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A Sinking in Saba

Our plan for our first try as renters was to introduce friends Jim and Nuala,

and Roger and Neda to one of our favorite cruising grounds, the St. Martin, Saba, St. Barts triangle.

And, even sweeter, I found a new Wauquiez 48 in St. Maarten bareboat at a remarkable off-season rate.

A sunny Saturday afternoon a few weeks later found me at the charter base in St. Maarten impatiently enduring a very long,

comprehensive chart briefing covering the surrounding waters that I knew like my own backyard.

This was followed by a painstakingly meticulous walkaround rendition of the 48-footer’s checklist that I thought would never end.

Why impatient? Because, to make the island of Saba, 27 miles away, before dark that night,

we had to leave by 2pm, and I thought that a veteran like me sho My crew,

 who had before noon eagerly gone shopping on the more glamorous French side of the island,

returned dockside at 1:45pm loaded with boxes of exotic previsions and vintage wines.

This gave me the incentive to shoo off the bareboat instructor, finished or not,

and 2pm found us motoring out of Oyster Pond with our clothes still in duffle bags and the just-purchased provisions still in their cardboard boxes. Luckily, it was a typically glorious Caribbean day.

Sunny, and with 20 knots of easterly trades driving us at near hull speed, we were able to pick up a mooring in Saba’s Ladder Bay in daylight after a rollicking 4-hour romp from St Martin. THE ISLAND OF SABA Soaring Saba is known as

“The Unspoiled Queen of the Caribbean’’ for its pristine landscapes nd striking biodiversity as well as the total absence of cruise ship throngs on this beach-less vertiginous island.

The two days we had allotted to getting to know unique, alpine Saba went by quickly and the morning of day three found us, at 9am, raising sails.

 Barreling along on port tack as the sun glittered off the deep blue of the Caribbean,

we left the lee of Saba as we headed south on port tack in a fresh breeze to make the layline northeast for our next stop, St. Barts.

 I had the helm and continued putting money in the bank as we sailed away from Saba for a clear shot to the day’s destination 28 miles away to the North East.

We were about 3 miles south of Saba when, with the blue hued mountains of our St.

Barts right on the bow, I brought us about and passed the wheel to Jim. Stretching out in the big boat’s ample cockpit,

I opened my book and, lifting my head every few pages to see how things were going, began to enjoy the sail.

But as time went by, I became more and more concerned because we seemed to be making more than normal leeway towards the rocky shore of Saba to port.

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