Today marks our first full day in Bequia! We took the small boat in from our anchorage for our field trip to the Bequia Maritime Museum. Boatbuilding, whaling, and fishing have been the predominant industries on this island for generations so it was a great introduction to the island. At the museum, we got to view the wooden row boats used in Bequia’s whale hunts. Bequia is one of a very short list of communities that has approval from the International Whaling Commission to capture whales for aboriginal subsistence purposes.
A beach scene in Port Elizabeth; Admiralty Bay, Bequia
Our guide, Herman Belmar, is the director of affairs for Bequia and the representative with its negotiations with the IWC. The IWC manages whaling in Bequia in a similar way to how fisheries are managed elsewhere. Bequia is allotted 4 whales a year and they must be caught with traditional methods. The whole island is involved with the processing of the whale and everyone is allotted their share. Every piece of the whale is used including the bones which are used to create scrimshaw jewelry and knives. We had a healthy debate with some arguing that all whaling should be banned and others arguing for the importance of preserving cultural traditions.
After our field trip, a group of students went to get nutmeg and soursop ice cream. I went to poke my head into the sail loft and to go shopping at Bequia Threadworks, a seamstress co-op that makes linen clothing. Port watch went back to Cramer after lunch to take care of the ship’s duties and three motivated students took advantage of the laundry boat that circles the harbor and sent their clothes in. We all spent some time enjoying the pristine beaches and the clear warm water before heading to the famous Frangipani for the sunset, BBQ, and a steel drum band. Having sailed all over the Caribbean, Bequia is one of my favorite islands and I always feel so lucky to pay a visit.
As they say here: sail fast, live slow.
- Biz Wallace, 3rd Mate
PS: love to my family & boyfriend & to my cousin who is about to have her baby!