July 12, 2016
And all to soon, its time to go home….
After a glorious 10 days down here in the Leeward Islands, we awoke this morning to our last b’fast ‘down-island’ as we like to call it. SeeSaba, the dive company picked us up directly from the Wells bay mooring field and we we ferried around again to Fort Bay. Fort Bay has an incredible history –
Saba’s birth was traumatic. Circa 500,000 BC, the island was formed as the top of a volcano that became active during the middle of the late Pleistocene era. Now a dormant volcano, she has not erupted for about 5,000yrs. Circa 1175 BC – hunter gatherers called Ciboney were the earliest settlers on Saba. Fast forwarding to 1493, Christopher Columbus sighted the island, but sailed on when he observed the treacherous nature of her jagged volcanic shores.
A century and a half later in 1632, the island welcomed her first European visitors, a group of shipwrecked Englishmen, they reported later that the island was inhabited. After much toing and froing between the English and the Dutch, the Dutch won out in 1816. For many years afterwards, Saba was known as a haven for Caribbean pirates. From 1829, schools were established by the local churches.
Until 1943, transportation on Saba was not easy, steep trails between the sea and the settlements (known locally as ‘ the Ladder staircase’) on the hills were negotiated on foot and donkey. Meanwhile, the mayor of Saba petitioned the Dutch government to build a road so there could be access by sea to the island, avoiding the 1,000 step staircase which up until that time was the ONLY way to get people or supplies on the island. Finally, in 1943, Josephus “Lambee” Hassell achieved the road that, Dutch & Swiss engineers claimed”couldn’t be built.” Hassell simply took a correspondence course in civil engineering and started to build the road with the help of his fellow islanders. Between 1943 and 1958, the road was completed.
And so today… we taxied to the top of the ‘Ladder Staircase’ and steeled ourselves for the 900+ stairs round trip. Stair 1-100 were no sweat, stairs 100 – 200 a little hotter and then… the last few hundred down were so steep that it took your mind off the burn in your legs! After photos and symbolically touching the ocean, we headed back up the staircase. Stairs 450 – 900… Ugh.
Into another taxi and back to Windward side… Here, we split into two groups and 6 adventurous campers headed up Mount Scenery! Mt. Scenery is the highest point in the Dutch Kingdom (877 m. or 2,877 ft.) and is Saba’s dominant feature. Dense vegetation with a variety of species cover the summit and upper slopes. The Elfin Forest (cloud-forest) dominates the upper 50m (150 ft.) of the mountain. It took our crew just 2.5 hours round trip to climb the peak!
Back to ‘Windwardside’ (above ‘The Bottom’), we relaxed and ate pastries, and mentally prepared ourselves for the passage… Our guest sailor, Cli (current BVI Office manager, post sailing Crew, Captain, Program Director, Sailing Director and general Extraordinaire) flew into Saba to join Montlouis for the passage.
And so, we’ll leave you here….sitting in a café at Saba… In just 1 hour, we will get back on the water taxi to head to the boats. At 5 p.m., we hope to be dropping the mooring ball, raising sail and getting underway!
BVI here we come!!!
The greatest challenge during the program was staying entertained during the quarantine period. Not being able to leave your boat and not having a phone, which was a crutch against boredom, it was difficult at first to stay entertained.