Day 171, Year 6 St. Barts to Saba (pronounced Say-bah)
Date: Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Weather: Partly Sunny, Winds E to ESE 10-15
Latitude: 17 38.048 N
Longitude: 063 15.412 W
Location: Wells Bay, Saba
The adventure continues. We dropped the mooring ball in Anse du Colombier in St. Barts just after 6 am and headed westward to the island of Saba. The winds were 10 to 15 knots but were coming a little behind us. It was a delightful, calm sail, but too slow for our schedule, so we motored a good deal of the time. We came around the north side of Saba and picked up a mooring ball off the west coast just after noon. We had lunch and then got into the dinghy to make the two-mile run to Fort Bay on the south side of the island. We needed to go there to check-in and then make our way up the mountain to the little town called The Bottom. It is called that because it is at the bottom of the highest mountain on the island, but that happens to be straight up from sea level. Fort Bay reminded us of St. Helena. It is strictly a port built to allow small boats and ferries to offload supplies and people on Saba. Before Fort Bay was built, all goods and people had to come in to The Ladder, the 800-step stairway leading straight up the mountain from the sea (close to where we are anchored) to The Bottom. This island, like St. Helena, is a volcanic island rising straight up out of the sea. There are no beaches and no natural landing spots, to The Ladder and the little port at Fort Bay are the only ways to get ashore. The dinghy ride from here to there was a bit bouncy at first and then even more so the closer we got to Fort Bay. It was by far the roughest dinghy ride Jeanie has had since arriving, but once again, she survived. The climb out of the dinghy and onto the concrete pier was not an easy one, so Jeanie was holding on to Steve for support.
Once in Fort Bay, Mark did the check-in with Customs and Immigration, with the Marine Park, and with the Harbor Master. I walked down the dock to check out a cage of lobsters that had just been hoisted up. The lobsters were being plopped into burlap bags and the fishermen said they were headed to Sint Maarten. I was hoping to be able to buy a couple, but they had a quota to fill. We then started hiking on the road that goes straight up the mountain. A young man in a local dive shop, Sea Saba, told me that if we started walking someone would pick us up, so we hoped that would be the case. We walked straight up the mountain, and up the mountain, and up the mountain. This was another trial for Jeanie. The heights were staggering and we had barely begun. We saw lots of little goats, a scampering iguana, and some interesting plant life, and struggled to continue. We got to what seemed like a bit of a plateau and stopped for a rest. Once we continued walking, a car came up the mountain and stopped to see if we would like a ride. Whew! We were so happy to get the ride. The man who gave us a ride was from the Netherlands and just recently transferred to Saba from Bonaire. He dropped us in The Bottom and we started our explore of the little town by foot. The architecture has a very Dutch influence and was really delightful. We went to a little shop selling the local pulled-thread pieces but we were a little shocked at the price compared to the same product in Madagascar. In both places, the craft was brought to the islands by Catholic nuns from Venezuela in the case of Saba and from somewhere in Europe in the case of Madagascar. The product looks just the same in both places, but was much more affordable in Madagascar.
After roaming through the little town of The Bottom, we decided it was time to head back down the mountain. We did have to walk all the way back down and we were amazed at the steep incline and the amazing switchbacks in the road. Again, this was a challenge for Jeanie. The steepness was a bit overwhelming for all of us, but she was almost frozen by fear a couple of times. But again, she survived and had a great time.
By the time we got back to Windbird it was late afternoon-too late for a good snorkel. So we settled in to have dinner and will be up early tomorrow to explore Saba underwater. We have heard so many good things about the snorkeling here and we are anxious to check it out. I’ll report on that tomorrow night.
|110413 Day 171 Saba–Well's Bay, Fort Bay Harbor, The Bottom|