After seeing so many green hillsides slashed with Zorro-like road scars, Mosquito Island, where we anchored for the night, looked refreshingly undeveloped. Later I learned that it has been acquired by Richard Branson, the entrepreneur who is head of the Virgin Group, operator of Virgin Records, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Virgin Megastores, Virgin Mobile, and dozens of other companies including Virgin Galactic, which is building Spaceport America in southern New Mexico for tourism beyond the earth. Sir Richard also owns Necker Island, just a little north of us, which can be rented for upwards of $36,000 a night with a three-night minimum. Mosquito Island, he has said, will be developed as an eco-friendly luxury resort with a zero carbon footprint. I wonder what they’ll do with their garbage.
After two days on the water and a brief bout of seasickness, I was glad the next morning when we took a dingy to Saba Rock for lunch on solid ground followed by a walk around the Bitter End Yacht Club. Inside the commissary, which caters to boaters, I jotted down some prices: $9.25 for a box of Cheerios, $10.15 for a bag of Cheez-its — signs of what to expect when there is tourism on the moon.
Eventually, I guess, there will be space yachts even more luxurious than those that navigate the Caribbean. Several times on our voyage we spotted the Alfa Nero, an evil-looking craft whose dark, sharp angles reminded me of Darth Vader. Its inhabitants, I later read, have included Bill Gates, who chartered the boat for a family vacation. With more than 4,000 square feet of living space and a swimming pool that can be converted into a helipad, the 269-foot boat, owned by Theodore Angelopolous, a Greek shipping magnate and yachtmaker, is listed for sale for $190 million — almost ten times the price of the Davis mansion in Santa Fe. One evening when I had a wireless connection, I read in the Journal that the Santa Fe County Assessor had confirmed that Casa Davis is indeed the most expensive residence in New Mexico and will be billed for about $133,000 a year in property taxes. Not much, I guess, in the surreal world of the Caribbean jet set, barely enough for three days on Mr. Branson’s Fantasy Island.