Location: Port Elizabeth, Bequia, SVG
Bequia is an island with a culture that is very much its own. While administered by St. Vincent, it has a very different vibe. A walk down the main street where pedestrians rule over cars and craftsmen sell goods made from whalebone can confirm this. The whaling tradition on Bequia dates back to Scottish settlers in the 1800s; the tradition continues to this day. Although the take is usually less than one humpback per year. The hunt takes place entirely by traditional means, with teams of men heading out to sea in rowboats and small sailboats to harpoon the animals. The tradition has supported a strong local pride in seamanship as well.
On any given afternoon, you can see sailing teams practicing their sailing skills on locally built island racing sloops. The day started out at 0630 when the sun rose for me. The students took it a little easier and had a sleep-in until 0800 or so, which is the equivalent of a pretty serious lie-in here on Ocean Star. Most of the students spent the morning studying for their Marine Biotest in the afternoon. Nick and Cayley, however, took the dinghy in early to find a restaurant with a working cable connection in order to watch one of the most anticipated Olympic events, the men’s curling gold medal match. By the time the students arrived on the shore just before lunch, it was as good as in the bag for the Canadians, and Nick was shocked that his beloved UK team had come up short. The afternoon was spent with more time ashore, although many people had brought their study materials and got to work on reviewing the materials for their test. Immediately upon returning to the boat, Nick got down to proctoring the exam. Today was a good introduction to this very unique island, and tomorrow’s science field trip to a turtle hatchery promises to be amazing.