So this sailor walks into a bar (again), plunks down his money and says, “I’ll have a ‘Bequia Blast’.”
“Again” is the key word. Six years ago we sailed the Grenadine Islands in the Southern Caribbean, anchoring in Bequia’s Admiralty Bay. The passage from St. Vincent to Bequia is only about eight miles long (and this time around we glided through glassy seas with nary a shiver), but it can be one of the most intense passages in the entire Antilles. At one point the wind flies down the face of a headland appropriately named Devil’s Table, rolls across the water like a hungry shark and hits your boat with a shotgun blast of air that’s famous in the sailing community, a blast of air known as the “Bequia Blast.”
On that first voyage we limped into harbour, scrambled into our dinghy, went ashore, and discovered the Whaleboner Bar and Restaurant. I figured there had to be a drink named in honour of such a rite of passage so I ordered one. (Check out the original story, if so inclined, at http://www.allatsea.net/home-of-the-bequia-blast/.)
Long story short, if you didn’t bother to click the link above, the proprietor, a wonderful lady named Angie, proceeded to work with me in concocting one. It proved as powerful (and insidious) as the wind that inspired it.
Now back to the “again.” Three days ago we’re back at the Whaleboner. Angie has given up the establishment and her daughter Ruth has taken over. Angie remembers me but doesn’t run the place anymore so Ruth and I revisit the recipe at the bar with our new crew, Kim and Ed North.
The place is hopping. A Moorings flotilla (Moorings is a big charter company where you can skipper your own sailboat and sail the bounding main, sail into the sunset with a professional skipper, or split the difference, skippering your own boat but sailing with a few other vessels based on the ‘safety in numbers’ theory – called a flotilla) has descended on it, twenty-plus people sprawled around three or four tables pushed together in a courtyard maybe twenty feet from shore.
It should be noted that we’re chartering too – but we’ve been going the other way, starting out from St. Vincent and headed south then coming back up, a journey we’ve booked with Horizon Yacht Charters. Horizon has a base in Grenada that offers a similar itinerary to the one these folk have chosen but they’ve got a brand new base out of Blue Lagoon so you can do the Grenadines without the long passages all the way down to Grenada itself. We’re one of the first charterers leaving Horizon’s newest base, having booked a remarkably stable and comfortable 40-foot catamaran.
A white and lime-painted picket fence marks one side of the establishment, a whale’s jawbone arches over the entrance. Another jawbone is built into the wooden bar, fronted by stools made from wood and whale vertebrae. A gnarly tree festooned with Christmas lights (doesn’t much feel like December 3rd, but the calendar doesn’t lie) shelters one end of the bar. The cetacean features are both key to Whaleboner’s name and testament to Bequia’s past as one of the Caribbean’s chief whaling centres.
But I digress.
So now it’s our last night on the water. We tie up on the dinghy dock, stroll past Muskoka chairs and tiny wooden tables lounging at water’s edge, march beneath the arched whale jaw, sit down at the bar in question and look Ruth in the eye.
“Four Bequia Blasts, please.”
She grins at me. “Been here, before, have you?”
I’ve been thinking about this drink for five years and I’ve improved on it. Ruth and I put our heads together. We stay with the original elements: Curacao, overproof rum, coconut rum but my new addition is a bit of soda – for the seafoam and spindrift. Ruth decides it needs just a bit more bite – like the cocktail’s namesake. She adds lemon.
We test them out. We declare them good.
A flotilla sailor walks over, looks at my drink, a blue microcosm of the waters off Admiralty Bay. He points at it, asks Ruth what it is.
We reply in unison. “Bequia Blast.”
“I’ll take two,” he says.
Ten minutes later he comes back, orders two more, brings over his wife. “That is one of the nicest drinks I’ve ever had,” she says, shaking my hand enthusiastically, nodding in tribute to Ruth.
And why should it be any other way?
She’s enjoying a “Bequia Blast” at the “Home of the Bequia Blast.”
So doth Ruth sell two more glasses: the Caribbean’s newest cocktail.
The Grenadines are one of the most exciting Caribbean sailing destinations. To discover more about them go to www.discoversvg.com
Whaleboner Bar and Restaurant is in Port Elizabeth on Admiralty Bay, Bequia. Check them out at https://www.facebook.com/WhalebonerBequia