Saturday woke up to a bright and sunny day and went ashore to have breakfast at the Gingerbread house… It was lovely – real china, pots of tea, fat toast and a nice omelette and sausages. What a treat! Wandered around a little more in Port Elizabeth and got some basic provisions from the local vendors. Also enjoyed watching the local lads play cricket on the beach. Shocked at the price of bread and potatoes! Back on board and I have a lay down as my back is playing up a bit…. Richard was keeping himself amused with boat jobs and decided to change the filters in the water maker for the first time. Very soon after he started I get called to assist as water is pouring out into the bilges from the charcoal filter. Luckily it is fresh water so we know we are not going to sink but disconcerting to say the least – so I am put on bilge pump duty while Richard tries to sort it out. Finally a lightbulb moment and he realises that he has left the water pressure turned on – so flicks the switch and it all stops… Phew!!! After finally switching them out he decided – thankfully – not to tackle any more boat jobs today. In the evening we had Graeme and Margaret from Dockbrief onboard for sundowners. It was nice to have some company for a couple of hours. After they had left we turned in for an early night.
Sunday my back was still playing up so it was another boat job day. This was more successful as Richard managed to fix the bow running lights (again!), the arch flood light and the compass light – all were suffering from corrosion. He also serviced some winches and blocks that had been complaining under load. So a successful morning and we went for a wander around town in the afternoon. Being a Sunday this place was really quiet but we had a productive time in the FigTree using their free wifi doing some business on the internet and also fixed an island tour for Tuesday. Also enjoyed the sight of the new large neighbour that we had in the anchorage…. Back on board before dark to enjoy a nice sunset and a quiet evening after we had sorted all our gear out for diving in the morning.
Monday morning we were up really early and got ready for the dive boat to come alongside to pick us up. We did two dives – both reef drift dives for about 60 minutes each. Only three divers – including us – and two divemasters in the water. Great pristine dive sites with beautiful colourful soft corals and thousands upon thousands of tiny tropical fish….but no bigguns. Really weird – not even the usual suspects like large parrots and triggers… We did see two very large puffer fish, one large trigger fish, a reasonable sized barracuda and a lovely eagle ray…. But the lack of larger specimens didn’t really matter as the diving was great and we loved being surrounded by all these tiny little critters who were playing in our bubbles when they thought we weren’t watching! The divemaster had a speargun with him to kill any lionfish that we came across as they are really trying to eradicate this imported menace – the end result was Divemaster 5:0 Lionfish. They are also trying to get local fish to realise that they are tasty to eat – so we tried feeding some dead lionfish to some moral eels and lobsters but they weren’t really keen…… Before we got dropped off back on Morphie we organised to go again on Wednesday. After a relaxing afternoon on board we went out for dinner and had a nice quiet evening ashore for a change. It was lovely to sit on the balcony watching the night draw in having a cold glass of wine. The season is really coming to an end here – which is much earlier than normal – and very few boaters are actually going ashore to eat. Most of the waterfront restaurants and bars are empty all night – not sure how they survive…..
Tuesday morning our first job was to re-anchor. There were a few boats around us who we thought were a bit close – so we picked up and reset easily. Task achieved – and having checked we were secure in our new spot – we went ashore and met Elson and his little safari bus. First stop was Mount Pleasant where we could look back at the anchorage and then went on a circuitous route to Friendship Bay which is where the whale museum is located. Bequia is the only island in the Caribbean chain that retains its right to kill whales. They only kill humpbacks and only four kills are allowed per year. They also still use traditional methods in local wooden boats and harpoons. There is also a small island which they use to butcher the whales. Not sure how we feel about these beautiful creatures still being hunted but this goes back hundreds of years and every part of the animal is used – the oil, the meat and the blubber…. At least the Bequians have not granted rights to the Japanese who are very active over here trying to secure this through the injection of funds into various local building projects….
The island of Bequia is tiny – only seven miles long – with 6,000 people living here. It is volcanic and lush with vegetation – with very very expensive houses being built tucked into the hillside. Apparently if you can afford to buy and build then you are welcomed – irrespective of your nationality. So Elson pointed out houses that belonged to British, Latvian, Dutch, Polish, Russian, American, New Zealand, French, Canadian etc etc etc…. Interesting how it was easy to spot the British houses from the cultivated lawns, the white picket fences and pretty planted gardens along the verges…. Wasn’t sure how Elson felt about rich foreigners moving in – but he did say that they provided work and an income for locals as the houses needed to be built, maintained and landscaped along with other domestic type jobs…. The main industry here is fishing and tourism – with the local fishermen selling their catch to other islands in the St Vincent and the Grenadines chain. Most of the locals lived either in the fishing village or the capital and they looked to have reasonable brick properties – not the tin shacks without facilities that we have seen elsewhere… Funniest thing we saw was a cow attempting to have a drink from a swimming pool – not sure he was meant to be there!
Stunning views abound as you go up and down the main road which is precariously cut along the cliff top at times…. including out to sea to Mustique, our next destination. The Atlantic coast looked pretty rough and beautiful too…. We visited a place called Moonhole which is where houses are all built purely from stone including all the furniture with no glass in the windows and no electricity or communications…. People either rent or buy here – everyone to their own. Stunning views out to sea as these properties nestle into the cliff. There is also another brand new development being built at this end of the island and we were lucky enough to have a quick look around – don’t think that even a lottery win would get us one of these!
Moving on we went to the turtle sanctuary – where they are looked after from birth through to five years old and they have been responsible for almost a 1,000 releases to date. The baby turtles are tiny and you have to be careful not to touch the water as this could make them ill with bacteria from our hands. But you are allowed to touch the bigger ones – and, guess what, they like being tickled!!! Honestly…. It was lovely to get close to such beautiful creatures… As we were leaving the sanctuary Richard spotted a pen of tortoises – so he got close to them too – I think the photos are great! And then we came across baby goats sleeping….. Really cute…
Back into Port Elizabeth and we stopped for a bit of lunch before heading back on board. Having a lazy afternoon in the cockpit enjoying the space around us – and guess what….grrrrr… – another catamaran drops his hook and sets his anchor so that we have lost our privacy again. What is it with these people???? Another 50 foot of chain and he would be sitting behind us. Oh well… Was going to go ashore for sundowners but couldn’t be bothered as we had a short rain shower so we have lifted dink up onto the davits and now are getting ready to go diving again tomorrow.
Bye for now….