When Windjammer Barefoot Cruises closed down their business, they sold off all the sailing ships and vessels in their fleet – Mandalay, Yankee Clipper, Polynesia, Amazing Grace. The Fantome and 31 crew members had been lost in 1998 during Hurricane Mitch. This particular company was good for Bequia, because the ships were small enough to be able to moor in the harbour, they only carried about 100 passengers at a time so the island wasn’t overrun with touristos on cruise ship days, most passengers cruised annually with the company, and I know of many, many people who discovered Bequia through a trip on one of these Windjammer ships. Several of our neighbours first sailed in on the Mandalay and loved Bequia so much that they bought land, built houses and now live on the island.
So it was a very pleasant surprise to see The Mandalay moored in Admiralty Bay, once again, this morning!
The new company is Sailing Ship Adventures and Dennis says they’re flying the flag of Togo. I checked the website and can’t figure out exactly where the company is based, but they also own The Royal Clipper, the largest “sailing” vessel in the world, and The Sea Cloud – both have continued to sail into Bequia all this time! In fact, on checking through their fleet on the website, it seems this company may have bought all remaining ships from Windjammer Barefoot Cruises, with the exception of The Amazing Grace, which appears to be out of commission.
In my novel, Island in the Clouds, I mention The Mandalay: The place was pretty full for a Monday night in July. A Windjammer cruise, The Mandalay, had arrived in the Harbour that day and most of the bar patrons were passengers on shore for an evening of entertainment and fruity alcoholic beverages. They all wore vacation-requisite parrot-coloured party shirts and dresses that shouted to the rest of the world, “We’re in a tropical paradise and having a great time. Wish you were here!”
Bequia is very happy to have you back, Mandalay!