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Saba ??? Never heard of it! At least that's what we thought, but Saba is really a Dutch island! A volcano peak rising from the ocean. It is the highest point in the Netherlands and here is really the famous Dutch tropical rainforest.
The sailing from St. Maarten to Saba is fantastic and we even see a real big whale for the first time. It's just a pity that my back pain that I got on St. Maarten two days before is starting to reappear so I lie down on the bed inside and leave the sailing to Ilona. Customs clearance is still possible but the next day I can no longer walk. Luckily we have rails and handles everywhere on our sailboat to hold on to in rough weather so I can at least drag myself out. Swimming seems to be good for back problems and this is an ideal time to put that into practice. As soon as I am in the water I no longer have to carry my body weight through my back and I am suddenly quite mobile again. We go snorkeling and see water turtles again, for the first time a Lion fish and other beautiful things. However, as soon as I go up the ladder of the boat again, I am immediately disabled again. Now I have something like this in the Netherlands, well, this is also the Netherlands, but I mean the kikkerland part, also had it once, but then it was over the next day. Not this time unfortunately; the next morning I can barely get out of bed. Back in the water, but that is not so great this time either. With a lot of effort I hoist myself into the dinghy to go to the shore, but after a short while I don't like the pain anymore and let myself fall out of the dinghy. Ilona drags me behind the dinghy back to our boat Detour. We decide it is now time to see a doctor, but yes, I can not get off the boat anymore. Ilona goes out alone and returns a while later with anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, and a box of morphine tablets. Go ahead, no half measures, and that without even having seen the patient! After reading the Dutch (!) Leaflet I let the morphine sit for a while, but I let the rest work on me overnight.
The doctor's advice was to walk, but um, that's not easy on Saba. Towing behind the dinghy is the only accessible landing point "De Ladder", an 800 steps carved into the rock face, which until recently was the only way to get to Saba. That is why it remained part of the Netherlands: the original population had large stones at the top of the ladder and they simply rolled down the ladder as soon as the invaders were halfway. The new way to go ashore is via the harbor, but it is very far away, too far to be able to reach behind the dinghy. Now I am so tired of being trapped on the boat and staring through the window at Saba that I decide to do the only accessible walking option, the Ladder. The first hurdle is to get to the pebble beach. The surf is so fierce that we don't want to risk the dinghy here and we anchor the dinghy at a safe distance from the beach and swim the rest ourselves. This is something we already have experience with and with a little timing it can be done well. We swim right in front of the beach and then wait for a suitable wave and let ourselves be "dropped off" right on top of the beach. This works very well and a little later I climb the ladder. Well, my memory is not entirely positive and I think I am one of the few who climbed the ladder under the influence of muscle relaxants, but I did it! Upstairs it was time for a well-deserved lunch, but in a restaurant it is a bit crazy to eat standing up so I sit down ... and a little later I don't like the pain anymore. Now a morphine tablet and once again on my way down I see here and there a gnome shooting up the bushes, but the pain disappears like snow in the sun. The strange thing is that even after the drastic medicine has taken effect, the pain does not return. Thanks Doc! I can walk normally again and the next day we just really explore Saba.
Saba is like the whole of the Netherlands should have been! There is no crime, not even a little bit, just not at all. People don't lock their houses and always leave the keys to the car in the ignition. And when you walk along the road, the first car that comes along automatically stops and asks if you want to come along. Everyone likes to chat here and in this way we learn a lot about Saba in a short time. The official language on Saba is Dutch and all road signs, government publications, information leaflets, etc. are in the Dutch language, although only 17% of the population is Dutch. For the rest it is a mishmash of nationalities, descendants of former slaves, original inhabitants, all kinds of imports and mixtures of all that. A quarter of the population consists mainly of students, because on Saba they have a medical university that is especially popular among American students because the study here only costs half as in America. Anyway, all those nationalities (at the last party they counted no fewer than 60 different nationalities) live in complete harmony with each other. For us, the total lack of crime and the peace that all this emanates is a relief.
The two villages on Saba are cozy, but the best thing about Saba is the tropical rainforest. On Dominica we had already walked through a tropical rainforest, but we think this is even more beautiful. It's pristine; there is a kind of path but that is where it ends. And plants grow everywhere that we think we have seen, but in a small format on the windowsills in Kikkerland. Somewhere high against the top of the volcano we make a turn, there is a hole in the vegetation and right through the hole we see the ocean with our own detour in the middle! Priceless. There is a bench, we eat a sandwich and feed some lizards and are therefore overtaken by another Dutch couple. They have an adventurous holiday where they spend the night at bed and breakfast facilities and when we ask where we are staying, we point down through the hole. So funny how people always think you have to be a crack at sailing and how they react when we say that we had never sailed two years ago! And that once you have thrown loose at the Canary Islands that the wind and current will irrevocably push you towards the Caribbean and that you have to be able to sail very well if you want to avoid ending up on the other side. We have already given ideas to several people and now we see a light coming on. ;-)
The next day the wind turns and there is a lot of swell at the anchorage. Of course, exactly on the day we thought we could go out for dinner and later sail the 2 miles from the harbor to our boat in the dark. The ocean is treacherous: for the past few days it looked like a lake and we tore in plane the 2 miles from the boat to the harbor, but now the ocean is suddenly ocean again! Suddenly there are high waves, planing is no longer responsible and excruciatingly slowly we go up and down wave while the water spurts over and into the dinghy and it takes an eternity before we finally arrive at Omweg. It rolls and stamps roughly up and down the waves; one time the bathing platform disappears under water and a moment later the platform rises high in the air and even the top of the rudder is above water. It is quite a challenge to get on board and meanwhile prevent the dinghy from ending up under Omweg. Most of the other sailing boats have already left and the rest leave the next morning. We will last the longest, but after another day in these circumstances we call it quits and we leave for Sint Maarten, partly because our ordered sail for the roller-furling jib installation is almost ready and we still have a lot of things to do there anyway .
The most beautiful photos can be found below in the photo series!