Dead Men Tell No Tales!

The island of Saba is forbidding and steep, a natural fortress, and so the island became a private sanctuary for smugglers and pirates. The most notable native Saban pirate was Hiram Beakes, who famously quipped, “Dead men tell no tales”.

Saba has had a chequered history, having been French for 12 years, English for 18 years and Dutch for 345 years.

We got to Saba in the early afternoon and discovered the wind pretty well swirls around the island – when its blowing there is no lee shore – the wind tends to bend around the west coast. Saba is pretty impressive on approach with steep cliffs dropping off into the ocean.It is a challenging spot to go to. It’s just a big volcano that comes straight out of the ocean, with no natural harbours anywhere.

We came around the northern end and past Ladder Bay. Out came the binoculars to spy on Elsa, a once impressive 150T super yacht who was up on the rocks having broken free of a Marine Parks mooring 5 or so nights ago when Gloria was there. Our Barbados 50 friends Kirakou had come to grief in this same bay, having wrapped the mooring line around their twin keels and chafing through, ending up also on the rocks. By the time we got there, Kirakou had been refloated and put on a barge to be hopefully fixed up.

We passed by around the corner to the main “port” of Wells Bay.  There’s some mooring buoys, both in the Marine Park and at of Wells Bay, but we chose to anchor n 20m of water and quite a swell. Safely anchored, we went and checked in, paying the customs fees and the Marine Parks fee that is mandatory.  We then retired to the one and only bar in Wells Bay and had a great chat with the local Spanish bar owner and the local fishermen, who filled us in on their version of the Elsa saga.

Next day it was off in a taxi for a bit of an island tour. We went up “The Road That Couldn’t Be Built”, as its name implies it is a road from Wells Bay to a town called The Bottom that the Dutch authorities said could never be built, but that didn’t deter a local who did a road building correspondence course and got the job done. True Story!!!  

We continued on up the road to another picturesque town called Windwardside before ducking over to see the spectacular and somewhat scary airport that looks like the deck of an aircraft carrier. We did a short hike through some impressive rain forest before heading back to Windwardside to book our diving for the next day, our main reason for coming to Saba There’s a good walk to the tallest part of the island which we passed on but next time it looks like something we should do.

The diving next day was both spectacular and frustrating. Frustrating because I had a leaky hose and had to cut my first dive short. To make matters worse the toothpaste trick on my new mask didn’t work and I couldn’t see what I was trying to photograph. The second dive was a bit better with a loaner reg and some mask cleaner. Meanwhile Dee and Barbara really enjoyed their diving on Saba.

We had planned to do a couple of days diving here but in the end we had to leave early because of the horrible anchoring/mooring field that had quite a swell running through it.

So apologies as the photos I took didn’t show off how good Saba diving is.Will definitely come back for some more next year but will pick our weather and swell window better.

The highlight of the island was hanging out with the local fishermen and the salvage crew we met who were working on rescuing the 150 ft Elsa from her resting place wedged on the rocks. We bought three lobster off Nikky, the local fisherman on our last night and headed off with Justin Time (no kidding!) up to Lollipops Hotel to BBQ them up.

It turned out to be a great night as we chatted to some very interesting salvagers, some of which had worked on the Costa Concordia. Lollipops is a bit of an institution on Saba and it was interesting to hang out there with its rather eccentric owner and a few of its regulars.

Evening over, it was time to get down the mountain and back to the boat. No probs – they just called the local cop who gave us a lift down in his very impressive 4×4. Another interesting night in our journey through life.

Next morning it was into the dinghy for a roughish ride into Customs and Immigration to check out before bashing our way to St Barths for a bit of Les Voiles action and partying.

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