Thursday 30th January - Sunday 2nd February
Bequia - St Vincent - St Lucia
It was time to move on again. We decided to check out of the Grenadines for the last time in St Vincent.
I had recently popped a post on Facebook letting everyone know we were in Bequia. My brother Bryan’s school friend, Shaun Adams, got in touch to say his parents emigrated from this tiny island when they were in their early twenties to England. When Shaun’s father, Ansel, had passed away, Shaun’s mother returned to Bequia to scatter Mr Adams’ ashes. We had the coordinates. We marked the spot on our chart and as we past through them, we left some flowers on the waves.
The wind was a steady 14 knots so we had a lovely sail just under the jib. It was an easy 2.5 hour trip and we found ourselves on a filmset!
This is the Bay which featured in the Pirates of the Caribbean Films. The customs office was in a building with the film set still attached to the facade. It was fascinating to walk around the set, left in situ and now a minor tourist attraction.
The set has deteriorated dramatically, but enough remains to get a feel for the days filming on the island. Behind the facade of the pink building to the left of the pontoon is the only bar and Restaurant on the beach front.
It had clearing seen better days, and the staff seemed tired and disinterested. There was a selection of the costumes worn during the filming hanging on a rail. All very dirty, dusty and in need of repair. We had a stroll around the few buildings and the quay.
We examined the props which have become an integral part of the town. Fascinating to see, the building fronts were moulded from fibreglass. The cargo bails were polystyrene covered in sacking and the cannons, coffins and statues also painted fibreglass. Some of the buildings were just fronts held up by scaffolding and close up shots of the interior were very small sets behind. The whole area was constructed and filmed around four buildings, yet when looking at the scenes, it seemed like a whole town.
We walked up the hill to what was signposted as “The Waterfalls”. Quite a trek on a hot day. It was sad to see the poverty and neglect along the way. The island felt very poor and lacking in resources. Along the steep walk there was evidence of a plantation and old working buildings which were possibly part of a sugar mill. Everything was overgrown and crumbling. Something English Heritage would have grabbed with both hands and turned into an advantage for the whole area. I know little of the politics or history of the Island, I am commenting without the facts. We passed some young backpackers, who have been living on the island for some months with a local family helping the family to build a vegetable garden and plant seedlings. We look forward to returning next season to witness the fruits of this enthusiastic couples endeavours.
We eventually arrived at the waterfalls which were owned and run by the Government as a local attraction with a 5 ec$ entrance fee. Iain and I laughed. Why had we expected Niagara Falls? The waterfall appeared to be part of the old plantation we saw on the way. We believe the falls fed the mill and the house. The ladies who look after this attraction were very enthusiastic and clearly pleased to see us. Perhaps the only visitors that day.
The small part of the island which we experienced seemed very sleepy and slow. On arriving in the bay, the boat boys were very pushy and congregated quickly around the boat as we were trying to find a place to anchor, all vying for our attention to sell us trinkets which we did not require. It was very off putting from the start. We checked our trusted guide book, Chris Doyle’s guide to the Caribbean, which didn’t seem to offer any other sights to visit and while the town seemed to lack energy, we did not feel safe leaving the boat for any length of time. After a very quick drink in the bar, we returned to the boat for a quite evening. We made the decision to leave in the morning.
We were returning to St Lucia to meet my old school friend and her husband who we hadn’t seen for five years. Isn’t it strange how one never seems to have time for catching up when on the same piece of land, but what luck Ann and Dave had booked a holiday in the Caribbean. We had to return.
We left the anchorage at 07:30, under engine but within an hour the wind had increased sufficiently to 7 knots so we hoisted the main sail and jib and had a pleasant sail back to Marigot Bay arriving at 12:45.
We were greeted by Nash, the moorings official who helped us to the same buoy we occupied in December when the family were with us. He was very happy to see us again, full of chat and questions. We felt at home. It was a comforting feeling, some would say he was a good salesman.
We took his advice and went to a very pleasant water front bar and restaurant that evening, arriving in time for Happy Hour, which was a very happy hour for me. My two rum punches encouraging me even quicker to engage in polite conversation with the people at the bar. By the end of the conversation, Iain had an appointment for a hair cut with a local barber who happened to also be drinking in the bar and we concluded our evening with dancing to the live performer in the restaurant. On the way back to the boat we did a slight detour to find the barber’s shop.
Iain survived the haircut and I made a mental note to try to keep quiet when indulging in any future Happy Hours.
We had a very gentle trip to Rodney Bay. We left at 11:30, again, under engine, and when the wind filled in to 13 knots, we unfurled the jib and had a pleasant sail listening to Steve Wright's Love Songs on catch up. Sunday’s come around very quickly just as our sail did. It took an hour for Iain to cross the ARC finish line in Rodney bay once again, this time under very different conditions and with his crew of only one. Iain was quite nostalgic, I was immensely proud.