I went by boat to Mustique, the island of billionaires (where Mick Jagger is staying).

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Mustique Britannia Bay
Mustique (photo by qwesy qwesy)

He didn’t have to run away from anything, he just wanted to fulfill his dream: to cross the ocean. Thus Nicolò von Wunster, 60, puts an ad online to find boarding and finds himself in South Africa aboard Mr. and Mrs. Roger and Mary’s Oyster 625 to the remote island of St. Helena and then Brazil.

Logbook of an excellent sailor’s first time in the ocean, taking Italy aboard a British boat. Nicolò (who Has an impressive sailing record. Two-time Italian Tornado Champion sailed 30,000 miles around the Mediterranean on his Baltic 38DP) tells us about his “Ocean Passage” in four installments, full of useful tips.

In the third installment of his journey, we left him in Fernando de Noronha. In this fourth episode, Nicolò recounts the final 10 days of sailing on his adventure, from the Brazilian island to Grenada with a surprise stop at Mustique, a small private island in the Grenadines, the billionaires’ island.

Fernando de Noronha – Mustique

10 days of sailing, 2071 miles. The Tale of Nicolò von Wunster

On March 3 at 7:30 p.m. (4:30 p.m. UTC) we set anchor and set the bow at 300 degrees compass, destination Grenada. This passage would have been rather long, however, analyzing the different routes, suggested by the PREDICTWIND system, revealed an important favorable current along the coast, over three knots, however, we had to lengthen the distance by having to pull in not a little towards the coast.

On the second day of sailing David was again fishing for a beautiful Dorado, also called Mahi Mahi. The first one was dated March 1. David was super proud, also because he had prepared the line and rod very carefully. He very skillfully filleted the fish and we prepared several slices that conveniently ended up in containers in the freezer. I tried hard too, but my fish managed to cut the terminal despite being made of metal. I changed a couple of baits, however, without much success.

David was sorry for my failure as a fisherman, partly because, without perhaps thinking about it too much, on the second fish he had sideways grabbed the rod from my hands, taking the credit for the second catch away from me. I told him to rest assured that I would catch a much bigger fish than his. The next day “my rod” seeing the precedent, began to whistle and I rushed. Of course, I was afraid I would lose it; it would look bad in front of the whole crew. I tried my hardest as David was ready to help me with the raffle.

After almost 10 minutes of struggle, we could see the end of the line and the fish. I brought him underboard at the stern, and David harpooned him and pulled him aboard. A 12.7 kg barracuda!!! Roger and Mary very happy and my reputation was safe. I looked at David and extended my fist to meet his as a sign of team victory. As I was expertly filleting him, the reel of David’s rod began to whistle. After 10 minutes, David brought a White Marlin underboard, which I harpooned and pulled aboard. 15 kg!!! We had together broken the record for fishing on board.

30 kg of fish!

We now had over 30 kg of fish in the freezer, so now we could and should eat fish for the next few days. Let’s start preparing whatever: Sashimi, Ceviche, a typical Peruvian recipe of raw fish marinated with lime, red onions and chilies, seared fish on a bed of mashed potatoes with nutmeg and parmesan cheese, fried fish on parmesan risotto, broth with noodles and cubes of seared fish in the broth, boiled fish mousse with onion potato and lemon, blended with olive oil, capers and olives and served on a crostone of bread, fish made into a stew, marinated in Soya sauce and honey, pasta puttanesca with small cubes of fish cooked for a few minutes in tomato sauce ….in short, an apotheosis of delicious fish in all recipes.

Equatorial heat

The current was pushing us at more than 12 knots, and in order not to lose it we were sailing with the wind at the stern and twin genoas at the bow, a short distance from the coast, between 50 and 100 miles. It sounds like a lot but actually less than half a day’s sailing. Impressive when we passed the traverse, albeit distant, of the mouth of the Amazon River, the bottom dropped to less than 30 meters because of the millennial sediments carried by the river. We were now very close to the equator, and the days were hot and humid with several lumps around us with some on us. The bunks were damp and every shirt as well, nothing dried anymore, the air conditioning, almost never used so far, became the most beautiful comfort in the cabin. Before that privilege in order to breathe in the cabin I opened the hatchway that gave onto the deck, just a little bit to let in some night air and breathe. The problem was that without realizing it I fell asleep, and I don’t know exactly how long after that I woke up suddenly struck by a cascade of salt water, which caught me squarely in the bunk. I stood up dripping and was speechless for a few minutes.

Woe if they discovered my levity since the order was strict: hatches always closed. I disassembled the bunk completely and in the day that followed, I said it was time to wash and rinse the sheets pillowcase and mattress cover well. I laid everything out in the wind, and since I was the neat freak on board, it passed without much question. I never opened the hatch again; in fact, I was in charge of making sure they were all always closed, even the ones in the salon before the night. The groins freshened the air and washed the boat of saltiness; the natural shower on deck was also pleasant. Finally the day of the crossing of the Equator arrived, which was even more welcome because it could be celebrated by uncorking the best champagne on board already put nice and cold for the occasion.

It was an important moment for everyone: the first time for me as well as for David who, however, had never in his life been to the Northern Hemisphere, having been born and raised in South Africa in Durban. For Roger and Mary it meant returning after more than 20,000 miles to the hemisphere of their beloved England, almost home, so to speak. The mood on board was great, we had achieved perfect synchronicity, my cooking was cheering everyone up, and Mary was enjoying it even more, having removed the cooking and cleaning. David, my promoted sous chef, and I used to do everything with a Swiss-Afrikaans organization not far from the Dutch mentality.

Invitation to Mustique

One morning at breakfast Mary told us that the Ocean Pearl with its full crew was invited to a birthday party by the Hutchinsons, owners of a beautiful Oyster 70, no less than in Mustique, the island of Mick Jagger and other celebrities, and right at the most famous bar, Basil’s Bar. David and I were super happy since we would be disembarking immediately upon arrival in Grenada to make way for the guests who would be enjoying the Caribbean islands from then on until the Rally arrived with a big party, in Antigua. The route set although apparently longer allowed us to arrive on the tenth day of navigation at the new waypoint. Roger once again had shown his prowess as a captain, not giving in to the temptation to pull direct over the Grenadas but following and entering the waypoints suggested by PredictWind’s analytical tables.

We arrived in Mustique Bay in the late morning of March 13 after 10 days of sailing and 2,000 miles. Arriving from the south after days of only sea on the horizon and suddenly starting to see one, three, five islands all around, Les Grenadines in this case, is a great thrill, also because these islands have beautiful morphology and are very green. Large seagrass beds, however, enveloped us as we approached land. We moored at the buoy, helped by the manager who came to us immediately very kind and smiling. A little later I was sipping tea, the inevitable English Tea, contemplating the bay.

Face to face with world champion 420

There were already other Oysters and many more would arrive from the neighboring islands, obviously attracted by the party planned for Wednesday, March 15. We went ashore and it could not be ignored that we had arrived on an island for the super rich. Roger later told us that he had heard about a mansion for sale for $200 million. Surely we could have afforded the famous Rhum Punch from Basil’s Bar and a couple of days of relaxation. In particular, I would like to mention the meeting with the Parkin family, English, but living in the U.S. with their 16-year-old son, Freddie.

We passed each other at Basil’s Bar and chatted about more and less and their passion for sailing, first Olympic then oceanic. Freddie, quite shy, told me that he ran in 420 and loved Italy very much and learned Italian at school in Boston. He had been to the 420 World Championship, held at Marina degli Aregai – San Remo Yacht Club, in 2021 and had fond memories. I asked him how he had arrived, he replied in an undertone: I won!!! Freddie was 420 U17 world champion!!!

mustique
Nicolo von Wunster along with Freddie Parkin, 420 U17 world champion, in Mustique

Rivers of alcohol for everyone

By mid-afternoon Wednesday there were several Oyster part of the Ocean Rally and a couple who would be participating in the next one, attracted by the concentrated fleet here. At 7 p.m. we went ashore, Roger had a beautiful flowered shirt, look taken care of by Mary who was ready and loaded to enjoy the party after so many miles at sea. The English festivals compared to the Italian ones are not very different only that they reverse the alcohol to food ratios in the English one settles at 70% / 30% respectively!!!

mustique

Hard to get sober even for the most moderate drinkers. Too bad we had a 4:30 a.m. departure for Granada. Our last 60 miles. Arriving at Basil’s Bar I met several shipowners, including George’s father, the youngest in the fleet at 15 years old, Louis, an Irishman, owner of Irene IV and super in love with Italy where he often travels for work. Then a couple of Americans from Chicago, who knowing of my reputation as an Italian in-flight chef, immediately asked me to advise them what pasta to buy, and how to make Puttanesca and real Carbonara, having heard that we had Pecorino and Guanciale on board that Roger called “1 Charlie”!!!

After the first Rhum Punch it was advisable to move on to beer, and after a while the buffet was open and we were invited to start serving ourselves. I sat at one of the three large tables, still empty, and before long George arrived, then David and then all the young men from the fleet. The table was the most fun table at the party, with the birthday girl’s son and his girlfriend also in charge of party planning. They were in the boat from the beginning so from January 2022 without ever disembarking. Our boat was known to have a very fussy captain and they told us very amusing anecdotes and that our reputation was very high with the fleet having never had any problems and having managed to make up the 15-day time disadvantage.

mustique

It was when I said that maybe I should be at a different table given the average age which was maybe in the mid-20s, that one of the guys, sitting across from me told me that I wasn’t that far off after all since he thought I was about 45 years old. I didn’t know what to say to him. Lying to him about my age seemed grotesque to me, but confessing that I was more than twice his age would immediately exclude me from that band of young drifters from the oceans, with whom we joked and talked as if we were classmates, and that just didn’t sit well with me. This I think is another of the fantastic dimensions of going to sea.

Some people say that people who go to sea are beautiful no matter what, there is some truth to it though. I found them all really wonderful and thought of my own children their ages exactly from 15 to 28. How nice it would have been to be able to sail around the world all together or at least to have had them here at that time. I think a pipe dream given my daughters’ work commitments, and my son’s schooling in addition to my and my wife’s commitments.

At 4:30 a.m. I was on deck after a good cup of coffee, we set sail from the buoy and pointed the bow south with direction Grenada. The wind increased but as we left the cover of Mustique, after an hour I told Roger that I was continuing the shift alone and he could go back to sleep. I enjoyed the sunrise with Canuan Island in the transverse. We were sailing downwind of the islands as they gradually paraded along the port edge, with a beautiful crosswind, the North Trade Winds blowing steadily from the northeast.

At 7:30 a.m. Roger came up and I handed him the command after being with him contemplating our traverse. We shared the same passion and the age difference was a source of satisfaction for me to be able to help them on board, they both deserved it, they were completing the round-the-world trip at 78 and 75 years old, with an extraordinary spirit. When we arrived at the port of Grenada, despite the wind, Roger moored with a textbook maneuver, which I remarked to him with pleasure. We found them many Oyster being Grenada the penultimate official stage of the Rally.

That same day Mary and Roger’s friends Maurice and Mary arrived, and as a welcome Mary asked me to make my famous Carbonara. Fortunately, I succeeded just fine, and could once again confirm my quality as First Mate and Chef.

mustique

6,700 miles in the ocean

Before I left Grenada I managed to buy a nice Log Book, which I had not been able to find until then, and transcribe all the 5 Passages certified and printed by Roger.

I had accomplished 6700 miles in the ocean. This would remain. Mary told us that we could sleep on board until they departed, and this was very helpful.On the 18th, after a hearty breakfast offered by me to the entire Ocean Pearl crew to celebrate my farewell and the customary hugs, I took a cab to the Grenada airport and from there flew to Barbados and then to London and then landed in Milan Linate. In relatively few hours I had crossed the Atlantic Ocean. A strange feeling. At the airport I thought I was going to meet my friend Julius, I got out quickly and heard myself called, turned around and found Sophie and Ellen, my beloved daughters who had come to pick me up by surprising me for Father’s Day. There could not have been a more beautiful conclusion.

Nicolò von Wunster in Mustique

A few days earlier Charlie Durham, Crew Recruiting Manager for the Oyster Ocean Rally had written me a message that gave me immense pleasure: he asked me if by any chance I would be interested in evaluating the upcoming OOR 2024, starting in January where there were already 24 boats registered. How can we not dream of sailing through Panama, the Galapagos and on to the Marquesas … we shall see, … the dream continues.

Nicolò von Wunster


 

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