Back Off The Periscope, There’s A Wide Merman Down Here!

Saba Diving, Photos By Michael Siu
Saba Diving, Photos By Michael Siu

Yep. That’s me above, skin diving in the beautiful Saba pinnacles and Tent Reef. My brother Michael snapped all of these photos. We have lots more Saba dive photos to come from even better underwater photographers, but this will suffice for now, eh? Under the water or above it, Saba rocks!

Trading Hot Air For A Cool Breeze At The Dawn Of A New Saba Day

Spring Bay Trail Sunrise
Spring Bay Trail Sunrise

The Chill Day

Brother Michael leaves Monday, so after doing a final pair of dives for him with our Sea Saba friends Aaron and Vicky, we spent a quiet Saturday evening at the Vineyard Cottage…aka home…resting up for Mt Scenery tomorrow morning, his final hike of the island. It’s been quick and delightfully fun in the way that all vacations are, and I’m thinking he’ll leave with a little of the fondness I have for Saba and its friendly culture and of course, dynamic vistas above and below the water.

The picture today is an 8am sunrise picture over Core Gut along the Spring Bay trail ridge descent. Lens flare murks up the foreground cactus a bit, but not so much I didn’t think it worth sharing…hope you agree. ‘Til tomorrow, have yourselves a great day!

Left My Heart In Saba, But My Love Is Still Somewhere At Sea

Captain's Quarters, Windwardside, Saba, Dutch Caribbean
Captain’s Quarters, Windwardside, Saba, Dutch Caribbean

Remains Of The Day

Can’t help it. Keep finding myself drawn back to the Captain’s Quarters ruins here on Saba, because so much beautiful stuff has grown over it. Do you agree?

Seahorse, Stingrays, Sharks = Underwater Happiness

Scuba divers new to a location, and particularly new to diving, as my visiting brother is, have no frame of reference for sighting (relatively) rare aquatic life around Saba. They simply think this is what those of us who dive often around here see nearly every dive. In any case, today, our bundle of smiles and energy Sea Saba dive instructor Kelly took us to the windward side dive site of Big Rock Market and 5 minutes later, we spotted bright yellow gorgeous seahorse wrapped around a rope coral, then he let go and started swimming around. Perfectly elegant and moving to be in the water with the little fella. Same dive had two eels (my first spotted and a baby green), stingray, bro’s first shark (nurse), and much much more. Of course, no one had a camera. Gaaaaah – sorry about that.

Flights of Fancy

Winair To Saba   In the way of all remote tropical isles, getting to Saba is a multi-connection affair.  The final and only  commercially scheduled flight is via the 19 seat DeHavilland DHC-6 Twin Otter on Windward Airways (WinAir). The more squeamish flyers might have issues with this flight–the planes, though well maintained, have duct tape on the handles, the teeny seats barely fitting my big Hawaiian self in two of them. A normal carryon for regular jets is not allowed – only what can actually fit under those seats:  maybe a flat tablet or Kindle or a purse.  The cockpit is fully in view, and the pilots warn the passengers not to be worried as they rev each propeller separately, then both before you take off.  The good news:  since flights began in 1963, WinAir has never crashed on Saba AND the flight is a hop-skip-3000 foot jump of 15 minutes from St. Maarten (the ferries are 90 min in potentially rough seas).   You’re barely up

Saba In Viewin the air when the island that served as the opening scene in the original 1939 version of King Kong looms large in the front windows of the plane, the ominous fog clinging to the top of Mt. Scenery.  As you come closer and begin descending, you’re straining to see…wait, is that tiny little strip on the left the airport. Of course it is. I don’t have enough bandwidth yet to post my video of the landing, but let’s just say the plane banks in by high cliffs and descends very rapidly, the pilot reaches up and effectively stalls the plane to drop perfectly onto the front of the runway, they hit the reverse prop hard, and in moments…not even half the runway (The Twin Otter is a Short Takeoff and Landing [STOL] plane), you’re already taxiing to the tiny toy airport. Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport – a grand name for this 1300 foot tarmac buttressed front and back by 50 foot cliffs. Ostensibly, they tell you that if the pilot doesn’t quite hit the front of the runway, he guns it off the cliff and comes around for round 2. Yee-ha!  To be honest with you, the Saba landing is polished compared to St. Bart’s: a much scarier landing…diving between a cliff and plummeting over a beach.

Juancho E. Yrausquin_Airport
Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport

   Look at that teeny l’il toy airport!  so perky and cute.  Whatever…you’ve landed safely, you grab your bags and walk over to the building, up to a window where a Dutch customs fellow asks you how long you’re staying, passport, etc. Pretty sure he was a Johnson, a descendant of one of the two major founding Saban families, the other being Hassell.

    A stamp and I’m on my way to my high island adventure.

I BE A SCUBA DIVER

The past week has been focused on me getting my Open Water scuba diving certification. After a somewhat bad first day/first dive  where I had challenges equalizing the sinus pressure as I descended into a reef called Hole In the Corner,  surfaced and promptly hurled all around the boat due to swallowing sea water and seasickness from the dive boat, and resolved to come back strong the next 2 days, which I did, using better living through seasickness medication (yay!) and proper equalization help from my most excellent Sea Saba diving instructors.  My final 3 dives were excellente, and because the whole island is effectively a protected marine park, the diving is outstanding. Of course, no pictures yet, still need to get comfortable being a hovering floating giant of a dude.  No wetsuits for Chaz;  the water down here is 80-82 degrees – bathwater by my SFO standards.  I’m signed up for more dives–night diving, deep diving…wahoo!

THE INCIDENT (Final Chapter)

If you read the first 3 cliffhanger pieces of this story earlier in my blogs, the unfortunate medicated soul Cisco had disappeared into the night on my first night here after knocking on my cottage door.  The next day, I told my landlady pal Tricia about it; she wasn’t happy. Later that night, we were up late imbibing, Tricia more than me.  As she was driving me back home to the St. John’s cottage from Windwardside, who should we come across but Mister Cisco, walking towards WW on top of the steep stone masonry wall that lines The Road in the pitch black darkness.  Long story short, so as not to contradict the statement I gave to our lovely blue eyed Dutch island policewoman Susan, shown here: Saba Day 2012 Wahoo Tournament

Tricia wanted to have a conversation with Cisco about respecting private property and to stay away from my St. John’s cottage;  they began yelling at each other, next thing I know, Tricia gets smacked back into the car, and I come around and insert myself into the middle of them. I send Cisco up the road, get Tricia back in the car, where we see the walnut size blue lump on her knuckle.  Uh-oh. Tricia drops me off at the St John’s cottage, swears she’s ok, and heads down to the hospital where the police are waiting to check out her injury and take her report. Two days later, I’m in the little police station in Windwardside, making my statement in English to Susan as she types it in Dutch, then reads it back to me in English.   C’est la vie.  Anti-climactic, eh?

Let’s be clear – this was an exception in all respects:  Saba is insanely safe by any standard, women who’ve been here for a while all told  me that they have no fear or issues walking in the dark alone here. Major felonies just don’t happen here, folks. Where else can you say that about?

Which makes Saba the perfect place to set my murder mystery, the reason I’m here.   I’m talking with as many people as I can, getting the stories, smells, sights, sounds down…above and below the water to figure out where exactly the body or bodies will end up.    ‘Til then….see you on the flip side. Thanks SO much for the great comments….I love’em.

I’ll finish with another little morning sunrise picture under the cherry tree (people keep calling it cherry or grape….it doesn’t have any fruits on it…huh?).   This island is a fantastic place to chill. Thus said, now I go forth 🙂
Sunrise on the Ocean