We left Les Anses d'Arlet in the mid-afternoon, heading south towards St Lucia and beyond. Once outside the bay the winds were quite strong and gusty but the seas were OK. We made good progress across the gap between Martinique and St Lucia - and down the leeward coast of St Lucia until we hit the inevitable wind-shadow. After motoring for one-and-a-half hours the wind returned. We were approaching the gap between St Lucia and St Vincent and had to decide which way to go. The problem with the gaps between these islands is not just the ocean current, which is north-west going, but the tides. If we went to windward of St Vincent we would face an adverse tide but if we went to leeward we would be caught in more wind-shadow.
We took the windward route and Mystic coped well with the strong winds and bumpy seas caused by a combination of tidal and ocean currents. Despite making 6-7 knots in the water we were only covering 4-5 over the ground so we had a leisurely sail down the coast of St Vincent. Paul caught a fish - our first barracuda. We were lucky as they have sharp teeth and often manage to bite though the line.
Not old enough to be a ciguatera risk, so he provided two meals for two
Just after noon we arrived in Admiralty Bay, the main anchorage of Bequia (pronounced "bekway"), the Grenadine island just south of St Vincent. We anchored in the north side of the bay, taking advantage of our shallow draft to find a vacant spot close to the shore. It didn't take us long to launch the dinghy - we have improved our system for stowing the dinghy - and go ashore to one of the many jetties close to town in order to visit Customs and Immigration.
Last time we visited Bequia we anchored in Friendship Bay, a quiet spot on the south of the island. We visited the town, Port Elizabeth, to do our clearance but were put off by the crowds, especially as there was a big cruise ship anchored off. That was in March but now, in mid-May, it has a mellow, end of season, feel to it. The anchorage on the south side of the bay is still busy, with dinghies and local yacht services boats rushing back and forth (mainly with laundry!), but on our side it's generally quite peaceful - apart from Sunday night Karaoke sessions. When we spend time ashore people are very friendly and welcoming, enterprising but not over-bearing, with the exception of the fresh produce market where you have to give as good as you get to counteract the hard sell.
Bequia is small and relatively dry island but there are some good walks. We took a bus to the south of the island and walked up to Ma Peggy's Rock. Although not long there's little shade so it's quite a hard walk but the views are wonderful. Legend has it that Ma Peggy had superb eyesight and would spot shoals of fish (or whales?) from there. Presumably she had a way of telling the fishermen which direction to head. Coming down we took a more difficult route - not one you'd like to go up - that brought us down to Little Bay on the south side of Admiralty Bay.
Friendship Bay; the lesser Antilles in the distance are Mustique and neighbouring islets.
Admiralty Bay from Peggy's Rock, looking NE
Another day we walked up to Fort Hamilton, a battery on the south side of the bay. Despite a lack of rain fruit trees, especially breadfruit and mango, banana plants, coconut palms and flowering shrubs are widespread. Prickly pear and other cacti cover the hillsides. The wildlife is interesting too with plenty of hummingbirds and big green lizards.
Admiralty Bay from Fort Hamilton, looking SE
Our blue faced fishing advisor, perched on Mystic's pulpit