Montserrat and catch up

Alia Vita
Rob & Frances Lythgoe
Fri 6 Mar 2015 16:09
16:48.00N 62:12.52W

Carolyn and Jonathan joined us in St Lucia on the 22nd Feb and left us in Montserrat today, 6th March. That wasn't quite the plan though.

We have had two weeks of quite unseasonable weather here. The winds have been strong, the sea state between the islands has been unfriendly, and the temperature has been what the less hardy might describe as 'chilly' at night. Oh, and it has rained a lot, and I mean a lot.
e hung around in St Lucia for a day or two, then in Martinique for a few days, but eventually made a break for it.  What we saw of Martinique was fairly underwhelming. Lots of concrete, cars, be
ch beds, and ice cream parlours. What made it worse is the French appear to have no interest whatsoever in the internet, and it was expensive.  We are not feeling the urge to return.

From there
we had another 'exhilarating' sail to Dominica. Dominica is only a few miles north of Martinique but couldn't be more different. It is not developed at all, and the scenery is just stunning. We took a days tour around the south of the island from our anchorage at Roseau which was interesting and informative, but also involved the loss of our camera somewhere along the way. Fortunately I have Carolyn's photos so will post a few interesting ones.

We also
 at Portsmouth in the north whilst Jonathan and Carolyn did the 'Indian River' boat trip, yet another Pirates of the Caribbean set. Frances and I did it a couple of years ago so chilled out between the showers.

Next stop was the delightful islands of Les Saintes, a beautiful, laid back, little group of islands. We know this because we went two years ago. This time it was overcast when it wasn't raining and that washed away some of its charm.  By this time we are wondering how we are going to make Antigua for C & J's flight home, so we needed to get a move on, the weather clearly wasn
t going to improve.  Les Saintes to Guadeloupe was a roller coaster. We sailed with just half of our smallest head sail up and were making 9 to 10 knots, which is quick. I was distracted by a monohull that was storming along under full main and genoa. He was completely out of control and couldn't reduce sail. As he turned into what should have been the protected side of Guadeloupe the wind increased to 40kts and he still had all his sails up! The inevitable happened and he damaged his mainsail, but it was still half up, half down and still blowing. We hung back slightly just in case he lo
t his mast and needed some help, but then I saw his French tri-colour so.
......only joking (just). His mast didn't come down but it was interesting all the same. Lesson learned,
​ as if we didn't know it already,​
NEVER have too much sail up.

We anchored at the north of Guadeloupe ready for an early start for Antigua. We struggled to get a weather forecast in English but fina
ly found the one bar in town that had Wi-Fi and
​ the forecast wasn't
 good. We even called our friends Steve and Emma in Martinique and asked
​ them​
for a weather forecast. They told us not to go, to get C&J to fly to Barbados on Thursday, stay in a hotel
​ overnight and
 fly to Antigua on Friday as there were no timely connecting flights. We finally
 that you can fly from Montserrat to Antigua, which is only 25miles, for £75, and Montserrat was doable.
​ The upside of this last place was the discovery of the school used as the police station in 'Death in Paradise' which Carolyn is an avid watcher of. She was quite made up to have her photo taken on the veranda. ​

We left Guadeloupe
​and headed ​
for Antigua just in case, but the weather was untenable
​. W
e turned away from the wind and waves by about 45 degrees and made for Montserrat which was the right call. Not only was it the right call from a sailing point of view, but Montserrat was a great place to visit.

We did a tour of the island with a very knowledgeable guide who took us into the accessible places that were evacuated after the 19
​ Nature has now claimed back the houses, businesses, roads, infrastructure and without a guide you would not even know that those properties were in there. We visited a church and a hotel that had been abandoned but still accessible. It was all very interesting. Later that day C&J jumped on their 7 seater plane bound for Antigua.

The only problem now, is how do Frances and I get to Antigua from an even worse position to collect Rebecca, Sarah, Dan and Phil who land on Sunday? Hopefully the weather will improve a little tomorrow.​