We left Virgin Gorda at 11:30am on May 16th and headed into the Anegada Passage. Our plan was to do as much sailing as possible because we were too tired of listening to the engine and paying for fuel to do otherwise. We assumed it would be difficult to make it to St. Martin with the given wind direction, so we decided we would skip it and aimed ourselves as close to the wind as we could. As usual we weren’t getting as far east as we’d hoped, so we sailed on one tack through the day and changed to the other tack through the night.

As sunset approached on the second day we motored east toward Saba and discussed stopping there. As much as we wanted to visit, we also wanted to eat up some miles while the seas were minimal, so we passed it by and resigned ourselves to another overnight. We watched the lights of St. Kitts and Nevis pass us by, and by mid afternoon the next day we were anchoring at Montserrat.

 

The town of Plymouth on Montserrat was completed destroyed by the still-active volcano in the late 1990s. Parts of the nearby villages are beginning to open again and some residents are moving back in, but Plymouth is still off limits. We were excited to get as close to the volcano as we could, but felt a little weird taking pictures of the ruins of a community. We weren’t alone in our morbid curiosity as touring the damage is definitely the thing to do on the island.

The first day we took a bus up to the observatory where we met Cheri. We got a closer look at the volcano and tried to retain some of what we learned from the exhibits. We were there too late in the day to try to hike up to the hill with better views of the destroyed town, so we headed back to the boat.

 

The next day we planned to get as close as we could on the bus and then walk the rest of the way in to Richmond, the best place to get a look at the eruption’s effect on the island. But Cheri saw us walking on her way to work, offered us a ride, and turned it into a little excursion. Two of her coworkers also came along and we looked around the old hotel together. They headed back to work after explaining how we could get back to the main road and that we would know where we were not allowed to go by the signs.

Though this whole area is covered in ash, the vegetation doesn’t mind at all.
Breathing in some dust.

Sadly, this hotel was completed right before the eruption. Some parts of it were still in great shape.

 

No, these aren’t mini-doors, the floor has just risen with several feet of volcanic ash.
Swimming pool at the hotel.

 

 

It was a little strange to see that some other folks from Denver had visited this abandoned house.

 

 

 

 

It didn’t take long for the smoke in the air to start to infiltrate our lungs. I was stoked when I realized that I was finally in a situation in which I could use the longest word in the English language – which I learned in my 7th grade word blocks class and never forgot – in an apropos sentence.

So I said to Jon, “Maybe we should get out of here before we develop pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.”

Beer and chicken roti seemed a fine cure.

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