Reading time: 38 minutes
This week runs straight on from the last snapshot, so we cover my dad’s full trip with us.
This means that we’re starting the week in Union Island, after three nights away from Bequia.
Sunday 27 March
We wake up after a very peaceful, comfortable night in Chatham Bay. It’s been such a nice change after finding many places have loud music at night. We’re in no hurry to go anywhere, so it’s a leisurely breakfast of bagels, banana bread, yoghurt and fresh fruit.
Splashing and relaxing
We’ve heard that this is a good snorkelling spot, so Colin and Dad go out for a swim. I’m feeling quite antisocial today, so I stay onboard and watch the latest episode of Drag Race. They come back as Dad has been struggling with the fit of his mask again – his moustache makes the mask leak. The best snorkelling is supposedly in the north of the bay around the corner, so they hatch a plan for a proper trip. This involves using my 8 Hour Cream lip balm to better seal Dad’s mask, and a paddleboard to get closer to the reef.
They set off on the board with cameras and the dinghy anchor, and I go back to my peace and TV. They come back with excellent videos and photos, so I’m quite content to have stayed behind. The highlight was some small squids that inked at Colin.
As they dry off and review their footage, I write. It seems like no time before it’s lunchtime. Colin makes a quick meal of pasta and pesto, then we prepare to move. As we motor out of Chatham Bay, we get a good look at the Royal Clipper which arrived earlier, the closest we’ve seen it. This is its very last visit to the Grenadines this season before it starts its journey back across the Atlantic to the Med next week.
We have a short motor around to the southern coast of Union Island and anchor off Frigate Island.
As always, we stay onboard for a while after anchoring to make sure we’re set. We can see kitesurfers from the nearby school, and more of the beautiful rugged profile of Union from here. It’s almost 4pm when we make our way ashore for an afternoon walk.
Frigate Island is a small island that is joined to Union Island by a causeway. There’s a mangrove park there which we want to visit.
We take the slow dinghy ride to the town of Ashton, avoiding reefs. When we arrive it’s not quite clear where best to leave the dinghy. The concrete dock has rocks and silt right up to its edge making it too shallow to get close. After asking a local fisherman we’re pointed to the best spot. We’re still in what feels like inches of water, but at least it’s not rocky. Another local man tells us to raise our outboard, and shows us the best place to tie on.
As we walk towards the dock into Ashton, we carefully dance around some young boys enjoying a Sunday cricket match in the street. Their bat and wicket are both pieces of plywood but it doesn’t stop their enthusiastic match. Safely past the makeshift cricket ground, we make our way through the commercial streets of Ashton. It’s quiet, but not so quiet that a woman doesn’t open up her small shop inviting us to see if we need anything. I buy a bag of ginger mostly because she’s so friendly.
Dad is distracted, taking photos of buildings, dogs, cats, goats and chickens. He lags behind, and a skinny older local man comes up to him talking about buying his camera. Had it been just us, we would have said no thanks, chatted to the man but moved on quickly. As it is, he’s managing to circle Dad quite closely and we don’t entirely trust him. Seeing us come near he asks for 5 dollars. We usually wouldn’t give someone begging money as it’s advised against (rather than paying for a service), but he won’t leave Dad alone so we give him some money and firmly say goodbye. It’s a shame – this is not the empathetic and friendly approach we prefer to take, but we’ve never had this kind of interaction before.
A friendlier encounter comes from a man in a truck who stops to ask us where we’re from “because we wave and say hello to people as we walk, and white people don’t usually do that”. He just wanted to know what friendly country we’d brought our good manners from!
We continue along the road until we reach the Sustainable Grenadines sign at the entrance to the Ashton Lagoon mangrove. After that, we’re into the nature park. In the mid-90s, a foreign investor had plans to build a 300-berth marina here. Development began, destroying the natural mangrove lagoon. The investor went bankrupt, but not before the landscape had been completely altered. It took years of funding and mobilisation, but in 2018 work began to repair the damage. Channels were cut into the manmade causeway and docks to allow the water to flow again, and stagnant pools began to thrive. The park is now an active and valuable mangrove and wetland area, attracting birds and other wildlife, and humans like us.
The path takes us between mangrove trees, and past a (closed) shop purporting to sell honey (indeed, we can see the apiaries behind the shop). We eventually come to two suspension bridges which take us onto the causeway that joins Frigate Island to Union Island. As it’s getting late, we decide to walk no further today. Instead, we’ll walk the causeway from the other direction tomorrow.
We walk back in the fading sun, and then use our oars to push our semi-beached dinghy away from the dock.
A quiet night
We shower, review photos, and write once back onboard. The huge sun sets behind a new structure further along the coast. Colin cooks balahoo with calaloo with local vegetables – callaloo, flavour peppers and plantain. We eat outside and enjoy the total peace of the anchorage. Mirounga barely moves an inch, the sky is almost untouched by the light from the houses on shore, and there’s not a sound. It’s lovely. The only unfortunate part of the evening is Dad’s sunburnt back from snorkelling the other day peeling badly, leaving him in pain. We’ll be more careful with him in future…
Monday 28 March
I sleep late, and deeply. It’s such a good feeling.
After breakfast, we take the dinghy to the sandy shores of the Frigate Island causeway nearby. There are kitesurfers already out on the water doing impressive leaps and turns. We beach the dinghy and secure it as best as we can. Our walk today takes us closer to Frigate Island, so we walk up close to the impressive basalt wall we can see from our anchorage. As we approach, a massive iguana runs across a clearing. We haven’t seen any this far south before, and this is the first we’ve seen since St Martin months ago.
We don’t want to walk up the hilly island, so instead, we walk back along the causeway. The waves strike the metal walls of the structure we’re walking on from the other side, so we get a couple of surprise showers. We get a closer look at what would once have been finger docks, and walk all the way to the point we reached yesterday. We see egrets, herons, and pristine clean water. After crossing the suspension bridges, we walk to the honey shop. Sadly, it’s still closed – it may just not be in operation right now. It’s a calm walk back to the dinghy, where we can prepare to set sail.
We sail south (as much as the wind will allow) with the intention of visiting Mopion. Mopion is a small spit of sand with nothing but an umbrella and a bottle opener on it and exists purely for Instagram opportunities. As we approach, we decide there’s just too much reef around it to risk punching a hole in our boat mere weeks before selling her. We get close enough for Dad to take some photos, then move around to anchor off Petit St Vincent.
Petit St Vincent
Petit St Vincent is a private island with nothing but a hotel on it. We came here in 2018 and enjoyed a night in a beautiful anchorage and some $18 cocktails. We don’t expect to go ashore this time, we just want to stop in a pretty spot for lunch. It’s just as I remember it – water so clear it looks like a swimming pool. It’s the southernmost anchorage in St Vincent and the Grenadines and sits across a small, reef-protected channel from Petit Martinique, which is part of Grenada.
I make up some humous and a plate of tomato and cucumber, and Colin grills some sweetcorn outside on the BBQ. We eat this with canned dolmades and Triscuits. It’s a lovely little interlude, and nicer than eating underway. We’re soon on our way again though, as the afternoon is wearing on.
We get the sails out and turn south again. Some hardier souls have taken a dinghy out to Mopion. We could manage it easily if it was just us but Dog doesn’t like long trips with more than two people onboard. The wind gets flukey around Union and we have to alter course to avoid the ferry. Otherwise, it’s a pleasant upwind sail back to Mayreau.
Another evening in paradise
We’ve decided to come back to Saline Bay on Mayreau for a second night because it was such a pleasant stop. It also means we can go out for dinner. We anchor in the same spot we were in 3 nights ago, and the menfolk enjoy Beer O’Clock as a few sailing dinghies loop around us. As I sit on the deck looking at the deserted white sand beach, I have one of those moments where I can’t quite believe this is just normal life for me.
For dinner, we had planned to go to Dennis’ Hideaway, which is well-reviewed in the cruising guide. I haven’t been able to reach them on the phone to check they’re open though. Once we’re ashore and start to walk up the hill, Dad gets concerned about a cut on his foot that’s opened up. Walking up this hill is very uncomfortable for him.
At the foot of the hill is a place called D View, with lights on and people inside the upstairs terrace restaurant. We decide to give it a go rather than trek up to a restaurant we don’t even know is open. It really pays off for us. We’re greeted warmly by the chef, waitress, and a few locals having a drink. The chef comes over to let us know that red snapper is the catch of the day, and answer any other questions we have about the menu. Everything is at a relaxed pace, but we’re happily enjoying the cool breeze.
When it comes, the food is absolutely incredible. Colin and I split the snapper and a portion of conch curry and both are perfect. Even the potatoes and vegetables, and the bread we’re given, are delicious. We’re so full by the time we’re done because we’ve eaten every last scrap on our plates. We’ve also enjoyed chatting to the waitress, (Kinesha, I think), who comes over from Union Island to work here and goes home every two weeks. We’re so happy to have found such an excellent place to eat.
Sailine over Saltwhistle
All in, we would definitely recommend Saline Bay to cruisers over Saltwhistle Bay for an overnight stop. Sure, Saltwhistle is beautiful, but on the whole, this side of the island has been far friendlier, just as beautiful, and the dinghy dock and access to shops and restaurants are great.
Tuesday 29 March
I have to use an alarm as I have a therapy live chat scheduled for 8:30. I make Dad’s coffee and a cup of tea for myself, then sit on the nets for my half-hour session. Afterwards, I eat breakfast and we get ready to set off.
We’re only going up to Canouan, the next island up the Grenadines, but we decide to motor out to Petit Tabac first. This means motoring east past Tobago Cays, to the small island set within a reef. Petit Tabac was made famous by Pirates of the Caribbean when Jack and Elizabeth are marooned on it. As we approach, Colin plays the appropriate theme tune. We’re not going to anchor as we want to get on, but it’s fun to finally get close.
Because we’ve gone east, we can put the sails up and make the most of the wind to get back west to Canouan. It’s a short and pleasant sail. Once we get close, we take in the sails and I prepare fenders and mooring lines for going into Sandy Lane Marina. A pilot boat comes out to greet us, and we navigate into our berth and get tied on like old pros.
It’s great to be back in Sandy Lane properly, our last visit was in September. We quickly head for the supermarket before it closes at 12:30, and to check in at reception. I buy some essentials, and some treats like fresh milk (trust me, at 26 Eastern Caribbean Dollars, it’s a treat. That’s over £7 for a quart).
After a pit stop to change and put groceries away, we dinghy over to Shenanigans. It’s no surprise that we have our favourites here – sushi, ceviche and pizza. The only slight fail is the inclusion of wasabi mayo on the sushi. We feel wasabi should ALWAYS be optional as we hate it.
After lunch, we take cocktails to sit by the pool and have a swim. I love the chance to swim with my hair down, which I’ll never do in the sea. It’s after 3pm when we dinghy back over to Mirounga, but we’re not done yet. I quickly rinse out and coat my hair in conditioner, and we set out for a walk. We get as far as Scruffy’s Bar, which isn’t yet open, and then we turn back. The rest of the early evening is spent showering, reading and writing.
The excitement on this visit to Sandy Lane is Foxy Jacks being open for dinner. This is the more formal restaurant and was closed beyond breakfast all last year. We’ve been wanting to eat here and it feels like it completes our Sandy Lane experience (on what may be our last ever visit). We sit outside, and I realise I’ve forgotten a painkiller I wanted to take on the boat so I tell Colin my choices and then quickly walk back.
By the time I return, there’s an amuse-bouche of cold salmon tortellini on the table. It’s exquisite, and a sign of what’s to come. Colin and I have a tuna tartare with scotch bonnet as starters, spicy but delicious. Dad has the lobster bisque, which is what I’ve chosen as my main as I’m not hungry enough for a full meal. I know, I’ve decided not to eat lobster, but fine dining establishments get a pass. Colin has duck, and dad has a pea and mint risotto. It’s all wonderful. I don’t know how, but we all have room for dessert. Colin and I split a creme brulee and tarte au citron (really a lemon meringue pie), and dad has ice cream and sorbet.
By the time we’ve had coffee, we feel like we’ve had a truly metropolitan dining experience, at this Italianate plaza, in the middle of the Caribbean. Dad pays for dinner, as a welcome thankyou for his time onboard.
We’re so full and sleepy that we go straight to bed when we’re back onboard.
Wednesday 30 March
Because I’ve worn earplugs overnight I’ve had a better-than-usual night for a marina. The mooring lines squeaking usually keeps me awake. We want to get moving in good time today, so once I’ve had a half hour therapy session we spring into action.
Farewell Sandy Lane
We can’t possibly leave Sandy Lane without visiting the excellent bakery, where we buy pain au chocolate for breakfast and quiche for lunch. We also have to check out, but that’s it. By now, we never ask for or need assistance slipping our mooring lines, Colin and I work together instead to re-tie them so they’re easy to slip ourselves. Once the engines are started, I can slip the bow line from shore and quickly hop back onboard to slip the stern line. I’ve got the fenders and mooring lines tidied away before we even leave the marina entrance.
This is likely to be our last ever stay here, which is sad. Last year we were enjoying relatively affordable rates of $1 per foot, so $45, because it was hurricane season so the basic rate was half price and the catamaran surcharge wasn’t in place. Now, in high season, it’s $3 per foot, so this stay was very much a treat.
After getting caught out on this route by some northeasterly winds recently, we’ve decided to try a new sailing plan. Rather than go up the leeward, west coast of Canouan, we’ll go up the windward side. This means motoring east, then getting ourselves at a better angle to take advantage of the north-easterly wind back to Bequia. It mostly works and is a comfortable sail.
Unfortunately, as we’re sailing, we spot that the foresail is damaged. This is our largest sail, and it’s started to tear at the sacrificial strip. Essentially, the sail itself is fine, but the edging that protects the sail is coming away. We don’t want to risk damage to the canvas, so we haul it in and continue with the mainsail, staysail and engines. We still make decent time and are anchoring by mid-afternoon.
A familiar Wednesday night
We rest, read, write and tidy up for the rest of the afternoon. It’s almost too soon that evening rolls around and it’s time to go out. As we do, the sun sets beautifully.
As it’s Wednesday we’re heading to Sailor’s Cafe again. This week, our local friend Kathy and our travelling friend Alice are joining us. It’s a different vibe from last week – it’s much quieter, and a few musicians aren’t around. It means that Elfic is out of the kitchen more, and playing more of the blues and country he liked. Dad still gets asked up to do a couple of songs, and he gifts the baritone ukulele he brought out to Elfic for the bar. It’s still a great evening, and I’m so happy that we can introduce Dad to Kathy as she’s one of the closest friends we’ve made out here. It’s also great that Alice can make it as we haven’t seen much of her since she was onboard and she’s going home soon (despite her best efforts to find a way to stay).
Despite it being a quieter night, we still find ourselves chatting to friends long enough to make it a late one. Sailing days always make me tired and I’m so happy to finally fall into bed.
Thursday 31 March
We may be back in Bequia but we aren’t slowing our pace.
Today, the plan is to take an island tour so we can show Dad more than the town and leeward beaches. Colin gets hold of Terrence, our reliable taxi driver, and arranges for us to meet him at 11am. I also let Alice know so she can join us. We gather ourselves and the huge amount of recycling and rubbish we’ve amassed and drive into town. With Dad onboard, we’ve been having trouble staying dry on dinghy rides. Dog just doesn’t like the weight. This trip is one of the worst, and my entire front is soaked. Dad quips about how I’m keeping him dry and I’m not amused.
We drop our rubbish off then head to the bank to draw out cash. Unfortunately, it’splaying up so we’re unable to get anything. We don’t have time to go into the bank to ask about it as Terrence will be waiting.
Bequia beyond Port Elizabeth
We meet Alice and Terrence in the car park and climb up into Terrence’s familiar green taxi. Like most taxis here, it’s a modified pickup with bench seats facing each other on the truck bed and a sun shade over the top. It’s a lovely, cool way to see everything.
We start by going up to Fort Hamilton, names for Alexander Hamilton’s father James who ended up owning a plot of land near here. The fort is really a battery, with canons still in place, and an excellent view of Admiralty Bay. From there, we journey over to the windward side of the island. Terrence shows us Spring Bay, which has been so badly inundated with sargassum that it’s now no longer used by bathers, We then go up to a couple of viewpoints above Spring.
Our next stop is a viewpoint near Mount Pleasant. From here, it’s possible to see down the Grenadines as far as Carriacou. Because we’ve already seen the area towards the airport, we opt to head back to town as we’ve covered the best viewpoints. On the way back, it rains, so Terrence stops under the cover of trees to keep us as dry as possible. As always, its dry and sunny again soon.
Back in Port Elizabeth
Back in town, a repeat vitit to the cash point is successful. We need to pay Terrence for his services, but he’s gone for lunch so we decide to do the same. We eat at Maria’s, a favourite of ours, and it’s a relaxed and enjoyable meal.
When we leave, we find Terrence is back and we can pay him. As we do, we find out that Terrence is one of the local people keeping the island’s boat-building tradition alive. Specifically, wooden model boats. It’s a traditional craft that a handful of people here keep up, and the results are stunning. We stop to look at his wares, going into the small shop ‘Destinations’ where he has some more models. We’re instantly taken by a full model boat he has for sale (as opposed to a half model that can be mounted on a wall). We decide to buy it, but need to put it aside until we’ve been able to get more cash.
By this point I’m getting a headache and we have evening plans, so we say goodbye to Alice and head back to Mirounga. I shower, take painkillers and lie down, but it’s clear it’s a migraine in the making.
Rolling with the Roxburghs
As much as I feel the need to sleep, we have evening plans so I rally. Just before 6pm, Colin dinghies Dad and I over to Bar One. Yes, we’re going to the floating bar while I have a migraine. There’s a party boat docked alongside, with music that would be earslitting under any circumstances. Dad and I, unable to communicate, grab drinks while Colin goes to collect Richard and Suzanna Roxburgh, Mirounga’s former owners. Five people would have been far too many for Dog!
It’s good to see the Roxburghs, and Karen and Russ who are British expats we know, but conversation is impossible. Even when the party boat leaves, the barmen turn up their own music so I’m hoarse after only a few words. I watch the sunset in a daze, and am relieved when we decide to leave earlier than planned for our dinner reservation. Again, Colin ferries Dad and I to shore first, then goes back for Richard and Suzanna. We then get a lift along to Cheri’s Rooftop Terrace for dinner.
Cheri’s Rooftop Terrace
We’ve been wanting to visit Cheri’s since we got back to Bequia but haven’t found time. We end up being so glad that Richard suggested it. The restaurant is beautiful, on a terrace set back into Port Elizabeth and overlooking the burying ground. The food is also fantastic. I have a beef ramen dish, which is something I’ve been missing. The combination of food and switching my contact lenses for glasses means my headaches abates a little. I’m still very tired and groggy through, so possibly not up to my usual conversational standards. All in though, it’s a good evening.
Friday 1 April
Once again we start the day by heading ashore to meet Terrance after breakfast. He drives us over to Friendship to the Bequia Heritage Museum. We’ve been meaning to come here for so long, but like many things it was closed part of last year. When it was open, we were too busy with work because it opened on weekdays during our working hours.
We arrive by 10:15, and Nicola (who we know from around the island) takes us into the air conditioned new wing of the museum first. This houses pieces of pottery found on the island which prove occupation for centuries. Nicola talks us through displays and styles, and the history, as it has been pieced together, of indigenous South American pottery-making people in Bequia. She also uses a slideshow to give us a history of the island right through to the 20th century. It’s fascinating, and we learn so much about what makes Bequia so special. You’ll just have to go yourself to find out…
From outside, we have amazing views of Friendship Bay, and some great displays of an old fishing boat and other items. An old copper (actually made of copper) used in the rum distilling industry has been turned into a lily pond. We also get to see the original rudder of the Friendship Rose, which was once the island’s ferry and now takes day trips around the islands.
Bequia’s relationship with the sea
In the second part of the museum, Sunny is already talking a couple through the whaling and fishing history of the island. We join in and find out about the boat building and whaling families of the island. These families came from French-occupied Grenada or British-occupied Grenada centuries ago and were given parcels of land. Their family names still persist, and it’s sadly only in the last 40 years or so that the boat building industry declined. It’s great to put some information behind the names of people we meet daily. At the end of showing us around, Sunny teaches us a song about the tradition of calling “Blows!” when a whale is spotted. This responsibility would fall on anyone, from children right to the oldest grandmother, looking to sea from the Southside of the island.
If you’re uncomfortable with the whaling tradition of the island, don’t be. So few whales were caught in a year here, or in any of the Grenadines, to harm the global population. It was the Norwegian commercial fishermen that came to the area and killed 120+ whales in one fell swoop that decimated the local population. That in turn destroyed the prosperity and livelihoods of these small islands, which relied on 2-3 catches a year to feed the island, employ people, and sustain the boatbuilding tradition.
Back to town
After 1 by the time we leave. I had assumed the visit would be a short one as most museums are small in the Caribbean. The sheer amount of information and the excellent knowledge of Nicola and Sunny mean we’ve been here for three hours, and we still didn’t get through everything!
We need to be back in town by 3pm, so we walk along beach which cuts off part of the road and brings us close to the Bequia Beach Hotel. I’m a little worried about making my 3pm appointment, but luckily Sunny drives up just as we’re back on the main road. She offers us a lift which we gladly accept.
The lift means we have time to grab a quick lunch at Aaron’s Pizza Hut. We even have time to pop into Knights, and to the cash point. Then we walk around to Ocar. We have plenty of time now, so we pop into the model boat shop. There we meet Benson, who makes beautiful boats in the same style as Terrence. We admit that we’ve already committed to buying a boat elsewhere, but when Benson mentions he does boat cleaning we realise we can work together another way. We arrange to pick him up on Sunday so he can have a look and give a quote (in the end, Benson has helped us a lot tidying up our exterior woodwork and polishing our topsides).
Recovery in Ocar
At 3pm, Colin and Dad go to the marina for a drink or two. I go to the upstairs of the gym to meet Nate Strickland for a massage. He’s a physiotherapist with an excellent reputation, and we’ve gotten to know him through mutual friends. His work is excellent – I always need someone to really find the issues and work on them and he does. An added bonus is the cool breeze coming in making it feel like we’re almost outdoors.
On my way out, I bump into Simon who owns the gym, and by the time we’ve had a chat it’s almost 16:30 by the time I meet Dad and Colin. My migraine is creeping back in, but we have to go back through town and collect our boat from Terrence. He shows us how to dismantle the sail, and packs it carefully in the box. Getting it home in the dinghy requires very careful manoeuvring! I’m very happy to get an hour to rest by the time we get home, I hadn’t expected the day to be so busy!
Tonight’s dinner destination is Provision at Lower Bay. Colin and I have been here for Taco Tuesday but not yet for dinner. It’s a pricier option at 150EC for a set menu, but it’s 5 course and a new menu each week. We love tasting menus and know their food is good so we’re excited to have the treat.
Luckily, we’ve figured out our dinghy positioning to stay a bit drier on the drive. We’re used to putting weight forward to bring the nose down and help our speed. With three of us, it’s better to sacrifice speed altogether and have Dad in the back. It means the bow raises up. more, but that keeps me dry in the front. I’ve even dared to wear a silk dress, but by the time we’ve walked along the beach and over the bluff I’m sweating into it.
We take a table on the terrace which is lovely. Drinks are leisurely, and the atmosphere warm and friendly but with imprccible service. Because of the set menu format, each course is served to all tables at once. It’s a strangely comforting feeling having everyone taste the same amazing food as you at the same time. Our decision to sit on the terrace backfires part way through our king fish ceviche, course 2, when it starts to rain. We’re soon comfortable and dry on the covered verandah though. My favourite course is the steak frites, which is a very clever twist with homemade ketchup and mayo which can be mixed, french style, on the plate.
Another singing chef
After dinner, the American chef comes out and sits with the owner and business partner at the bar to play a few songs. He’s funny, and a very good guitar player and singer. You get the feeling this is his way of winding down at the end of a busy night in the kitchen and we love it. It seems Elfic isn’t the only singing chef on the island. The whole experience was well worth paying a little more for dinner than we would have elsewhere.
After dinner, we walk back in the dark along to where Dog is parked at Jack’s, and happily fall into bed.
Saturday 2 April
It’s an early start for us as we need to go over to Friendship again, with, you guessed it, a taxi drive with Terrence again. This time, we need to go to the Bequia Beach Hotel so Dad can have a PCR test. Frustratingly, he doesn’t need it to get into the UK but he does to spend a few hours in Barbados Airport between flights. At this point, it’s pretty much only St Vincent and Barbados that are still requiring tests so it’s just bad luck that Dad has needed to take three for this trip.
It’s nice at least to see the hotel, and Colin and I sit and wait in the cool lobby area while Dad is tested. Afterwards, we walk back over to Princess Margaret Beach. It always feels like a long walk, but it really isn’t, and it’s not too hot yet. Unfortunately, as we’re walking along the Belmont walkway I make the stupid decision to rinse the sand from my Crocs. I step onto a slimy step and slip, smashing my knee against a sharp wall and cutting it. I limp onwards, annoyed at myself.
Once we’re back onboard, we have a few hours to relax. Almost. Dad needs to make a start on packing, and given he’s taking some things back for us so do we. I carefully pack up our wooden boat with “UK” clothes that I won’t need for our last few weeks here. By the time I’m done, the boat won’t move an inch in its box. I can also clean up and cover the wound on my knee, and rest it for a while.
At around half 1 we start to gather ourselves and head ashore. Today we’ve chosen to have lunch at Mac’s because we haven’t properly taken Dad here. We find a shady seat and watch harbour life as we eat. Unfortunately for me that involves watching a woman get weirdly naked on the dinghy dock. I really don’t mind nudity but I think the choice to arrive by dinghy then change right outside a restaurant is a strange one. The choice to pull a hip-height t-shirt on then take off everything on the bottom when you have a towel you could use is even stranger. Oh well… Lunch is still delicious, and Joyful the dog and Kevin the owner pop by to say hello.
An intimate rum shop tour
After lunch we walk along to Rendezvous Bar in town to meet the rum shop tour Nate is running. Last time we did this there were over 30 people. Today, it’s rather more intimate, with just the three of us plus Nate and his friend Donnacha. It seems that competing events have kept people away today, but the size of the group is perfect by my standards. Donnacha and Nate were who our friend Evan stayed with, so we’ve met them, but it’s great to get more time to get to know them.
We pile into the big yellow school bus (booked when there was a hope of more people) and drive up to Fort Hamilton. Donnacha gives us a little history of Admiralty Bay, and despite the visit to the museum yesterday we still learn more. We also find out that Donnacha was an extra, as a pirate, in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. His long beard and red hair at the time made him and instant booking!
After the Fort, we get a lift down to the main settlement of Hamilton. We’ve just entered our first bar when Dad realises he’s left his camera bag, with his phone and wallet in it, on the bus. Nate quickly calls the driver and he says he’ll leave it at Rendezvous.
Hamilton pub crawl
We work our way around a few rum shops in Hamilton, moving back towards Port Elizabeth as we go. I’m struggling a little to walk with my knee sore and stiff. Donnacha also has an injured foot, so we take things easy. Conversation flows, and it’s a lovely chilled out afternoon. Amusingly, Colin finds a bag of pills in a bush when he goes to use the facilities (… the bush). It’s probably just paracetamol but what an odd find!
It’s around 18:30 by the time we reach town and need to collect Dad’s bag before our dinner reservation at 19:00. The problem is, the guy at the bar doesn’t think he has the bag. He doesn’t recognise the name of the taxi driver that left it. We walk around trying to find someone who may know more, then Dad finally realises I can track his phone from mine. It shows that the phone is at the bar, but we can’t get it to make a sound. Colin eventually rings it, and low and behold, it comes up as ringing on Dad’s Apple Watch.
It was in Bluetooth range all along! Dad hadn’t known about the ‘ping’ feature… We demonstrate, and we track the sound down. The bag was there all along, but the barman hadn’t recognised the name of the bus driver so assumed he didn’t have it. Why he didn’t think it might be the only bag he’d kept safe, we don’t know, but the saga ends.
We’re a few minutes late, but we can say goodbye to Nate and Donnacha and hobble along to the Fig Tree.
The Fig Tree
The Fig Tree is surprisingly quiet for a Saturday night, but there’s live music at Mac’s next door so we just assume that’s drawn people away. We’re happy anyway, having had a warm welcome from the three resident dogs. We’ve just placed our order when Alice gets in touch to say she’s on her way and can she join us. It’s her last night as well as Dad’s. I order her the same as us, and it’s not long after she arrives (with accompanying beach dog) that we can feast on conch fritters and goat curry. We have a good night despite the looming sadness of departures. As we leave, we check that the Saturday reading club is still on and say we’ll come along to volunteer next week. We’ve wanted to do so but hadn’t been free until now.
We give Alice one last hug goodbye and head home. We help dad with the last of his packing, and then turn in.
The last days of Bequia
We took the ride to the airport the next morning with Dad to wave him off. He (and our wooden boat) are now safely back in Scotland.
It’s under 5 weeks until we see him again.
It’s hard to believe, but we may only have a few days left alone on Mirounga. The man we hope will be the new owner will join us next week, and sail to Grenada with us to get familiar with sailing her. Beyond that, we really don’t know – we could be onboard with him for a week, or nearly three. Either way, I have a nice room booked at the True Blue Bay Resort for our last 5 nights in the Caribbean.
More boat work in an exotic location
Until he arrives, we’re in full buff and polish mode. We’ve enlisted the help of Benson to tidy up some woodwork and the top of the hulls, and Max from the dive shop to clean below the waterline. We’re already cleaning, waxing, polishing and repairing everything in sight. Our Genoa is in for repair, after some rather triumphant folding from us. It’s all tiring, but we would do the same when selling a house to make things lovely for the new owner.
We’re back on the original mooring put down for Mirounga, and where we moved onboard on 25 April last year. It’s fitting, to end our time onboard in Bequia where it started.
We still have so many moments of wonder that we live here. Seeing a turtle surface as we dinghy the sail in to be repaired. Having a spotted eagle ray swim beneath us as we approach our old mooring. Living somewhere where we really can’t walk or go anywhere without someone we know (or just as likely, don’t know), stopping to chat. It’s an amazing place.
When I ask myself do I want to stay, my answer is always no. But that won’t make leaving here any easier.