The Caribbean is Volcano Land. Most of the Windward and Leeward Islands are volcanic in origin.  Fortunately,  the volcanoes are dormant except for Montserrat. 

Montserrat has been erupting more or less continuously for several years.  You aren't going to see any active lava flows as you sail by on your yacht, but there's plenty of steam and ash for your entertainment.  There is an exclusion zone around the southern end of the island and for good reason.  The volcano is unstable, and you never know when it might erupt or send a cloud of superheated toxic gases in your direction.

The appearance of the volcano changes minute by minute.  The clouds of toxic gas, steam, and ash at the summit continually change in size and shape.  Sometimes there's practically nothing coming out, and then thirty seconds later, a cloud of ash envelops the entire mountain top.

Some people avoid the sulfurous fumes and ash by sailing to the east of the island.  Since the trade winds blow out of the east, all of the ash and toxic fumes extend off to the west.  I wanted to experience what it's like to sail through an ash cloud, so I passed Montserrat to the west, but I did it at a safe distance outside the exclusion zone.

The ash cloud varies from minute to minute under the influence of the trade winds.  When the volcano is spewing massive amounts of ash into the atmosphere and the trade winds are blowing strongly, the ash cloud extends to the west for a long distance.  When the volcano becomes quiet, the ash cloud disappears. 

We chose to sail outside the exclusion zone because the winds were strong, and there was a large ash cloud in our path.  When we entered the cloud, we immediately smelled the sulfurous gases mixed in with the gritty ash.  Although it took less than ten minutes to sail through the cloud, the deck was quickly covered by a fine layer of grey ash.  You could feel the grit beneath your feet when you walked on the deck.

I felt like quite the adventurer sailing through the ash until I saw a German yacht sailing close inshore.  He was sailing far inside the exclusion zone and heading directly toward a dense cloud of ash and toxic gas.  We wondered if he understood what he was doing and the risks involved.  He was either ignorant or stupid.

To our amazement, he maintained his course and sailed straight into the massive gray cloud disappearing from view.  Nothing good could come from this, and we wondered whether he would survive.  After a few minutes, the yacht suddenly reemerged from the cloud of destruction reversing his direction of travel and heading north to safety.  The ash and toxic gas had been too much for him.

He sailed to the northern end of the Island beyond the volcano's reach and put his anchor down for the night.  We weren't far behind him and did the same. 

Sailing through an ash cloud in Volcano Land isn't something you get to do every day, and it's the kind of thing you need to do only once.  You get your ticket punched and quickly move on to other things. 

The power of presidents and kings pales in comparison with that of Mother Earth when she shows us who's boss.  She is the supreme ruler of Volcano Land, and don't you forget it.

Thank you, Montserrat, for your cloud of ash and toxic gas.  Because of you, I've carved another notch in my adventure belt, and best of all, I survived.


Life is good.

Log 1 Peter Pan Around the World
Log 2 Weapons of Mackerel Destruction
Log 3 Pirates of the Malacca Straits
Log 4 Kissing Cobras
Log 5 Debriosaurus Rex
Log 6 Go Ahead - Live Your Dreams

Log 7 The Man Who Built His House on a Rock
Log 8 Ambivalent Eagles
Log 9 One-Shovel Full at a Time
Log 10 Hitchhiker's Guide to Planet Earth

Log 11 Keeshond

Log 12 The Red Sea Blues

Log 13 Feel the Freedom

Log 14 The Danger Zone

Log 15 Lucky Man
Log 16 Dream Machines - Land Rover Defenders

Log 17 Trade Wind Dreams
Log 18 Logs With Fins
Log 19 Everywhere, Everything
Log 20 Shark Slayer Is History

Log 21 Viking Funeral - Burial at Sea
Log 22 Improbable and Impossible

Log 23 Keep on Trucking
Log 24 Dream Machines II
Log 25 Bodysurfing Whales
Log 26 Hitting the Wall
Log 27 Surviving the Savage Seas

Log 28 The Next Step
Log 29 Welcome to Barbados
Log 30 Atlantic Rally for Cruisers
Log 31 The Man with the Unplan
Log 32 Dali Dolphins
Log 33 Flying Like a Turtle
Log 34 The Foolish Man Built His House on a Pitch Lake
Log 35 Go West Young Man
Log 36 Crossing the Atlantic in a Row Boat
Log 37 The Unsinkable HMS Diamond Rock
Log 38 Catamaran Capsize in 170 mph Winds
Log 39 When Are You Coming Home?

Log 40 Master and Commander of Anegada - Frigate Birds
Log 41 Baths of Virgin Gorda - Batholiths of Central Arabia

Log 42 Free at Last
Log 43 Stalking the Wild Manatee

Log 44 Spreaderman
Log 45 Attack of the Flesh Eating Bees
Log 46 Sharks and Coconuts
Log 47 Stingray Picnic
Log 48 Boo Boo Hill
Log 49 Whale Slayers
Log 50 Noddies (Not Naughty)


Log 51 Exumas Land and Sea Park
Log 52 David and Goliath
Log 53 Turquoise Clouds of Paradise

Log 54 Momma Nightjar
Log 55 Maximillian The Great
Log 56 Chiton Kingdom
Log 57 Flying and Holding On
Log 58 Far Horizons
Log 59 Clouds Are a Sailor's Friend
Log 60 Getting Connected
Log 61 Fear
Log 62 Grand Schemes and Other Important Things
Log 63 If Jellyfish Had a Brain
Log 64 Cousins That Don't Kiss
Log 65 Swimming With Sharks
Log 66 Perfect the Way You Are
Log 67 Space Travelers
Log 68 Aliens
Log 69 Monsters of the Mind
Log 70 My Butterfly Collection
Log 71 Somewhere Other Than Here Societies
Log 72 Five-Hundred Pound Spiders
Log 73 Red Sea Sunsets
Log 74 Gibraltar Sunrise
Log 75 Big Sea - Small Ship
Log 76 Just Cruising
Log 77 Castle Mania
Log 78 You Must Know the Sea
Log 79 Flying Like a Goat
Log 80 The Joy of Photography
Log 81 Universal Camouflage
Log 82 My Rainbow Collection
Log 83 Indian Ocean Reward
Log 84 Fiber W
Log 85 Turkish Reflections
Log 86 Mirrors and Mirages
Log 87 Lycean Tombs Rock
Log 88 Rigging Emergency
Log 89 Pamukkale
Log 90 Volcano Land
Log 91 Sniffing the Air
Log 92 Why I Don't Kite Surf
Log 93 Resurrecting Exit Only in Turkey
Log 94 Greased Pole Competition
Log 95 Tsunami Damage
Log 96 Afraid of Living
Log 97 Living on the Edge
Log 98 Borneo Adventure
Log 99 Uligamu Tree Tender with Full Benefits
Log 100 God's Fireworks Display

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This web site is a companion to Outback and Beyond.com.