Montserrat, A Real Adventure
11 February 2010 | Little Bay Harbor
Bob, Heading on a tour with great expectations
What a gorgeous sail from Antigua to Montserrat.
The wind was south east and we were heading almost west. Leaving Antigua around 07:30 we headed off for Montserrat, an island we could see clearly before us. Winds were light and just behind the beam, so we were off, leaving Antigua a place we could almost call home having spent about two weeks touring the island both on land and by boat.
I have to brag to those sailors reading this message. I experienced the "Green Flash". We were anchored in Deep Bay, Antigua and as the sun set I looked out from behind our sun screen and sure enough the sun flashed. Picture an open body of water clear to the horizon, absolutly nothing but sea between us and the sun setting. As it approached the horizon slowly it disappeared piece by piece. Then as it was almost gone, with almost a sliver left visibly it turned green; no kidding, what was left of the sun on the horizon turned green for the final moment before it dropped below my sight. Alice was pi...sd, ....upset, she missed it.
Now to Montserrat, wow!!!! What an island. We arrived around noon and called a taxi number from our cruising guide not knowing what might happen. SUCCESS!! This guy, Joe Phillip, was fantastic. Believe me he offered us more than what was written in the guide. We cleared in and then were told by the police we had to move our boat. Understand that anchoring in 40 feet of water is not easy and once set you really don't want to pull the hook, but.... These were the police so we went back out to Lucky Bird, fired up the engine, pulled up the anchor and moved, darn!! We picked a new spot, dropped the anchor and set it.
Now we were finally off to experience Montserrat. Joe drove us around his island as no other guide might. He set up a special meeting at the volcano observatory which in my mind paid for the whole trip. Here we were in the epi-center of volcanic observation and looking straight out at the mountain. The fellow at the observatory told us all about the history of the volcano, he showed us videos of recent explosions and had real-time photos of an eruption that happened just yesterday. We learned the history of eruptions and the devastation that has occurred in recent history including burying the capital city of Plymouth.
This is an active volcano!! It looked like a moon site might. The color was ashen brown; there was no vegetation, just desolation. We could clearly see the flows and the devastation. Houses buried to the roofs. Complete mountain side wiped out by the outflows of the volcano. Awesome!!
So as our tour wound down it was quite apparent to Joe, Alice and me that something was happening with the volcano. Yes, another eruption and this time the winds were from the south blowing all the outflow ash our way. We wound our way back to Little Bay, thanked Joe and headed back to our dinghy.
Now picture a fixed platform you're stand on and huge swells, waves, crashing all around you and you have to get into your little tiny dinghy. Argh!! Oh my, this isn't going to be easy. First I made the leap, safely, once in I started the outboard, then how to get Alice safely aboard with this unbelievable swell? Out of nowhere a local fisherman appeared and helped get my lady aboard the rocking and rolling dinghy. Whew!! Safely in the dink we made our way back to Lucky Bird only to find she was covered in ash. Southerly winds had shifted the ash plume right over the northern part of the island. Something huge had occurred because the ash cloud darkened the sky to almost black and it was snowing brown ash. The sky was almost black with ash, awesome and pretty scary for we didn't know what might happen next. This volcano had just blown its top and the ash outflow was heading in our direction, the sight was unbelievable, truly spectacular.
So we will stay here tonight, rolling with the swell and trying to sleep. Tomorrow we'll pull anchor and head for Guadeloupe; hopefully the winds will be favorable. We are so fortunate to have decided to visit Montserrat ; this is an amazing island. Unlike other Caribbean islands, these people are proud of their home island and show it in their commitments to keeping it clean, well maintained and building homes of substance; refreshing to see a community of people proud of their homes.
Thank you Joe, thank you Montserrat; you have added incredible value to our journey.