Becquia in the Grenadines

Mar 21, 2018 - Sea Cloud

We dropped anchor in Admiralty Bay in the Island of Becquia at 6:50AM. Becquia is an Anglicized pronunciation of the ancient Carib name which translates as “Island in the Clouds.” Hamilton Battery was on our port side and the town Port Elizabeth directly in front of the bow. Alexander Hamilton’s father received a small parcel of land from the British authorities and relocated to Becquia from Nevis/St. Kitts. Despite entreaties from his son Alexander they ever met while the father was on Becquia. After breakfast, we boarded tenders for the short ride to the quayside. There our redoubtable open pickup trucks awaited us. Indentured servants from Scotland, Wales, Ireland, England and France were among the earliest Europeans here. Their heritage is evident in their faces. Of course, as with all the other islands there is a majority African-American population on the island.

The original Amer-Indian settlers who emigrated up from the Orinoco basin centuries earlier had already begun to mix with the African population also brought to work the sugar plantations. The largest of these plantations were located on the east side of the island, near Industry Bay where we visited. The people who resulted from this Caribe/African mix were called “Garafuna,” or sometimes “Black Caribe.” I cannot testify to my following etymology, but the name sounds to me as if the word “Garafuna” may be a dialect expression of “Caribe-fumé” with “fume” (smoke) suggesting the darkening of the skin when the races mixed.

Our first stop of the tour was to Brother Orton King’s “Old Hegg” turtle sanctuary. King, a former commercial turtle fisherman, came to the realization that overfishing and other exploitative industries were destroying the turtles, fish and reefs, which he knew as a child. Brother King vowed to help serve the turtles and so began to raise recently hatched Hawksbill and Green turtles in pools. He has been at it for almost 25 years. To date he has released 935 turtles and this year he expects to see his first mature adults return to lay their eggs. Brother King told us that as a young man he fished by free diving (no scuba or snorkel gear) to a depth of 80 feet. After our visit we boarded our trucks and stopped at the boat making shop and the Rastafarian market. There we were greeted by Jean-Claud who had one of the longest dread locks I have ever seen. We bought spices of all sorts and the wonderful East Caribbean fiber bags.

Our next stop was the wonderful Lady Margaret Beach and Jack’s Place. There we enjoyed complimentary drinks and a great swim in crystal clear turquoise water. For lunch we had one of the Sea Cloud’s signature dishes, pasta prepared in the large Parmiagiano wheel. Simply scrumptious! Tonight, the Captain gave a perfectly wonderful seaman’s toast and we went into enjoy dinner. Ian had assembled the guests’ photos into a continuously loping slide show that we watched on the large HD TV on the Lido Deck. We have made so many new friends but now must say goodbye. Let us hope it is just an adieu.

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About the Author

Tom Heffernan


Tom, a native of New York City, who has had a life-long passion for travel and exploration, is the Kenneth Curry Professor of Humanities at the University of Tennessee and the founding Director of the university’s Humanities Center. His areas of interest are anthropology of religions and historical linguistics.

About the Photographer

Ian Strachan

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

One steady constant in Ian’s life has been the ocean. Born by the rocky shores of mid-coast Maine, his family repatriated to far north Queensland in Australia early on in his life where he became a dual-citizen and sparked his passion for exploring new environments. Living only an hour away from the Great Barrier Reef served to direct, if not focus, the exhilaration of discovery and set him on his current path. Returning to native soil for education, Ian was fascinated by altogether too many subjects, leaving him with a bachelor’s degree from Wheaton College in Psychobiology, focusing on animal behavior and perception, and with minors in Astronomy, History, and Environmental Science.

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