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Date: 05 May 2007 20:37:11
Title: Glad of a cat in Montserrat!

Position 16:47.9N 62:12.5W


Ah, well, plans are subject to change…having met up with Malarkey again in Antigua we learnt that they, and everyone else we know, are not going any further north as they want to get down south well before the hurricane season. This left us with the option of being Norman-no-mates as we headed up to St Maarten/St Martin and all the way back down south again, or giving up on going further north and having some company for the next month or so. So we’re heading south.


Anyway, we spent an enjoyable time in Antigua, in fact longer than planned due to a combination of apathy and my (Neil) getting a streaming cold for a few days which knocked me out a bit. We managed to get up and see some of the north coast before heading back down to Jolly Harbour on the west coast to rejoin Malarkey who had stayed in Falmouth Harbour while Trevor took part in the Classic Regatta as crew on “Nordwind”, an 80ft yacht from 1939 that was owned by Admiral Doenitz. These sailing types, they just can’t get enough of it…we decided to skedaddle after the Classic Regatta as the next week was “Race Week” which would have meant even more people and yachts and sailing stuff, not really our cup of tea. A lot of the people taking part in all this were the type that take part in Cowes week and similar, and I reckon if you wandered around English Harbour and yelled “I say, Archie!” you’d get the attention of at least a dozen cravat wearers. It’s that kind of place, and a popular spot for the super rich and their super yachts. Here’s one that apparently belongs to Roman Abramovich, complete with 50ft yacht on deck and a 50ft motor boat on the other side in case one tires of the helicopter and jet skis:



My favourite though is “Maltese Falcon”, a $100 million – yes, that’s right, $100 million – superyacht with three rotating masts with furling square sails, that are trimmed using sensors fed via fibre optics to a central computer. Interested? You can charter it for $350,000 per week. You either love it or hate it, personally I think it’s stunning – the second pic shows the masts from the front, a real work of art:





And so off to Montserrat, which as I’m sure you all know isn’t all it used to be due in no small part to the volcano that erupted in the ‘90s rendering the southern half of the island uninhabitable. There’s only really one usable anchorage here (Little Bay / Carrs Bay) which suffers from northerly swell and makes yachts roll about a lot, unless of course you’re sensible enough to have a catamaran. That’d be us then. We had a couple of nights there so we could do a tour of the island and see the destruction wrought by the volcano (from a distance – you’re not allowed too close as it’s still smouldering and might go off again). Not a great picture due to all the ash and dust, but here’s the culprit:



I didn’t visit Hiroshima in 1945, but would imagine it looked similar - almost the whole of the southern half of Montserrat, including the capital, Plymouth, is under a thick layer of ash and mud and looks like the surface of the moon (I haven’t been there either – yet – but you know what I mean). Otherwise the island is really pretty, very hilly and green, friendly people, but no apparent sign of much in the way of employment. Tourism, which used to provide 30% of the islands income, has dropped right away not surprisingly and not too many yachts visit because of the rolly anchorage. Interestingly lots of new hurricane-proof housing is being built in the apparently volcano-safe north, paid for by the UK and the EU and others, which means that the people appear to have better housing than many of the other islands which is a bit ironic. A fascinating place and we’re very glad we made the effort to go.

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