The island burried under the ashes: Montserrat

Take Off
Jörgen Wennberg
Thu 19 Mar 2015 03:34
We left Nevis early in the morning with this view…


We had a nice sailing trip between Nevis and Montserrat as well as the kids. As soon as we leave an anchorage Alex & Inez build their little hut with the cockpits cushions. This is good for sleeping as well as for avoiding the sunshine. However very cosy too…


Arriving in Montserrat in the afternoon we managed to clear in and have an island tour of Montserrat before it got dark. We anchored in the only spot allowed, Little Bay.


The taxi driver that we picked was a very nice gentlemen who had worked as a General Police Officer and was actually in charge of the whole evacuation plan of the Capital City Plymouth when the volcano errupted and buried the city of Plymouth in ashes. So we got an exclusive guided tour with lots of interesting details. We first stopped at the Montserrat Volcano Observartory where they register every activity of the Soufrière Hills Volcano.


In 1995 the population was around 11,000 people who farmed, fished and worked in the tourist industry. The Soufriere Hills Volcano first erupted in 1995, and major eruptions in 1997 led to the evacuation and eventual destruction of the capital, Plymouth. Nearly 2/3 of the population left the island and currently it is around 5,000 people. In the summer of 2003 the huge volcanic dome collapsed, and the volcano showed every sign of going to sleep. This led to the reopening of many areas. The government removed the ash (some of it several meters thick) from many roads. People started repairing their damaged homes. Then, in the beginning of 2006, there was lots of activity and several major eruptions, including one in December 2008 and one of the biggest ever on 11th of February 2010. The exclusion zone has now been moved back up North.

With our guide we got the privilege to enter the exclusion zone !

We drove through the former nice area of Plymouth with exclusive villas and government palaces. It was really like driving through a ghost town… empty houses, abandoned and not a single person in sight.



The string of lava burying the city of Plymouth in the far end. The cloud coming down from the volcano is an ash cloud.


It has been proven that the ashes mixed with water makes a perfect clay so Montserrat is exporting its ashes.

Our guide drove us to a former exclusive hotel. Jörgen is showing Alex rests of the roof being pulverised by the eruption and turned into rust.



The hotel’s reception


The office

The dining room


The swimming pool


Driving out from the exclusion zone

Before heading back to Little Bay, our guide took as to the Runaway Ghaut, a source of water not to miss.


Montserrat’s first European settlers were Irish who arrived from St Kitts in 1630. As for the other islands, the economy started to boom thanks to the sugar plantations. However over the years the smaller farms became uneconomical and many of the Irish returned to their homeland. They left behind Irish names such as O’Brian, Dublin and Ryan as well as St Patrick’s Day that we missed with 1 day!! We were there on the 18th of March and St Patricks is on the 17th of March…


The day after we chose to sail on the East side of the island. Below you can see the lava stream into the water.


Below, just under the clouds you can see the volcano still fuming after all these years.

We had a wonderful crossing sailing to Dominica all the way pass Guadeloupe and down to Les Saintes giving us some lovely weather pictures to enjoy!


Nice sailing and Alex having his lunch.