written by Sue Palmer Wetherald, SV Evening Star

When in Bequia, have you:

  • Enjoyed the flowers and plantings along the clean town walkway?
  • Meandered down Belmont Walkway, taking in the incredible harborside view?
  • Continued down the walkway to the Princess Margaret Trail and explored the peace and quiet of Lower Bay?
  • Tied up at a dive mooring to snorkel or dive - having some of the best underwater experiences in the Caribbean?
  • Been able to properly and conveniently dispose of your trash and recyclables at the disposal site for visiting boats by the dinghy pier?

If so, you have been the beneficiary of some of the many efforts of Action Bequia, a local nonprofit organization which aims to maintain and improve Bequia as a place to work and visit, helping to create local jobs, employment and social cohesion. 

Supported mainly by individual donors, with some grants from other organizations, Action Bequia has focused on infrastructure and the environment since 2011. Recently, the majority of Action Bequia’s funding has been spent on its youth and recycling program and the 2023 construction of the new over-water section of the Princess Margaret Trail, according to Richard Roxburgh, catalyst and founder. Action Bequia has recently started installing the first of 16 planned ‘Fill d Whale’ sculptures at schools and elsewhere around the island for students and others to fill with recyclable aluminum and plastic drink containers.

Employing more than a dozen people, Action Bequia’s recycling and litter reduction program is significant, having funded 160 green recycling and blue trash bins around the island, serviced by an Action Bequia truck. Action Bequia also sorts the recyclables, with plastic and aluminum sent to Saint Vincent for recycling, and glass recycled for other uses in Bequia.  Another major Action Bequia initiative has been the installation of water tanks for 130 needy households.  Action Bequia hopes to expand this program  – critical on an island with no water mains supply. 

Richard Roxburgh explained that Action Bequia is responsive to the community’s priorities, looking to support activities that are proposed to the organization. As such, Action Bequia also provides pass-through funding to many community-based organizations, assisting organizations who might otherwise have challenges accessing funds. 

The Junior Sailing Academy of Bequia (JSAB) is one of the local organizations that have benefited from Action Bequia funding. Targeting underprivileged youth, JSAB teaches sailing, but also looks to promote participants’ confidence and motivation and provide them with opportunities in the nautical world. Involving up to 60 youth aged 7-22, the Academy conducts trainings on Saturdays, with the youth sailors using Optimists, and other boats, including one Laser. Royal Yachting Association certification through the Academy has given career opportunities to its young sailors; one participant is now a captain on the Bequia Express ferry.  JSAB sailors have raced in Antigua in 2023 and brought home trophies from national competitions, including in 2023, a second-place finish.  The number and type of boats available to the young sailors constrains participation and skills-building, and the Academy is actively looking for funds to obtain more Lasers and is in need of sailing equipment. 

Bequia has always been such a welcoming island for sailors and Salty Dawgs. The more time we have spent here, the more I have understood just how special Bequia is, and all that this land and its people have to offer.  I appreciated gaining further understanding of how we as cruisers can give something back.

What can you do to support Bequia and, if you’re interested, these organizations?

In Bequia:

  • Utilize the trash and recycling bins by the dinghy dock. Recycle your aluminum cans, and glass and plastic bottles. Reduce and reuse to decrease your trash. 
  • Donate new or gently used sailing equipment to the Junior Sailing Academy. See the JSAB Facebook page (Junior Sailing Bequia) for a list of needs.  Drop-off at the Fig Tree restaurant.
  • Look for volunteer opportunities, tracking Bequia What’s On, Action Bequia, and other Facebook groups, etc. for events.  

From anywhere:

  • Give to Action Bequia for its projects or designate your donation for one of the many worthwhile community organizations.