Normally I avoid resorts. This is, believe me, fine with most resorts. It saves me being asked to leave. I mean, why anchor off a fancy resort except to hustle the divorcees, sneak into the buffet line, and/or cop a free shower?
Yes, there is a lot of irony in the sailing life: once cursed throughout America as a ‘dirty hippy’ and repeatedly urged to ‘take a bath!’… well, now they won’t let me!
In fact one of the main reasons I’m currently cruising the Pacific is because ‘security’ has my photograph memorized in most Caribbean resorts.
I’ve been bitterly tossed out of the Booty End, rudely ‘outsourced’ at the Last Resort and nearly punched out in a Puzzers.
And, hey, I’ll admit I deserved it. Example: I decided to take up a life of petty crime in Sint Maarten, practiced my pick-pocket skills for months, and went ashore at Orient Beach to fatten up the cruising kitty.
“…idiot!” my wife Carolyn hissed at me as I nonchalantly strolled passed the beach bar in which she was arm wrestling drunken West Indians for beers, “Only my husband would begin such a career-in-crime at a nudist resort!”
Yes, a number of Caribbean resorts have my number. The Four Seasons in Nevis, Caneel on St. John and the St. James Club in Antigua all pride themselves on being ‘fat free’ zones.
The island of Mustique won’t allow me within 12 nautical miles.
Even the Hog Island bar in Grenada acted piggish towards me.
The end result is, as previously stated, that I seldom resort to resorts.
However, every fat rule has a fat exception——and the Musket Cove Yacht Club in Fiji is one of them.
The YC costs one dollar to join, offers a waterproof lifetime membership card, and gives full resort privileges.
The moment you arrive, a smiling member of the marina staff greets you warmly, informs you that you can use the anchorage for free for as long as you want and then gives you a brochure of all the things you CAN do while at the resort and mentions NONE of the things you can’t!
Exactly what does ‘yacht club privileges’ mean?
Well, pretty much everything except sleeping in a bed ashore. They include the use of the pool, showers, toilets and beach chairs… not to mention the free use of the dinghy dock, wash-down hose, etc. Yes, you can watch CNN, check out the daily entertainment, soak up the air-conditioning, get phone messages and have stuff dropped off for you… all free-of-charge to ‘official yacht club members.’
The most amazing thing is that, each and every evening, the resort sets out a huge platter of tasty appetizers, lights a huge six-grill-wide barbeque fire (yes, they supply the wood, etc, for free) and then sets out an unlimited number of free place settings (condiments, dishes, silverware and napkins) for the hordes of milling yachties…
…the tables are even bussed.
…yes, some yachties bring their own booze ashore without compliant. (We don’t and most don’t).
My wife Carolyn couldn’t believe it. “No dishwashing?” she kept asking. “Is this a trick… or heaven-on-earth for the cruising wife?”
Amazingly enough, it is the later.
Needless to say, the resort was founded by a cruising sailor, an Aussie named Dick Smith who used to charter/cruise the Pacific back in the 1950s.
His original intention was to ‘swallow the hook’ in Tahiti and start a luxury beach resort there… but chartering to Marlon Brando turned him off to the Societies… and he fell in love with Fiji soon thereafter.
His idea wasn’t original but it WAS faithfully initiated and carried out through the decades. It was to ‘not start a resort… but to create a laid-back island lifestyle people wanted to take part in.”
One of his ideas was to use the yachties to attract a certain type of sophisticated resort guest——and he was immediately successful in that endeavor.
Many island resorts attempt to limit yachties or segregate them, Musket Cove takes exactly the opposite approach. They want the boaters and resort guests to mix as much as possible. Example: both resort guests AND boaters can purchase a reasonably-priced ‘bbq pack’ of tossed salad, baked potato and raw steak… so everyone intermingles and eats together nightly… to the edification/eatification of all).
In addition, Dick Smith knew that boaters would spend money liberally if they felt truly welcome and weren’t nickel-and-dimed to death.
Thus, he allowed boaters to bring their own booze into his bar… knowing that his bar’s cash registers would be merrily ringing all evening because the vast majority of boaters would end up buying each other various drinks, etc, and spending large amounts of money regardless. (The bars of other nearby resorts are basically empty——only Dick’s place is three-deep and bedlam!)
And, sure, it costs money to tie up to the marina docks or pick up a mooring. Yes, of course, both the docks and moorings are full… the gourmet food shop is busy… the fuel dock active… the cybercafe jammed-to-bursting… hell, our 38 foot Wild Card is anchored in 70 feet of water and far, far away… but, hey, happily so!
The bot tom line: Musket Cove is making money by making sure its ‘yacht club guests’ aren’t treated like ‘second-class profit centers’ but human beings who are also valued cus tomers and friends.
Yachties return here year after year… hey, some never leave. And no self-respecting sea gypsy gets within a couple of hundred miles of the place without stopping… and getting stuck for a week, month or entire season.
“…I’m not leaving EVER,” my wife Carolyn has already informed me.
And, I must admit, I’ve no immediate plans to decamp either. I normally shun the shore, but not here. I’m truly welcome: these Fijian smiles are heart-felt. They even like my guitar playing——or lie sweetly about it. I’m home, for awhile!