Admiralty Bay and the township of Port Elizabeth on Bequia Island was a wonderful surprise. We originally planned to skip this island based on reports of crime posted on various cruising internet sites we follow. However, this was one of the very few times where someone else’s confidence of safety changed our plans. While in Port Louis Marina in Grenada we meet Tim and Stephanie. They cruise on a big cat and fill in as many weeks as they can with paying guests. When discussing plans to move north, they told us Bequia was one of their favorite stops. We expressed our concerns and they assured us the reported incidences were not common. We are so glad we listened to them and stopped there.
Like most countries, we are required to check out with customs and immigration when leaving. We checked into Saint Vincent and the Grenadines at the most southern point, Union Island and the port of Clifton. We quickly moved onto and enjoyed our time in the Tobago Cays. Our original plan was to return to Union Island to check out and then travel north to St. Lucia. However, Bequia is more aligned with the direction we wanted to travel and eliminated an overnight sail. We could day hop to Bequia and then day hop to St Lucia. Between Bequia and St Lucia is St Vincent. No cruiser in their right mind should stop at St Vincent. There are ongoing multiple reports of violent crimes against cruisers. So, Bequia was the most northern point we deemed safe and this was our check out point.
We had a wonderful sail up from the Tobago Cays to Bequia. We enjoyed 15 knot winds from the southeast as we headed north. Sea conditions were calm making the ride just perfect. This is perhaps one of the best sailing days we have had so far on our journey. Entering Admiralty Bays is beautiful, there are steep hills lining three sides of the bay making the water calm. The bay water was clear making it very easy to find a sandy spot to drop the anchor. Once we settled into the bay we cooked dinner and enjoyed an adult beverage before calling it a day.
The following day we went to town. Our priority was our primary reason for stopping, to check out with customs and immigration. Once checked out we have 24 hours to leave the country. We quickly found the government building. The town of Port Elizabeth is not very big. It is one main street along the waterfront. At the public dinghy dock there was a sign to point the way. The government officials here were by far the nicest with whom we have ever dealt with. Customs and Immigration were neighboring counters in a big hall. In some countries there are often separate buildings. The entire process took less than ten minutes, nine of which we were asked how much we enjoyed our stay at the Tobago Cays.
We spent the remainder of our day roaming about town and taking in the bright painted buildings. The main street is a divided highway. It is not what you are thinking. One half is for people, the other half is for cars. But the people don’t stay on the people side. The central area is full of flowering bushes. These bushes hide the people crossing the street to the cars. We saw a couple of really close calls where tourists didn’t look and stepped into the street. A lady from the visiting cruise ship had a really close call. Luckily for her the driver was paying attention and not going very fast.
From the main street there is a path called the Belont Walkway going along the bay front. On this walkway are many restaurants, cafes and shops. There is also a dive company and a really cute hotel. The walkway is exactly two people wide. Tourists tend to walk in groups and side by side. This made it a little interesting when facing an oncoming large group. We found it best to stand to one side, preferably the land side. The path is only about 12 inches above the water meaning the occasional wave got our feet wet. If you ever go this route we recommend not wearing your best shoes. Flip flops are best.
We needed to buy some fresh produce. Like most islands, the best fresh produce is sold at the street stalls. Cindy got free carrots because the guy liked her smile. We had just spent the week in the Tobago Cays isolated from civilization so we were a little low on basics. We needed eggs. Buying eggs is always an experience. Most stores do not refrigerate eggs. Eggs do not need to be refrigerated. They will last just as long without refrigeration. I often think about life in America and how all eggs are refrigerated. Americans would never buy warm eggs. Not only are they refrigerated but they are also sorted. There are medium, large and extra large eggs. There are white and brown eggs. There are also organic free range eggs. And then, there are branded eggs like Eggland Best and store-brand eggs. In the islands, there are just plain eggs. On the self in the store is a stack of large 30 count trays of eggs. You pick the ones you want and put them in the container (sometimes sold separately). How on earth did buying eggs in America evolve into such a complexity?
Speaking of complexities, something both Cindy and I noticed are the ladies with kids. Let me explain. We spent most of our marriage living in a middle class neighborhood in the northern suburbs of Atlanta. We don’t have kids but do have friends with kids. It used to amaze me how much crap people toted along because they had a baby in tow. Besides the stroller or pram, there are bags and bags of stuff the mom and dad might need in their short outing with the baby. New parents spent thousands of hard earned dollars at big box stores like Babies R Us, Wal-Mart, Target, etc. on baby stuff. I bet there is money to be made if someone could figure out how to attach a wagon to the stroller. Why? Because the bottom rack and bags attached to the stroller are already full of stuff and mom has tote bags over both of her shoulders with yet more baby stuff. These observations of our friends just bewildered both Cindy and me. How can something so small as a baby require so much stuff? So when we first noticed Caribbean ladies with their children we both sort of wondered, what happened to all the stuff. Most Caribbean ladies carry their small children. If they have another toddler they are holding their hand and the tot walks. There are no big box stores full of stuff on these small islands. Being a mom is very different here.
We finished up our day at Jacks. Nearby our anchor location we noticed a nice looking beach bar and restaurant with a dinghy dock. Once we had stowed our newly purchased produce and eggs we hopped back in the dinghy to check it out. Jack’s turned out to be a really good choice. Cindy raved about the fried chicken and I had a cheese burger. Getting a good burger is hard to find on most islands. Beef is not as plentiful as pork and chicken. Often the beef has filler and doesn’t taste like beef but, not at Jack’s. We lingered for quite a while taking in the view of the bay including Cream Puff on anchor. So glad we stopped at Bequia.
The following morning at 4:30 am (ouch!) we lifted the anchor and departed the harbor. It is incredible how many cruisers do not light up their boats at night with the required anchor light(s). I’m pretty sure I would have trouble sleeping knowing someone could not see us and potentially run into us during the pitch black of night. I’m talking dark, the sort of dark where you can’t even see your fingers, no moon, no town lights, no nothing except the millions of stars. We had to get an early start for St. Lucia. We have about 12 hours of daylight and 65 miles to cover, meaning we need to average about 5.5 knots to get to the next port in daylight. Leaving a little early gives us a cushion to ensure we arrive before sunset. I would much rather leave a port in the dark than arrive in an unknown new port in the dark. Leaving is easier since our navigation software lays down a track line as we move showing where we have been. We can follow the line out going exactly the same way we entered knowing we are safe. This is assuming no new boat has anchored on our line without lights.