Friday, April 6, 2012

Saba - Known as the Unspoiled Queen

Well, we got out of the wind but the swell came around from the north overnight and it was the weirdest sensation to ride up and down but with no wind to blow us back off the mooring ball overnight. In the morning, the winds and swell were both up so to save ourselves a thorough soaking in the dinghy we moved back around to Fort Bay where we stayed for the remainder of our visit.

Rodney, our very informative taxi driver delivered us up to Windwardside, the second town on Saba on, you guessed it – the windy side. Most tourism is run out of Windwardside and the charming little village is full of little restaurants, a tourism office, a grocery store and around every corner a photogenic view. We hiked around the village, out to Booby Hill and then back to Scout's Place for lunch where we sat on the veranda overlooking the sheer drop downwards to the ocean. The food was excellent and while I am not a huge fish-lover, I would eat their battered grouper any day of the week – the best I've ever had.

Saba's two claims to fame are diving and hiking. Not being divers, we definitely were going to take advantage of trail system over the island. Ironically, many of the trails are maintained by Canadians who visit every year to help the locals groom and clean up the trails after the wet season. We picked up Maskerhorn trail which at 1800' treated us to fabulous views of Windwardside and then followed the Crispeen trail back to down The Bottom (Saba's capital town) and then on down to Mowzer at sea level in Fort Bay.

Hiking through a banana plantation
 We decided to stay on our mooring in Fort Bay on information from the dive boats that the swell was up pretty high in Ladder Bay, but with the wind and the wrap-around swell on the south of the island, we've had many smoother rides underway than we had that night. By about 8:30pm we both decided that sleeping it out would be the kindest option for our stomachs.

Much rested on Friday we were ready to tackle another hike on Saba. Being Good Friday, pretty much everything was shut down, but we were lucky enough to grab a taxi back up to The Bottom (the concrete road up from Fort Bay is a killer with multiple hairpin turns). We headed off along the road to Wells Bay on the west coast and then steeled ourselves to tackle The Ladder.

The Ladder was the original single point of access to Saba until the 1940s when Fort Bay and a road were built. Rising on a winding concrete stairway the ascent is nearly vertical for 280 steps to the old customs house and then another 200+ steps form the 'step road' until you reach the town road. Originally, the inhabitants carried absolutely everything that came to the island and had to do this over 800 steps to reach the village at The Bottom. We felt we got off easy, carrying only a camera, our lunch and water but with every step down to the ocean, my legs were protesting about the need to come back up. The final part of the ladder is breathtaking with remarkable views along the western cliffs and down on the anchorage where we had spent the first night.

Phew – on our two visits to Saba, we have now scaled the heights of Mt. Scenery into the clouds and now completed The Ladder. I'm just glad we didn't try to do them both on this stay!

Being Good Friday, we wisely asked Customs if they could check us out on Thursday with a delayed departure which they were very kindly disposed to do. This meant that we could leave as we wished and with an overnight planned to St. Croix, we thought we would take advantage of the forecast for 15 knot winds from the east to make the 90-mile jump.

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