Magical Mustique….

Wednesday night we had a quiet night on board having caught up with internet stuff over sundowners at the Fig Tree and saying our goodbyes.   I decided to celebrate our last night in Bequia by cooking a couple of sirloin steaks that we had purchased in St Lucia.  So salad was prepared and the defrosted steak went on the grill.  Well…they were as tough as old boots…and one of them definitely had a weird sweet flavour. We had to wonder whether the horsemeat scandal at home had reached the Caribbean?????    Really disappointing end to our last evening….and so early to bed.

Thursday morning we were up bright and early raring to go….and set sail about 9.30 am. Destination Mustique.  We were really excited about going there……not only it is time to mingle with the rich and famous….but we also never expected to be able to set foot on this private island which does not allow day trippers but does welcome visiting yachts….  The forecast was for 23-25 knots of wind with a 10 foot sea – so we headed out of Admiralty Bay and hoisted sail.  Luckily it was only cloudy rather than raining. The first part of the trip was downwind and, as we neared the bottom of Bequia to change direction, we saw this ship really close to the gap in the rocks. In the challenging sea conditions we thought that was a little foolhardy….and then realised that it certainly was, he was hard aground!!! 

Learning from his experience, we decided to abandon our idea to cut through between two small islands to get to Mustique, which would have given us a better sailing angle to our destination, and instead continued out to sea to keep away from the very strong currents that were running….. After 20 miles we arrived in Britannia Bay having glimpsed beaches and absolutely massive houses all over the cliff tops from afar…. Some were impressively landscaped into the hillside – others stood proud like huge structures that just had to be noticed!

Having picked up the mooring ball – compulsory here as the reef is protected – we quickly got ready to go ashore. We paid our mooring ball fee – equivalent to £50 for one night, but you get two nights free!  Bargain….  But according to the guide, it is a very rolly anchorage, and most people head off after one night.  Hopefully that’s not going to be the case as we’d like to stay here for a little while and explore.  The water here is a spectacular pale blue colour and we can even see the shadow of dink on the bottom through the sea…. amazing!  

We tidied ourselves up and went ashore to Basil’s bar – which we had identified from the sea as we came in – and were less than impressed by the back view from the road!   But were amused by the seagulls sitting in a line on the sea wall…

From the main road, however, it is much more attractive and we went in eagerly to see what all the fuss was about.    Hmmmmm…….. beer’s expensive…. service good….. no other guests….and certainly no celebrities.  Although we did find out that Bryan Adams was on island at the moment. Oh well – maybe tomorrow will be different?  Not an impressive place at all inside…..pretty shabby without the chic and the wood could definitely do with some tender loving care…. but it is about to be closed for renovations, so perhaps we didn’t see it in its best light?  Anyway enjoyed the nice sunset and had an early night…..and yes, it was rolly!

Friday morning we went off exploring the main little strip here – came across a wonderful bakery and small food stores. Also went browsing in the boutiques but the prices were a bit rich for us!  Enjoyed wondering around and decided to head off to the beach which runs along the length of Britannia Bay. The walk to the beach was impressive with all public areas nicely manicured – but the beach was not what we expected….  It was very wild and beautiful with sea grass, reef up to the water’s edge, with loads of conch shells and broken coral lying around – along with quite a few lizards too. But although stunning it was not really a bathing, swimming or bobbing beach which is what we were after really…  But the walk certainly did us good!

So we headed back towards the dinghy dock.   We had wanted to hire a ‘mini moke’ to have a look at the island – but apparently they are not available for rent this time of year….   But we did find a taxi so we hired him to take us over to The Cotton House, a very exclusive resort.  All beaches are public, so didn’t anticipate any problems with camping on theirs, but we were very surprised when one of the staff offered us two beds, complete with luxurious coverings and towels, all for a small tip….and he gave us waiter service for drinks on the beach too!!!  The hotel is a bit outside of our price range with low season running at US $1200 for a one-bedroom suite per night!!!   But we certainly enjoyed ourselves – a real treat!   The beach itself was quite small and rocky – but we managed some bobbing, sunbathing and generally we just soaked up the atmosphere… Went back to Basils for sundowners – some more guests – but still no ‘faces’ and a quiet night on board illuminated by a brilliant moon.

Saturday morning we did an island tour – well, I say a tour, but it only lasted 45 minutes! Most of the island is broken into large swathes of land which is heavily, and beautifully, landscaped and you get a glimpse now and then of an amazing mansion behind the hedges and the walls. Also from a distance we were shown Mick Jagger’s and Bryan Adam’s houses nestling on the beach….

While we were being driven around, we found out a bit about how Mustique works.   The island was purchased in 1958 by Colin Tennant for US $67,500 – and apart from the parcels he gave away including one to Princess Margaret – he ran the island until he sold it to The Mustique Company in 1976.  In the contract, it ensures that the locals who are born on the island are looked after. They have a primary school on island and they go to St Vincent for secondary education, paid for by the company.  All properties – other than those privately owned by rich individuals –belong to the company and the locals live rent and utility bill free, buying just their food. Some locals have built their own properties on parcels of company land (with permission of course!) – but are not able to sell them outside of the local community.  Locals are guaranteed jobs when they leave school but we are not sure how they allocate them….    All private property owners are allocated maids, gardeners etc etc in accordance with the size of the property – and the company provides them. Assumingly for a very large fat annual fee – we did hear gossip of £1.2mn to maintain a property here, but that is just hearsay. To ensure privacy and security the company also vet all visitors – apart from yachties! – and locals have to get their relatives etc onto a list by security before they will be able to purchase a ferry ticket. No entry on list, no ticket. Locals are not allowed to just visit Mustique without a connection or a reason….. Pretty exclusive place hey???? Not sure why they let us in!!!!!  Anyway, Colin Tennant is remembered by a really good statue in his honour erected by his friends. Another statue we came across is one donated by a couple of residents – which is of two tortoises having fun….  Why tortoises?  Well, they live here in the wild and can be seen wandering along the side of the road.

In the afternoon we went to Macaroni beach on the Atlantic side of the island and took a cooler with us….. Taking up residence in one of the cabanas we had a great afternoon jumping huge surf and watching some smart land crabs dig their holes in the sand….

Last chance to spot some celebs as we are heading out in the morning – so back for final sundowners in Basils.  Great sunset but no rich and famous….oh well, maybe we’ll have to return in the future at a busier time of the season!    Another sunset then early to bed and another rolly night…..

Had a great time in Mustique but time to move on….    So we headed out early Sunday morning and had a fantastic 15 mile downwind sail to Canouan, which is in the heart of the Grenadines….   We are anchored in Charlestown Bay and plan to explore later….for now we are just ashore enjoying the beach bar at the Tamarind Beach Hotel…. 

Bye for now