The La Soufriere stratovolcano on the north side of St Vincent has been under observation since a new lava dome began to grow in December 2020. It had its latest outbreak in April 1979. On the evening on April 8th the volcano showed increased seismicity and on the next morning it had an eruption! 20 000 people from the dangerous red zone were evacuated to the south of St. Vincent and to other Caribbean countries. When we woke up on Saturday morning the 10th of April, the boat was covered with grey fine dust of ash. The air was sticky with sulphur and dust. Luckily we are well equipped with face masks. The day before Winfield and Tyron had washed the teak deck on Ydalir so it was shining like never before… and now it was so grey that even Cinderella would cry. Nothing else to do than wash everything again. There was still a lot of ash in the air so cleaning became a Sisyphos job and we decided to leave in a hurry and sail south to Tobago Cays.
As we sailed south, the air got cleaner and fresher and we hoped that the easterly winds would continue and blow the ashes far away from us. We joined the fleeing fleet from Bequia and anchored in Tobago Cays Marine Park close to the turtle watching reserve south of the Island of Baradal. Over and over again we soaked the deck with buckets of saltwater. The ash was everywhere! Even inside the boat in the most hidden corners and inside our mouths between the teeth.
It was so refreshing to go snorkelling in between and we swam through the turquoise water and found beautiful sea stars on the sand, guiding us on the way to the turtles. It is always a timeless moment to find a turtle and swim together or just watch it grass on the bottom of the sea. The soft and moist light coral beach invited us to take a nap in the warm sand. The view over the palm tree island on the other side of the reef was the perfect image of a Caribbean island. On the way back to the boat our track crossed the one of a sting ray. From a six metre distance we watched it elegantly swim and then find a place to stop and have lunch. Very soon It was hidden in a cloud of sand.
In the evening we joined the boats Aphrodite, Ticora and Emelin for a traditional lobster BBQ at the beach on the neighbour Island, Petit Rameau. The local chefs, Romeo and Julia had prepared a delicious meal, it was really the best lobster we had had so far in the Caribbean. We enjoyed some rum punch as a sundowner and could see some eagle rays hover close to the shallow breakwater. Some huge porcupine fish joined them to get a bite of the lobster leftovers. So various species, amazing in their own ways.
The other day was ash free and the sky was clear so we took a long tour with the dinghy to Petit Tabac, the Island that hosts some hidden treasures, since Jack Sparrow dug his rum down there in “Pirates of the Caribbean I”. The sand on the beach was so smooth and the palm trees gave us a good shade for our lunch. The eggshell leftovers were quickly carried away and reused by tiny and giant shell crabs. It is such a joy to see them move with their household swinging on their back. We decided to return to our boats, with a short stop at the reef to snorkel among the most colorful fishes.
After some nights without new ash fall, we sailed back to Bequia to pick up our ready made dinghy cover.