St. Vincent, Grenadines
Toward the end of our eight day stay in Bequia John and Penny Camm sailed into Admiralty Bay on Truelove. Although I had never met them, John and David had been corresponding by e-mail as both are on the Trawler World Internet List. They have a very interesting life style which just shows the great variation that we sea-gypsies have. They own a lovely trawler, which they cruise America with during the summer, and own a nice sloop that they keep in the Caribbean, which they cruise in the winter. As they are from Vermont this arrangement is perfect for them. We extended our stay in Bequia to visit with them, which I was very glad we did.
Dave checked his various weather stations and got a good week forecast, which we obviously arrange our passages around, and we pulled up our anchor on Tuesday morning with the intention of making a three day sail to Martinique, French West Indies by Thursday evening when the weather was scheduled to change. We left early in the morning, by seven, and despite the weather predictions, had a terrible crossing of the 30 mile St. Vincent Channel. The swells were unbelievable with huge seas making a most uncomfortable ride. Although everything was carefully stowed, I still stayed in the salon with my hands on my large computer, which was in its stowed mode, to make sure that nothing was disturbed. At one point I looked out of the window and saw a wave so large that I could not see the sky. As this is not my, nor anyone else’s, ideal situation I was more than happy to arrive in the lee of St. Vincent.
Once that happened I picked up those items out of place and tried to calm myself with herbal tea and a quiet meditation in my favorite chair. We arrived at Cumberland Bay in another few hours and I was delighted to see what a picture perfect anchorage it was. This just goes to show how highs follow lows. We anchored off to the side, stern too, with the help of two boat boys who tied our stern anchor to a palm tree on the shore. David had the bottom of both Swan Song and Leda cleaned for $30 US, $100 EC (the exchange they use here) and was very happy about that.
I donned my suit, snorkel, flippers and noodle and had one of the most spectacular snorkels of my life. It wasn’t that the fish were so extraordinary, or even the abundant bowl sponges, but the light. As St. Vincent is a volcanic island, rising straight up out of the sea, the shoreline snorkeling quickly dropped to 160 feet. I was just in the right place as the sun was still up and hitting the deep water, which was totally aqua and clear, in such a way that I was surrounded by brilliant rays of light streaming far down into the water and culminating in a pinpoint some 100 feet down. It really was one of the most beautiful, and spiritual, sites I can remember seeing – an epiphany of sorts. The rays were dancing in the water, each in it’s own spiral, and changing each time I moved.
It reminded me of being at Epicot in the laser exhibit where you dance under lasers and each movement you make causes a different musical note. Both experiences are totally fascinating. Of course, I hung out enjoying this until the sun went down. Then thinking that I had experienced enough excitement for the day, I showered, washed my hair, made Dave some soup with homemade bread and went to bed. A most eventful 15 hours.
FACTS ABOUT - Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Motto: Pax et justitia
(Latin: Peace and justice)
Anthem: St Vincent Land So Beautiful
(and largest city) Kingstown
Official languages English
Government Parliamentary democracy
- Monarch Queen Elizabeth II
- Governor-General Sir Frederick Ballantyne
- Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves
Independence From the United Kingdom
- Date 27 October 1979
- Total 389 km² (201st)
150 sq mi
- Water (%) Negligible
- 2005 estimate 119,000 (190th)
- Density 307 /km² (39th)
792 /sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2002 estimate
- Total $342 million (212nd)
- Per capita $7,493 (82nd)
HDI (2004) 0.759 (medium) (88th)
Currency East Caribbean dollar (XCD)
Internet TLD .vc
Calling code +1-784
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is an island nation in the Lesser Antilles chain of the Caribbean Sea. Its 389-km² territory consists of the main island of Saint Vincent and the northern two-thirds of the Grenadines. The country has a British colonial history and now part of the Commonwealth of Nations and CARICOM.
Carib Indians aggressively prevented European settlement on St. Vincent until the 18th century. Enslaved Africans -- whether shipwrecked or escaped from Barbados, St. Lucia and Grenada and seeking refuge in mainland St. Vincent, or Hairouna as it was originally named by the Caribs -- intermarried with the Caribs and became known as Garifuna or Black Caribs. Beginning in 1719, French settlers cultivated coffee, tobacco, indigo, cotton, and sugar on plantations worked by enslaved Africans. In 1763, St. Vincent was ceded to Britain. Restored to French rule in 1779, St. Vincent was regained by the British under the Treaty of Paris (1783) in which Great Britain officially recognized the end of the American Revolution. Ancillary treaties were also signed with France and Spain, known as the Treaties of Versailles of 1783, part of which put St. Vincent back under British control. Conflict between the British and the Black Caribs, led by defiant Paramount Chief Joseph Chatoyer, continued until 1796, when General Sir Ralph Abercromby crushed a revolt fomented by the French radical Victor Hugues. More than 5,000 Black Caribs were eventually deported to Roatán, an island off the coast of Honduras.
Slavery was abolished in 1834. After the apprenticeship period, which ended prematurely in 1838, labour shortages on the plantations resulted in the immigration of indentured servants. The Portuguese came from Madeira starting in the 1840s and shiploads of East Indian labourers arrived between 1861-1880. Conditions remained harsh for both former slaves and immigrant agricultural workers, as depressed world sugar prices kept the economy stagnant until the turn of the century.
From 1763 until independence, St. Vincent passed through various stages of colonial status under the British. A representative assembly was authorized in 1776, Crown Colony government installed in 1877, a legislative council created in 1925, and universal adult suffrage granted in 1951.
During this period, the British made several unsuccessful attempts to affiliate St. Vincent with other Windward Islands in order to govern the region through a unified administration. The colonies themselves, desirous of freedom from British rule, made a notable attempt at unification called West Indies Federation, which collapsed in 1962. St. Vincent was granted associate statehood status on October 27th, 1969, giving it complete control over its internal affairs. Following a referendum in 1979, under Milton Cato St. Vincent and the Grenadines became the last of the Windward Islands to gain independence on the 10th anniversary of its associate statehood status, October 27th, 1979.
Natural disasters have featured in the country's history. In 1902, La Soufrière volcano erupted, killing 2,000 people. Much farmland was damaged, and the economy deteriorated. In April 1979, La Soufrière erupted again. Although no one was killed, thousands had to be evacuated, and there was extensive agricultural damage. In 1980 and 1987, hurricanes compromised banana and coconut plantations; 1998 and 1999 also saw very active hurricane seasons, with Hurricane Lenny in 1999 causing extensive damage to the west coast of the island.
See Treaty of Paris (1763)
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is a full member of the OECS..St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a parliamentary democracy within the Commonwealth of Nations. Queen Elizabeth II is head of state and is represented on the island by a governor general, an office with mostly ceremonial functions. Control of the government rests with the prime minister and the cabinet. There is a parliamentary opposition made of the largest minority stakeholder in general elections, headed by the leader of the opposition.
The country has no formal armed forces, though Royal Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force includes a Special Service Unit.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are a full & participating member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
Main article: Parishes of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Administratively, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is divided into six parishes, with five on Saint Vincent, and the Grenadines together comprising the sixth.
Map of Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesSaint Vincent and the Grenadines lies between Saint Lucia and Grenada in the Windward Islands of the Lesser Antilles, an island arc of the Caribbean Sea. The islands of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines include the main island of Saint Vincent (344 km²) and the northern two-thirds of the Grenadines (45 km²), a chain of small islands stretching south from Saint Vincent to Grenada.
Main article: Economy of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Agriculture, dominated by banana production, is the most important sector of this lower-middle-income economy. The services sector, based mostly on a growing tourist industry, is also important. The government has been relatively unsuccessful at introducing new industries, and a high unemployment rate of 22% continues. The continuing dependence on a single crop represents the biggest obstacle to the islands' development; tropical storms wiped out substantial portions of crops in both 1994 and 1995. The tourism sector has considerable potential for development over the next decade. Recent growth has been stimulated by strong activity in the construction sector and an improvement in tourism. There is a small manufacturing sector and a small offshore financial sector whose particularly restrictive secrecy laws have caused some international concern.
Most Vincentians are the descendants of African slaves brought to the island to work on plantations. There also are a few white descendants of English colonists, as well as some East Indians, Carib Indians, and a sizable minority of mixed race. The country's official language is English. St. Vincent has a high rate of emigration. With extremely high unemployment and under-employment, population growth remains a major problem.