Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Montserrat


 

The weather predictions say the winds will be light but SE (which is right on our nose) until about 11 am,  then East, our desired direction that is if we want to actually sail to Montserrat.  Like true tourists with itchy to-go-itis, we're off the mooring ball by 7 am. and surprise, surprise, the winds are light from the SE. With our usual mizzen and jib up, we bobbed along at an incredible 2.5- 3 knots. The mainsail? (not sure what that looks like) hasn't been out of the stack pack in over 4 years, I'm thinking of turning it into a sun awning. Hopefully, we make the 30 miles before dark.  And we do!
 
Ocean Wings in Little Bay








We cruise to Little Bay, headed for the spot behind Tom and Megs, just then a sailboat comes from in front of them, does a u-turn, cuts us off and Sue slams it in reverse to prevent bumper-boats and then he drops his anchor where we intended. But there are other spots and we get anchored, but we're now way out in 40 ft of water and at the mercy of the rolling waves. Just as we contemplate moving somewhere calmer a French boat comes in and does what French boats always do... drops in front of us and backs down over our anchor.  Now it's impossible to move. Tom and Megs, on their way back from our boat to theirs, mention to him that he is over our anchor, he looks down into the crystal clear Caribbean waters and there we are off his transom. Now, this is a first for a Frenchie, he actually moves! We're in shock but it's getting dark and just not prudent to move, we'll wait till morning.
At 7:30 we've upped the anchor, leaving it dangling and move forward into a spot that has just been vacated by another boat. Sweet.  But what the *#**#? -- as we move forward a Nicholson 36 yacht named "Gin Rummy" comes full power trying to cut us off, he breaches our right of way, speeds up and cuts right across our bow, turns into the wind and drops his anchor right in front of us. I had to reverse to keep from putting Ocean Wings bow right into his rear cockpit. Talk about rude. We drift back and drop our anchor, but not in the spot we intended. It's going to be another rock-n-roll night.
Enough is enough, I jump in the water, to check on whether our anchor is set and right  over and to meet this rude boater, Mr. Gin Rummy, to let him know he's about to become famous....... "For being the rudest boater in the Caribbean" I'm  going to  publish my shots and video of his stunt on You tube and on sailing blogs. 

 
   
 


Irregardless, the day is to be enjoyed and explored. We picked a local tour guide "Bob" to take us to view the power of Mother Nature and the aftermath of the eruption of the volcano in 2010.  Unbelievable does not begin to describe it.
The whole town of Plymouth was destroyed by lava flows moving at 80 miles per hour  engulfing everything in its path in a matter of hours. 
 
 
Plymouth Harbour


 
After 2 stories high
Before 3 stories high
3 story buildings were engulfed  by lava to their second story, a beautiful golf course was completely obliterated. 



Pro Shop after
Golf Course after






Methodist Church before   and   after                               
 

The world famous Montserrat Springs Hotel, on the hillside overlooking the ocean had lava and mud invade its hallways, fill the swimming pool, engulf its offices and half bury the poolside bar. The burned out office still had a brochure advertising rooms at $750.00 per night.


 
Our Guide  "Bob" at Montserrat Springs Hotel
 

 




  

 



 The devastation was both complete and final, as most of the homes, hotels and businesses are still abandoned and in prohibited areas, lying in the shadow of the Mt. Soufriere Volcano. 

Intersection Before




Intersection after
Little Bay, where we anchored, is on the north side of the island, away from the next threat from this still active volcano. They are rebuilding their town in this location and it is evident by the new beachside structures and the newness of the harbour area. 
Steam, dark smoke and acrid sulfur is still belching from this volcano and it is still constantly pouring from its summit in a sombre reminder of "who's in charge here".
Bob, our tour guide lost his home and everything in it that day. His whole family was evacuated to England and they lost everything also. He now works as a Security Guard at the Airport, and a tour guide on his days off. Almost all agriculture ended on the island when 19 farmers lost their lives and the voracious volcano ate all the arable agricultural land.

Mt Soufriere with Lava flow on left

 

 

 

 



The Montserrat Volcano Observatory is as close as you are allowed and perched high on a hillside looks straight at the peak. A helicopter ferries scientists and vulcanologists on flights of discovery with the hope of learning and predicting the next big bang. When Gord asked the locals if they were frightened by the volcano, they all replied, "Not at all".
Next morning, as we sailed from this anchorage on our way to Guadaloupe, the volcano was shrouded in mist, or is it steam building for its next display of its power? As we sailed along the coast, the sulfur was strong in the air and we could see where the lava flowed all the way into the ocean, creating a new future coastline that in years to come will be hidden by lush tropical vegetation that will hide the power beneath as it bides its time.
Seeing this tremendous force of nature so close up was both awe inspiring and terrifying.



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Sailboat owners Gord and Sue aboard their 55' Whitby Ketch "Ocean Wings" share their adventures and travels as they start their retirement, living their dream of seeing the world from oceanside.
Ocean Wings is a recent purchase and our first foray into the Sailing Lifestyle. We're excited and a little scared. Join us in our adventure.