Position at 13/1/1012
arrived in Montserrat on 13th Jan, and after dancing around the tight
anchorage in Little Bay with two large barges I eventually decided to go
around the bluff to Rendezvous Bay to drop the hook, there are no marinas or
even ports on the island. After clearing customs etc we sat out winds gusting to
30 knots but were quite comfortable.
1995 the volcano erupted after 400 years of dormancy, and there have been
further episodes right up to 2011. There were 11,000 people here, only about 30
were killed in the eruptions but the population has now reduced to 4,600 through
emigration, mainly to the UK. The eruptions have left millions of tons of ash
and sand everywhere.
capital, Plymouth, was destroyed, and remains inside an evacuated exclusion zone
which covers around half the island. Only last month the zones were relaxed, and
we were able to visit by 4 wheel drive taxi some of the abandoned areas. Many
areas and buildings have been buried under sand and boulders washed down by
subsequent heavy rains.
driver / guide was Joe Phillips (Avalon), who deserves the high praise he gets
in Doyle’s Guide. He took us for 4 hours around inaccessible places, pointing
out his own home which is now over-run with vegetation and the abandoned school
where his son went. Despite all this he maintains a fantastic positive attitude,
looking forward not back. Just before Xmas he moved into his new house which he
built himself from scratch.
sights were tragic, with many beautiful homes in wonderful countryside being
gradually overgrown with vegetation. We walked through a hotel where the
swimming pool is full of sand, the reception desk still has a phone on the desk
but even the inside floor has a foot of sand inside. Upstairs are bedrooms with
marvellous views, and even a few pieces of abandoned furniture, but all with
various levels of sand in them.
the remaining population have relocated to the north of the island, and they are
building a new capital at Little Bay, which is a pretty unsuitable area, but all
they have. After the manicured property developments of Jolly Harbour the
contrast could not be more stark. Little Bay consists of one rough concrete
dock, onto which they drive the barges we tussled with on entry. The eruptions
brought huge quantities of volcanic material to the surface, and subsequent
rains have washed it into valuable building sand. A fleet of large American
trucks shuttle onto the barges – they are selling the volcano that brought such
destruction – good on them.
This is a fantastic and beautiful island with friendly
and helpful people. I wish them well in their long recovery from
Here are some photos which I hope will give a flavour of
the effect of the volcano and the later rain washed flows down the river
Before: A lovely house beside the golf course. Note the
highest red roof behind the tree.
After: This is the top red roof, the rest of the house
Before: A tree lined avenue beside the golf
After: The same view now.
land has grown out to sea, to engulf half the length of the pier at the
abandoned capital of Plymouth.
that’s what I call a pothole.
took us across this river of sand and boulders.
Salila at anchor top left. Middle right is the only
active port / jetty in Montserrat.