Antigua to the Islands that brush with the clouds.

Paul Huntley
Thu 9 Apr 2009 16:36

17:32N 63:08W

9th April 2009

Libertad: Today is Thursday before Easter and we are on passage to Saba a small Island to the north and west of Antigua. Since Tim left to fly home last week we sailed from Jolly Harbour on Sunday to Monserrat, We spent a day with a guide showing us the part of the Island that is still habitable since the eruption of 1997.more than half the Island is now out of bounds and considered to be dangerous even to visit, this includes the once capital, Plymouth. We drove as far as possible up garibaldi hill and then walked to the summit at 2200mts to get the best view of the active and smoking Souffrierre volcano and the ash flows covering much of Plymouth. I found it quite unsettling to look down on the deserted homes, schools and shops of this once bustling metropolis.Monserrat is a British colony and is getting funding to rebuild the capital at little bay. The first building to be completed is the cultural centre funded by a generous gift from George Martin, the Beatles producer. The rest of this new capital is slowly taking shape with heavy earth moving equipment moving an entire mountain that is in the way. We spent some time talking with a lady who had lost her home in the eruption and that of her parents.

he anchorage at little bay is now the port of entry and sits to the north west of the island under the shadow of silver hill, I hope that this area will be a safe haven for this burgeoning capital.

We weighed anchor and departed Little Bay for St Eustatius (Statia) a Dutch island 25 miles to the north west of Monserrat.With the 18kttrade wind on the beam we made swift progress averaging over six kts and arriving at the anchorage before lunch. With Q flag fluttering from our starboard spreader we all set off in the dinghy (Doris) to clear customs and immigration, this was a relatively painless one stop one form entry compared to some we have experienced. Liberated to explore this small but interesting island we set off along the old now derelict waterfront of this once bustling harbour. In true Dutch style they traded with anyone with anything that turned a profit, at one time supplying both the French and the British with gunpowder and munitions. As a result of this the island had changed hands many times. On one occasion Admiral Rodney sailed from St Lucia with a fleet and capture the island and confiscated several million pounds worth of goods, he also left the Dutch flag flying for several weeks enticing many trading ships to drop anchor in the bay falling victim to yet more plunder from Her Majesties Navy. The economy now is based on a large oil terminal on the northern tip of the island which in characteristic form trade oil from around the world to supply the Caribbean region with a variety on oil based products, the local currency is still the Fl florin or Dutch guilder but as usual the mighty U.S. $ is widely accepted.

We spent time walking to the upper town and exploring the fortress and museum. The local people are the most hospitable we have yet met in the Caribbean, always greeting you with a welcome smile.

Ewan noticed that The Old Gin House now a hotel was offering a happy hour and live entertainment that very evening so after some snorkelling (saw a turtle) and a roast chicken dinner aboard Libertad, we Dorised ashore to relax with a rum punch or three returning at 10:00 pm, yes that is very late for us, to a cockpit nightcap of some of Ewans finest Whiskey and bed.

Today we are motor sailing to Saba another island to the North West but more of that on my next blog.

Best wishes to you all from the crew of Libertad: Paul, Corrie Sarah, Emily and Ewan.