We arrived in Bequia and on the first night took a harbor cruise looking for some local culture. We found it! Eric chose a colorful restaurant with a dinghy dock and we bellied up to the bar. The name? The Whaleboner! We were sitting on whale vertebrae’s attached to wooden legs. The entrance had two jawbones and the bar itself was trimmed with one as well. Ruthy, the 2nd generation owner whose husband manned the grill, and son worked in the kitchen, told us the story behind the name.
Her father, Albert, was stationed in Jacksonville, Florida back in the 60’s and when he and some buddies came to Bequia for a vacation, they sat on the jawbone that we were leaning on. His buddies said “Wouldn’t it be funny if you chased Angie around the island with a boner?” He did. They married, opened the restaurant, filled it love, good food, strong concoctions, whales bones, and the rest is history.
Bequia has whaling history and it still allows the aboriginal people to catch up to 4 whales a year, using old methods such as wooden sailboats and harpoons. They caught three last year. If you’ve read any books like the Whaleship Essex, or even Moby Dick, you can imagine the skill and strength it would take to kill and haul one onto an island. We stopped for a short swim and walk about on Petit Nevis to see where they used to haul them up.
It was eerie and I kept thinking I’d hear a whale cry at any moment. No matter what you thought of Sea World if you saw the documentary Black Fin, it is true that whale’s have feelings and cry when they lose family members. But who are we to say how people should live off the sea when that is their environment and long standing culture? We were told that no restaurants serve up whale after one is caught as the meat is so precious. They use every morsel of the whale so nothing is wasted. After speaking with an old timer who went to watch them kill and butcher a whale as a young child, she never ate it again.
Another treat we had was to go to the Whaling Museum where we met a living legend, Lawson Sergeant, who carved models of whaling ships, the most famous one he himself presented to Queen Elizabeth who arrived in Bequia when they named this port after her. Lawson was charming, and although he suffered a stroke 2 years ago, he happily shares his stories, photos, and artifacts with folks who are interested.
Walking around Bequia has been refreshing. People are friendly, we feel safe, and our boat does too. We’ve stayed long enough to recognize a few locals and them us. We hope to return next year.
Backing up a bit, sailing from Carricaou to Union we lost the starboard engine (left overs from the anchor fiasco) so we anchored off Palm Island and watched as some classic boats sailed by.
In Chatam, we celebrated Eric’s 26th birthday in style. Bushman steered us to his restaurant in the bushes, and we went for a hike to the top of the hill.
Tobago Cays was a real treat for me and Eric as we were able to windsurf all the time. He even got his kite out one day and it was impressive! He was and is a happy man!