Model Citizens

On Bequia, the Seargant Brothers Model Boat Shop brings visions from the harbor to intricate life.

Sargeant Brothers Model Boat Shop, Bequia
Augustine Pollard proudly displays one of his model vessels that he made at Sargeant Brothers Model Boat Shop.Jon Whittle

Whaling is intertwined with the history and culture of the Caribbean island of Bequia. The relationship runs so deep that local craftsmen carve miniature whale boats out of gumwood. Whereas on other islands, yachtsmen might encounter craft stalls selling shell necklaces and banana-leaf fans, on Bequia, the offerings at the waterfront often include expertly crafted, more workmanlike fare, such as sail rigging and harpoon lances. The craftsmen have grown so skilled that they now carve from white pine, mahogany and other sought-after woods to create commissioned models for yachtsmen who cruise into the harbor at the island’s capital, Port Elizabeth.

Sargeant Brothers Model Boat Shop is one of several carving shops on Bequia. It is just past the vegetable market in Port Elizabeth, an easy walk from where your tender will land after you drop anchor in the harbor. Pop in and say hi to Augustine Pollard. He and the shop's craftsmen spend their days carving and building replicas of vessels they've seen in Port Elizabeth. The men sit together on benches and chairs, using stools to prop up whatever model they're making. They carve and shape the wood with many of the same tools that have been used for decades. Dozens of partially finished model vessels hang end over end above their heads, waiting to be finished. The shop also takes special commissions from yacht owners. Some models need up to three months to build and can cost upward of $3,000. "We can't fake the details," Pollard says. "They come from knowledge."

Bequia
Bequia is the second largest island in the Grenadines and has a lot to offer.Jon Whittle

BEQUIA IN 3 STEPS

1. Art Lovers, Rejoice

Time it right and your visit will coincide with one of the island’s arts and crafts fairs. They are held under the almond tree in Port Elizabeth. Expect scrimshaw and crochet crafts to be among the mix.

2. Dive Right In

Bequia has two PADI dive shops and more than 30 dive sites in gin-clear waters around the island. Experience everything from drift dives to caverns, walls, wrecks and overhangs, all teeming with coral and marine life.

3. Yacht-Spotting

Port Elizabeth might be the capital, but it’s no metropolis. The place is rather quiet, with some shops and eateries along Admiralty Bay. The real show is in the harbor, which is often packed with yachts. Many boats sailing St. Vincent and the Grenadines stop here.