Friday, May 22, 2015

Redonda - the Ridonculous

Montserrat is our final island destination before we head to Antigua to leave the boat for a couple of weeks and fly back to Canada.  We debated the 30 mile bash to windward to get to Montserrat, but it looked about the same to get to Antigua so off we went with a plan to spend the long weekend on this island that has long intrigued us.  Monday is Whitmonday and so everything will move into extreme island time for the next few days.

Lying about half-way between Nevis and Montserrat is an imposing lump of rock called Redonda, which actually belongs to the nation of Antigua & Barbuda.  The apparent story of Redonda is so far-fetched that I felt it deserved a post of it's own, but all I can really do is paraphrase the words of Chris Doyle as they are written in our Leeward Island cruising guide.

Just to give an idea of how inhospitable this rock is, I snapped this photo as we were tossed like a cork in the waters surrounding it.  There is a shoal around the island where the waves pile up and it seems that the currents wrap around a bit so the passage in this area was anything but sweet.

One mile long and 1000' high.
Here's the story:  To protect their interests from the Americans, the British annexed the island to Antigua & Barbuda back in 1872, although I'm not sure what the Americans would have wanted with it in the long term.  For a short while, up to 100 hardy souls mined phosphate using a bucket on a cable system to raise everything from goods, equipment and people up to the middle of the island.  By the 1930s the phosphate mining was ceased and Antigua thought it good to further lay claim to the island by opening a post office here.  Really? A post office?  After a year someone with a few brain cells decided to close it and later landslides and hurricanes destroyed it - go figure.

As if all that were not crazy enough, this is where the story gets really strange...

What you are looking at is actually The Kingdom of Redonda.  In 1865, an Irish-Montserrat merchant celebrated the long awaited arrival of a son, after eight daughters, by also laying claim to Redonda.  By the time his son M.P. was 15 his father had the local bishop crown his son as King Felipe I of Redonda.  Needless to say, there was just a titch of alcohol involved.  M.P. moved to England where he became an author of gothic romances and pestered at the British government to recognize his 'title'.  In exasperation they gave him a pension - for his literary contributions.  Before he died, he passed his title to another writer, John Galsworth who then reigned as King Juan I although he mostly just exchanged drink for titles and looked for a buyer for the kingdom.  The title was then passed before his death in 1970 to King Juan II who got tired of being the king so abdicated in 1998 and passed the kingdom to another writer and artist who lives in Antigua.  King Robert, also known as Bob the Bald, keeps court on his flamboyant royal yacht in English Harbour in Antigua, or so he did at the time of the writing of our guide in 2007.

Perhaps we shall ask for an audience?


  1. A visit to indicates King Bob the Bald passed on September 1, 2009. I highly recommend you follow the "Pleas click here for more details" link for an amusing read.

    Maybe you blog can make you eligible as Queen Catherine I. :-)


  2. Thanks Ron, guess I'd have to go polish my crown!