Steve & Carol
Wed 14 Feb 2018 00:10
The whole of the Caribbean seems to be having strong winds and squalls at the moment and Bequia is no different, we arrived to be greeted by a nice squall, which was the daily theme for the first few days, we had to time trips in the dinghy to avoid them and have got caught out and drenched a few times, much better if we are on our way home than off out, on the bright side its very warm and so it dries quickly afterwards, annoyingly it also rains every time we do laundry and hang it out to dry! A plus side to the rain is that it gives the boat a good wash, a down side is having to close the hatches which stops the breeze coming in and it soon gets very warm in the boat.
Despite this we had a nice stay in Bequia, the bay is full of boats and met some new people including a few Ocean cruising club members who were anchored there, we also started listening to the OCC net in the morning – well Steve has – its on at 07.30 so I'm usually still in bed! The shopping was fair but prices for fresh veg vary wildly and the same stall will quote different prices on different days, generally though the prices are high for everyone including locals because everything is imported either from overseas or from St Vincent, Bequia has no river or natural water supply despite the daily heavy downpours of rain. The island also gets lots of cruise ship visits – sometimes there are 2 there at the same time which for this small island seems too much, prices at the fruit and veg stalls seem to be higher when there are cruise ships in than on other days.
We spent some time with Julie and Richard from Escapade before they headed off north to St Lucia (we really enjoyed their company and will miss them) .We visited the Turtle Sanctuary with them, it’s been open since 1995 to look after the endangered hawksbill turtles! I had read some pretty awful reviews about the sanctuary and so was uncertain whether I wanted to go or not – however it’s best to judge for oneself so we went along.
We took a taxi to the sanctuary and the scenery on the was across the island was worth the trip.
Once there the driver waited for us and we were shown around by one of the employees - not Orton King the gentleman who runs it. We were shown babies from 5 days old to 3 1/2 months and adult turtles the oldest of which was 23 yrs. The babies are taken as hatchlings and were very cute to look at and probably the only opportunity to see such little ones, the mortality rate is quite high but lower than it is in the wild, we didn’t see any older babies though or any 1,2,or 3 year old ones so do not know where they were and I didn't think to ask at the time! They are fed on tinned tuna – surely there must be a better food source than processed tinned tuna! They eat jellyfish in the wild.
We were told that they are released at 5 years old although the owner says on his web site they are released at 3 years old! I couldn't quite work out why some of the older turtles hadn't been released – this one I was told is 17yrs old, has been at the sanctuary all its life having not been released as it was very pale, albino like as a baby, it did however get darker as it got older and looked like all the others to me! When asked if it would ever be released the answer was that our guide didn't know! It was being kept in a very small pool by itself as you can see below, in fact most of the pools were far too small to be considered humane!
Some smaller turtles were in quarantine pens like the tiny box below which were around one of the bigger pools, however water could flow between the pens so I'm not sure how they consider it quarantined!
There were 2 bigger pools with a variety of sized turtles in each – for some reason I didn't get photos of them! There were definitely some damaged older turtles with bit of flippers missing etc but some seemed to be there just because they were, with no real explanation!
So I was left with mixed feelings about the sanctuary the staff seem to genuinely believe they are doing good helping the turtle population, turtles do get released (the owner says he has released over 2000 3 year olds back into the wild so where were all the 1 & 2 year olds) some must survive however the conditions weren't great -although I have no knowledge of how much space a turtle should have it seem very sad to spend your life in a small pool with no hope of freedom like the 17 year old! I have more questions than answers now!
Back in the anchorage we had turtles popping up to breath around the boat everyday – I did swim with one but the murky water made picture quality too poor to add here.
Snorkelling was disappointing as the water was rather murky and the coral not very colourful.
We got the kayak out for the first time since we have been in the Caribbean – Steve even had his first go in it! It would be much more fun with 2 kayaks so we could go off together on them but where would another one get stored!
On the north side of Admiralty bay is Fort Hamilton– it’s really just a lookout with a few cannons but you get great views, as usual we chose to walk there in the midday sun, it was a pretty but warm walk.
We was plenty of goats on route.
After 10 days we were ready to move on there is a let up in the wind for a few days so we are heading south.