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?