Passage to Montserrat
23 June 2007 | Little Bay
Saint Kitts is a nice place, but unfortunately for us we spent all of our time in a concrete marina (thanks to me and the flu, or whatever it was). The perfect anchorage may lie just down the coast, who knows. To get perfect anchorage status for us the anchorage must be a protected anchorage with not too many boats, it has to have inviting "jump in" water, a nice beach and good snorkeling/diving/fishing near by, and finally, a waterside café with fresh bread and WIFI, serving three meals a day. Not too much to ask? So far we have found pieces but not the whole place.
So today we're off to Montserrat. The Saint Kitts Port Authority referred to the island as Monster Rat. Cute. I guess a little inter island humor should be expected seeing as how Nevitians (those on Nevis) and Kittitians (those on Saint Kitts) have quite a rivalry going and they are from the same country. Nevis tries to succeed every once in a while but from what I hear they don't want to take their part of the national debt with them when they go so things are at a general impasse.
The weather has been tough for our entire stay in Saint Kitts and today is not really much different. Twenty knot winds and pretty good sized seas. We sailed south along Saint Kitts and then along the narrows between Saint Kitts and Nevis. The narrows between the two islands are famous for being a tricky place to navigate with strong currents and lots of rocks.
As we sailed along the coast of Nevis the wind came around and we either needed to tack our way up to Montserrat or motor sail. So motorsail it was.
About half way across the channel between Montserrat and Nevis is an Island called Redonda. It is basically a huge, inhospitable looking, rock. While it formally belongs to Montserrat no one really goes there except the occasional dive boat. At one point some interesting folk from Antigua claimed the rock and renamed it the Kingdom of Redonda. Apparently the king comes by now and again to climb to the top of his kingdom and then goes home to Antigua.
As we approached Montserrat it materialized out of the clouds and haze like an apparition. This is the one island in the Caribbean I have wanted to see more than all others. The volcano erupted as recently as this last winter, spewing ash into the sky that dusted our boat as we were crossing the south coast of Puerto Rico. It is an intriguing island, with the smallest population of any nation in the Caribbean at 5,000.
The entire southern part of the island has been wiped out or marked off limits. This is sad because Montserrat used to be known as the emerald of the Caribbean, and the area in the south was where the main port and all of the larger settlements were located. The only port of entry now is Little Bay. I assure you that it is a little Bay.
When we arrived around three in the afternoon the Bay had about four or five other boats anchored and there was precious little room for too many more without crowding. We anchored and lowered the dinghy to see about clearing in. In the French islands if customs is closed, no big deal, grab a bite at a café, shop a bit, just make sure that you clear in at the first opportunity. The British islands tend to be a little more uptight. I walked up the quay and approached the only person in view on the entire island. He had on a uniform and was tending a shack just inside the large chain link and barbed wire fence.
I asked him if we could clear in and he was very friendly. It was Saturday at four in the afternoon so no one was handy. He made a few calls but couldn't raise anyone. I said thanks and that we would come back in the morning first thing. Then I asked if it would be ok for us to go ashore to grab a bite to eat. A cloud passed over head. No, you must stay on your boat, was the response. Check.
So Hideko, Roq and I marveled at the intriguing island from the bay as we welcomed Kelp Fiction into the anchorage.