written by Ronna Benjamin, SV Exodus

We passed right by Montserrat the last time we were in the eastern Caribbean in 2017. It might have been that we were anxious to make our way down the island chain. It might have been that we thought it was too difficult.  It might have been we heard about the rolly anchorage or the untenable dinghy dock.  For whatever reason, we didn't visit this interesting island with an active volcano, but for months after, we thought that maybe we should have. We were right.

This year, we were determined to visit islands we passed over the last time we were here. With a bit more experience, we realize that sometimes an uncomfortable night of rolling in an anchorage or feeling a little bit out of your comfort zone is worth the benefit of experiencing an interesting new island.
Montserrat is just that experience.  Yes, we had two nights of roll. The dinghy dock was not great. The beach where we brought our dinghy before the tour was steep and it took four of us to bring it up to a safe place.  To add to the experience, the winds were blowing like stink.
But Montserrat is worth it. Two nights and one day of touring will do it, and you will be happy you said yes to this adventure..
We arrived in Montserrat in the early afternoon, and anchored in Little Bay in fairly deep water (40 feet).  As anticipated, the anchorage was very rolly for our monohull.  We made our way to Customs, Immigration and Port Authority which are all located right at the anchorage in the Port Authority building near the dinghy dock, and were able to check in and out of the country simultaneously (which you can do if you are only staying a short time.) If you plan on leaving Little Bay, immigration makes a note on your paperwork stating you have permission to go down the coast, so make sure that you inform them of your plans.
Once checked in, we sailed down the beautiful coast, the stunning volcano covered in clouds on our port side, to Old Road Bay.  Boats are allowed to anchor in Old Road Bay if the threat level is either 0 or 1.  We anchored in about 32 feet, and our buddy boat, another monohull, anchored a bit closer to shore in about 25 feet.  It was slightly less rolly at this anchorage and much more beautiful, but still a bit uncomfortable.  
If you don't go on a tour of the island, you are missing out.  You can read about the recent history of volcanic eruptions of Soufriere which buried the entire town, but seeing it, walking around literally in the ashes of the town and comparing it to photographs the guide pulls out of the area before the eruptions, is truly something else. 
Accordingly, if you visit Montserrat, you will need a tour guide.  Check online for reviews and make sure that the guide will walk you through the exclusion zone and bring you to the observatory. You may also want to visit the ruins of the old George Martin recording studio. At our request, our guide also stopped at a grocery store so we could provision. The tour for the four of us was about $90 per person, which included the exclusion zone.  
At the end of the tour, our guide stopped at Runaway Ghaut so we could drink from the fountain.  Legend says that if you drink from Runaway Ghaut, you will return to Montserrat. I don't know that we will return to Montserrat, but I am extremely happy we did it once.