Take a Breath

I didn’t think any Caribbean marine environment could top Mustique. Nature can be anti-climactic like that. Once you see somewhere really good, everywhere else turns out to be slightly disappointing. I’m still getting over our trip to the East China Sea islands off Malaysia – from 1998! No where looked like that place.

‘Don’t worry, I found the snorkelling in Bequia good. Right off the boat,’ wrote our fellow cruising friend Beth from Canada.

By Jove, was Beth right. We went over to the rocks around Tony Gibbons Beach. It’s only a kayak ride away from the boat. We found a mooring buoy to attach to. When you jump in, it’s sand mostly.. but the water is really clear. It’s unusually clear in fact – since there are a lot of boats just nearby.

Boats can make a muddy anchorage. Here in Bequia, everyone’s dropping their hooks with free-parking enthusiasm. No one appreciates a freebie like a yachtie. And still, Admiralty Bay approaches the rest of the Grenadine Islands for excellent water clarity. Go figure.

I suppose it helps that there are no large rivers in Bequia. There’s not much rain either. The rain didn’t turn up during this summer’s rainy season. No pea harvest, no corn or cassava. Except since we’ve come, it’s been raining torrentially on and off.

In fact, I got so much rain in my yellow laundry basket yesterday, I don’t need the yellow laundry boat anymore. Sigh. Washing by stamping and wringing is my fate on Quest. Still, I can’t complain. A good rain shower saves us a tenner – the amount the laundry boat charges. And the harvest on Bequia may be late this year, but it’s coming now.

All this rain and still there’s excellent visibility. It isn’t so much coral beds like it is in Mustique – as it is rocks. You swim through expecting cold-water kelp fronds and nudibranchs – as though you’re swimming through typical, rocky underwater ecosystems back in the U.K.

What you get instead here are crazy orange sponges, outcrops of corals that look like scattered giant brains… and critters. Jack quickly spotted the local octopus hiding in its homey hole. It was surrounded by pink sea shells. Not sure if these were the octopus’s last meals or deliberate attempts to make a pretty home. The octopus was in too and hiding behind his tentacle. Only the eyes poked out.

We saw crinoids – long feathery types of starfish and a rather eerie golden-spotted snake eel. They move just fast enough without any sign of fear – to make you shiver. We saw half-a-dozen moray eels in different poses. They’re easy to spot being bright, speckled white. As we were leaving, a moray hung upside down by the edge of a rock. It stayed still, gulping at us through its open mouth. Like an underwater dog baring its pointy teeth. I think it was scared more than anything. And upside down.