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June 07, 2007


Mustique_pyrite0001_2    In Which Ye  Author  Shamelessly Pluggeth


Idly reading a Patrick O'Brien novel while   lounging in the mizzen top as the brig Astrid ran down from English Harbor to Fort De France , I glanced up and saw the volcanic peak to windward seemed ashivver. So grabbing the mainyard garnet 'neath the futtocks , I slid down the ratlines to the quarterdeck to check the synthetic aperture radar--for Astrid, she be a post-modern brig , wired all Bristol fashion.Astridges

Sure enough, the williwaw rustling the cane fields of Martinique's  Mont Pelee' was reaching across the sea-- it was time to shorten sail. From meteorology to ornithology and mineralogy, there's no avoiding natural history cruising the Caribbean. On land and under water , much of it is delightful ; but while  Captain Raul King of Bequia once declared " Nothing in this sea will harm you", you do need to know enough not to grab the fire coral , poke the sea urchins , or steer afoul of its underwater volcano.

With so much to oogle, the naturally curious visitor might well need  A Natural History Handbook to seek out, and sort out all the beautiful creatures, lovely corals, and sparking mineral veins. So I helped write one.

It focuses on a tight little Grenadine island, Mustique , wondrously rich in geology for its size, its hinterland swarming with  the Pyrites of the Caribbean ,as well as the chalcopyrites, sundry glitterati , many birds of bright plumage, and ants, plants and tortoises galore. There are few sycophants and  presently no elephants, it being deemed imprudent to replace the one Lord Glenconner seems to have misplaced on St.Lucia. 

BasilsbarThough phenomenally poor in mosquitoes, Mustique does have Wi Fi in
The Excellent Bar  of  Basil Charles OBE  > 

In which Music of several Sorts may be heard & a most delightful & edifying Book obtained !

Migration having transferred all creatures great and small between the Greater and Lesser Antilles,   A Natural History of Mustique  is indispensable ashore on all islands Leeward and Windward

It is among the best illustrated  Caribbean natural history books. Its 360 color photos cover everything from the very very big - whales ,baobab trees , and fortunately harmless insects the size of birds, to the amazingly tiny - hummingbirds the size of bees and a snake easily mistaken for a keychain. Every reptile worth oogling from St. Barts to Barbados, from charming geochelone turtles to lividly green lizardry, is vividly depicted in:

A Natural History of Mustique


It's published , naturally , by The Mustique Company, with a foreword by a surprisingly intelligent London School of Economics drop-out named Jagger,Mick_1 ample underwater photos by an amiable Abbe' from the tiny island of Mayreau, Pere Marc da Silva, and an all too brief introduction to Grenadine geology  that I heartily regret  that I  wrote since am now doomed to import  Geologists here til get it right. Harvard is sending streams of  Mustiquean  iron, lead and uranium atoms through its oracular mass spectrometers even as I write this. I wish I had never mentioned the Virgin Islands lampropyres  in this otherwise exemplary book.

While lubbers can fossick pyrite crystals from Virgin Islands lamprophyre veins, winning glittering chalcopyrite  or glowing chacedony and  zeolite crystals takes a raid on the Grenadines. More touristed isles, like St. Lucia are barely cooled piles of lava and volcanic ash largely devoid of minerals . But  ancient basement rocks endow  older relics of creation like  Mustique with ten times the  geology of most islands their size. If you're looking for a really hot diving spot, a  brand new volcanic landmass is perking its way to the surface at Kickem Jenny bank, a long days sailing southwesterly.

My only regret is that further disclosure of the hiding places of the pyrites of the Caribbean will have to await the next edition- I went back in February to check out the outlying islets and pinnacles. Battowia, though lacking a bar and kind of gnarly to land on , being a rock, has been discovered to  feature a booby hatch of  Galapagos quality, with thousands of tropic birds too. The  present surprisingly waterproof edition is an absolute snip at forty bucks. Available at better rum shops ( EG, Basil's ) and travel bookstores far and wide.

Meanwhile I must return to my onerous duties on deck as default Science Oficer- Day Four of Basil's 60th Birthday party has dawned


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