Monday, October 23, 2017

Back To Bequia

Life goes on in Cumberland Bay
We've done it!  Officially we have done what we said we would do so many years ago...  Back in 2004, Bruce and I weren't even married yet.  We did a charter in the Grenadines with some friends on a catamaran...  Somewhere on that trip we mused "Wouldn't it be nice to come here on our own boat some day...?".  That moment was the seed that grew into life as we know it today.  We've come full circle in our Dream... what's next?  Well if we've learned one thing Cruising... It's never to say what's next!

So how is it coming back here?  That's the strange part... It felt really weird!  I have such hazy memories of that trip.  I wasn't the Navigator so I wasn't mentally engaged in the process... I have very few memories of the sailing... The Catamaran we had was a Boat-a-bago in the sense that it was big, rode steady and wasn't much fun to sail...  So I remember nothing about getting here at all.

Goodbye beautiful St. Vincent... we'll be back!
The island is much bigger than I remember it... We must have taken a mooring ball very close in.  I remember going to one of the little bars on the south shore... and I remember walking up a steep roadway... there was a cow tethered alongside the road... a little store and maybe a barber shop... I remember going to see the Moon Hole Houses... but not how we got there.  We must have taken a taxi-tour...  That's it!

And today?  None of it rings a bell... not even a little one.  For some reason this causes discord in my head.  I keep trying to make our Cruising visit mesh with our real life now and it's like trying to fit the square peg into the round hole...  It actually took me a while to calm the clanging in my head!

This is my life now... These people on this island are not actors placed here for our entertainment in some fantasy world.  I remember back when we were charterers thinking smugly "People who travel and stay in resorts never see the "real" islands...  Chartering is the way to travel... you get to see the "real" island... how people live..."... Muuuaaahhahahahahah!  What a chump I was!  Even now, there is a separation between us and them, no matter how long we spend in the islands... We only get a glimpse.

Jezabelle likes it!
But we have come a long way and once my mind stopped trying to "see" that other Bequia in this one, I slipped back into enjoying the NOW Bequia.

We had a very nice, but short sail from Cumberland Island, St. Vincent to Bequia.  We found a spot to drop our anchor amongst the permanent mooring balls near The Fig Tree restaurant.

Having met Cheryl, the proprietor of the restaurant back in Kingstown, we planned to have lunch there on our birthday this Tuesday.  After settling on our anchor we spent the hot afternoon hours in the crystal clear waters... cleaning the waterline of our boat!  Yeah, glamorous...

We got the whole thing done... Bruce one side, I the other.  I sit in my floaty and use my fins to keep myself in position while scraping the gunk off the waterline... I have to keep my legs in constant motion to hold the scraper against the boat, fighting both the wave action and the pressure from pushing against the hull... it's a pretty decent workout for the legs, core and arms... I need it!

The winds had been light for days and we slept very well here.  Coming in, it seemed as if it might be rolly, but we tucked up into the Bay far enough to get out of most of the swell...  The following morning we headed for shore in the dinghy to see if we could prod our memories of this place back to life.
Don't remember that...

Don't remember that...
Definitely don't remember this!
We docked over by the Cruiser's Trash collection building and found the very substantial dock to be somewhat torn up by recent storms.  Now things are beginning to feel more normal... Nothing shiny and Resort-like about this!

After disposing of our trash we turned left and wandered down the road in search of GYE Marine.  Doyle's Guide mentioned that they might have marine batteries in stock and we're in the market again... We found the place but it was closed.  Lunchtime or closed for the day?  It's Saturday afternoon so I'm guessing we missed it...

While standing around wondering what to do next, the snippet sounds of steel drums turned my head and drew my attention to a little hole-in-the-wall place across the street.  Sailors.  Like in a trance we were drawn into the dark coolness of the little bar/restaurant.

What happened to us next was pure magic!  There were two men on a slightly raised stage area... one of them, the man playing the steel drums... stopped and waved us over!

He pointed to Bruce and told him to come up and learn how to play the steel drums.  Not usually the one in the limelight... Bruce looked delighted and a little shy, but he warmed to it immediately.

Errol told us all about how he began playing at his father's knee at the age of six years old... How he grew up playing the instrument and learned to make the drums himself.  He explained how they are made and showed us the circles where the metal is inverted... It is an art and a talent that few have anymore...  We were fascinated.  The opportunity to have this personal one-on-one experience was a stroke of dumb luck!

We spent the afternoon listening to them play and marvelling at the sweet sounds they made.  It gave me chills...

After a brief downpour with rain so hard we couldn't see the Bay... we figured our time here was done.

We walked back through the streets of town in search of the bank and some fresh veggies!

We visited the three nice ladies at the Market, purchasing a little from each... then took our treasures back to the boat where we retired for the evening.

*** Mark the date!  That's OUR boat in Bequia!

Later in the evening, my knee began to really swell up and hurt!  It was absurd really... We took the next day off... putting off going ashore because it was windy and we had no pressing business...  We called Daffodil's and ordered bread and sent in our laundry.  They did a nice job of it and the price was reasonable (for the Caribbean anyway).  But with no wifi... We were finally driven ashore again in search of a password... any password!

Bruce worked for the original Pizza Hut... It was about this size!

We found a nice hardware store and bought some things. 

Big yellow school bus

We took a stroll about town... still trying to remember any of this.  It's a cute little town.  I don't remember the long walkway that lines the shore a fair distance.  It's really nice and would make a perfect morning walk... It even ends with a beach!  Put that on the to-do list for when the wind stops blowing!

Still thinking we would go to The Fig Tree on our birthday... we wandered into Mac's Pizza....

They have a nice upper deck with a view of the anchorage through the trees... and decent wifi!  I'm not saying it's fast... or consistent... but it's almost!

Why yes... that IS lobster on our pizza!

One scoop of Rum Raisin... one scoop of Coconut!  Heavenly!
We sat there all afternoon... eating pizza, drinking cocktails and then when it looked like they were suggesting we leave... we ordered ice cream!

I have to say that what they lacked in wifi... they more than made up for with this ice cream!

It was probably the best I've ever had.  No lie.  Creamy...decadent... deliciousness!

The next day... our birthday... rain.  That's it.  Just rain.  No celebratory dinner out.  No cake.  But there was wifi - on the boat now!  We could get a decent signal from Mac's Pizza... so we just marked yesterday's wonderful (and pricey) meal as our official birthday dinner out... and settled in for days and days of rain and wind.

The clear waters ran muddy with runoff
I made us a birthday breakfast of pineapple/mango pancakes.  That'll have to do...

We could hear a roar from shore.  It was runoff pouring like a river into the Bay
Rainy days make the BEST Sunsets!
Watching the puffs on the water
Had it not been for the decent wifi... I would surely have gone mad.  No really.  I can handle the first two...maybe three days of it.  But I had to mentally talk myself off the ledge when I could feel my body tensing up in anticipation of the next ridiculous gust.

Bequia is known for somehow balling the wind up and releasing it in extraordinary gusts and the actual forecast winds were bad enough.  It would become almost calm... less than ten knots... Then we could hear it coming in the distance.  A whooshing roar that grew louder as we could see it racing across the water's surface... heading straight for us.
The Sunsets were nice..

The boat would rebound on the anchor chain in the lulls... then the wind would hit us broadside, tipping the boat and blowing us backwards to be JERKED forward when we reached the end of our chain... literally AND figuratively.  I kept thinking that nothing could withstand this relentless assault.

It went on for DAYS and NIGHTS!  We would fall asleep only to be awakened by a particularly violent blast, sometimes accompanied by rain!  Lying awake trying to calm my bunched muscles to allow sleep to return took a long time... But that's OK, because we had all day long to nap, because we weren't dropping the dinghy in this!  Thank all that's holy for WIFI on the boat!
See the gusts on the water?
Miracle of miracles... I was slowly and erratically catching up on the blog!  And then the wind began to settle down.  Unfortunately by this time, we were thinking of moving on.  We have spent over one half of our allotted 30 days in SVG already and done almost nothing here in Bequia!

We tried to buy batteries, they had none.  We would like to do a tour but the wind blew that away... We still need to go ashore and pick up some groceries before moving to the other islands.  We were able to have our refrigerator repaired... It has been acting up and we tightened a fitting that must have been leaking.  Unfortunately we are idiots and couldn't get the coolant level correctly regulated and had to call in a repairmen.  Sam was delivered to us by DeeDee on Blessing.  She runs a water taxi service and brought Sam out twice at a reduced price... that was very nice of her.

He worked on the refrigeration for an hour the first day... making some adjustments.  Then he said it needed to wait... so he would return in the morning.

That he did, and after some more fussing, finally had the refrigerator reaching the correct shut-off temperature and cycling on and off as it should...  And at $40 US per hour... we were thrilled to help out an Islander with our business...  Such a relief to have the refrigerator working optimally and no longer draining our crappy batteries overnight.  Bruce was having to get up at 3 or 4 am to run the generator just to keep the battery levels up.  What a PITA that was... I was secretly OK with it though... because we run the air conditioner when we run the generator... so I got to snuggle down in cool comfort for a while...  Don't tell him I said that.

Finally the sun came out and the winds relented!
Knight's trading has a pretty decent selection
After doing some planning... looking at the weather forecast and counting the islands we wished to visit and comparing that to how many days we have left before we need to clear out of SVG... we settled upon a plan.  A very fluid plan, but we've gotta have some idea of what we're doing...

We made our grocery run... wishing we could forego this upcoming weather window and stay for the next one... But we'll be in this general area, possibly for months!  We can come back!

Did I mention we decided to be lazy and call DeeDee to ferry us to shore so that we wouldn't have to splash the dinghy?  Yes, we did.  We rationalised it by having lunch on the boat instead of out... Choices.
We shopped at both of these markets for veggies

I like shopping at the local vendor's stalls for produce over the supermarket...  Maybe it's fresher...I don't know.  But it's an experience in itself.  I picked out some things at this blue market first, then leaving Bruce to pay for my purchases, I walked back over to the Food Ranch.

I picked out some things there and my total was $19 EC. I handed the guy a $20 bill and he dug around in his pocket for change... He didn't have any.  He asked if I could just pick out some more stuff...  So I took my $1 EC in change by way of two bananas and a lime.  Priceless!

Bags of water supposedly keep flies away
I didn't see any onions I liked so I went back over to the first place again... Bruce had already paid.  I picked out some of the island-grown small onions and put my bag onto the scale.  I had just less than a pound so added by one.  Then the woman (in charge) came over and spoke rapidly to the man... Evidently the scale was off so she had me pick out more onions to show 1.5 lbs on the scale... THAT was one pound. I said nothing of having paid a little extra for the other items I had laid on that very scale... but Bruce said the total bill was only $20 EC and I thought that sounded light, so it all worked out...  I love this experiences with local vendors.

DeeDee was just arriving at the dinghy dock when we wheeled our cart up.

DeeDee really is a lovely person... inside and out.

Rain creeping up on our Sunset
Soon after we arrived back at the boat and put our things away... I settled into the cockpit to try to finish up the VERY LAST blog post... I noticed that there was a growing cloud to our southeast...
Beautiful but doesn't bode well for us..

Of course the rain began... just a few drops at first. Long enough for me to give the shout for closing windows! I was sitting in the cockpit with my computer AND the cat on my lap.  She seemed unwilling to vacate as I unceremoniously dumped her, grabbing my computer close to my body to protect it from the blowing rain that suddenly found its way inside the enclosure.  It happened that fast.  Zero to blizzard in ten seconds!

The bluster didn't last long but the rain continued on to bedtime.  Tomorrow we would leave Bequia.  I wish the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines would realize that limiting entry to 30 days is limiting our ability to stay and spend time and money in their islands.  The people here say that they have complained... but governments work in mysterious ways.

We will go... but we will be back.  We've made Bequia "ours" in our new way.  It's no longer that hazy memory of our charter days... It's real now and it's worked its way into our hearts as a favorite, even though we had a limited experience here.  We'll save some for next time!

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