Sunday, March 25, 2012


One of the more interesting islands, though we've never set foot on it, is Montserrat.

A fairly large island (10 miles by 7 miles), Montserrat is the one Caribbean island with an active volcano.  In the early 90's, the island had a population of more than 11,000 people.  A volcanic eruption in 1995 destroyed the main town of Plymouth, burying it in 40 feet of mud. Following the destruction of Plymouth, more than half of the population left the island due to the economic disruption and lack of housing.  We understand that all were offered the chance to move to the UK, and many people did.  The remaining population is there by choice, and we hear that they consider it better than a London tenement.  There have been further eruptions since then, including a partial collapse of the lava dome in 2010.

Plymouth was the only really good anchorage on Montserrat, and yachts are forbidden to go there due to the potential for further volcanic activity.  The remaining anchorages are subject to significant waves and swell, making for a very rolly night.  That's why we have never stopped.  Reports are that the northern part of the island is extremely lush and beautiful.

This trip, though, on our voyage from Nevis to Guadeloupe, we passed just outside the two-mile exclusion zone, and had a glorious view of the island from that distance.  On the south side of the island, one can see two large areas of volcanic ash flowing down the mountainside into the sea.  It was interesting to see this, and compare it to the ash fields we saw on Mt. Etna when we visited Sicily last fall.

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