By popular demand, another exert from Jules Stanley's holiday journal

Robin & Jenny Martin
Mon 14 Feb 2011 11:25
At Britannia Bay - Mustique 7/8/9 Jan 11

Basil’s Bar

Having built up a thirst with a bit of strenuous chatting, sunbathing and reading, we have been invited to sundowners at 17.30 in Basil’s Bar by Captain Haddock (real name omitted), one of the other ARC skippers also in the bay. We dress for the occasion in tee shirts, shorts and aftershave (that’s just the girls) and head out in the spanking new tender that has been sponged and specially cleaned for the outing. We hop ashore at the jetty where my knot work is criticised by the skipper. I clearly need a bit of instruction. He undoes my best bodgeknot then ties one very similar himself. Hoping I haven’t noticed he tries again and gets it right whilst I am photographing the sunset and the girls go ahead to grab a table and order drinks.

From the outside, Basil’s Bar looks like a shanty shack built over a pile of waste concrete on the beach. This is deceptive because inside it is the haunt of the rich and famous who frequent the island paradise of Mustique. The likes of Mick Jagger, Princess Margaret, David Bowie and a host of others were regulars at one time. None of them are installed in the snug tonight though and the girls don’t recognise anyone from Hello Magazine. We order drinks and do the introductions as Captain Haddock appears. What a convivial host he is - and boy - he loves to talk, keeping us entertained with his numerous anecdotes. We drink two beers each whilst he has only managed a sip from his first, smiling and nodding whilst he rattles on. There is a momentary pause when a big wave splashes up through the decking and sprays us under the table with cold water. He recovers quickly though and ploughs on whilst we giggle about colonic irrigation. Casting an eye around, there are some interesting characters posing in the bar, mostly admiring their plush yachts and gin palaces in the bay, or discussing their latest plastic surgery jobs. We can only afford two small beers, although we get an extra bottle when the new waiter, on his first night at work, tips half of one over Jen. The kitty is pretty well bankrupted by the outing, so its time to head back saying goodbye to Captain H in mid sentence, who has to sandy bottom his two unfinished beers.

Moscow Knights

Many of the boats in the bay are lit up like Christmas trees and floating in pools of light. Everyone aboard seems to be quietly enjoying themselves, but the Russians on the next mooring in their charter cat are definitely up for it. As our bbq is cooking they are skinny dipping and have gone through the beers onto the vodka. Much raucous laughter and squealing from the girls. I am reading the latest John Le Carre about Russian crime syndicates and these guys fit the bill – middle aged hoods, balding, beer bellies, loud, full of vodka and being attended by their young attractive Moscow hookers. As they party on we speculate. Spies? Too obvious! Oligarchs? Boat not big enough! Middle rung gangsters? Much more likely – spending a bit of time enjoying the gains of their racketeering! We pretend not to be interested as we eat our supper and they party on. They’ve got the cards out around the table now and are positively slamming down the vodkas and manhandling the girls. Great guffaws and more squealing from the hookers. They party on as we turn in. We wake in the night and they party on. In the small hours they are still at it!

We awake around dawn and have tea in the cockpit. There are signs of life on the Russian vessel. A large beer belly and a hand holding a bottle are just visible over the edge of their sail bag. There is a gangster sleeping it off in there. Another is up and about checking over the boat. One of the hookers flounces out and finds a pitch on the foredeck. The chief hood is up and remonstrating with sail bag over his behaviour last night. Sail bag finally climbs out unsteadily and lies on top of the hooker on the foredeck. More gangsters are surfacing and a couple dig out their snorkel masks and fins ready to check for limpet mines underneath (they are ex-spetznaz and old habits die hard). All smiles now they give us a cheery wave as the skipper and I set off in the tender to buy bread over at the Sweetie Pie Bakery. We buy the most expensive baguettes in the world at £4.50 each, have a wander around to see the sights, then head back for breakfast. As we tuck in to French bread and jam, the gangsters are reviving themselves with a vodka breakfast.

Ashore at Mustiqe

Deb and I plan to take a walk along the beach so the skipper gives us a lift over in the tender. We do a perfect beach landing and set off along beautiful white coral sands under palm trees, heading for the point. The beaches are protected by reefs and the water is clear, calm and very warm – perfect for swimming and relaxing. We do a photo shoot at the horizontal palm tree overhanging the beach, then relax for a while at a beach shelter alongside. Several more groups of people wander by and all stop to take photos on the horizontal palm. Jen and Rob turn up for a while and can’t miss the opportunity so get their pictures on the palm too.

A load of servants and cleaners arrive at the beach shelter and start cleaning up, laying out flowers and preparing the bbq for a posh picnic. Some of the rich and famous have booked the pitch for a party and unfortunately we are not invited, so will have to vacate by 1.00pm. Naturally we are intrigued to find out who it might be, so hang around. It seems to be a fat Russian, his fat wife and equally fat son, plus a few hangers on. We lose interest and head back to meet up with J & R at Basil’s. Saturday afternoon and we are the only people in the bar. The regulars are probably still sleeping it off after throbbing into the small hours, but we are entertained by a dance troop of cheeky little black Banana Birds performing and displaying on the table next to us. The beers are great – they should be, two small bottles each cost me £32 – glad I didn’t order a third!

Debs finally receives a text from her friend Suzie, who apparently owns about half the island. Unfortunately she has just flown out for sunny Hampshire but has left behind two of the boys who would be delighted to host us for drinks this evening up at the house. She will not take no for an answer. Nils has a neck injury following a fall from the mule (don’t ask) so can’t fly and Gustav is keeping him company (I’ll bet) till he recovers. Sampson will meet us at the quay with the mule (keep well strapped in) at 17.30 sharp and take us up to the house.

Wow! What a magnificent mansion. It’s built in the old colonial style and perched on practically the most South Western hill on the island. The boys are charming hosts and entertain us to rum punch on the terrace overlooking the beach, as the sun sinks below the horizon. Gustav is full of enthusiasm for his Chinese Mandarin course in Edinburgh, but more ready for a bit of a session at Firefly with some pals here on the island. We say our farewells to Nils and Sampson takes us back to the quay, dropping Gustav en route. The Russians have sailed long ago so its going to be a quieter night in the bay. Jen produces a fantastic roast turkey supper and we all crash early, blaming the Winkler’s rum punch.


We are awakened early in the morning before dawn by a tremendous downpour. The chief water engineer dashes out to capture a free supply of fresh water, whilst everyone else snaps closed the scuttles. Robin is out there damming up the waterflow as it drains off the sails, rigging and decks, diverting it into the freshwater tank. He is cock-a-hoop! The gauge shows the tank almost full. We can all have showers. We drink our early morning tea made with the catchment and although there is an odd taste, it’s not bad (a bit teaky I fancy). Robin thinks it’s the milk, so makes another pot. Better – maybe it was the milk. The tender is 6” deep in fresh water, so after breakfast Jen converts it into a dhobi parlour. Out comes the laundry basket and Jen in bathers, squelches and slaps then rinses in the bottom of the boat, hanging it out to dry in double quick time on the guardrails. The yanks on the next mooring are astonished. They have never seen anyone wash clothes by hand, let alone in the bottom of a RIB.


A big flashy yacht arrived yesterday afternoon and unfurled an enormous blue ensign. Much conjecture! It looks suspiciously fake because the union flag is too big in the corner and the whole thing dips in the sea. Jen does a bit of intel and research on the web, looks up the boat’s name –Sea Dragon – on the RNSA website, but can’t find it listed. Almost certainly an impostor! It must be the biggest ensign in the Caribbean and a real giveaway for a man with a giant ego and a very small willie. The skipper is all for going over to confront him, but what the hell. We know – and he probably knows we know – but he knows nobody else knows.

Last day at Mustique

Today’s outing is courtesy of Deb’s very kind friends, the Winklers (they of the big mansion). Their driver will pick us up on the quay at noon and take us on a tour of the island. Deb proposes lunch at Cotton House Beach Restaurant - on her! We are easily persuaded by a description of the island’s exclusive beach bar. On the quay, the driver is only half an hour late, but this is the Caribbean. We set off and have to call first at the airport customs office to “clear in”. As we arrive, a twin engined plane lands and taxis over to the thatched terminal building. Out hops a chap in a striped shirt carrying his suit jacket and a small brief case but no luggage. He clears customs formalities with the air of a man who owns the place, but looks slightly crumpled as if he may have left his office in the city yesterday afternoon. A well upholstered English lady in sarong and sandals greets him with a less than affectionate peck on the cheek, announcing to the audience “Happy birthday darling. We have a birthday picnic waiting for you”. He slips into the front seat of the mule next to her without a word. As they drive away he reveals 8 inches of bare leg above his city shoes. He is without socks! J & R’s customs formalities take just a little longer.

We step over the tortoises mowing the grass as we arrive at Cotton House and realise the place is tasteful with a capital E for Exclusive. It’s an idyllic setting with our table under a big tree on the decking terrace, right by the beach. The place is pretty well empty and we guess everyone else is at the birthday picnic. I have the fabulous ocean view, with my back to the few other guests and unfortunately will be unable to comment on any quirky appearances or behaviour. But the view is stunning and I expect everyone here will be very chic and behave impeccably anyhow. We order drinks and food from a delicious menu. Debs and the skipper opt for shrimps, Jen has a burger and I get fish and chips – what a bunch of plebs! Actually the food and service are excellent, so we make the experience - and the wine - last as long as possible. It really is a beautiful, unforgettable experience. Debs won’t let anyone else see the bill – what a treasure that girl is.

We complete our afternoon with a tour of the north end of the island, then head back to the quay. I incur the skipper’s displeasure by walking mud all over the new tender, but fortunately it cleans up easily. Back on board we relax, swim and do more strenuous reading and snoozing before sundowners. The Russians are back, but on an outer mooring and they won’t disturb us tonight. It’s another beautiful warm breezy evening in the bay, but as we eat supper we realise the gangsters have been replaced by an equally noisy French party on the mooring next to us…. 

The end of another wonderful day in paradise. Our last in Mustique because tomorrow we leave for Union Island.