05/10/2012, 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.
05/08/2012, You guessed it!
36 years ago I had a life-changing experience. I hopped aboard a sailboat bound for Bequia as crew with people I had never met. They were semi-retired professors from NYU. The sail down was amazing and I learned much of life from these two wonderful people.
36 years later I have returned, and it feels amazing. I'm very excited to be here.
05/08/2012, Admiralty Bay, Port Elizabeth, Bequia
Just a quickie to say that we arrived in beautiful Bequia yesterday afternoon after a surprisingly very nice sail down from the Pitons in St. Lucia. The weather reports were less than stellar, but we went anyway, continuing our way south. We were flying most of the 50 miles, reaching hull speed several times ... with both sails reefed!
05/03/2012, Along the coast of St. Lucia
This one's for Dan.
Heidi and I had a very exciting sail up the coast of St. Lucia from the Pitons back up to Rodney Bay (some weather coming in, so we came up to this more protected and service oriented bay). The weather predictions were for 14 to 18 knots from the SE. We got all of that wind and more, but a bit more from the east. We were trimming the sails every minute or two, as the wind kept wandering around and we were "racing" our buds from Canada, Michel and Danielle, hitting hull speed a few time and kissed 8 knots a couple of times. Heidi and I worked great as a double handed team!
We were approaching our turning point to head into the bay and were about to discuss our next moves, when I heard "wiiiiiiizzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz" we had a strike on our trolling line. I carefully increased the drag while Heidi tried to slow the boat down (not easy under full sail and 17 knots of wind!), as our catch was going very fast in the wrong direction. Once I got the fish steadied up, we pulled in the Genny to decrease boat speed and allow better maneuverability. After not too long a fight, it finally appeared ... a 40" Wahoo -- a beauty in my eyes. Dan, we got it on the skirted ballyhoo lure. Thanks!
So, now we have 12 good sized steaks, AFTER I tossed the last 10" of tail section back to the sea ... thanking the gods and appreciating our catch. We are back in Rodney Bay and will hopefully share some fresh grilled steaks tonight with our Dutch buds, Irene and Theo.
Man, is the great or what?!?!
05/02/2012, The Pitons, St. Lucia
We're at the most gorgeous anchorage so far, between two peaks called The Pitons. It's lush and green with a multitude of palm trees and mango trees. There are so many mangoes that you can easily fill a canvas bag in a few minutes...and they are soo delicious. Last night we had a very yummy mango crisp.
Today we went for a fabulous snorkel. There were perhaps 75 - 100 basket sponges most 2-3 feet tall and 10 - 16" in diameter. It looked like a Mexican pottery store dumped their pots into the sea. Most of these were brown in color however there were also florescent purple and yellow sponges scattered about, and various types of corals.
We saw hundreds if not a thousand fish, all very colorful. One of the more interesting discoveries was a school of cuttlefish or reef squid. The squid just hung out in mid levels of the sea looking like aliens from another planet. They let us get quite close. We also saw a huge blue parrotfish over a foot long, blue tang, yellow and black stripped sergeant majors, blue and yellow damselfish, and schools of grunts, and glassy sleepers. What fun!
04/28/2012, Rodney Bay, St. Lucia
We are now in St. Lucia, after a textbook perfect sail down from Martinique yesterday. We had 15 - 18 knots of wind mostly on the beam, with moderate 6' seas ... a beautiful sail in much better time than I had planned. The ENE - E Trades are settling in again. I gotta watch out for losing the hat on the way into the lagoon for supplies, etc.., as it's straight into the wind to get there ... but it feels great! Apparently there is some sort of tropical wave brewing to the east, but that's normal for this time of year and shouldn't present any issues for us. So all's still well on the weather front.
As for commerce here in Rodney Bay, it's still going strong, even though there aren't nearly as many boats here as anticipated. I wondered how soon we'd get visited by the local entrepreneurs, and "Gregory" showed up at noon in this incredible rig, loaded down with all kinds of fruits and vegetables and with flags from most of the nations that sail through these waters flying in the wind. I bought only a few mangoes, because Heidi was at the big Saturday market in Castries (the capitol) with Irene getting plenty of produce when he showed up. Hopefully, however, he'll bring the cilantro he promised for tomorrow morning, along with fresh local bread.