Simply Quaint

Late Arrival

We arrived in Bequia direct from St Lucia's Rodney Bay, after an departure from the anchorage in the middle of the night. Winds were light, and died completely in the lee of St Lucia by the Pitons, a tide driven salinity gradient there adding to the problem of being abe to get through. We did not particularly want to start the engine in the Sargassum that accumulates at the tideline, which gathered over a very large patch, so we drifted until clear water. Once past St Lucia's south point we headed for the windward side of st vincent and had a great sail, turning on the south side of St Vincent into the Bequia Channel, wing on wing at the edge of the shelf. A couple of fishermen boats pointed our way,  to take advantage of the fish on the slope of the bottom, indefferent to our presence. We waved. Soon we arrived into Bequia, just before sunset. Arriving in daylight into reef areas is highly preferred in these waters. Our departure at 3AM was just right.


Anchoring in Bequa can be tricky. The anchorage is mostly a coral reef which died many years ago, the sand filling pockets between rocky limestone, but you can never be assured of the amount of depth of sand present above the calcarous slabs. It is not unusual to see people dragging. One sure way to stay in place is to find a good spot in a sandy bottom, unfortunately the ones that are in 20 to 25 feet of water are quite busy with boats. We did not like the holding ground after our first attempt and raced the sunset to a spot in 50 to 60 feet of water, on the sandy slope of the ledge. There, the holding was excellent and we took a mooring the next day.

Lots to do

Due to the pleasantness and the activities, we stayed a while. Bequia has the advantage of being a port of entry location for St Vincent, and this means that easy access to the airport and flights to the US make it a convenient location to drop crew off and pick up new crew. We came with family from St Lucia and they departed from Bequia, taking an early ferry to Kingston St Vincent, and taxied to the airport.

Bequia's charm makes it a sticky place. It has a few services like waxing the boat, varnishing, and carpentry. The locals are extremely friendly, and most of them are pretty honest on the fee for the mooring. One or two are not. Mooring companies like Daffodil are reliable, we instead got a mooring from DeeDee and her boat "blessing". She has been around for many years and does wel, just be prepared with a fender because her boat is not fendered the best. Once safe in Bequia,you will find it difficult to leave, on account of the friendly people. We had chaps made for the new Dinghy purchased in Antigua. 

Hiking into Hope Bay or some other destination is pleasant. Mount Peggy is a simple hike but best done early in the morning because of the heat, especially from the ferry harbor area as there is scant cover from the heat. Hope Bay, on the other side of the Island, is a pleasant hike through the hills of Bequia.

Snorkeling and diving can be superb in Bequia. When the swell is running, of course the visibility drops a little, still it is better than in most places in the world. Off St Margaret Bay, Devil Table is a dangerous reef, but you can tie your dinghy and free dive or snorkel. There are also dive boats but their prices are a bit high.


Mount Peggys (see pictures) is a short hike and the biggest challenge is to find the path. The view is a 360 degrees of Bequia and you spot surrounding islands. Taking a walk from the Princess Margaret Bay maximizes scenery. However if inclined to keep it shorter, you can take a taxi. The taxi will provide directions to the path up the hill, one that is not easy without instructions from the book or the locals. I highly recommend starting early in the morning because of the heat build up during the day. Our 10AM start from St Margaret Bay caused us to run out of water. We needed two quarts and only had one per person. Once at the top, a steep path goes back to St Margaret where you can get drinks on the beach. Most likely you will want fruit juices and water at that point.

Hope Bay feels remote and wild, located on the windward side of the island. The walk down the bay can be done on one trail which was an old supply road. Once on the beach, to the south, off the marshy grasses, another poorly marked trail allows you to reach the roads going through the neighborhoods. The beach can be beautiful, but in our case sargassum and plastics from Africa and European fishing activity had drifted to shore. I suspect the Sargassum is not always there but the rest, sadly, will be. We asked one local the way to town, and they replied both roads go back, it all depends which way you prefer to go. There were several very friendly people on our way back, willing to chat. One was a Bed and Breakfast owner born on the island. Another was a lady from the UK who shared many complaints about the neighboring sheep and goats and their effect on her garden. It is easy and fun to engage here.


We had Dinghy Chaps made in Bequia at Grenadine Sails. Chelsey at Grenadine Sails will let you make an appointment and measure, fabricate, and deliver chaps within 48 hours most of the time. These folks are super nice and helpful. If you want to get chaps made in some unusual fabric color, you could call them and bring the sunbrella on your boat, coordinating before leaving the USA or other departure point; the fabric takes a long time to get into the islands and is also expensive. They stock numerous canvas colors however. In addition to the infrastructure of sailmaking and dinghy chaps, you can have varnish done, your boat polished, or an outboard repaired. Clearly not the infrastructure of St Marteen or Martinique, but some things can be done here, and if you want chaps or a half hull or a custom, full model of your ship or  boat, this is the place.  


For groceries there are small supermarkets and a gourmet store in town. Checking into the immigration, definitely avoid weekends and holidays as the overtime is pricey, but it is not a bad thing to fund the St Vincent economy either. Customs and immigration is simple, but multistep and there can be a bit of a wait. The agents are very friendly.


On weekends you will see crowds from St Vincent proper come to Bequia to spend some weekend time away from the main island. Locals call them Mainlanders, an ironic name for folks who also live on an island. I guess Europeans, Brazilians and such would be named continentalers. This influx transforms the island into a weekend party, alive with street vendors. Be somewhat aware of your surroundings but there is no worry about Bequians and safety. More likely the St Vincent mainlanders would be carrying petty theft or stealing dinghies and outboards, at least that is the story locals tell you in Bequia. But if you go to Paris, Rome, or New York, you have no worries; the same awareness applies. One unpleasant aspect of Bequia is the cruise ships, I wrote below about these. My ranking on cruise lines is 1) small semiprivate schooners and charters 2) Starship cruises 3) Dunant cruise line and Ritz Carlton 4) the mass market companies with 2000 people aboard. Depending on who is in town, you may want to stay on your boat and plan some activity of your own creation.

Bequia overall is a safe, pleasant place, with a warm welcome for boaters and plenty to do. The islanders are proud and respect their island. Many locals return after their education to work and live in their home town. It has a different feel than big islands, that of a diverse and quaint community with a diverse set of small businesses ready to help. And, if you want a model of your boat built by a custom model making shop, they have that as well.


About Cruise ships:

I wrote on March 29 about this as droves of cruise ships passengers flooded the town:

""Today Bequia is filled with 2400 new guest walking like ants in the street and dotting the beaches. They have flown from their living rooms in droves to escape the modern suburban life, on a promise of adventure portrayed by the marketing of the industry.


Now this promise is fulfilled by waiting on line to be ferried by a tender, with airline style mass moving of 2300 people from the ship, ready to explore the adventure of an overcrowded beach, trinket shops, tee shirt shops, and street vendors selling made in china goods. These will tell their friends that the cruise was amazing, and exotic, leaving out the cattle reality, well short of the boutique experience promise. The more adventurous will board a sailing schooner, which motors with handkerchief sized sails while towing a tender at about 10-12 knots. May be destined for an anchorage more remote and pleasant, they might get a better feel for the island's beauty and experience more nature. These will be able to tell their friends how they love sailing, not having any true experience of sailing but convinced it is what they experienced. If you go on a cruise, choose a small line, and a small ship, and pay more for good service. If not, Las Vegas has the same food, and is relatively cheaper.""