After a very brief stop in St Martin (just to provision the boat), we
headed to Saba for a few days. The island is unique in that it is very
high-sided, with no beaches and getting ashore in a dinghy can only be
described as a challenge.
This morning we dinghied to the main port area, where the small ferry that
serves the island from St Martin and St Eustatius docks. Going there was a
very wet affair - we were soaked through when we arrived.
A taxi reversed up along the dock and Billy wound down his window. He
didn't push us for business, just sat there and smiled at us. As we tied
up the dinghy he said "hello". We couldn't resist talking to him. In
the end he drove us to the start of the Mount Scenery hike. We walked up
one of the island's original "roads" - a track of 1064 steps to the
summit. It was pretty tough going. One and a half hours of thigh-busting
work and the same to come back down.
When we go to the summit (2877 ft) there was a choice of two
look-outs. We went to the nearest and it was obscured by cloud. We
gave up hope of seeing the view from the top. We walked back to the main
track to eat our sandwiches. Suddenly the cloud cleared. We ran full
pelt to the second look-out, which was only around 200m away, but involved
splashing through mud and climbing up a rock face with the help of a rope.
We did get there in time, and saw the breathtaking view. Statia
was clearly visible.
At the foot of the island beneath us was the island's
airstrip. Because of the island's geography, it had been said that planes
could not land here. This only made the locals try harder and they had a
landing stip built, which is now used for regular (apparently terrifying)
flights onto and off the island. But they had also previously been
told that roads for motor vehicles were impossible, and showed a similar
determination. One local enrolled in a correspondence course in
roadbuilding and they made their own road. We saw a plaque dedicated to
"Joseph Hassel - engineer of the road that could not be built".
The wildlife along the climb was great, including lizards and snakes, and
very vocal birdlife. Part of the way was through rainforest with beautiful
ferns and heliconias.
Anoles Lizard (only found on Saba) - it has a yellow
dewlap for courtship displays
When we arrived back in Windwardside (one of the island's two villages) we
visited a glass-blowing workshop, which Alice and Pip found very
interesting. They bought some glass beads. As we walked past Billy's
house, he came out and asked us if we would like a lift back to our
dinghy. He left his front door open (and there was obviously no-one else
at home) as he set off.
Our mooring here has not been very satisfactory. Because the island
is so steep-to, it is difficult to anchor and so moorings have been
provided. However, these have such a lot of rope on them that we keep
getting our one wrapped around the keel as the boat swings around
in the wind (which comes from all angles here) and current. Our keel has a
bulb which prevents easy unwrapping. Once it is wound around, the mooring
buoy bangs loudly on the hull next to the bow (where we are trying to
sleep). Yesterday this happened at 4.00am and it also happened in the
early hours of this morning. Initially Charlie decided he would jump
in to free it. I shone the torch over the bow onto a barracuda shark which
was around the size of Pip and he changed his mind. So we used a
combination of people-power (hauling on the mooring line) and boat engine
to turn her. The use of the engine required care, as to wrap the
rope around the propellor would have added to our woes. As a
result, we are a bit short on sleep, although quite used to disturbed