A PERIPATETIC JOURNEY
not all who wander are lost
Early on the morning of March 17 (Happy St. Patrick’s Day!), we set off for Montserrat. Although the waves were smaller than the day before, there were still a few squalls, some of which brought gusts in the 30-kt range, keeping us busy with sail adjustments. As we neared Montserrat, the winds dropped, and we motor sailed the last 5-7 miles. We were eager to learn about the volcanic features of the island and to experience the annual St. Patrick’s Day festival. St. Patrick’s Day is a national holiday on Montserrat, whose population has a strong Irish identity left over from the days that Irish prisoners and indentured servants were sent to work the sugar cane plantations with the African slaves. This identity endures although there are very few descendants of these original Irish inhabitants remaining on the island, especially after the eruptions.
We anchored in Little Bay, and Brian went ashore to check in. He was just in time, as the customs and immigration officials were leaving their offices (early) to head over to the festival. They kindly checked us in, and encouraged us to head over to the festival ourselves. We searched our shelves and closets for green clothing and headed to shore to meet our taxi. The festival was quite an experience. It attracts visitors from St. Kitts, Antigua, and yes, Ireland. We wandered around, taking in the scene and sampling the local food.
After returning to the boat, we decided to move to a nearby anchorage, hoping to find shallower water and less motion. We had been anchored in 50 ft of water. Unfortunately, we only found one of those things – shallower water. It was a very rolly night. The next morning, we booked a tour of the island. Our guide drove us to the Montserrat Volcano Observatory, then to some of the exclusion zones that had since been opened since the last eruption. Although in certain areas people are allowed to move back to their homes, the volcano is still active, and most are not willing to risk losing everything again. We also visited an abandoned hotel and home that had been damaged in the eruptions and it was a powerful experience. Later, we returned to the observatory to meet with one of the scientists involved in monitoring the volcano. He took us to a room filled with computers, seismographs, and other equipment and windows looking out toward the volcano. It was fascinating to hear about the work they do at the observatory.
That afternoon we moved south along Montserrat’s west coast to find a calmer anchorage. We settled down for the night in Fox Bay, made pizza on the grill, and enjoyed a beautiful sunset. It was so nice there that we stayed another day before heading to Antigua. We enjoyed a relaxing Sunday on the boat. Brian and Marin went for a brief dinghy ride, but mostly we read and played cards and did a few small boat jobs. The next morning we would leave for Antigua, but first planned to continue south along the coast to see Plymouth (the former capital of Montserrat that was destroyed by the volcanic eruptions). We’d then sail around the southern tip of the island and head north towards Antigua.
McGlynn family 5 (Isla, Marin, Eoin, Kendall, and Brian) sailing Counting Stars