We left Bequia on the 30th January bound for Wallilabou Bay in the island of St Vincent just 15 miles away. The sail was typical of many in the Caribbean where you can see your destination as soon as you leave harbour making the whole process of passage making really rather relaxing; particularly when Selma asks the inevitable …. are we nearly there yet?
St Vincent, has a long and on-going bad reputation in respect to boat boys, thieving and violent crime. Whilst it’s very easy to let yachtie gossip put you off going anywhere or doing anything the reports on St Vincent were of a number, frequency and nastiness (machete attacks for example) that gave them some credibility. Anyway, on this occasion we decided to take general advice and not hang around .
This said, a stop was worthwhile; partly to break the journey up to St Lucia but more importantly so we could visit a famous bay on the east coast. This bay is not famous because of the fish-life or the coral reefs or the rare birds, volcanic activity, tropical rainforests or because some great battle raged here or in fact anything like that; no, far more important than all of these … it was where the opening sequence of the first Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed!
We arrived in the small bay of Wallilabou (about 300m across) in late morning, picked up a mooring buoy and then, because of limited space in the bay, tied the stern to the beach to stop the boat swinging. On our arrival in the bay we were met by Alex who gave us a hand tying up. The boat boy process is tricky because you don‘t need any help but feel some obligation to receive services and support the locals - anyway $10 EC (£2) was handed over. Larger boats tend to be overwhelmed with ’assistance’ because they are seen as more lucrative than the good ship - we work hard not to disappoint them. The bay was incredibly deep, hence the mooring, with steep hills rising up either side clad with thick tropical vegetation - recent rain and high humidity gave a real ‘jungle’ feel to the place.
Within seconds of arrival Jack and Ella were leaping up and down as they started to recognise views from the film. The set is largely in tact both in the bay and on shore so there are several buildings which are easily recognisable from the film. Most memorable for all of us was the rock arch as you enter the harbour which was where Jack Sparrow saluted his old sea mates who had been hanged for piracy.
Although one of many idyllic anchorages we have stayed in so far this bay had a certain poignancy for us because we can clearly remember sitting in the kitchen at Cholsey, looking at photo’s of the last voyage trying to convince the kids that giving up their home, friends and toys for a year to go sailing was a great idea. ’Of course if we do go’ Selma and I explained ‘we would be able to see where they filmed the Pirates of The Caribbean … anyone want to go?’ And with this compelling argument we received unanimous support. Ten months later we delivered.
This was probably the highlight of the visit. The bay was understandably overrun with sightseers from cruise ships and we rapidly became part of the scenery that everyone was staring at and photographing.
We had a quick explore inshore in search of a beautiful waterfall and rock pool but neither lived up to the descriptions in the pilot. This said the landscape was incredible. Everywhere you looked was an exotic Waitrose tropical fruit … but hanging on a tree. Unable to resist we spent half an hour doing some Caribbean conkering and picked some local nutmeg which was great but without a ladder, which would have been suspicious, we couldn’t harvest much else.
Shortly after our nutmeg pilfering and whilst we enjoyed spotting seemingly endless numbers of fruits, herbs and berries, a local man approached us carrying a 3ft machete. Unsure of whether he was after our nutmegs or our money or both we concealed all. Our concerns were ill founded, with a friendly wave of his machete and a nod of greeting he wandered past. The next day we set off for St Lucia.