Mustique

Mustique is a private island, controlled by the Mustique Corporation and second home to some very rich and discrete people. It is open to cruisers, who, like its hotel guests, have somewhat limited access to the beautiful interior. We had a lovely sail down from Bequia, and were the only boat there when we grabbed the mandatory mooring ball in Britannia Bay. Mustique permits stays of up to three nights, and we decided we would make the most of this: we immediately broke out the paddle boards and got into the crystal clear water.

Meanwhile, Captain contemplated doing his one job on the boat, and ultimately decided against.

One of the first things I do when I get to a new island is to look up breweries, which is usually a futile exercise. But for once, I was rewarded for my efforts, because I found the 32 Island Brewing Company, which produces some of the only craft beers we’ve seen since St Martin. They don’t do tours right now, but they did send a rep down to the dinghy dock with an icy bucket and some bottles we could buy. I was very, very happy.

Said dock, by the way, is right next to Basil’s Bar, which is apparently one of the more famous bars in the Caribbean. More on Basil’s later.

Back on the boat, we watched the ferry come in. We were on a ball at the edge of the mooring field, leaving us close to the channel and maybe a little closer to the ferry than we would have preferred.

The next day we started what would be a miniature tradition, and got up reasonably early to hike around the island. In fact, we ended up hiking almost every trail on the island.

Day one featured a surprisingly varied terrain, from manicured streets and lawns into several flavors of rugged coastline and views over the water to surrounding islands. Some of the paths are over road, and this feels unusually safe. You have to have both a Vincentian license and a special permit from the Mustique company to drive here. There are no taxis or busses, and the majority of the vehicles are golf carts.

As you walk around, you’re struck by the sparseness. All the houses are huge, and surrounded by acres of empty space, like modern castles each on their own little hill. There are big houses on some of the other islands, but nowhere else has quite this feel of intentional isolation.

When we got back, we had to do some organizing on the boat. As always, Captain showed up every time a hold opened, to poke his head in and then guard the opening.

We’ve been spoiled for sunsets on this trip: with the easterly trades, the safe anchorages are on the west side of every island, and our stern sitting area almost always has a sunset view. Still, some are more spectacular than others. Of particular interest, all the empty mooring balls: the hoards of boaters are hiding in Grenada as it is technically hurricane season.

Hike day two took us through manicured beaches and deserted rocky shores, lush jungle and seemingly arid desert. For the most part this is a very clean island, and yet nothing quite escapes the human touch: even here you find piles of abandoned netting and washed-up sea plastic (off trail, of course).

We found ourselves passing by Firefly just as their restaurant opened, and we stopped to enjoy a view over the harbor and a much-welcome cold coconut.

That night, we stopped in at Basil’s for dinner and live music. The place eventually filled in, and we had a great time dancing and generally carousing.

The last day of hiking was the shortest loop, so we brought along the catter. He liked the grass, but did not particularly understand how tortoises work.

One interesting feature of this island chain is the Manchineel tree, which is poisonous and everywhere. Mustique has done a pretty thorough job of labeling every tree with red paint, and posting signs everywhere advising against touching them, eating the apple-shaped fruit, or sheltering under them in the rain.

The rest of the walk took us through a wetland, with tons of birds and huge land crabs that scuttled away into their holes as we approached with our oblivious cat.

At one point, the trail washed out, and we ended up looping back on ourselves and just barely making it back to shelter by the dock before the morning’s promised rain.

It was time to move on, but not before a last quick swim in the rain. The falling water was cold, and the ocean was warmer than the air, making for a really pleasant swim. (note from Jazz: it felt like swimming in a witches cauldron, with the water so warm it steamed into a heavy fog settled on the water with the rain stirring the water up like it was boiling, very fun)

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