The sail from Anegada to Anguilla was relatively pleasant, given we were crossing a dreaded piece of water and had to work to get there.
Anguilla looks beautiful, but more for land based tourists than yachties. We anchored in Road Harbour and found that to take Sea Cloud anywhere other than Road Bay (and there are lovely looking anchorages) we would have to pay US $56 per day, and double that if we wanted to anchor overnight. After a night of not much sleep, the thought of chilling out on an island was pretty appealing, so we left Sea Cloud at anchor and caught the water taxi out to Sandy Island. Good that we did, as the northerly swell would have made anchoring unpleasant and crossing the reef to the island via dinghy looked positively hairy!
The water taxi guys made it look easy, backing their boats to the beach so we could jump off without getting too wet.
Some needed a little help.
What a great place to spend a day! Pina Coladas, music, beautiful water for swimming, a yummy lunch and friendly guests.
I enjoyed watching the boats coming in and out of the ‘lagoon’.
Ian had his eyes elsewhere…
Relaxation over, we sailed the short hop to St Maarten, where we anchored in Simpson Bay, before navigating our way into the lagoon to a berth at Simpson Bay Marina.
We settled into a frantic pace of trying to get jobs done – sails tweaked, rigging and steering tightened and most importantly, sourcing a new dinghy to replace our leaky one. We were so pleased to find a home for our old one – two Aussies Ben and Chloe.
The daily 7.30am net on Channel 10 was a great source of information. There is a real cruising community here – it seems many cruisers settle in here, stay for weeks and I think some never leave. We settled into a routine of shopping at the great chandleries, the inevitable sitting around waiting for service people to come and meeting other cruisers at the Lagoonies happy hour. It was wonderful to meet up with Karen and Dave Bowes almost a year to the day since they stayed with us in Sydney. We’d last seen them in Gibraltar, so had so much catching up to do. Ian and Dave didn’t stop discussing boats and widgets..
Jobs finally done we set sail for Saba, an island we’d been really hoping to visit.
Saba can be a tricky place for yachts, as it has limited shelter in a number of winds and can be affected by swell. What it does have is good, secure mooring buoys on the west and south coasts and a safe dinghy dock in the harbour at Fort Bay. With relatively calm conditions and Sea Cloud secured to a mooring buoy off Fort Bay we had the opportunity to explore this gem of an island.
Saba is tiny, but has so much to offer. It is so beautiful, lush and green with picture postcard villages. The locals (population of less than 2000) are extremely friendly offering lifts up the very steep hills and around the island. They are all very proud of and committed to their wonderful safe island. We were so lucky, Glen, the head of tourism picked us up at port and gave us a mini guided tour and potted history of the island.
You have to love a place with a capital named The Bottom that is actually at the top of an incredibly steep hill, but is also at the bottom of other steep hills.
The main town is Windwardside, and yes, it is on the windward side of the island. The main road between the two main towns was built by the locals after all the experts deemed it was impossible.
Saba is known as a top dive spot. The water is crystal clear, blue and pristine. An afternoon dive with Saba Divers was fantastic. The colours of the corals, the geography of the rock ledges and the fish life were the best we’ve seen.
Unfortunately we only had time for one of the many walks on the island.
The climb up 1064 steps through the rainforest to the top of Mt Scenery was rewarded by magnificent views of the island towns and the surrounding islands.
St Maarten in the distance
Saba’s peak is the highest point in the Netherlands.
You had to access this point via a very steep climb.
Saba’s other claim to fame is that its airport runway is the shortest in the world.
The walk ended back in Windwardside, with lunch at Juliana’s, one of the small boutique hotels of Saba.
As the northerly swell had calmed down, we moved around to a mooring off Ladder Bay on the west coast. For many years this steep series of steps was the only way to access the island. Everything had to be brought in this way.
It was a beautiful anchorage. Currently there are 7 yacht moorings, with more planned.
After a last snorkel in Wells Bay, we reluctantly moved on. It would have been very easy to settle in and stay longer so there were so many more walks, diving and snorkel sites to be enjoyed. Saba was well worth the visit. It has definitely been a highlight of our time in the Caribbean.
What a contrast to Saba! Where very few make it to Saba, it seems everyone gets to St Barths, the home of the superyachts and beautiful people.
That said, our stay has been great. Apparently the anchorage off the main town of Gustavia can be very rolly, but in the strong easterly winds it has been very pleasant anchored off Anse Corossol.
Our timing was impeccable, we arrived the day before Carnivale. Gustavia town closes completely and everyone dresses up whether or not they are part of the main parade. Lots of fun, colour and movement and music.
Gustavia, with its Swedish heritage is an attractive town. It is very French, full of designer shops, good restaurants and bars. The port is always busy, but has great secure dinghy docks for cruisers.
Driving the winding roads is the only way to explore the island which has no public transport. The views are spectacular and the island and beaches very beautiful.
Strong easterly winds and nasty seas meant that our planned 2 days here has turned into 5 while we wait for calmer conditions for our 80Nm sail to Antigua. Not a bad place to be stuck!