I’m sure there are more than a few people wondering what the hell we are doing in Bequia, where it is, and why we plan to stay here through the holidays. Well, this is our fourth time to visit here, the first three were just way too short. This is a charming island located in the country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. St. Vincent is a large island, and the Grenadines are a multitude of smaller pristine islands further south, in between St. Vincent and Grenada. We’re about 8 miles south of St. Vincent, and approximately 73 miles north of Woburn, Grenada, the anchorage we spent the majority of hurricane season hiding out in avoiding the wrath of Irma, Maria, Jose and the others that framed Hurricane Season 2017.
It was kind of funny the first time we pulled Last Tango into Admiralty Bay, Bequia. We heard a knock on the hull and a hearty call to “Last Tango”. A nice looking local gentleman who introduced himself as Winfield Sargeant looked confused when we jumped up on deck; he was expecting to see the previous owners. He stated he had done most of the varnish work on the boat in the past; he was able to name the previous owners including their dog, so we took it as a sign that this was our varnish go-to guy going forward. That was a year and a half ago, and Last Tango could definitely use some touch up, so we decided that on this visit we would let him perform his magic. And magic it is! He is a true artisan and is well known throughout the Eastern Caribbean.
We had also heard there was a very good canvas and sail company here, Grenadine Sails. They have now sewed dinghy chaps (2 day turnaround!); removed, repaired and reinstalled the genoa and stay sail; sewed new Sunbrella covers for some lounge chairs that had been damaged by wear and tear; and they have a couple more projects they are going to tackle for us. We are also having a handful of other projects done in the meantime while we are awaiting the initial projects to be completed. We’ve lived on the boat two years and it needs a little freshening up so we decided this would be our Christmas present to ourselves this year to give Last Tango a little TLC.
The price and quality of the work is very good in Bequia. This lively but small island has a seafaring history and the people pride themselves on their nautical traditions but use modern methods to build and maintain boats. The island is also known for it’s active whaling, which keeps some potential visitors away or at arm’s length. The local whalers are allowed a catch of four whales a year, but since they use the old traditional method of hand throwing harpoons, and considering there are not a lot of people with the skills necessary to hunt them, few are actually captured each year. Scrimshaw is a locally available and a popular tourist item that can no longer be found in many places around the world.
My fascination with the island includes the great yacht services, quaint restaurants and shops, and the friendliness of the people. Most of the people here are either from Scotland or France, or came as slaves from Africa. They are a proud people and rightfully so. This is an island with gorgeous beaches, the harbor is lined with quaint gingerbread style homes and beautiful waterfront restaurants, and there is an immaculate Anglican church that beckons you to join the services, with a men’s choir that can send chills through your spine.
The yacht services include laundry, fuel, water, yacht cleaning, lobsters, and many other services delivered directly to your boat. Talk about convenience! There is a gourmet grocery store known as Doris Fresh Food that is a little pricey but you can find many items here from home you can’t find anywhere else in the Caribbean. There are also several local grocery stores where you can stock up on everything else. For such a small island with only about 4,300 in the population, it’s amazing what you can find in Bequia, from food and drink, to clothing, handicraft, and so on. There are a handful of carvers and shops, including a museum, where you can view and buy hand carved sailboat and ship models. The beauty and attention to detail is unparalleled.
This time of year what is known locally as the Christmas winds whip up and blow about 25-30 knots, and with gusts higher than that, mixed in with seas of 7-10+ feet, it can be uncomfortable to do a lot of sailing depending on your propensity for adventure. The winds usually start in early to mid December but end in the first part of January. With that in mind, and without a known end date for the projects we are having done, we decided it might be a good idea just to relax, and enjoy this beautiful, fun place throughout the holidays.
The following information I found and summarized from the BequiaTourism.com: “The holidays consist of the Nine Mornings of Christmas, starting on December 16th. Musical activities and caroling take place in town, some starting at 4 am in the morning. The people from Bequia take their caroling very seriously and have competitions as well. There will be midnight services on Christmas Eve at the Anglican Church.
New Year’s Eve in St. Vincent & the Grenadines is known as Old Year’s Night, and Bequia really knows how to ‘ring out the old and ring in the new’! The harbour fills with visiting yachts, and ashore there are celebrations in every restaurant and bar – all the stops are pulled out for this one special night of the year. A spectacular firework display over Bequia Harbour is the highlight of the evening. Midnight is accompanied by a sky lit up with fireworks and flares, popping corks and warm embraces – and then the partying really begins!”
We do miss our family and friends in Texas the most during the holiday season, so it only makes sense that we try to find a balance of keeping ourselves occupied and creating new traditions in the Caribbean. Bequia is truly one of my favorite islands in the Eastern Caribbean. With the improvements ongoing with the boat, we’ll do a little festive decorating and settle in here for the holidays. We have cruiser friends planning to sail in to spend the holidays here with us so it should be a fun opportunity to share social time and learn even more about the local culture.
From Last Tango with Love, Happy Holidays 2017!