Montserrat, or not?

Fri 2 Dec 2011 07:35
17.08'8n 62.37'9w

After a swim and some food, we leave at 8.30 for Montserrat. We had been struggling about the next leg. Go north to Antigua, 45m and there after west to st kitts 60m, or go montserrat 40m and nevis 25m. We had been in antigua so it should be easy. But Montserrat was more than half destroyed in 1997 by its vulcano, and anchoring there could be according to our books, untennable. Still, we went for monserrat, eta 1600.

We again motor sail, about 8 knots so nice and sweet, northwest course, calme sea, all is good, including G, and it looks like we will be there at 1500 already.

Further reading the guide and charts on montserrat learns us that customs close at 15.15, oops. And that they are notoriously unfriendly if you anchor without their initial approval. So it is advised to call them by vhf before arrival.

Our vhf however stopped working today. The unit receives audio but will not send. Luckily we have a handset, but that signal will only go one mile. A checks his phone for internet, but no luck. Back to vhf then. It is an old problem, and last august, while sailing with S to maryinique, we had the dealer there look at the problem. Each time I would switch on the vhf, it would complain about not being able to link to the base unit, each time he tweaked the connector it would work, but each time I tried it wouldn't ofcourse. So, same problem now.

We get the charts out and the guide, next island is Nevis, eta 19.30 and it is just 10 am. That's very dark for anchoring. And, new harbours should not be approached at night, says the guide. We read on, there is a one mile beach for anchoring, in 5 meter deep water. We decide to go for it, assuming we can keep our speed high. And in 4 hours, when we pass montserrat, we can always 'hang a right' and try and anchor there as originally planned.

We know we shouldn't change the plans while sailing, but hey :)

At around 11am we smell a sewer type smell. What is this? Is our toilet leaking? No. It comes from the outside. Aha! It must be the vulcano! Yes, it must be. We see the vulcano on starboard, and a grey/yellow? strip of clouds/fog coming down the slope. We gave carefully sailed outside the 2 miles exclusion zone, but still the sulphur reaches us, we hope it is not dangerous...

No, we survived, on our way to Nevis it is. We check again the details of the new route. Hey, what is that? Everywhere the sea is more than a kilometer deep, but on our route there is a peak of an underwater mountain, being only 14 meters deep, last measured in 1996, so 1 year before the eruption at montserrat, and only 10 miles away. So we take a wide turn around this peak, as we expect a rough sea. No problems. And as the wind increases, our boatspeed goes up to 8.5 knots, and at 1800, about 20 minutes after sunset, we anchor, nice and easy, no problem yet again.