Monday, 1 June 2009

Saba, the unspoiled Queen of the Caribbean

May 17, Sunday racing off St. Martin. It was a nice day for a sail and we headed southwest for the island of Saba in the Netherlands Antilles. Saba is the smallest island in the entire Dutch Kingdom.

Yep, a good day for a sail. These instruments don't lie.

On arrival in Saba, we have a short wait before checking in with the Customs and Immigration Officer.

First impressions - sometimes best ignored.

Check-in is in the blue building. It and the noisy power plant sandwich the dive shops. On the right is Pop's Place and a couple of doors away is the main dock and the quarry. The entry port of Fort Bay Harbour at the south west corner of Saba could easily turn visitors off on sight. First we had to pick up a yellow mooring ball among the white, pink and orange ones in Ladder Bay on the leeward side then dinghy over to the harbour. Thankfully the mooring balls are well maintained. We timed our arrival perfectly to see a huge barge being loaded with rock from the quarry. Just lucky I guess.

The proximity of the dusty (can I say obnoxious?) quarry to the dinghy dock, covered us and the dinghy in a layer of black rock dust. Barry exercises great restraint in describing our first impression as "very unattractive". Arriving back on board after check in he declares he never wants to return to that #@$% hole. We braced ourselves next morning and returned for a tour of the island with our taxi driver, Vincent. What we discovered on our tour made up for the sights, sounds and dust of the harbour and we're all glad we took the trouble to find the island described as the unspoiled Queen of the Caribbean.

Our anchorage at Ladder Bay, where we picked up a mooring ball and rolled mercilessly in about 60 feet of water.

The stairs lead from Ladder Bay to the old check in station on Saba. Imagine climbing those stairs after a long and tiring windward passage.

Saba is popular with divers who fly in or come by ferry to explore Saba's pristine waters. The 13 square kilometer Marine Protected Area encircles the island from the high-water mark to a depth of 60 meters. Fort Bay has a hyperbaric facility donated by the Royal Dutch Navy.

A couple of iguanas beside the road.

Hand printed fabrics at the Artisan Foundation. The islanders also create beautiful lacework.

Catholic church at The Bottom

The main town is called Windwardside. The picture shows the town of The Bottom, at about 1,000 ft. Through the "V" in the mountains is Ladder Bay, where BR is moored.

Sabans voluntarily conform to the building and color code of white homes with red roofs and green trim and shutters.
It is not unusual to see homes with a grave or two in the front yard. Space is limited.

Saba airport, pretty short runway. Click here for a cockpit view of a landing.

Looking for a good Med School?

Before enrolling in the medical school at Saba, check out the roller coaster. (you tube - thanks to someone who thought to film the ride).

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