lobster in the process.
It was a lovely night and the food and drink were fabulous.
On Monday, John waited on board for the fuel and water barge to come alongside to fill us up, and to chase up the laundry that had not reappeared, while Becky and I went ashore to explore the shops.
The dinghy outboard motor, like many mechanical things, hates me. It decided to prove the point by conking out several times on our way ashore (which it very rarely does for John) and then not allowing me to restart it when we were getting close to the shore. After telling the motor what a horrendous piece of junk it was, we rowed the rest of the way.
We explored the shops and the stalls set up by the side of the road and very pleasant local lady on one of the stalls invited us to try her homemade guava wine. After a sip each, the lady asked us what we thought of it and Becky very politely said it was extremely nice, but the rolling on the floor clutching her throat while coughing and spluttering kind of gave the game away that she wasn’t being entirely truthful.
We declined the offer to buy some of the lady’s vinegar…..errrr….. ‘wine’ and carried on with our shopping trip.
I needed some cash, so we stopped by a bank to use the cashpoint where there was already an American couple waiting ahead of us and another American lady joined the queue behind us. They were from a cruise ship that was anchored in the bay and the couple explained to the lady behind us (through us) that they had lost their luggage and needed to buy some new clothes. This explained the thick trousers and roll-neck jumpers they were wearing. Unfortunately (for them) and most amusingly (for us) none of the Americans could grasp the exchange rate from US Dollars to Eastern Caribbean dollars. The fact that the currency here was also known as ‘dollars’ was particularly throwing them. The lady behind us said she knew the exchange rate was 2.6 EC dollars to 1 US dollar but she didn’t know how to work out the conversion. Becky explained that she should decide how much she wanted to withdraw in US dollars then multiply it by 2.6. The blank look from the American lady soon told us that this was way too taxing, so Becky tried, “well times it by 2 and then add a bit and you won’t be far off”. Nope, this didn’t help, so in the end Becky had to tell her exactly how much to withdraw. She’s probably still there, trying to stick her card in the postbox.
The Americans ahead of us took their turn, but were quite incensed that the machine asked them to enter the amount they wanted in dollars, and then given them that amount in EC dollars rather than the equivelant of that amount in US dollars. They thought they were asking for 40 US dollars and got 40 EC dollars, which is just under £10. To replace their entire wardrobe. Having said that I’m sure how they were going to achieve this with 40 US dollars either.
We headed back to the dinghy and after I had strong word with it, it started first time but as we were leaving the dock it shouted over to an incoming ferry to ask it to run us down, which it tried very hard to do. As I thought we wouldn’t make it ahead of the ferry, we diverted around the back, just as the ferry decided to reverse over us. I looked up at the ferry and noticed that none of the people on it were suggesting to the captain that maybe he shouldn’t squash us, but instead they were pointing to the dinghy that was about to be splatted and shouting to their friends to come and watch. We got away by the skin of our teeth and found ourselves on the wrong side of the anchorage with a very long trip home.
We arrived back to find that the laundry had been returned, which we were all rather pleased about, particularly as John had run out of pants.
The cool sea beckoned in the hot afternoon sun and we swam and snorkelled around the boat and saw some trunkfish who were rummaging through the seabed disturbed by the anchor chain moving.
(A trunk fish)
Snorkelling behind the boat, we found a mooring which consisted of two barrels filled with concrete and a whole community of different kinds of fish and a very scary-looking moray eel between the barrels.
(The moray eel)
We enjoyed a quiet night on the boat and watched Shark Tale on DVD.
The next morning, we were very happy when Fergus and Kay arrived from Barbados and agreed to meet up later for drinks.
We then headed ashore and explored the shops that Becky and I had missed the day before. After less than an hour (most of which John had spent reading a sailing book in one shop), John had a shopping tantrum and we had to calm him down by taking him into a Chandlery for a few minutes until he stopped hyperventilating.
When it was safe to move him, we found a wonderful homemade ice-cream shop and sat looking out into the bay as we ate our very tasty ice-cream.
(The view from the ice-cream shop)
Carrying on along the sea front, we tried to find a shop that Becky remembered from her visit here, but it was several years ago and the shop seems to have disappeared, so we walked up to the road for some great views over the bay and anchorage and spotted some tiny hummingbirds flying amongst the trees from flower to flower.
In the afternoon, we decided to take the dinghy to a reef near the entrance to the bay and spent some time snorkelling over the reef.
Fergus and Kay joined us for drinks in the evening and it was wonderful to catch up with them and to hear that they had met Keith and Welly in Barbados, who were planning to head to Bequia shortly.
On Wednesday, we headed back into town in the morning and carefully rotated the shops we visited between boutiques and Chandlers. John bought some new split pins for the boom and once he had some new pieces of metal to play with he seemed more relaxed and bought a funky new shirt and a straw hat in one of the boutiques.
We then explored the supermarkets and found a rather nice (but pricey) shop that sold a mixture of local produce and a lot of imported goods. We chose a few bits and pieces, including a packet of sausages (which had no price on them) and found when we got to the till that we could have bought a particular large pig farm for the same price.
After another visit to the ice-cream shop, we headed back to the boat and took the dinghy over the reef to snorkel again.
Back on the boat, I realised that Becky had achieved something I never thought was possible – she had more insect bites from me, and just as we were discussing this in the saloon, we heard an almighty girly scream from the cockpit and rushed up to find John had been stung by a wasp.
In the evening, we had the world’s most expensive sausages with mash for dinner and decided to watch a DVD. John insisted that it was his turn to choose and picked ‘War of the Worlds’. It may well be a very good film, but a cheerful one it certainly isn’t and me, Becky and all the soft toys voted that John should never be allowed to choose the film again.
We caught a taxi in the morning and took a ride over to the turtle sanctuary. It was an open pickup truck with seats in the back and the breeze in the back was extremely refreshing. We passed by some wonderful views of the island before arriving at the small sanctuary.
(The turtle sanctuary)
The chap who runs the sanctuary breeds turtles and releases them into the wild when they are old enough to fend for themselves and achieves a very high success rate.
(One of the older turtles)
There were some large tanks with older turtles in and some smaller tanks full of hundreds of baby turtles. They were all adorable and I felt I was in heaven.
(Baby turtles - there are lots more pictures of the turtles on the Photo Gallery page)
John bought me a t-shirt with turtles on it and gave a donation and we headed back to town and back to the boat for a relaxing lunch and afternoon.
Later on we had a swim around the boat and swam back to the mooring barrels to see if the moray eel was still there. It wasn’t, but instead there were three lobsters living under the barrels. This got Becky very excited and John decided to try and catch one for dinner. The law in this area insists that lobsters are caught alive, so they can be released unharmed if they are below the legal minimum size or if they are females with eggs, so catching one was going to be tricky. I swam back to the boat and fetched some sturdy gloves and the fishing net we had used to catch swimming crabs in Spain. Much later, after a lot chasing around (lobsters under the barrels, lobsters in the front of the barrels, lobsters behind the barrels, lobsters back under the barrels, lobsters sticking their feelers up at John at laughing at him), Becky lost the will to live and returned to the boat, but John wouldn’t give up and eventually, somehow, he caught one in the net. We swam back to the boat with it and as John took it out of the net and realised it looked a bit small.
(Catch of the day!)
We measured it and found it was indeed too small and we had to throw it back (much to Becky’s dismay). As John tipped it out of the net, it stopped briefly to blow a raspberry at him before swimming back to its friends.
We went ashore in the evening and met up with Fergus and Kay for drinks in a very nice restaurant we visited last time we were here. We sat outside on some wooden seats near the water’s edge and listened to a steel band play while we enjoyed rum cocktails and I was joined by a local stray dog who I named Bobdog, who sat next to me all the time we were there.
(Ann with Bobdog)
A little later, John, Becky and I went into the restaurant for the barbeque buffet, which was fabulous, although John had a very dubious-looking bright green dessert.
(John's dodgy dessert)
On Friday we wandered ashore in the morning and into a Chandlery we hadn’t visited before and as John looked at tins of goo and lumps of wood and metal, I meandered over to a shelf that had disposable barbeques stacked up. We were looking for one to use at Tobago Cays on Becky’s birthday, so I picked it up to look for a price. A voice came from the other side of the shelves where there was an office area and a lady told me I could have a barbeque to try. I asked how much they were (thinking she couldn’t surely have meant I could take it free of charge) and she said they were 35 EC dollars (just under £9) but insisted that I could have one free ‘to try’. Obviously hoping I would then come back and buy some more. I thanked her profusely and gratefully accepted the free barbeque.
Later on I received an email from Ron to say that he won’t make it down to us in Union Island for Christmas as he has a lot of work he needs to do on the boat in St Lucia before he can leave and some of it can’t be completed until the New Year. We’re really sad we won’t see him for Christmas, but these things happen and we’ll catch up with him when we get to St Lucia in the first week in January.
In the afternoon, we snorkelled around the boat again and as I was diving down for a closer look at a shell, I spotted some fish in holes, popping their heads out every now and then, which were very cute (in an ugly kind of way).
(One of the fish hiding in a hole)
We were invited over to Fergus and Kay’s boat for sundowners and we spent a very pleasant few hours with them and a Dutch couple from a nearby boat. It turned into quite a musical night as the Dutch couple had brought over a guitar and an accordion and Fergus played his squeezebox (extremely well) and sang us some folk songs. It was a wonderful evening.
We needed to stock up on fresh produce, so the next morning we headed to the fruit and veg market. The market stall holders are all very pleasant and polite, but rather insistent and it can be quite a daunting experience. We had a shopping list of the things we needed, but somehow we seemed to come away with lots of things we didn’t as well.
Having not visited a beach since we arrived (and not since Becky came out to join us), we took the dinghy across to a beautiful quiet beach across the other side of the bay.
(John swimming off the beach)
We had heard lots of stories of heavy snow from back home and had seen lots of pictures of snowmen on Facebook, so Becky and I decided we weren’t to be outdone and made our own snowman in the sand before enjoying a snorkel from the beach.
Back on the boat, we caught up with emails and phone calls via Skype before spending a relaxing evening on the boat.
Sunday was a very quiet and relaxing day. We snorkelled around the boat in the afternoon and I stayed in the water a little longer than John and Becky because I had spied an evil killer monster eel fish and wanted to get a photo of it, but unfortunately it turned out to be rather camera shy for an evil killer monster eel fish and disappeared down a hole whenever I dived down to take a picture, re-emerging as soon as I had re-surfaced. I gave up trying to get a picture and tried to describe it to John (long body, fangs, pincers and tentacles) but he just said it was probably just a big fish. He’ll realise his mistake when it bites his leg off next time he swims near its hole.
John and I spent the rest of the day reading while Becky did some research and preparation for a telephone job interview planned for Tuesday morning.
Fergus and Kay joined us for a drink in the evening and we realised this could be the last time we see them. We’ll miss them and make sure we keep in touch.
On Monday, John and Becky did a couple of runs ashore in the dinghy to fill up the water containers while I did some washing and pegged it out around the boat.
We watched Fergus and Kay set off in the morning, on their way to Bonaire before heading towards Panama and through to the Pacific and we were very sad to see them go.
In the water for our daily snorkel, we headed out to the mooring barrels again. There was no sign of lobsters this time but we spotted a very beautiful and graceful fish swimming just above a hole which it retreated into now and then. It was stunning and had me entranced for a while, diving down again and again to see it close up.
(The pretty fish)
On the way back to the boat I spotted a very nice shell on the sea bed that I thought Becky would like, so I dived down to pick it up and got a shock when a hermit crab appeared inside it. I dropped it and John dived down to pick it up and have a look at the crab before letting it go.
(The hermit crab)
In the evening, we headed ashore as we had spotted a pizza restaurant we quite liked the look of. Despite the warnings and raised eyebrows of the waiter, we ordered two of the largest pizzas to share as we were all very hungry. When they arrived, it really was quite embarrassing as each pizza was the size of a small family saloon car. We ate as much as we could, and fit to bursting, I sheepishly asked the waiter if they had a box we could take the leftovers away in and took the plates away and returned with an enormous pizza box. We had only managed to eat one of the pizzas between the three of us. Ooops!