Saturday, December 20, 2008

Return to Antigua

[Kyle]We got up with the sun and as we prepared Footprint to leave Deshaies we noticed all the other boats in the anchorage leaving rapidly ahead of us. Despite our early start, our check lists delayed us to being at least the 5th boat out (The Club Med-2 boat having left around midnight well before us).

We hoisted the sails in a brisk NE wind. We sailed as close to the wind as we could, but found ourselves steering about 30° to the west of our course to English Harbour. This path took us almost directly towards Montserrat which has always been a curiosity for us, looming on the horizon. The island is dominated by its volcano Soufriere, (all volcanoes in the Caribbean seemed to be named Soufriere), which so violently and devastatingly erupted in 1995 and is still very much active.

Montserrat Volcanic evidence and current activity

On this particular day (which we later learned was unusual) the volcano was emitting plumes of ash and hot gas high into the atmosphere. The visibility was great and we managed to get some good shots from fairly close (well, close enough for our comfort) before the wind died and we were forced to motor (MOTOR!, in the TRADE WINDS! Ugh!) to Antigua;

When we got back to English Harbor, we had hoped to find a better spot in the anchorage than the one we had left (nearer to row, better views, more wind for the generator), but alas, in the darkness we were unable to do so. We found ourselves in our good old spot. The next morning as we were preparing to clear customs, we decided to have a second look around (maybe someone had left?) and managed to find a pretty spot in Freeman bay, 200' from the beach (thanks to our shallow draft); still a fair way row into English Harbour dinghy dock, but great views (beach lined with palm trees) and plenty of wind for our power needs.
Footprint Anchored in Freeman Bay, English Harbour, Antigua

We are enjoying our view, and already other cruisers have waved at us!

[Maryanne]Hey - Kyle forgot to mention we caught a fish... OK, it did get away, but this is still progress! This fish goes by several names: Dorado, Mahimahi, or Dolphin fish.. too bad he got away.


Mommy Dearest said...

I never thought I'd feel sorry for you "having" to return to Antigua. But there it is. Your anchorage looks much better than before and the island actually seems to have taken on some charm in your absence. I think that fish you caught is also called "crafty." The one that got away...
I know Kyle has returned to work for a short while, leaving poor Maryanne to fend for yourself again. I hope to see him on this trip, as Darren is coming and will stay a day longer in hopes of catching up with Kyle for one fun evening of Dark Tower mortal combat. For me, if we can pull it off, it will be the first time in about 15 years or longer that the three of us have been together, alone. It's definitely worth a pot of potato cheese soup and a cherry pie!

Walt said...

Merry Christmas and Happy New Years. We saw your volcano pictures. WOW. We say Mt Etna erupt in 2002. But your pictures of Montserrat are scary.

Below is the link to the Montserrat volcano observatory.

Ok, no ash to scrape up up here, just snow.

Looks like you guys are having fun.

Montserrat Volcano Observatory

Weekly Report for the period 12 - 19 December 2008

Activity at the Soufrière Hills Volcano increased during the past week with confirmation of lava extrusion on the south-west side of the dome as well as further ash venting and rockfalls on the north-west face of the dome and
small pyroclastic flows in Gages Valley.

Observations on 18 December showed that remarkable dome growth has occurred recently, caused by lava extrusion on the south-west flank of the dome.
Photographs show that most of this has taken place since 8 December,
suggesting a link between the pyroclastic flows on 10 December and the onset of lava extrusion. Extrusion appears to be taking place high up on the dome
and the lava is filling up the area between the dome and Chance's Peak. It has probably already topped the ridge south-east of Chance's Peak as there
were two small pyroclastic flows in Galway's on the morning of 19 December.
It has not yet been possible to measure the rate of extrusion, but initial calculations suggest it is more than 1 cubic metre per second.

Visible activity increased noticeably during the past week, but was not directly associated with the new lava extrusion. There were frequent pulses of ash coming from several places spread over the north-west face of the dome. The most vigorous and frequent ash emissions were from a location low
down on the dome, behind Gages Mountain as seen from Salem. Night glow was visible on the north-west face from 16 December onwards, in locations consistent with the areas seen to be active during the day, including strong variable glow from behind Gages Mountain. The visible activity was accompanied by frequent rockfalls, and generated several small pyroclastic flows, all of which travelled down the Gages Valley. The number of flows increased towards the end of the week, with the largest pyroclastic flow on
17 December generating an ash cloud which reached approximately 10,000 feet above sea level. None of these flows travelled beyond the fan of deposits above Plymouth.

There was also some activity caused by continued erosion of the steep eastern face of the dome A pyroclastic flow in the Tar River Valley on 13 December reached the sea. A smaller one on 16 December did not.

MVO recorded 391 rockfalls, 121 long-period, six hybrid and one
volcano-tectonic events in the past week. Seismic activity had remained at an elevated level after the pyroclastic flows on 10 December. It increased noticeably from 15 until 17 December, then declined slightly. Almost all of
the long-period and rockfall vents were associated with the visible activity on the north-west face of the dome.

The average sulphur dioxide (SO2) flux was 539 tons per day with a minimum of 86 and a maximum of 1131. These values are consistent with those from last week.

The new lava extrusion increases the potential hazards to the west and south of the volcano. If it continues at the present rate, more and perhaps larger pyroclastic flows should be expected.

Pyroclastic flows may occur without any warning. Mudflows can also occur without warning, especially when there is heavy rainfall.