Some friends called this past Sunday morning. “We are taking the boat out to test out the new diesel motors. Want to come along?”
There ended up being eight of us. John, an ex-pat Brit who owns a local yacht chartering business, a retired French Canadian couple, the Ambassador from a foreign country not currently on the USA’s close friends list, Jan and Gus (the boat owners) and myself.
It was a splendid day. Jan provided a gourmet lunch. The rest of us had each brought various appetizers. The coolers were full of cold beer, coconut water and wine. We spent most of the day anchored off Princess Margaret beach at Bequia, swimming, eating, drinking and telling stories.
John in particular, was in the mood to be a raconteur. Some of his stories were a little too risqué to reproduce here, but I’ll share a couple of tidbits that produced chuckles all around. First this tale…
Princess Margaret Beach, by the way, is so named because she famously once swam nude here. That kind of thing is, of course, frowned upon here in these islands. Was back then; is still. The yacht she was on at that time was anchored, like us, just offshore. At some point in the festivities, Margaret announced, “I am inclined to go for a skinny dip. Is that alright?” she inquired of the local dignitaries who were, up until then, so pleased to be able to hobnob with visiting royalty. They were taken aback, but managed to reply with as much dignity as possible, “Whatever suits you, ma’am.”
“No, actually, it is whatever or whoever un-suits me,” she answered, stripping off and diving in.
This bold move so impressed Colin Tennant that he gave Margaret a ten acre piece of land on his newly acquired, neighboring island of Mustique and that was the beginning of the mystique of Mustique, the island hideaway of many of the rich and famous.
In the once-British islands, the underwater shoreline and beach front is commonly known as the Queen’s bottom, which means that it belongs to the crown and is, for all intents and purposes, public land that cannot be privatized. That means that no one can deny anchorage to any boat on any shoreline. On Bequia and in Mustique, the semi-irreverent yachter’s toast, ‘Here’s to the Queen’s bottom,’ which roughly translates as ‘Here’s to a safe anchorage,’ has been replaced with, “Here’s to Maggie’s bottom”, which is both better known and better looking.
Who says that history has to be a dry subject? Of course, these days, there is no member of the British royal family whose bottom anyone would care to glimpse; so it is unlikely that this bit of history is doomed to repeat itself, despite any who may remain ignorant of it.
In a spirit of kinship, or rather kindred soul-ship (since I am not related by blood) with Maggie, I too have now swum naked in these waters, although I don’t, for one moment, imagine that Sir Colin Tennant’s Mustique company will bequeath me any of their precious land as a result. I don’t think the foreign ambassador was much impressed either. Her swim was taken fully clothed.
Later in the day, John came up with this one…
I was over at The Reef one day a couple of months ago and happened to overhear a funny conversation you’d enjoy, said John with a big smile.
We knew he had yet another story for us. Maybe it was even true. Not that it matters much; humor is its own truth.
Two sailors were touring the Caribbean islands in their forty-two foot Morgan. They had anchored just off the next beach over, called Lower Bay, and were planning on spending a few days enjoying the island of Bequia. At sunset, they decided to go ashore and have drinks and dinner at The Reef. The local country & western band playing and the noise level was quite high.
I was sipping a beer, enjoying the music when the two visitors sidled up to the bar.
“What’ll you have?” asked the bartender.
“Rum and coke,” replied the first one. “Two of those.” enjoined the second fellow.
You OK with Mount Gay?” Inquired the bartender.
“Yes we are. Why do you ask?” replied one of the sailors, having misheard in the noisy bar.
“In case you’d like another kind tonight,” replied the barkeep, also having misunderstood the reply.
“Oh no; we are monogamous.” stammered the one, shocked at the brazen offer he thought they’d received.
“What did you say? You’re on a mono-hull?” asked the clueless mixologist of the two confused misogynists.
“Yes, I’m the captain of that Morgan out there, and he’s my mate. We’re couple of gays.” answered one of the sailors, having heard this last question correctly, but still attempting to clarify their position.
“Two Mount Gays and a Captain Morgan coming right up.” proclaimed the bartender, still not hearing or understanding.
I, having heard and caught the drift of both sides of this conversation, decided that now was not the time to ask for a shooter with a fancy name, explained John, though I was tempted. It could have gotten very interesting.
It took a while for that one to settle in and it had to be explained to the French-Canadian couple who did not quite catch all the English nuances and who were also unfamiliar with the whimsical names often given to shooters made with multiple liqueurs.
That evening, back home, two of the many songs that Gus had played on the boat’s CD player reverberated in my head. Dean Martin’s
“When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s Amore.” which was appropriate, since there was a full moon to enjoy and I was surely in love; and Jimmy Cliff’s “I can see clearly now; the rain has gone. It’s going to be a bright, bright, bright sunshiny day.” which was also appropriate, since it had been a very bright sunshiny day, punctuated with a couple of refreshing rain showers.
Coincidentally, just now, just when I thought I had finished writing this piece, the Ambassador’s chauffeur has shown up with a printed invitation to a musical recital her Embassy is putting on this weekend, so I guess she was not terribly offended by my skinny dip. Who knows? Maybe it is not entirely impossible that I’ll also end up with a couple of acres on Mustique. Perhaps I should take a nude dive off the deck at Basil’s Bar at next year’s Blues Festival to reinforce my position? Stay tuned. I’ll let you know.