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Montserrat, March 18 – 19, 2006

As I mentioned in the March log we spent two days on beautiful island of Montserrat.

When we arrived in Little Bay we thought we had avoided the commercial ship channel but were wrong and had to move the boat early the 18 th. We had a nice spot about 150’ off a sunken barge and near the beach. The island having been settled by some Irish folk in 1630 it had quite the St. Patrick party the night of the 17 th and we had a front row seat to some interesting island music and then a long night of bingo.

On the morning of the 18 th we decided that rather than spend all day on the boat we should take a tour of the island which was primarily focused on the 1995 eruption of the volcano and the subsequent damage to the capital Plymouth. It really was devastating as our pictures show.

As the swell built through the 18 th in the afternoon it appeared as if the Rose was going to catch a wave and ride it either to shore or onto the wrecked barge. After watching this and pondering the various options of disaster we would have I suggested we move the boat a bit farther from the break.

At first we anchored behind the next boat to the west but due to the depth and amount of chain we ended up too close to a boat from Antigua named Bliss. The people were very nice about it and told us where their chain was and how much they had out. After deciding this would not work we moved over to Carrs Bay just to the west.

After finding a nice spot in about 15’ of water Sue let the anchor out all the while moving around the bow of the boat in her bikini. I am not certain she noticed but four guys gathered on the beach to watch. Not sure if they were watching our technique or Sue’s assets as she bending over to check the anchor length. The hook set well and I thought we were good and then the next large surge had us once again on the verge of surfing to the shore. So long story short, up came the anchor and we moved back to Little Bay.

While driving around looking at the possibilities an approximately 80’ ketch named Aria started following us, closely. After deciding one spot was no good, Aria began to call us on the radio and the people on the boat were waving and yelling. I answered their radio call but they did not respond. It is a very small world out here and I do believe they thought they knew us.

We finally gave up on Little Bay as the sun was beginning to disappear and headed to the east to Rendezvous Bay. There is nothing there except the only white sand beach on the island and a lone house. We had read in Doyles that you should only walk over to the beach with permission which Sue took to mean we could not anchor there. Since the sun was now completely below the horizon I made the command decision that we were anchoring there for the evening. Good sand bottom to hook up to and deep water up close to the shore made it a perfect last night on Montserrat.

I had felt very badly for the people on the island as their economy will not recover to what it once was for at least 50 years, or more than one or two generations. Even though what we saw that day looked horrible if you had to live it, it would certainly be worse. From 11,000 residents down to about 2,500 and half the island inhabitable due to volcano risk and splitting up of families as some had to leave the island and have yet to return. Millions of dollars in lost income from tourism, millions lost to damage, not to even mention the loss of life.

During our tour of the island we stood about one mile from the newly formed dome on the volcano, between it and Plymouth, on a ridge of land that still bore the scars of a searing explosion over ten years ago. Between the clouds we could occasionally glimpse the dome as it steamed all around from vents.

As we left on Sunday morning we passed down the eastern coast and had to veer away from the island to miss the offshore exclusion area. We were told that sail through the area would be a fine of $10,000. Not having that kind of pocket change we headed further east to about three miles offshore. From there we could see the other side of the dome and the damage done on the east coast. There are a couple of pictures we took as we sailed by.

As we passed about five miles east of the volcano I was just sitting back watching the island and thinking about the beating Mother Nature had dealt those poor islanders and I noticed a boiling cloud running down the side of the slope. At first I just sat there and stared and then it dawned on me, the volcano was erupting right before my eyes. I yelled at Sue that the volcano was blowing up. We watched in awe until we could no longer see the sides of the slope yet the boiling steam and ash continued to grow and rise. As we approached Guadeloupe to the south you could not see Montserrat but you could still see the cloud rising from 50 miles away.

My pictures are hopefully of good enough quality that you will be able to magnify them and I will leave them in a very large format which may take some time to open if you have a slow connection.

It is really pretty bad for the people there, having taken one bad lick after another, and now this.


























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