I did not land on Bequia itself till later on that year on a return visit. I only had a week on St Vincent and one Saturday to spend on my own. A very good friend of mine, Kurt Cordice, lived in Bequia, and I invited myself over. This time, instead of little Black Jack I took one of the yellow ferries.
A short walk from the Cobblestone inn, the grey warehouses of the port look rough and dangerous, but although there are large ragged looking stevedores liming on every corner, the bustle of activity around the ferries is safe enough. I went straight on the car deck and paid the man for my return ticket, and went upstairs to the passenger deck to watch the ferries being loaded. Next to the Bequia ferry stood a similar shaped black and white ferry, the Barricouda. Although you can go back and forth to Bequia three or four times daily, the other islands are served merely by the Barricouda once every two days.
Although it has never had an accident, many Vincentians and Grenadinians are suspicious of travelling on it – it sometimes only has a crew of two and both of the may be down below sorting out the engine while the ship steers itself, or so goes the story.
I was impressed by the efficiency of loading on both boats. Everything from people and cars to livestock, bags and water were being loaded on. Vast black vats of water were being shipped from rain-rich St Vincent to the drought ridden Grenadines. While the Barracouda was still being loaded, we quietly slipped out into the harbour and across the forbidding Bequia Channel. But despite a good wind, there was little swell and progress was even and comfortable. I was able to watch the south coast of St Vincent open up behind me, first Kingstown then its surrounds, then the mountains behind the town revealed themselves one after another and finally the whole island could be seen in one view.
Looking the other way, the sinuous island of Bequia changed from a silhouette to a colour picture, to a 3-dimensional model. Then the birds flying over the cliffs, the yachts cruising around the coast gave it life, and we sailed into Admiralty Bay. Kurt was waiting for me, another passenger on the ferry and for some mail, indeed much of the island was down there waiting for something; a parcel, a loved one, a goat.