10 May 2012 | Admiralty Bay, Port Elizabeth, Bequia
We're at a lovely anchorage in Bequia, south of Martinique, St Lucia and St. Vincent. It's a milestone for me in a couple of ways:
-- First, we're only 68 nautical miles - a day sail - north of Grenada which is our first year destination. It's been a long exciting journey from Maine. Dennis and I are truly grateful for this chance for adventure. It's so cool to be here!
-- Second, I came to Bequia 36 years ago and it was life changing for me. At age 19 I had studied Marine Biology and had a semester on a research vessel sailing from Woods Hole, Massachusetts to the Virgin Islands. Once in the islands I hitched a ride on a 38 foot sailboat, The Feather, with two semi-retired professors from New York University. At the time it was quite eye opening for me as I had grown up in a very conservative home while they were very liberal. Through our time together at sea they taught me much more about life than sailing. Our final destination then, was Bequia.
36 years later Bequia is as beautiful as before. We're in a large protected harbor with a small village at one end, enclosed by two green peninsulas. Bright, colorful homes dot the shore at the village end, then there are two long white beaches and a longer stretch of lush, green, wild land.
The people of the island have a long history of seafaring traditions that they have continued. On shore they build sturdy boats by hand with traditional tools and methods. The boats line the shore with their beautifully painted hulls.
Some of the men of Bequia also continue to hunt a small number of whales, using traditional methods, to feed their people. The ICW allows them to hunt up to four whales/year. During the winter season they head out in open boats, in strong trade winds, using hand thrown harpoons. In years where they do manage to harpoon a whale after long struggles, they haul it to an offshore island, divide the whale up and use every part. While I'm much opposed to killing such beautiful intelligent beings, I do respect the courageous men of Bequia who head out in their small boats to feed their people.
Being in Bequia also reminds me of my seafaring heritage. My Grandfather was a sailor who died at sea when my Grandmother was pregnant with my Mom. My son's name is Nico, who is the Italian Patron Saint of Sailors. Tonight, when we go to the traditional Thursday night barbeque, I will raise my glass to the brave seafarers of Bequia and the world.