Friday, January 13, 2017


It was hard to leave Antigua. After New Years we languished on it’s west coast, day sailing up and down it and dropping anchor in various bays. There were just so many beautiful beaches to enjoy.


Frog Island

Can you find Serenada?

and beautiful sunsets

just before the green flash

Settled weather conditions (preferably without any north component in the wind or seas) are needed to have a comfortable stay at anchor on the island of Montserrat. As such favorable conditions appeared in the forecast, we chose to take advantage of them. We had tried several times in the past to get to Montserrat, but had never succeeded.

On the morning of our departure from Antigua, however, Gil noticed that one of our spreader caps was hanging upside down. He cursed the riggers who had done our rigging inspection back on the island of Grenada. They had to remove the spreader caps to inspect the rigging behind them, but obviously hadn’t secured them back into place with enough care.

If life begins at the edge of your comfort zone, then I lived that day.

securing the starboard spreader cap   


securing the port spreader cap  

 happy to be coming down!
Why was I up there and not Gil?  By default; as the person on deck had to do the hoisting, and I do not have the strength for that. I was happy to be living when I got back down.

Montserrat's flag above HYC's burgee on Serenada

Montserrat's smoking volcano 

On a clear day, Montserrat can be seen from Antigua. As we sailed nearer, you could also see the gases rising from the Soufriere Hills volcano, still active after all these years.

Soufriere Hills volcano

Montserrat has a remarkable history. Its’ volcano has erupted numerous times between 1995 and 2010. Its’ population, once as high as 11,000 is now under 5,000. Half the island is an exclusion zone, and volcano updates are given weekly by Radio Montserrat.

the flow that buried Plymouth

Gil & I took a tour with Joe Phillip, a life long Montserratian. His personal story eclipsed his exceptional tour, and provided a glimpse into the harsh life led by those who chose to stay on the island while the volcano continued to be active.

The capital city of Plymouth was buried. Four story buildings can no longer be seen. One bridge, which was about 15’ high, is now buried by more than 30’ of mud flow material. The island’s coastline was changed as a result of its’ volcanic activity.

Joe's neighbourhood, abandoned after erruptions

Joe took us into the site of his old neighbourhood (within the exclusion zone), and we entered the remains of some of the homes, whose occupants were evacuated ‘temporarily,’ almost 20 years ago; but then never permitted to return. They essentially left with little more than an overnight bag. The images were haunting....






Prior to the volcano’s eruption, one of the island’s most noteworthy residents was George Martin, who built a state of the art recording studio here, and recorded records for the likes of The Beatles and others. He organized a huge benefit concert (in England) whose proceeds went towards rebuilding Montserrat. 

George Martin 

Paul McCartney

From his own funds he had built a community theatre/auditorium, and the art on its’ walls paid tribute to those who performed at the benefit concert.

Eric Clapton

Phil Collins

Paul McCartney

Elton John

Our stay in Montserrat was short (but sweet), as an incoming north swell threatened to make the anchorage uncomfortable. 

Montserrat's anchorage in Little Bay

incoming barge  
After only two nights, we set sail for St. Kitts & Nevis. I’ll save that story for the next blog.

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