Port Elizabeth, Bequia, St Vincent & The Grenadines (2019)
On March 19 we were anchored in Admiralty Bay near Port Elizabeth, the only town on the island of Bequia (Beck-way), the second largest and most northerly of the Grenadines. Bequia is Arawak for “island of the clouds,” although we didn’t see very many when we were there.
Bequia has a long history stretching back to the indigenous Arawak & Carib people. It came under British rule in 1763 as part of the Treaty of Paris that ended the Seven Years War (French & Indian War in America) . The British set up a plantation economy and imported thousands of African slaves. The relatively safe harbor here was also a hangout for pirates (we have read that descendants of Captain Kidd still live here). The country of St Vincent and The Grenadines gained independence in 1979. The population of the island of Bequia today is about 4300.
This would be a leisurely day of walking around this sunny and friendly town with little in the way of important landmarks. After breakfast we tendered in to the town dock. Nearby were small boats and stands selling produce & souvenirs. The harbor itself was full of yachts.
About a block down from the jetty is St Mary’s Anglican Church, built of stone in 1829 to replace a wooden church destroyed by a hurricane. Small and unassuming, it is very bright from many large windows, many with stained glass memorial plaques hanging in them.
A little way behind the church is a cemetery, where goats were trimming the grass.
We walked down the main thoroughfare, just back from the waterfront. It is a divided street with pedestrians on the left, flora in the middle, and a car lane on the right, but it is still a pretty small street. Then we continued onto a narrow walk right along the water’s edge that eventually leads to a beach, although we didn’t go that far. The water was extraordinarily clear and the plant life growing under it was quite visible. On the land side were some restaurants, most notably the Whale Boner, whose gate was made from whale jawbones and bar seats from whale vertebrae.
We walked back through town and then on to the north around the bay. We passed the book store and a pizza place, among other things, and many bright flowers.
Bequia has a rich history of whaling, fishing and boat building. At one time it was one of the major ship repair sites in the Caribbean. Boatbuilding is still practiced here, but it has also developed a reputation for model boat building. Two establishments in particular are well known: Sargeant Brothers and Malvern. We found both of them on our walk; Sargeant Brothers was closed but we did go into Malvern’s, which was well stocked with model sail boats. The road continues up into the hills beyond Malvern’s, but we didn’t.
As we walked back into town we passed the town’s revenue building, which houses government administration, post office and customs (at least it used to . . . there was once a sign painted over the door saying “Revenue” but it seems to have been painted over). We passed what looks like a resort on a hill, a row of clothing vendors and a bird looking down from a wire.
We returned to the pier & caught a tender back to the ship. From the ship we could still spot the revenue building, the church & the pier.
A sail-away party was held by the pool. Even after such a long sea journey the old folks can still dance!
We sailed away past hills and islands and even a sailboat. In the restaurant we had previously introduced our waiters to a tradition our friend Bob had originated on the Amsterdam world cruise. When none of the desserts appealed, he (and we) would order the always delicious chocolate cake that from the room service menu. Because there were usually six desserts listed on the menu, this one was referred to as “number 7” when ordering. On this night our waiters honored this tradition by bringing us a cake that was labeled accordingly. That is really getting into the spirit, as the voyage was nearing its close.