As with St. Vincent, Bequia was home to Amerindians before European farmers, fishermen and traders settled here in the 1700s. Nine sugar plantations were established during the early 1800s but prosperity was short-lived when the sugar industry entered a period of decline.
The maritime trades of fishing, whaling and boat building established themselves as Bequia’s primary industries and, by the late 1800s, our island boasted two whaling stations and a reputation as the boat building capital of the West Indies. Numerous whaling boats, schooners Tradtional Model Boatsand the Gloria Colita, at 165ft the largest wooden vessel ever constructed in the region, are all legacies of Bequia’s rich cultural heritage. Fishing and whaling boats, racing dinghies and intricately crafted replica model sailing boats are still constructed today and feature prominently during our very popular annual Easter Regatta.
Though the golden age of boat building has passed, a number of our skilled artisans have developed a reputation for high quality hand-crafted model boats. These models range from simple sailing vessels made from coconut husks to ornate, extremely intricate and factually accurate replicas that may take up to a year to complete. Simpler model sailing boats are also built for racing during the annual Easter Regatta when competition between rivals can be fierce, but all in great fun.
Visit the Bequia Maritime Museum and the model boat builders at Seargant’s Museum.