Friday, March 30, 2018

Bequia 2018 - Thief In Paradise

January 2018

So one calm morning.......
An American woman and fellow cruiser we are acquainted with was accused of stealing a local's iPad in Bequia.  The woman's husband was on heavy pain medication for a back injury and lost in la-la-land.....code for - he was out of it.  Tom and cruiser George sprung to action to assist as things were going downhill fast.  We are thinking....."This has to be a mistake."

By the time the guys get her husband and get ashore, she has already been booked in Bequia and is being loaded, "handcuffed" onto the ferry to the mainland of St Vincent for formal charges.  She will either go directly to court if court is in session, or to the central jail for holding until court is in session.  Either way, not good.  The next ferry isn't until 13:00.  A local advises...."Don't wait for the next ferry.  You really NEED to be there ASAP.  Do you understand what I am saying to you?"  Things are really happening fast!  We are still thinking......."But this has to be a mistake or misunderstanding."  A cruising friend asks "But how well do you really know her?"  Hum?

A mad scramble ensues.  The guys secure a private go fast boat to take them and hubby across to St Vincent.  A local recognizes trouble and steps up with the name and number of a good lawyer in St Vincent.  I begin emailing a few select people who may have contacts and connections.  The US Embassy has been moved to Barbados but I get a name and discover this person may be on island if I can track him down.  The seriousness of this sinks in, an American woman is handcuffed in St Vincent awaiting trial and possibly jail.  The guys come back to the boats and grab wads of EC and US dollars, cell phones, ID's /passports, and rain jackets - this is an open boat they will be crossing in.  Hubby sits stunned in a pain med induced haze.  Tom and George are directing everything.  We are thinking....."Maybe this is just a big mistake, or a set up?  Things are happening SO fast?"  Hum?

The guys take off for St Vincent in "Rumors" a 16ft wooden, open boat with 75 hp outboard.  It is approximately 10 nautical miles across to St Vincent.  The channel is usually windy, choppy and wet and it was.  They pound across.  The boat driver Shawn not only gets them there but escorts them to the lawyers office.  "You will never find it on your own."  What a guy!  The lawyer sees them immediately.  After 5 mins of hearing the story as they know it, he asked "Where is she now?"  The guys respond "We don't know.  The Bequia Police said she would either be in jail awaiting trial or in court if it is in session."  He makes a couple of calls.  "She is in court.  Come on.  We must go now."  It is late morning.  Tom texts me updates.  I am over on George's boat with his wife Jan still working on embassy and department of state contacts we may need.  Jan asked "So, how well do you really know her?"  I don't even know her or his last name without looking at their boat card.  But that is true for most cruisers I "know."

Rumors in for serious repairs after the crossing with the guys - OMG!
The guys walk with the lawyer through the back alleys and side streets of Kingstown (no place a cruisers should ever be) to the courthouse.  The Serious Offenses Court - no place a cruisers should ever be....inside or out.  The woman is already in there awaiting trial.  Lawyer and hubby go in.  Tom, George and Shawn wait outside.  After an hour, they all come out.  She has plead guilty, been sentenced and paid a fine.  They all go to eat a late lunch.  We get word they are headed back.  Half way back a fierce squall hits, more wind, waves and rain.  Then Shawn's outboard starts acting up.  Typical island boat - no VHF, no lights, just the basics.  He did have life jackets however.  A fuel tank pickup was the issue.  The outboard would go and then not, then go and then not.  They crawled back in fits and starts.  Jan and I were thinking "So she did it?  Maybe they got confused at the cafe and each picked up an iPad not knowing.  Maybe that was it?"   The few people I had reached out to for possible connections for help were emailing back "So it's possible she did it?"  Hum?

Shawn dropped everyone off at their boats.  I went back to sv Honey Ryder.  We each had a stiff drink on our individual boats.  Tom said "She did it.  She admitted she took it.  So how well do we really know them?  I mean we really don't know them other than the few times we have been in group settings with them."  

Then began the long, drawn out process of analyzing every single aspect of this......episode, over and over, and over again.  I will spare you that.  It is worth noting that there was video proof of the theft.  The local, Andy, whose iPad was stolen was sick of theft and everyone blaming the locals, so he put in a video camera.  He is a local community leader, running the youth sailing program among other community charities, events and such.  The island is small.  Word travels fast.  Everyone knew what happened.  Everyone knew George and Tom were involved.  Guilt by association?  We wondered.  They asked them in the following days "What happen with the white woman who stole the iPad?  She get off?  She didn't go to jail did she?"  That is when we learned that standard sentencing for this type of crime is two months jail time.  Think about that!  TWO months in a foreign jail.  Some cruisers have commented "That seems harsh."  Really?  Would they think it was harsh if it was their iPad that got stolen.  I doubt it.  She plead guilty with the lawyers help!  Paid a fine of $400 EC or appox $150US and NO jail time.  No deportation.  Lawyer fee was $600US.

This brings up the whole locals vs cruisers.  In the days following there seemed to be an under current of them vs us.  Andy was right.  More often than not, when things go missing/stolen, the blame is immediately assigned to "locals" stealing.  Tom and I have come to believe that much of the theft that happens to cruisers is in fact committed by cruisers but blamed on locals.  Solar panels, battery chargers, generators, sailing gear, etc....this is cruiser on cruiser theft.  Dinghy accessories - cruisers.  Dinghy outboards - this one is split.  It is probably more locals but I personally think some of it is cruisers.  It was literally announced last spring and again this year on the Martinique morning net "Boats are headed back across the Atlantic to Europe.  Lock everything up unless you want to lose it as some will steal before they head east."   A cruising boat was intercepted last year while returning to Europe loaded with outboard engines stolen from the Caribbean.  Our custom made bamboo dinghy outboard handle that was stolen last year.....a cruiser most certainly took that.  Just a month ago, Turbulence Sails in Grenada posted video pictures of a cruiser who broke into their shop overnight and spent 3 hours trying to put together a roller furler to steal!  He was not able to do it in the time before dawn and left.  He was not caught and is still out here among us.  Friends told us just this week of other cruising friends that were rafted up along side a French cruising boat in Europe.  Both boats had their fenders tied in between.  When the French boat left, the people discovered that their nice fenders that been taken and the old, worn out ones from the French boat were left behind.  The French boat had simply retied the lines of the fenders switching them!

I had an in depth discussion via email with the head of the Caribbean Safety and Security Net. This group keeps track of incidents of crime involving cruisers.  It is invaluable information that keeps us all informed and let's us make wise decisions about our safety and where we chose to go. * If you are a cruiser and you are not using this - start NOW, today!!  To date, this site has been reporting on thefts and crimes that happen TO cruisers.  I suggested to CSSN that this recent iPad theft should be reported as well.  It was a crime involving a cruiser.  It just happened to be a crime BY a cruiser.  In the end, it was decided that it did not fit the criteria for reporting as they do not report on crimes that happen ashore, only on yachts or dinghy docks.  Interesting to think about however.

As for the woman and her husband. They waited a day or so and then sailed out of the anchorage.  Supposedly south, which is still part of St Vincent and the Grenadines.  You can be sure that all the locals down there knew about the theft.  Everyone is related.  It made the Bequia TV news and beyond.  The cruising community is a small and connected community as well.  Word spread fast.  Shock, disappointment, anger and disgust was the general feelings.  I have mentioned before how fast and hard we make friends in the cruising lifestyle.  We come together in unusual type settings.  We help each other out to extraordinary ends at times and then we sail apart.  There is an inherent trust built into this lifestyle.  But how well do we really know our cruising friends and fellow cruisers?  This event had much of the cruising community questioning these things.  Personally, in regard to what we know about our fellow cruisers - we know very few last names, or what they did for a living, or where specifically in England, Germany, Wales, New York, Michigan, etc. they are from.

But after much rehashing and discussion, ultimately Tom summed it up best.  "Knowing what I know now, that she did it, would I do it all again?  Would I put myself at risk and go to the extent I did?  Yes."


Bequia 2018 - Diving

Getting read to dive Devil's Table - pic by George

February 2018
Roberta and John sv Freedom - getting in the dinghy is never easy

We decided to take advantage of the good diving in Bequia try out my new gear.  Additionally, John off sv Freedom is experienced and willing to go with us.  I am still very much a newbie.
Tom and Sabrina going down -pic by George

Being a newbie with new to me gear, I was nervous.  Mainly about my dive computer.  I read the manual multiple times but still...... I learned to dive mainly because I just want to go down 20-30-40 ft and look at the sea life.  I just want to float around, watch and wait to see who will swim by or pop their head out.  Deep dives, cave dives, wreck dives, night no.  I have no interest at this point.  In fact the idea of a few of those sort of freaks me out.  I may change my mind, but for now....shallow dives with pretty coral and sea life is just fine.
Tom and Sabrina still going down - pic by George

Our first Bequia dive was Devil's Table.  It was good.  Lots of fish, lobsters, coral, etc.....I did freak out a little at the end because my dive computer started blinking and I didn't know what it meant.  But I realized it was okay.  I went back and read the manual yet again.  I also messed with the settings some more so I could get used to it.
Tom - pic by George

The second dive we did was the Moonholes.  I let John know that I didn't want to go too deep - not more than 40ft or so and that I would be looking at my dive computer quite a bit so I can learn and get used to what it is saying.  It was a great dive in terms of fish and coral.....I am told.  I saw some stuff but I did spend a lot of time looking at my dive computer.  But that is ok and just what I planned to do.  Numbers and levels in it are starting to make sense.
Sabrina and Tom - pic by George

Tom is there with me as my official buddy.  Some of Tom's gear is not working (the depth gauge) so he depends on mine.  We will need to start shopping for replacement gear for him as well.

*I had hope to insert a video here that John took of Tom and I diving but that didn't work. Maybe in the future.     

I am still getting used to my gear but it fits and works well and I am very happy with it.  Also, I flail around way too much.  But I am sure as I do more dives, I will get more and more comfortable with it.

Thanks again to Sandy for my gear!  And Laura and Jason. 

New Dive Gear

Tom and Sabrina

January 2018
New to me BCD

I have new to me diving gear.  NICE gear.  Really, really nice gear.  And of course there is a story behind it.
So nice.  Designed for women

While we were stateside last summer (2017), we met a friend of a friend Sandy.  She is a fellow sailor, sailing on Stockton Lake in Missouri and holiday charters in the BVI and such.  In chatting with her I also found out she and her husband/partner are divers.  They have been on many a dive holiday in fabulous dive places around the world.  "But I really don't dive any more.  I had a scary experience last time so I think my diving days are over." she said to me.  Hum?  So of course I said "Any interest in selling your dive gear?"  This totally caught her off guard. "Oh.  Um.  Well, I don't know.  I.... Hum.....I...."  I told her to think about it and if so, I would be very interested and we went on to chat about other things.  By the end of our time visiting she brought it up again.  "I will think about it and let you know."
Built in weight pockets

A week later she contacted me saying she did want to sell and that we should meet at a cafe with internet so we could look online at "fair market value.  The gear is really nice stuff and I have taken really good care of it."  "Sure.  That sounds like a good plan."  However, she was busy and then heading out on holiday.  No rush.  Just contact me when you get back.  Then I did not hear from her again for some time.  Eventually, she sent me an email to say she had broken her back in a boating accident and was home in a brace and in no shape to do anything including selling dive gear.  "Of course.  Can I bring you anything?  Sailing magazines, etc...?"  I knew her partner was taking care of her but I thought at the very least, sailing mags to pass the time.  No, she was ok.
We were started to pack up our stuff stateside to return home to sv Honey Ryder when I got a voice message from Sandy.  I called her back.  She was still at home in a back brace rehabbing but much better.  "If you want this dive gear, why don't you come out to the house and just get it."  I went.  She had it all out.  Really nice stuff.  Top of the line ladies BCD, regulator, and dive computer.  I tried it on.  It fit perfectly.  She explained how she had it all serviced locally each time before a dive trip and then again after.  She had all the paperwork but the dive computer manual. She apologized profusely for not having that.  Really?  Come on.  Everything is in such good shape.  I think I can download a manual. 
Breath in, breath out

"I love it.   I will take it all.  How much?"  I asked.  Sandy immediately said "Just take it."  "Noo.  Sandy no.  I must pay you.  Please."  She said "No.  Just take it, use it and enjoy it.  I would rather someone have it that it going to really use it and enjoy it than hassle with selling it and such.  Just send me some pics."  I was flooded with gratitude.  Such generosity.  I thanked her over and over and then left.
Dive computer and regulator
In the car, I called cruising friends Laura and Jason that happen to be commercial divers as well.  I told them about my new gear.  "Holy shit Sabrina.  That is nice gear.  I mean top of the line stuff.  And she just gave it to you?  Wow.  You now have nicer gear than either of us has." was what Jason said to me.  "Will you two help me learn it and such?"  "Of course."
Silver tank is my new tank
I took it all home to Trinidad, packed it away and started prepping the boat for this season.  sv Blue Blaze (Laura and Jason) sailed out of Trinidad up to Grenada before us.  Laura sent me a message "Hey.  There is a cruising boat here selling a nearly new dive tank for half price $80 US.  You want us to buy it for you?"  And that is how I got my dive tank.
Securely stored in the aft head

We were too busy messing about in Grenada to go diving.  And the dive site I wanted to do is on the west side of the island.  So the first diving in my new gear took place in Bequia.  That story next.
****BIG Thank you to Sandy in KC.  And to Laura and Jason for finding me a tank.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Rum Shack Tours

Sabrina's Bar

January - February - March 2018
Nicolle (our hostess), Patrick, Luci (sv Illusions) and Tom

There is a cute, young ex-pat couple raising their daughter in Bequia and trying to make a living so they can stay year round.  Nicolle and Nate have come up with some unique ways to generate some income, help the community while having fun.
Nate (our host)

They are doing Rum Shop Tours.  They organize and set up transportation as well as host.
Toko's Bar

Each Rum Shop Tour focuses on a certain area of Bequia.  NOT the touristy waterfront that we all know or even the rum shops in town but areas many cruisers never travel to.
George, Sabrina and Tom - name of the bar?  Bar.

BTW - Rum Shop Tours are really just a great way to see and learn about other parts of Bequia, as well as meet and interact with locals, other cruisers and ex-pats.  You are not required to drink rum.  In fact you don't have to drink at all.  We drank beer.  Others drank rum and or Coke or water.  Whatever.
Some were literally shacks

The first Rum Shop Tour  - we went on was to the south side of Bequia, near the airport.  We met in town at the Rendezvous Bar.  We piled into a school bus that actually was still picking up and dropping off a few students.  Nicolle passed around a bottle of homemade Sorrel rum, which was really yummy to get us all in the mood.  The bus was playing some jammin' Caribbean tunes.  It turned out to be Christian Rock.  Not the sort of music I thought we would have on a Rum Shop Tour but hey, whatever.  "What would Jesus listen to on the way to the rum shop?"  WWJLRS t-shirts?  I know, needs work.  We had to hike up a very steep hill to go to the first Rum Shop because the bus could not make it up there. We had a drink there and took in the fabulous view.  Then we walked to the other Rum Shops.
Kurt (sv Imagine) and Patrick (sv Illusions) checking the bingo cards

The highlight was Toko's Bar.  We liked it so much, we went back several weeks later.  We also learned on this tour that there is a lobster processing plant (gift of the Japanese Government - roll eyes).  We went back a couple of weeks later to buy lobster there and got a tour by the plant manager.  The Rum Shop Tour ended back in town.  We hung out a little longer with Nicolle and Nate at the weekly street party. Fun time.
George (sv Wild Cat), Patrick (sv llusions) and Nicolle (hostess)

Rum Shop Tour #2 for us - By now, the Rum Shop Tour was becoming famous and demand was growing among the cruisers.  The next Rum Shop Tour was a walking tour of Hamilton.  But again, not the front street places we all know, but the back alley, behind somone's house Rum Shops.  Many of these Rum Shops are really just shacks.  Seriously nothing more than a shack.
George at Miranda's - who knew?

One of the stops was Miranda's Laundry.  Nearly all the cruisers use Miranda's Laundry for laundry service but NO ONE knew she also has a bar on site.  Her brother runs the bar and plays the music.  It is a tiny place in front of her house and next to the laundry but it works.  It was so fun, we went back again a couple of weeks later on a rainy Friday night.  Oh, and on this Rum Shop Tour, we had homemade bingo cards to find Bequia things - A mango tree, a goat, Eli, Rachel, a washing machine, etc.....a fun way to "discover" more about Bequia.

The gang with Eli - he gave us all loofah's and bundles of fresh herbs

The third Rum Shop Tour  -was in Lower Bay.  We again met in town and bused down there.  Once again, these were small, lesser known places (especially to us cruisers).  One, Maria's, we planned to go back to for lunch at a later date but sadly never made it there.
One of the Lower Bay Rum Shops

The last Rum Shop we stopped at was run by a beautiful local woman and her mother.  In the off season she is a backup singer for two different bands and travels the world.  I noticed her signing to a local sitting at the bar.  It turns out that is her cousin who is deaf.  She learned sign language as a child so her cousin would have someone to talk to. She told us a funny story of seeing a group signing on the subway in Munich while on tour. They didn't think anyone knew sign language but them.  She surprised them all by jumping in to sign them directions and remind them that they are in public and you never know who can see what they are saying.  We all laughed.  Such an interesting woman.

Run by the backup singer

Backup singer, Nate and her cousin

Some of us carried on to Keegan's in Lower Bay for the Full Moon party. We had dinner and then went down on the beach to the bonfire.  It was all good until the wind picked up and tiny embers started blowing around and in some cases, on us.  Poor, uber polite and proper English cruiser Mike didn't know what to do or say when an ember landed on my chest.  ", yes, have a amber, um... just there.....on your....well.....oh my, um....just there." as he started to brush it off but then hesitated, then tried again, then hesitated....all the while as it sat burning on my boob without my knowledge.  You probably had to be there for it but it was SO funny.  Luckily it was tiny so no injury or damage.
Bennett and Susan (sv Praqutic) Cindy and Rob (sv Aaventura)

"It is ok for you to touch another woman's boob's if she's on fire - Sandy explains to Mike

As I said above, the Rum Shop Tours are not really about rum but about seeing new places and meeting new and interesting people.  Nicolle and Nate are fabulous hosts herding us all around and sharing their adopted island in this unique way.  $20 EC each is their fee.  More than fair.  As word spread, more and more cruisers and land people visiting on holiday joined in.  Right after we left, there was another Rum Shop Tour.  Supposedly 58 people went - two buses.  WOW!  They had one yesterday as well. 
My favorite chair at Toko's

Bequia 2018 - Education

January 2018

I have told you before that cruising is not just beautiful sunsets and drinks with little umbrellas.  We learn.  In fact, we are in a constant state of learning.  In Bequia, our learning was in the form of talks/lectures.
Jason's Reef Fish talk - pic by George

The Reef Fish Talk - 
Cruiser Jason is a commercial diver and a marine biologist.  Last year when we were in Tobago, he gave us and sv Inishnee his reef fish talk.  It was really interesting.  The next day we went diving with them and saw so many things we had never seen before.  Little, tiny things that were there all the time but we just didn't know to look.  Well, I happened to mention the fish talk in a group setting with other cruisers.  "That sounds so interesting.  I would love to hear the fish talk."  "Yeah, me too."  "Oh yes.  We would like to hear it too."  "Please....Jason will you do your reef fish talk for those of us who haven't heard it?"  And just like that, Jason was on the hook (bahaha) to do his fish talk.  Jan and George volunteered their big cat  sv Wild Cat to host the fish talk.  Jason did a great job.  He updated the pics and the talk.  He only talked about two of the fish from the year before.  The rest were new.  So kewl.  And he doesn't just talk about obvious reef fish like the Parrot fish or Blue Tangs.  No, he talks about kewl little fish that change sex or where the male carries the eggs in his mouth and stuff like that.  It was very interesting and everyone learned a lot.
sv Tegan Joe and Janet - pic by George

Watching The Superbowl Around The World - 
Joe and Janet on sv Tegan have been out cruising now for.....23 yrs I think.  Absolutely amazing.  We met them first in Trinidad.  But we have gotten to know them a little more here in Bequia.  Joe is a big football fan - American style.  He never misses a Superbowl.  He told us he has seen the Superbowl in some really unusual places, at unusual times (like 2am or 6am because it is live) and in unusual circumstances (like paying for diesel for the generator to run the lights and TV at a beach shack bar on some tiny south Pacific island.)  I really wanted to know more about all of their travels and adventures so I suggested they need to write their story with that slant - Watching Superbowls Around the World.  They laughed.  Then I asked "Would you do a talk along those lines?  We would really like to hear your stories."  Other cruisers with us jumped in as well.  Everyone wanted to hear their adventures.  Joe and Janet agreed.  They took four days to pull together their talk.  They said they had a fun time reliving memories as they organized it all.   How do you condense 23 yrs of cruising and exploration around the planet into a simple hour + long talk?!  You don't.  But they did it.  Jan and George on sv Wild Cat again agreed to host.  It was so interesting.  The best advice they ever got was early on as they sailed south out of Canada along the west coast of the USA -a cruising couple told them "Don't hurry through the Pacific.  Take your time and explore."  So they did just that.  Boy did they ever.  They took 9 years in the Pacific, 8 years in Indonesia and 2 years in South Africa.  They have only been in the Caribbean for 2 years and still have not seen it all!  (Neither have we!)  They also adjusted their sails in terms of plans.  For example, when they were in Ecuador, they had planned to go south to Peru.  However, there was political upheaval, so they changed their plans and headed to Easter Island.  Joe told of the various far away places and crazy settings he has watched Superbowls and Janet filled us in on other amazing adventures.  Their journey is truly inspiring and I thank them for sharing a small bit with us.  I hope they do go on to write a book because I know it would be a great read. 

One of the things we like about the cruising life is the fact that we are constantly learning.  Sometimes it is through experiences.  Other times, it is through other people.  It is not often that our learning takes on a more traditional tone like a lecture or talk but when it does, that type of learning is good as well.
Jan and George - pic by George

Big thanks to Jan and George (sv Wild Cat) for hosting the talks and all the other fun times on your boat.

Bequia 2018 - More Music

January 2018

In the following weeks after the Bequia Music Fest there were many opportunities to enjoy and even join in.
Mustique Music Fest comes to Bequia

The private island of Mustique also has some sort of Music Fest going on during, or before, or after the Bequia Music Fest.  It is unclear exactly when.  We have never been to Mustique.  We planned to go but still couldn't get a clear answer on the when, who, what time, etc....Then we heard the bar where this nightly music fest (sounded more like a nightly jam....which is ok) was not even officially open yet.  Hum?  Then it was announced that all the musicians from the Mustique Music Fest would come over to Bequia and play a show at the Bequia Plantation Hotel.  A free show.  PERFECT!  It was great.  So many talented musicians all jamming together.
Mice in a Matchbox - Sally and Jim

Mice in Matchbox is comprised of an English cruising couple - Jim and Sally.  He plays electric guitar and sings.  She sings as well and plays the stomp box.  You might be saying "What is a stomp box?"  I know I was.  It is a simple wooden box that a musician stands on during the performance and stomps their feet to create percussion.  Sally's stomp box is probably 24"x18" and plugs into their amp.  She said it was an old wooden tea cart (tea platter in Merican).  This is the first time I had ever seen one.  I thought it was a tad odd when we showed up to see them.....Sally was dressed in a rainbow tie-dyed frock with Capri's and.....hiking boots!  Boots of any kind stand out down here in the Caribbean where flip-flops are the standard of footwear.
The Stomp Box

Their set up

Then they started to play and she started to stomp and I understood.  And when I say stomp, she wasn't going to town like some crazy Irish dancer or a hill-billy throw down, but she did step purposely and constantly on her stomp box.  Yeah....that is it......purposely.  I had hoped to try it after one of their shows because I wanted to see what it would take to make the sound.  I also wondered if you had to have something like hiking boots or if Keens would work.  Doesn't matter.  I want one.  I want a stomp box!!  So simple and yet, brilliant.
Mice in a Matchbox fan club at Laura's

Speaking of which, Mice in a Matchbox are brilliant in the songs and approach.  They play sea shanties, English/Irish,Wales songs old and new.  They are simple and yet put together in their performances.  We saw them perform several times in a couple of different settings and they were able to adjust and modify to the surroundings, mood and crowd.  Oh, and the name.....They are two shorter people in stature and they live and sail on a Contessa 32 - a 32ft sailboat.  So they think of themselves as two little mice in a matchbox.  Interesting people.
See her Stomp Box?

Local music - Bequia has local music nearly every night of the week.  Papa's, Coco's, Fig Tree, Laura's, Mac Pizza, Bequia Plantation Hotel, Keegan's, the weekly Rendezvous street party.  There are tons of chances to catch live music in Bequia.
NOTE - Most of the places in Bequia are pretty small.  When a "gang" of cruisers (6 or more) show up to enjoy and support, it really makes a difference.  Mice in a Matchbox experienced this first hand.  We all showed up to see them playing for the first time at Laura's.  There were approximately 10 of us cruisers plus the normal crowd.  We clapped, sang and danced along.  And we drank at the bar.  Very important point.  A few ate dinner there as well.  After, we asked the Mice "When do you play again?"  They said in a week and a half at Mac's.  However, the next morning they announced on the morning VHF net that they would be playing again next Monday at Laura's and each Monday after that.  I think our crowd showing up made a big difference.  So.....go out and support live music!!!
Local playing the a Sailor's Bar jam
Jams - The Fig Tree has an open mic night.  This can be music or poetry.  We went one night.  Tom played with Captain Chris off sv Troubadour.  Janet off sv Tegan came and sang.  George and Jan got up and did his song "Send Money By Morning." set to the tune of Amarillo By Morning We had a big crowd of cruisers show up and play along to it all with our percussion instruments.  Coco's has a weekly jam, Green Boley had a very successful jam right after we left Bequia.  The Sailor Bar had a really fun jam that we attended. 
Locals at the Sailor's Bar jam

Drumming - Besides jams, Tom had a chance to do some straight up drumming.  Jeff off sv UJamn plays drums.  He has a djembe on their boat.  We went there once for a drumming session and then they came to our boat.  They also had a chance to jam with others at the Sailor Bar jam.  It was Jeff's first cruisers jam in the Caribbean.  He was so excited.

Sailor's bar jam

Bequia 2018 - Music Fest

Local Bequia band
January 2018

We have been to the Bequia Music Fest twice before.  We find it to be one of the best here in the Caribbean and we enjoy it.  "Hey, do you want to go to the Bequia Music Fest again?"  "Sure.  Let's go."  And just like that we had a plan and a direction to sail.  *We went despite getting jacked two years ago on the dinghy dock coming back late at night after the music.  We still wanted to come back.  Crime of opportunity happens everywhere.
Barracuda - famous Caribbean musician - actually Italian

Jan and Barracuda - His biggest fan

The venue changed slightly.  This time Bequia Plantation Hotel was the site of the Music Fest for Friday and Saturday afternoon.  This was great as it is right along the Belmont Walkway which borders the anchorage, meaning close and easy for us to get to.  Even easier than the other location - DeReef in Lower Bay.
Cruisers dancing the night away
We didn't know any of the acts this year.  But that doesn't matter.  The Caribbean has some talented musicians.
Toby Armstrong and Band - so good
Friday night was a little mellow getting started and then picked up.  Then a power outage killed the vibe.  Many went home early.  Not us. We hung in there until they got things up and running again.  Our reward was an all out by Toby Armstrong and Band - Music Fest regulars.  They gave it their all and it was fantastic.
The Gang on Saturday afternoon
Saturday afternoon had the normal Caribbean afternoon lime feel like years before.  We were not allowed to bring in coolers like in the past but we found a good spot on the lawn for our base camp, taking turns getting food, drink, wandering around closer to stage, chatting, laughing and dancing.  A lovely afternoon.  And the talent of the musicians really shined through that afternoon.
Talented guy from Trinidad

Talented guy from USA
Saturday night we took a taxi from the main town dock to Lower Bay and DeReef.  We had our tickets but still had to go through the ticket booth to get our wristbands - a bit of confusion but nothing too bad.  The place was packed as usual.  However, we were able to snake our way up towards the stage fairly close.   Local reggae band ???? got everyone going and it didn't stop.
Mikie and Nicola
When we finally left Saturday night, it was sometime after 00:30.  The taxi driver asked if we could wait a few more minutes while he got his daughter and friends.  "Sure."  Three very nicely dressed teens got in.  They looked like they were dressed more for church than a Music Fest.  Despite just coming from a high energy, dancing, music gig, they chatted very quietly among themselves.  After dropping off two of her friends, the taxi driver's daughter asked if we enjoyed the Music Fest and we chatted a bit more.  It turns out she is playing in the youth steel pan band the next day.  She also plays with the adult steel pan, having earned her way into it.  She practices mainly on weekends as she goes to high school which is over on the main island of St Vincent.  This means she is on the 6:30AM ferry and does not return to Bequia until the 7pm ferry.  Now think about that for a minute.  WOW!
Lovely, yet focused young woman.
Young woman we shared a taxi with (on the right)

Youth Steel Pan
Sunday was back down in Lower Bay at DeReef.  We went to the Sunday afternoon Music Fest early because of the above young woman.  I wanted to be sure to catch the Youth Steel Pan Band.  They did well.  Later I saw that young woman.  She had changed out of the band uniform and was enjoying the music fest as she should.  Cruisers we were with found a table in the back to use as a base.  We spent most of our time up front to enjoy the show.  Sunday is sort of a wrap up day.  The musicians from the previous two days often come back and play.  They are more chill and really seem to enjoy themselves.  There wasn't an all out musicians jam like in the past but a few did play together.  Later the music moved more towards current day, youth DJ music.  We stayed for a bit but not really our favorite.
Electric violin player - modern, kewl stuff and slick, whoa
Feeling full of music, we wandered out and along the street looking for food.  Street food.  There were several tents to choose from.  We ended up with take away chicken and all the sides which we shoveled into our mouths back on sv Honey Ryder and then promptly fell asleep trying to catch up on sleep from the previous late nights.
Talented, Sean Harkness from USA
But lack of sleep was a small price to pay for another good time at the Bequia Music Fest.  I you are ever around Bequia the third week of January, I would highly encourage you to go to the Music Fest.  The anchorage is huge so no worry there.  If you don't have a boat, perhaps schedule your holiday for the Music Fest.

Elvis showed up to dance - he lives in Mystique by the way

*To those running the 2018 Music Fest - Never, ever hire the sound people you had this year.  Feedback screeches at a professional music event are not acceptable.  Having them throughout the entire weekend, unforgivable.   Besides killing the crowds ears, the sound issues frustrated the talented musicians worst of all.  NOT kewl!!  Fix it!
Local ex-pat and Swedish cruiser we see every year at this Music Fest

One of the fun things of the Bequia Music Fest is seeing the same ex-pats attending each year.  This year we finally had a chance to meet and visit a bit with Cheeky, an English chick that comes each year.  I only wish we had more time to get to know her better.  Oh well.  Next year?