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Tropics Cafe
A Diver's Bar & Restaurant

is the restaurant at Juliana's Hotel.  For the past year, the restaurant experimented in another direction by leasing the restaurant as a fine 'chop house' style for dinners.  As of December 2009, owners Wim and Johanna Schutten are back to managing the restaurant and back to more basics.  Bring back the quesadillas and burgers for lunch and simple but delicious grilled kabobs on Wednesdays and Sundays. 

Meet the locals on Friday night and enjoy Movie Night and a burger (choice of beef, fish or veggie) for only $10.  The 15' screen is complimented with Wim's Bose sound system creating a fun outdoor amphitheater where you can enjoy a recent release while lying on a chaise lounge chair under the stars with a cold one. 

Open daily for breakfast and lunch--except Mondays when they close after breakfast.

SCF continues new mooring installations
Name Saba's New Dive Site

Saba's Commissioner Chris Johnson
Drilling a new mooring in the Saba Marine Park

The Saba Conservation Foundation has been busy with its drilling equipment.  Thanks to funding from DCNA, marine park rangers from nearby islands of Statia and St. Maarten came to Saba in early SEptember in order to utilize as many trained hands as possible.  Although they repaired several moorings, their work was cut short with the threat of Tropical Storm Erika, which luckily never materialized.  A new mooring has been installed in 40' (12 meters) of water near Hot Springs.  SCF Manager Kai Wulf has put out the word that the foundation will run a contest to "name the new dive site" excepting names from locals and visiting tourists.  Deadline for submissions is October 25; winner will be announced on October 28 and awarded some fun prizes.  Come up with the best name by diving the site, as Sea Saba did on October 10.  We look forward to the reinstallation of Otto Limits and more!

Instead of Turkey at Grandma's...
Spoil Yourself @ Saba's Premier Property

Take advantage of the long holiday weekend without using too many vacation days--dive in to the Saba Marine Park and experience the Unspoiled Queen.  Instead of a weekend of overeating, plan for a weekend of meeting and greeting new fish and new friends.  Special pricing includes a Royal Suite at Queen's Gardens Resort complete with a private jacuzzi,  extra dives and a fantastic dinner with the renowned chef at this premier property.  Contact us for details and availability.  Turkey also available.


Saba's Quest to Rid Plastic Bags Continues

©photo and story courtesy
 Suzanne Nielsen, St. Maarten Daily Herald


SABA—The “Unspoiled Queen” (the advertising nickname for Saba) continues to strive toward living up to its reputation.

Several grocery stores, as well as GEBE, have handed out free reusable marketing bags, but stores report that customers rarely bring bags with them when they shop. The sturdy bags may be put to some other household purpose. 

Many neighboring islands have, or are working on, laws regulating the use of the bags, which are considered a plague on the environment and a danger to roaming animals as well as to sea creatures. A few years ago, under a previous Saba island government, an attempt was made to deal with the problem at the grocery store levels, but customers were not prepared for the change to being charged for plastic bags as a deterrent. Public outcry, due to lack of awareness, immediately brought the attempt to a halt. Most Sabans decry the plastic bags flying about, but people who use them to tie up their garbage are unwilling to purchase household plastic bags, which they now get for free when they purchase foodstuffs. The solution should not only address excess plastic bags, but littering in general. 

The Saba Conservation Foundation tried recyclable plastic bags at a local grocery store in Windwardside in 2007, but the project did not continue when other issues became more of a priority and funding was not available. The Foundation also tested the bags and found that they did not biodegrade in the advertised manner, and so still posed a threat.

Saba youth add personal contribution to Trail Shop

©story courtesy
 Suzanne Nielsen, St. Maarten Daily Herald


SABA--The Junior Rangers, one of the youth groups of the Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF), have completed a special project where they made concrete stepping stones to be placed on the gravel walk behind the Trail Shop. The walk leads down into the gut trail and around to the museum grounds. 

The Rangers imprinted flowers, hands, and other creative designs into the wet concrete that had been poured into a wooden frame. Then the designs – and the artist’s name – were added in colourful paint. SCF Education Officer Sue Hurrell set up the project for the group. She said that the small walkway is now much brighter and invites the hiker to take the trail down into the shady gut, which is full of large Breadfruit trees.  

Hurrell included some gardening with the Sea Scouts, who planted seeds in recycled tin cans. When these seedlings are sturdy enough, the group will come back and plant them to beautify the area. Hurrell said that some are July Trees, which eventually will go down for the next planting the kids undertake in the Fort Bay gut.

Sea & Learn Networking Results:
Dive Detectives Filming on Saba

A team from yap films consisting of a producer, researchers, a scientist and commercial divers is on Saba filming an episode for the internationally known Dive Detectives series which airs on National Geographic and History channel. 

The team from Toronto, Ontario is  primarily focused on solving the mystery of the wreck on the Saba Bank that was inadvertently discovered by the Dutch Navy two years ago when their side-band sonar equipment became tangled in the wreckage.

The researchers have spent time interviewing locals on both Saba and St. Maarten including the Coast Guard, Landsradio and Port Authority employees, trying to gather any information about the registration or communications of the vessel.  Since its discovery, (see Jun 2007 link on Sea Saba's Latest News page for the original story), the sunken ship is thought to be a Venezuelan cement barge.  Local seaman and owner of Swinging Doors bar, Eddie Hassell, explains that deliveries were regularly made between Venezuela and Columbia to Marigot (French side, Sint Martin) to deliver cement.  The area where the shipwreck is located (approximately 28 miles out from Saba) is a likely course a delivery boat may have followed.

Sea Saba is supplying nitrox tanks to the dive team but our dive vessels were fully booked for the timeframe the film team was available.  Yap Films hired "Top Secret Excursions", a charter boat devoted for private parties but having the ability to carry divers at a good speed to the Saba Bank area but with a salon for protection from any weather in the winter season. 

Enthralled with Saba's beauty and history, the team is also filming nature areas of Saba. 

Shelly Lundvall, scientist who headed the Saba Bank Project was also brought down (having returned to Canada) to do additional work on the Saba Bank and the effects of tanker anchoring.

yap films was hired by National Geographic after receiving a proposal from Vince Capone, a 2008 guest lecturer for Sea & Learn on Saba, the non-profit foundation that brings nature experts to Saba each year.  Capone is well known in the marine science industry and has himself been in many documentary film series due to his work with studying the seafloor.  He was so pleased with the program, he wanted to "give back" to the Saba community and submitted a proposal to people he knew in the industry.

Filming is scheduled to finish approximately Feb 19, 2009. 


Sea Saba's Diver Speaks To
Saba Pilot Club

SABA—Professor Donna Wilt, from the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT), spent time last Friday at Child Focus telling members of the local “Be a Pilot Club” how to go about pursuing an aviation career and what strategies they might use to obtain financial assistance.  

Donna Wilt was one of 16 Scuba Board members diving with Sea Saba in early June.  Read the first trip report posted.

Wilt said that there are many organizations that offer direct scholarships to worthy students regardless of their nationality. “There is definitely money out there,” she reassured. Wilt said that she is a member of several women-in-aviation organizations and would be glad to share information with the club on these opportunities, which are open to both boys and girls.  

Many club members are interested in getting their first pilot’s license, which takes about 40 hours of work, but Wilt pointed out that if the young people are truly interested in a career, they should plan on a university degree. She said that many FIT students who come from the Caribbean first attend a local community collage for two years, since the curriculum is very general, but will meet prerequisites. This allows students to start their studies at a less expensive institute close to home. Many universities will work with students who plan to graduate from them, but start elsewhere, in order to assure that all prerequisites are in fact met. 

The club exchanged addresses with Wilt, who will see to it that the youngsters receive the information they need. FIT has about 3,000 students, with 400 of these in aviation. The Caribbean Group is the largest student group at the University. 

Club members were also interested in Wilt’s own career and the fact that she has had her own SESNA 177 since 1993 and often “commutes” to her job in her private plane. She is also an avid SCUBA diver and enjoyed exemplary weather during the week she and her husband were on island. She was looking forward to flying out of Saba, since the couple had to take the Edge to arrive, and she was disappointed to miss the famous Saba landing.

Saba's Cistene Chapel
Receives Repairs

©photo and story courtesy
 Suzanne Nielsen, St. Maarten Daily Herald

Saba artist Heleen Cornet is high in the scaffolding again to repair damage to her magnificent fresco in the apse of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in The Bottom. Cornet said that the cloud formations immediately above the altar had simply peeled off, possible due to moisture coming from behind. Salt water was possibly used to mix the mortar, and it continues to attract moisture. The repairs will be complete by the end of the week.

Saba moves towards terrestrial management plan


SABA—Environmental consultant Yvonne Hosker from Manchester, G.B., spent over a week on Saba getting acquainted with issues concerning environmental management of the island. Her research and interview data will be incorporated into a Land Management Plan that will be presented to the Saba Conservation Foundation (SCS). 

The study is an initiative of the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA), who sent Dutch National Forestry Services staffer Jan Block to the Netherlands Antilles in a quick introductory trip to the Netherlands Antilles earlier this year. Hosker said her task was to speak to the nature “stakeholders,” which on such a small space meant a cross section of the population.  

Hosker has been an environmental consultant for over a dozen years and said that she was ready to take a break when the assignment came up. She jumped at the opportunity, even though she is strictly a volunteer, and only her expenses are covered. Hosker is particularly interested in adding value to nature sites by improving access and adding “interpretation,” which means to clarify the significance of the site  

In addition to her many community contacts, Hosker made time to hike some of the trails, such as Sandy Cruz, Spring Bay, and Mary’s Point. On the Mary’s Point expedition, she accompanied SCS staffers Sue Hurrell and Greg van Laake who were taking a group of young Sea Scouts to the old village ruin, which is being investigated by two Canadian archaeologists. Read the full story on The Latest News page of this site.  he not only had a chance to speak to Saba youth, but also listened to the observations of the scientists. She said that Sabans have voiced that they would like to see more cultural, historical context for their environment made available.

Hosker said that she had already sent part of her Saba material to Environmental expert Duncan MacRae of the British company Coastal Zone Management. MacRae, who has worked for DCNA before, will include suggestions and recommendations in his final plan. The report is expected mid-year.


El Momo Cottages Changes Ownership
Hartleib Family to Move to Germany

©photo and story courtesy
 Suzanne Nielsen, St. Maarten Daily Herald

SABA—After a decade running El Momo’s Cottages, the Hartleib family is leaving and returning to Germany, with many fond memories of Saba. Oliver and Angelika and their two children born on St. Maarten – along with their Saba dog – are leaving this weekend and will resettle in Kiel in northern Germany.

The young couple arrived on Saba in May 1997 ready to fulfil a local assignment as dive instructors. They stayed at El Momo’s Cottages, then run by Els and Gied Mommers. They fell in love with Saba and the boutique hotel and were soon asked to fill in as managers when the Mommers went on an extended vacation. When the Mommers decided to sell, the Hartleibs took the opportunity to purchase the business and settle down on Saba and eventually start a family. 

Although not specifically trained in running a hotel, the Hartleibs loved their new career. “All it takes is social competence,” said Angelika. She added that a welcome smile covers most of it. This formula for a successful business worked for the young entrepreneurs: most of their advertising is by word of mouth. Satisfied guests further recommended this Saba destination. Their marketing approach has not been to spend money on extensive advertising, other than informational brochures and a website. They have found it very useful to host travel journalists and get exposure through their reports in travel magazines and guides, such as the Lonely Planet. 

Ollie, who is a very versatile “handy man,” added kitchens to two rooms, added baths, and installed European energy-conserving hot shower devices. Internet is now available and the desk around the pool was expanded. The couple is very committed to being environmentally responsible and this is very appreciated by their guests, who also join in. The hotel became “smoke free” at the beginning of the year. 

The clientele is very mixed in nationality and in age—despite that long stairway climb to the reservations desk! Angelika said that all guests realize how the hotel is placed on the hillside, with a rewarding panoramic view. 

Ollie said that once the family had decided that young Laura (8) and Luca (5) needed to be closer to their cousins and more schooling possibilities, they advertised on their website that the hotel was for sale. This brought in a very satisfying response; still it took about two years for the right deal to come along. The new owner is Andries Bonnema from the Netherlands. 

After a bit of travel to destinations as diverse as the United States and India, the young family will settle in Kiel and will take over the management of the Tea Shop run by Ollie’s mother in Kiel. The young family is looking forward to getting settled in their new project, but will miss the friendliness and warm smiles from their Saba friends. 

SUSOM New Promotion

The Saba University School of Medicine ("SUSOM")created a new banner to use at trade fairs and university visits to attract prospective students.  The new banner was created by SUSOM with the focus being the aerial photograph taken by John Magor of Sea Saba Dive Center.  This eye-catching image shows the unique shape of Saba's 5-square miles and the famed 'smallest international runway' in the world.  The popular aerial image was purchased from Magor for this specific use, as it has been for a number of other companies:  regional cell phone provider, Chippie, uses the image on its $10 phone card; Juliana's Hotel uses the image on its trade show banner, a local artist showcases the image on his c.d.  The image has also been featured in Newsweek magazine as well as a German aviation magazine.  Sea Saba Dive Center has the image available for sale in a convenient and attractive matted and framed for $30. 


Upgrades for Orchid
Still the favorite!

The privacy and space of an incredible home, but the conveniences of a hotel

For years, Orchid Cottage has been the #1 place to book.  This lovely 2-bedroom home not only has outstanding ocean and mountain views, great privacy and the famous semi-outdoor bathroom...but it has all the conveniences of a hotel.  As part of Juliana's Hotel, you can enjoy the amenities of Saba's most popular Windwardside hotel: daily maid service, wireless internet access, and the convenience of Tropics Cafe, Juliana's pool and hot tub just steps away. This fall, owners Johanna and Wim Schutten made improvements to the cottage with a revamped more open kitchen, new furnishings, barbeque grill and more fabulous gardening.  So upgrade to Orchid; but plan ahead to be assured of availability. 

Another reason to come to Saba...
Saba Jam Camp

"Information, Inspiration and Experience"

Join John Gindick and other enthusiastic musicians for an incredible week on Saba.  Whether you're a musician or just want to be entertained with great live music, mark your calendar for this fun event.

Jon Gindick is a long time musical harp/guitar vocal blues and country musician.  Since 1977, has authored the world's best-selling harmonica instruction books/ cds / videos. (Over a million sold.) Jon is founder and main instructor of “Harmonica Jam Camp".


Jon will be bringing world class player/teachers with him to Saba, along with a professional blues band from St. Louis , jamming almost every night at Queen’s Gardens and other locations. 


The enrollment is limited, sign up at website, or

For more information,  call Jon at 310-457-8278

Saba's Peanut Gallery Hosts
"Gems of the Rainforest" Photo Exhibit

Sunday, May 28th, 2006, is the day The Peanut Gallery is set to unveil a special exhibit.  "Gems of the Rainforest" is a photographic presentation of John Magor's newest frog photographs.  Armed with a top notch Nikon digital camera rig, John and Lynn (of Sea Saba Dive Center) ventured to Costa Rica, specifically to photograph the grand variety of colorful and rare frogs.  They met with biologists and scientists from steamy coastal jungles to montane private reserves.  The results, only tropical fish compare in the variety of color, shapes and sizes.  Link to the Saba Images and Beyond page of this site to learn more about Saba's frog and why it and all frogs are an important indicator species for our planet. 

Gate House Teams Up With
Sea Saba For Summer
Love2Dive Special

©photo courtesy John Magor

For something different this summer, try a romantic stay at The Gate House; explore Saba's Marine park together with Sea Saba.  Sea Saba makes the getting wet part easy with daily transfers for diving included in this special package.  Enjoy the 4-island view and outstanding cuisine while staying at this quietly elegant property that's just a little bit away from it all.  The Summer Special begins with champagne and delicacies in your room upon arrival.  Add to that a free night, daily full American  breakfast, a lobster lunch and if you can tear yourself away from the serenity of the hotel, an island tour is also included.  Price is just $745 per person for 6 nights, 3 days diving (6 dives).  Contact Larry of World Dive Adventures for all inclusive packages with airfare.  This special package is available April 15-November 30, 2006.

El Momo's
Iguana Cottage is Upgraded

Always a favorite of El Momo's clients, the Iguana Cottage has now been upgraded with a new bathroom.  Like all the cottages at El Momo, Iguana has special touches and is built to maximize the view and serenity of this unique eco-style property.  Iguana's upgrades aspire to El Momo Cottages premise of creative simplicity designed to enhance your appreciation of the surrounding nature. Actual iguana encounters and photo ops are a given!

Photo Journalist for
Diver Magazine On Saba

Dan & Ann Holden-Bailey
with Glenn Holm, Saba Tourism

October 2003--Photo journalist Dan Holden-Bailey and his wife Ann came to Saba to write on behalf of Diver magazine, a Canadian publication.

Holden spent 4 days diving Saba's waters with Sea Saba Dive Center and Saba Divers.  Queen's Gardens Resort and Scout's Place Hotel hosted their stay.  Watch for the Saba article in a Spring 2004 issue.

Animal Rights Foundation
Forms on Saba

All dogs and creatures should be as loved and looked after as Seneca...but unfortunately, that's not the case...

SABA—A citizen’s group has established a new Foundation for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Its purpose is “to protect and further the well being of animals.”

The founding trio, Evette Peterson, Juliet Johnson and Susan ten Holt, met on Thursday with the notary and handed in their paper work.

Peterson, who is often called up to shelter stray animals, said it was the only Foundation of its kind on Saba. “Every community needs an animal rights organization,” Peterson explained. The group intends to work with the government to put the appropriate ordinances in place to protect both domestic and wild animals.

“It is above all a case of education,” Peterson said. The group will meet with schoolchildren and other groups to explain what animals need to stay healthy and happy. They also intend to sponsor fundraisers so that they can eventually support an animal shelter and adoption agency. They may also offer animal training courses. They will be calling on volunteers to help in their activities, especially serving as “foster families” for homeless animals. Plans will eventually include an inspector who will make house calls to follow up on complaints about valid concerns.

The Foundation wants to make sure that all pets have identifying tags so that they can be returned to their rightful owners when lost.

As soon as the Foundation has is papers, it will hold a public information session.

Anthropologist Visit
How Emigration has effected Saba

SABA—Anthropologist Amy Sullivan of the University of North Carolina has spent the last two weeks buried in the dusty files of the Registrar’s office in The Bottom, completing information started 40 years ago by Dr. Julia Crane of the same university.

Sullivan, who is researching her doctorate dissertation, follows the footsteps of Crane; Dr.Peggy Ann Fry, on Saba a decade after Crane; and Dr.  Kate McQueen, who came in the 1980s. The demographic information these anthropologists gathered dates back to 1816.

Sullivan is studying the effect of emigration on the Saban population, and needed birth, marriage, and death  certificates, which she had to physically dig out of the office archives, since this information is not computerized.

“Nellie was an invaluable help to me,” Sullivan said of Saba’s registrar, Nellie Peterson. Peterson not only guided the young American scientist to find the relevant documents, but also had a storehouse of anecdotal material to fill in some blanks.

Sullivan will spend the next few months back at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, putting this statistical information on the computer and integrating it with data supplied by her predecessors.

The next step will be to conduct interviews with segments of the Saban population to determine the whys and wherefore of population movements. She is particularly interested in the effect of these exits and reentries have on family relationships and women’s decision to marry and have children. Sullivan said that she would be applying for grant money for this part of her work, which she hopes to have in place by next year. She would return to Saba and train Sabans to help her in the interview process.

“This work should also be of value to the Saban community, it is not just an academic work,” Sullivan said. She said that her discussions with Sabans had illustrated in what high regard they held Julia Crane, and that it was Crane’s integration into Saban life that had given her the insight into her invaluable work.

Saba's Harbor
Repairs Have Begun

(click to enlarge photo)

INTRO: The NAf 9.6 million Saba harbor project had a rough start with a delay of several months. Contracts were signed April 8th, but equipment did not arrive until August 2, after the official start of the hurricane season.

Holdups were caused by equipment consolidation/transportation complications and the search for an insurance firm willing to take on the risk during the hurricane season.

Joseph Floissac, a graduate civil engineer and project manager for Trinidadian contractor Capital Signal, Ltd., said its crew of eight heavy equipment operators and eight Saban skilled hires are doing their best to accelerate the project to meet the February 10th deadline to avoid a hefty late delivery penalty. 

To read more details about the harbor project, simply click here

Saba's Egg Farm

click on the photos to enlarge...

SABA-“Demand exceeds production,” says Andy Hassell (37) of his egg farm located in lower Hell’s Gate. The young farmer is busy growing his business to meet the island’s demand for fresh eggs.

There's plenty more to read more about one of Saba's only remaining true farmers, click here.

Dutch Family to Receive
Saba Lace for New Baby

Saba's Lt. Governor Antoinne Soligner meets with Diana Maduro, creator of the Saba Lace christening dress for Holland's Royal Couple.

Saba's First Baby Delivery on Winair Flight

The Rodriguez Family is enjoying family life with Billy Jean and the couple's other child.  Billy Jean was  born as the Winair plane touched down on St. Maarten's runway in early September, 2003.

Saba's Pier Project
Kids' Signs Help
Tourists Understand

SABA—Child Focus lent a helping hand to the Fort Bay project by putting up “excuse our dust” signs to alert Edge visitors and other tourists that the pier is under construction.

The tourist office and
Fort Bay business have beenproposing for some time that some sort of explanation be posted, given the amount of building equipment and
materials crowding the pier. Child Focus Project Director Wim Schutten approached the government with his idea that school kids could turn the mission into a project. Commissioner for Youth and Education Lisa Hassell and Sacred Heart School Directress Diane Wilson were delighted with the idea and put the third and fourth grade students to work.

The children first worked on ideas and presented samples before creating the final version on large pieces of plywood. Schutten collected the four
completed posters and took them to the Child Focus building in Windwardside to protect them with a
coating of marine varnish.

Each sign has its own personality: One says “Welcome to Saba,” another “Sorry for the Mess” in English, German, Spanish, and Dutch, the third explains that the pier is under construction, and the final poster reads, “Preparing for the future of

Schutten then asked the construction company Capital Signal for permission to attach the posters to the side of their construction trailer. Schutten said that they were delighted and disallowed parking in front of the signs so they remain visible at all times.

Dutch film crew to feature Saba 

SABA—A four-member Dutch film crew spent a week filming, photographing, and interviewing Sabans. The material they gathered in more than 30 hours of work will result in a book on the Windward Islands, an hour documentary “Eye on Bonaire/Saba” produced for Radio Netherlands World Service, and additional collateral films for other markets.

Dos Winkel, team leader and photographer, is no stranger to Saba. He met Tom van’t Hof and Heleen Cornet about 15 years ago, and collaborated with them and his own wife Bertie Winkel-de Rook to produce “The Nature of Saba,” a photo essay of the island published in 1997. He also worked with Tom van’t Hof on a Guide to the Bonaire Marine Park.

Winkel first came to the island 20 years ago and claims it as his favorite. The current project was born several years ago, and the organization of such a large undertaking took time. Now, the team has almost concluded the project, with only one more photo shoot in Bonaire and interviews in Leiden with Dutch Caribbean archeologists Menno Hoogland and Corrine Hofman. The work will then go into postproduction, with the documentary to be presented at a French television documentary film festival in Cannes in late March. 

Producer Ton Okkerse remarked that Saba was unique in its lack of a plantation history, its famous sea captains, the predominance of the English language, and its long isolation.

The crew was impressed with the pristine quality of the marine environment observed during their five dives in the Saba National Marine Park. They noted that the “cloud forest” showed storm damage, with the decimation of the Mountain Mahogany, but it still gave that special feeling unique to this area of the island.

The book on Saba and St. Eustatius has generated interest on the island as business have been asked to support the publication by $1,000 donations which will result in an acknowledgement in the book and 10 copies, with an accompanying logo and 30 books for a contribution of $3,000. Winkel said that the book will sell for $50 and will be available in English, Dutch, and German. The book will be presented to the Lt. Governors of the three Windward Islands in September 2004.

Wild Orchids of Saba

May 21:  Stuart is back on Saba so watch for a next orchid update!

Orchid specialist Stewart Chipka of Naples, Florida, spent two weeks on Saba in January creating a scientific map of the location of wild orchids on the island. He located nine species representing three genera and expects to track down many more when he returns in May for a follow-up study.

He marked their exact location with a global position system (GPS) unit. On his return to Saba, he will relocate these plants to check their growing cycles and will search for additional varieties in previously unexplored crooks and crannies. He will specifically be looking for Psychilis and Bletia specimens, which he did not locate in January. These genera should be on Saba since they prevail on nearby islands.

Chipka came by his interest in orchids at a young age. His Czech grandfather, who immigrated to the US with the family in 1917, was a renaissance man. A machinist by day and a pastry chef by night, his spare-time passion was orchids. As a boy, Chipka accompanied Gramps on trips through the Florida Everglades to gather various specimens.

Chipka studied to be a structural engineer, but always kept the hobby. Now approaching retirement, he has developed his love of orchids into a serious avocation. He is president of Encyclia Enthuasiasts, Inc., an affiliate of the American Orchid Society, publishes in lay and scholarly journals, and facilitates courses at the International Orchid Center in Palm Beach, Florida.

An avid grower himself, specializing in Encyclias, Chipka now has at least 250 varieties in the garden behind his modest condominium in Naples. When he rhapsodically describes his Lime tree with more than 300 species of epiphyte orchids in its branches, Chipka takes on the look of the true believer: the nature lover who finds a spiritual experience in his work.

British horticulturists discovered and popularized orchids during the Victorian area. Britain retains the world’s most important herbarium at Keyes Gardens near London, where the Royal Botanic Garden has the final say in naming any new species.

Originally, orchids were thought to be tropical plants needing moist, dank conditions. In fact, orchids grow in most areas of the world, including arctic regions and thus thrive in various environments. There are about 35,000 named species, with more discovered every year. Adding to the population are the many hybrids.

Today, orchids are the second most purchased flower: the Christmas poinsettia is in first place. The orchid fascinates not only by its exotic beauty, but its flowers are the most advanced and intricate in the entire plant kingdom.

Saba’s orchids were undoubtedly brought to the volcanic soil by the wind…orchid seeds can be as fine as talcum powder. Varieties grow in trees, on rocks, or on the ground. They propagate by various means, including cloning.

Propagation methods gave Chipka other environmental clues. He suspects the presence of the hawk moth on Saba, since this insect normally propagates the Lady’s lash species he found in profusion.

Chipka set forth from his cottage above the airport armed with his field notebook, camera, GPS unit, a scientific ruler to record dimensions – and serious hiking boots.

A magnificent surprise was in store for Chipka during his fieldwork in Upper Hell’s Gate. A local farmer tipped him off that an orchid field existed around a cultivated plot of onions. For many years, this orchid field supplied a wonderful backdrop to the Christmas crèche at the nearby Church of the Holy Rosary.

To Chipka’s astonishment, Lady’s lash or eyelash (Epidendrum ciliare) orchid plants stretched as far as the eye could see. Farmers said they left them in place “to hold the stone walls together. “ It took my breath away to see this amount of proliferation,” Chipka said.

Elsewhere, Chipka found orchids had succumbed to the weedwacker employed by Saba’s trail maintenance crews on Mt. Scenery, and the resident goat population also takes a toll.

Chipka will submit his findings to a taxonomist. A Kew Gardens expert in plant identification would eventually determine if Saba has an unrecorded species or if variations are within normal extremes.

Field samples may not be exported since orchids are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Turning Saba’s orchids into a business enterprise would need patience. It would take three to four years before an enterprise would produce an income after orchid cultivation techniques are mastered

Saba’s orchids could be exploited in another fashion. Tourists would undoubtedly be interested in a botanical garden displaying some of Saba’s wild orchids. A tour map could be created to reach those orchids flourishing in Saba’s many microclimates.

The Cat's Meow for Divers

Cat's Eye Cottage in Windwardside

From the moment you step across the threshold, you will be enchanted with this labor of love.  If you have been lucky enough to have already rented Cat's Eye Cottage, you know it's hard to title this article as "improvements" as it was quite sweet already.  At only $630/week, this cottage boasts an ideal location, loads of privacy and the charm of an old cottage but with every modern amenity.  But it just got better...

This summer, owners Lee and Lea Fulmer (who winter in Taos as ski patrollers) just couldn't help themselves.  Other house owners smirk when they say "Lee and Lea accomplish more work on their house by lunch time than I have in a year!" 

click on the photos to enlarge...

The Fulmers once owned a huge landscaping company in Texas so their muscle, know how and creativity are evident in many directions.  They've added an arbor in the rear of the house which forms a shaded sitting area by day.  At night time, the soft lighting within the boulders puts the perfect glow on a romantic dinner.  For that last day of diving, a dedicated area has been set up to rinse and hang all your diving equipment. 

And when you thought it couldn't get better, the sweetest gingerbread adorns the roofline, what a great final touch--until next summer at least!

Forty board feed of hand cut gingerbread (that's a lot of jigsaw use!) now graces the roofline and peaks of Cat's Eye Cottage.  Yes, the owners are cat lovers but you'll have to read the house welcome book to know the true family story behind "Cat's Eye".  The same welcome book shows 'before photos' of this 100+ year old cottage so that you can truly appreciate what has gone in to making this cottage feel so special.  

Read more about Lee and Lea, and their valued contributions to Sea Saba on the "Meet the Sea Saba Crew" page of this website.  You can also link to our dedicated webpage about the cottage in our "Romantic Saba" section.  For a full listing of have and have nots, link to the Saba Cottages and Villas page of the Dive Saba ~ Statia Travel website.

and now more about real Cats
Feral Cat fundraiser

SABA—Friday evening’s wine tasting fundraiser brought
out a crowd of over 60 to the Cottage Club.

Spokesperson Sally Myers said that the event went very
well, and everyone had enjoyed the various wines on
show, and the many raffle ticket prizes.

The following day, Saturday, the group sponsored the
neutering of 25 feral cats and two dogs at the
agricultural center. Agricultural department head
Michael Hassell and visiting St. Maarten veterinarian
Chris de Witt worked all day with half a dozen
volunteers to handle these and private cases.











September 2010

Many of the articles on this page brought to you courtesy of Suzanne Nielsen, Saba's correspondent for The Daily Herald, St. Maarten's main newspaper.  Suzanne's book, "Folk Remedies on a Caribbean Island" can be purchased on Saba for $30 or found by searching eBay on the book title. If there is a problem please contact the author at

Getting Ready for High Season

Tropics Back to Basics

Shearwater Resort to Open in Feb '10

2009 Headlines
Name the New Dive Site Contest

2009-10 Hotel Updates

Thanksgiving Special w/Queen's Gardens

More Attention Needed Re:Plastic Bags

Local Play:
Nemeo & Juliet

Junior Rangers Engraved in Stone

Dive Detectives Filming on Saba

Restauarnt Rumors for 2008-9 High Season

Scuba Board Members visit Saba;
Saba Pilots Club Gets Speaker

Saba's Cistene Chapel Repairs

Terrestial Managment Plan in the Works

Chizzilala Releases Tourism DVD

Upgrades Galore:
Queen's Gardens, Juliana's &
private rentals

El Momo Changes Ownership

SUSOM New Banner

Even more news on this site:

Surface Intervals
The Latest News on Saba
from political concerns to Sea Saba updates...
things we think you want to know about Saba

Nature News
Saba's U/W and Topside Scoop

In 2007...

Upgrades @ Orchid, our clients' favorite

Captain's Quarters: The End of an Era

El Momo is First Non-Smoking Hotel

Windwardside Historical Mural

Ecolodge Vamps Up a Notch

Diamond Rock Lights Up

Sea Saba Sponsors Pilot Club

New Season; New Reasons

Saba Jam Camp

Link to 2006 stories and beyond...

Chizzilala Productions
Releases Tourism DVD

©story courtesy
 Suzanne Nielsen, St. Maarten Daily Herald

click on the image and relax...
 6-minutes of beautiful Saba...

SABA—Director of Tourism Glenn Holm gave advance copies of the new tourism materials to Lt. Governor Syndey Sorton on Friday afternoon.

The materials include a new poster, brochures in English, Dutch, French, and German, post cards, and a six-minute CD of island scenes including underwater videos. The materials had debuted on Monday at the luncheon with Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, which focused on tourism and the environment. 

download and send to your friends!

Holm said that the bulk of the materials are being shipped to Saba, but the CD should be available for download this weekend on the website, Holm said this high-tech solution to distribution would made it easy for local tourism businesses, agents abroad, or just interested parties to create their own CD. Holm said that he had instructed the local professional videographers Adam and Sabine Watkins to focus on the island’s unique charm and give a fair depiction of the tourism offering. All dive shops are included, for example.

The CD has only a musical background, which makes it usable in any market, regardless of language. Holm said that he is often called upon speak about the island, The video will help him illustrate his talk. Since no text is on the video, he can then customize his remarks to his specific audience. 

Holm said that Saba had also taken out a full-page ad in two issues of the American magazine “Weddings and Honeymoons,” which is published quarterly. Holm said that interest in unique marriage ceremonies had picked up and he would continue to develop this opportunity for Saba. 

Holm announced that he had made arrangements for the video to be aired on Saba cable TV channel 7 at 7pm, Monday, February 18th. “We hope the entire island will tune in to see this new production,” Holm said.


The project to upgrade all tourism promotional materials was financed through a USONA “quick wins” grant.

Captain's Quarters Comes Down
The End of an Era

The Tearing Down of Saba's Icon Hotel
(and two related stories below)

CQ Post card from 1997

SABA—Captain’s Quarters, was demolished on Saturday morning (early July 2007). The old wooden house, one of Saba’s most beloved and historic buildings was located in a Windwardside area known as Under the Hill. It was built by Captain Henry Hassell in 1832 and was the only classic Saban cottage with a second floor widow’s walk. It later was used as a school and then a hospital. In the mid 1960s, it became the signature Guest House in Windwardside and many Sabans got their first tourism training there.  

©photo of bulldozer and story courtesy
 Suzanne Nielsen, St. Maarten Daily Herald

Captain’s Quarters was destroyed by Georges in 1998, and subsequently declared bankruptcy. Since then, there have been numerous attempts to sell the property, which is privately owned by the Bodine family (see story below). Part of the hotel buildings are on leased government property, which created problems and a deal could never be struck. 

The property continued to deteriorate, and adjacent property owners have undertaken several cleanups of the property and carted away loose rafters, boards and Galvalume to keep them from flying loose and causing damage to neighbouring buildings.  

The Bodine family finally decided to pull it down and commissioned Ernest Hassell to undertake the job. On Saturday, Egon Linzey brought over his excavator, and in short order the house was down and the wood debris transported to the landfill. Hassell said that it was his understanding that members of the Bodine family would be coming to Saba sometime this summer, and would undoubtedly meet with government on the disposition of the property.

©Photo and article courtesy Suzanne Nielsen
and St. Maarten Daily Herald

SABA—Members of the Bodine family gathered Sunday afternoon on the grounds of the Harry L. Johnson Museum for a memorial service for the family matriarch, Midge Bodine-Rossini, who created the island’s signature hotel, Captain’s Quarters. 

Bodine-Rossini died in 2005 in Chicago at the age of 82. She was born Mildred J. Bain in Northbrook, Illinois, October 21, 1923. With first husband Earl “Bud” Bodine, Jr., the couple bought Captain’s Quarters in 1964 and turned the property into Saba’s first tourist resort. The couple had “discovered” Saba as they toured the Lesser Antilles archipelago.

Many Sabans trained there as the island’s incipient tourism business grew. The hotel became the island’s “hot” property, with an international reputation. The hotel was badly damaged in hurricanes in the late 1990s and was just recently torn down. The family will be meeting with interested parties mid-week to discuss what might be done with the property.  

Daughter Sue Bodine-Bolea said that five of Midge’s children and nine grandchildren had scattered Midge’s ashes in the waters between St. Maarten and Saba and had come on to Saba for the final memorial of Midge, “who had found her Bali-Hi on Saba.” 

Family and friends gathered at 4pm at the Museum Gazebo as the local “Occassionals” band played a few hymns. Acting Lt. Governor Roy Smith welcomed the family on behalf of the island. Will Johnson spoke of the build up of the hotel in the early 1960s, at a time when the island welcomed the work that the construction project provided. He recalled that Midge had the foresight to include a souvenir tourist gift shop, which gave a showcase to the handicrafts of Saba ladies who produce the island’s renowned fine lace work. 

Bodine-Bolea then spoke on behalf of the family, and said that Saba suited her mother “to a T” with its strong character strengths and tenacity. She said her mother streamlined her life to the essentials in her original Saba cottage in Hell’s Gate. “Saba was her passion,” Bodine-Bolea said. Midge was an accomplished artist and the family will be giving one of her paintings to the Johnson Museum in memory of their mother. 

The memorial ended with the planting of a tree next to the gazebo and overlooking Captain’s Quarters. Guests then socialized with refreshments.

Bodine family donates $1k
to Johnson Museum

©Photo and article courtesy Suzanne Nielsen
and St. Maarten Daily Herald

SABA—Christopher Bodine made a donation Monday of $1,000 to the Harry Luke Johnson Museum in Windwardside.

On Sunday, 14 members of the Bodine family had met with Saba officials and friends to conduct a memorial service on the Museum grounds for their mother Midge Bodine-Rossini, who had started Captains Quarter’s Hotel in the mid 1960s.

Bodine said that the family had many fond memories of the island during their many visits as children. He said that the family had wanted to make a gesture to show their appreciate of island hospitality over the years. The donation is to be used at the discretion of the Museum Board. Museum President Glenn Holm accepted the donation with the thanks of the Board and said that it was very welcome and the Museum would put the money to good use.

Ecolodge Upgrades
Hot tubs, kitchens and more...


Ecolodge-Redezvous now offers an extended deck and private hot tub on two units.

Saba's Ecolodge just keeps getting better!  In the past months, Tom and Heleen have upgraded the Mt. Scenery (formerly Klomp Cottage) and Bird of Paradise (formerly Floral Cottage) Cottages to have regular hot water showers--even in the morning, mini refrigerators AND their own private hot tubs on an enlarged porch area.  Just more reasons to consider an "alternative style accommodation" for your Saba visit. 

What is meant by alternative style?  First, you access the property by footpath (approx 3 minutes). There are no tvs or phones in the room.  Instead, pure peace and tranquility is interrupted only by your enthusiasm to hike the surrounding trails or by unexpected visitors:  hummingbirds, geckos, and other photographic opportunities.  Charging of electronic or photographic equipment can be easily arranged at Sea Saba. 

Construction of The Ecolodge finished in 2001.  The 12-unit property was built of recycled and sustainable products. An organic garden on the property provides exquisite products for their fine restaurant--a must for every Saba visitor whether a lodge guest or not. 

Sea Saba Sponsors Saba'sYouth
Be a Pilot Club to hold fundraising bingo
©Story courtesy Suzanne Nielsen, 
St. Maarten Daily Herald

SABA—The local youth club “Be a Pilot” will sponsor a bingo on Sunday night, to help pay for the costs of their school career/job shadowing trip to St. Maarten and St. Croix.

Club President Shaigan Marten said that he and club member Garey Yu will travel to St. Maarten on February 26 and 27. They will visit the offices of Winair, the St. Juliana Airport Tower, and grounds. Winair Pilot Gavin Peterson, who is from Saba, will be helping with the arrangements. Winair has provided the club with seven free round trip tickets from Saba to St. Maarten.

Three more club members, Chesney Thielman, Omar Hassell, and Shanoine Marten, will join up for a subsequent three-day trip to St. Croix. There the boys plan to work with members of the United States Coast Guard Service, who will arrive on a HH-65 Dolphin Helicopter to discuss careers in aviation with the Service. St. Croix pilot John Ballard, whom club members met on last year’s excursion, has helped organize their activities which will include a visit to the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport tower, a visit to the Bohlke pilot training school, and a helicopter ride around the island.

The Sunday evening fundraiser will start with take-out food available at 5pm, and bingo starts at 6:30pm. The club is also selling raffle tickets at 5 guilders each for a DVD player, a round trip ticket on the Dawn II, and a snorkel trip for six donated by Sea Saba. Donations may be made directly to the Club account at the Postspaarbank, Account number 1048.

Older Stories...

In 2006...

"Gems of the Rainforest" Exhibition

More Rentals on the Market

Gate House Lovev2Dive Summer Special

Hperbaric Program
Attracts Med Students to Saba

El Momo: Iguana Upgrade

Ecolodge's PC Pool

House on the Path--
something new and special

Even older...

Dick Ranks As Ironman

Mango Apt Ripe with Renovations

Jacuzzis @ Juliana's

Super Market Upgrades

Medicinal Plant Hike
Becomes Monthly Event

Church Windows Restored 
Saba's Oldest Church Nears Reopening

Caroline's Latest Foray
Vitality Wellness Studio

Percy's Pumpkins Win

Sea & Learn in full Swing while
Saba Day Triathalon Preparing Begins

Animal Foundation Begins

Jo Bean's Studio

Saba's Treasure Opens

Garden Gala First Annual

Canadian DIVER Journalist Visits

Feral Cat Project Success

Visitor Signs at Harbor

The Cat's Meow of Windwardside

Saba's Harbor Project Begins

Fresh Eggs On Saba

QG Gets AAA Rating

Anthropologist Visit

More Kids on Saba

New Faces @ Queen's

A Diving Inspired Engagement

Presentations For the Birds

Saba U/W Video/DVD Available

New Rental in Hell's Gate

Orchid Study Begins

Saba New Airport
Opening & Dedication

Daphne Cottage Re-Opens

Saba Team Returns
From Gay Olypics in Sydney

Hot Spring Expert Explains

More About Fish Docs

Gate House Wins Prestigious
Award from Wine Spectator

Saba's New Airport Nears Completion

Saba's Harbor Project Approved

Hyperbaric Medicine attracts students to Saba Med School

©Photo & Story courtesy Suzanne Nielsen,
St. Maarten Daily Herald 

SABA—Saba University School of Medicine (SUSOM) now has its own hyperbaric chamber and a revamped Hyperbaric Medicine Masters Degree Program that is attracting students to SUSOM. It is the only such program in the Caribbean. 

At the most recent White Coat Ceremony, eight students, the highest number ever, received Hyperbaric Medicine degrees. Program Director Dr. Jim Stewart said that over 25 students are currently enrolled in the program—again the highest number-- and he expects this to expand. 

The program includes two semesters of academic work and one semester of research, which replaces the traditional Master’s Thesis. “The research is a team approach, which teaches analytic skills as well as working together in a scientific community,” Stewart said. 

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is the medical use of oxygen at a higher than atmospheric pressure. Current SUSOM research topics are changes in blood clotting time in the chamber, nerve conduction, lactic acid clearance, and the release of hormones in pain and depression. 

Stewart’s own background is in general physiology and environmental physiology, which includes reactions to altitude and pressure. He holds a masters degree in exercise physiology and hyperbaric medicine. 

The chamber was purchased last year from Barbados, where it was the primary treatment chamber for 20 years. Local Saba contractor HESCON put up a new building to house the chamber on the edge of the campus parking lot in The Bottom. 

Stewart said that the chamber is to be used for research, using volunteer subjects, and is not intended to treat divers suffering from suspected decompression problems. The Saba National Marine Park facility continues to serve the dive community.  The two entities continue to work closely together, with many of SOSOM students volunteering to assist at the Fort Bay facility as needed. 

Stewart said that HBOT recognition as a valuable treatment has grown so that most hospitals have a resident chamber and need doctors specializing in its medical use.

  The Politically Correct Solution
Ecolodge debuts its swimming pool

©photo and story courtesy
 Suzanne Nielsen, St. Maarten Daily Herald

SABA—“This is Saba’s highest pool,” says owner/operator Tom van t’Hof of the latest addition to the Eco-lodge property, located around 500 meters up the slope of Mt. Scenery.

Van t’Hof said that the Ecolodge had decided to put in the pool in response to guest requests. All of the digging for the deep, 8”x12”  pool was done by hand. It is located on the hillside just below the Indian sweat lodge installed several years ago. The pool is named after nearby turtle cottage. An ample wooden deck with a view to the sea surrounds it.

Heleen Cornet, Tom’s wife, and an artist known throughout the region, designed the tile work. The bottom of the pool is a mosaic of three turtles, some starfish, and wave action in a blue, white, and yellow design. One end of the pool is a step down so that one can sit comfortable in varying depths and to allow children a graduated entry into the water.

Coronet said that it was the first time she had worked in the medium, and the final product of the two-month project was the result from a lot of trial and error. One of the most difficult aspects was transferring the design from paper to the actually situation, but “I am really pleased with the result,” said Cornet.

In keeping with its ecological friendliness, a new Australian system for sanitizing pools is in use, called Nature 2 Express. Nature 2 uses minerals to destroy bacteria and algae so that only a minimum amount of chlorine is used to keep the pool sparkling.

A solar pump completes the low-impact arrangement, with water circulating from the hot tub to the pool, and back again, so that no energy is lost. This also makes it possible to warm the pool water after the hot tub has been heated.

Van t’Hof said that the pool, which was first available to guests over the holiday period, had met with rave response and was definitely a welcome addition to the amenities at the Lodge.

Hey that's Suzanne!  now a regular diver on Sea Saba's boats.  A newer diver at the time,   Suzanne first visited Saba in 1999 with a group from Weaver's Dive Center out of Boulder Colorado.  Scoping out a place to retire, Garvis showed her a cottage that needed a bit of work,,,,when she found out it was called Susanna's Cottage, well, the rest is history. Her most recent job was working as a publications manager for a cable tv R&D group.  Her wide ranging career took her from Cologne Germany to Ghana West Africa and many spots in between.  Suzanne is now accomplished divemaster and nitrox diver but also offers yoga classes twice weekly.



Percy's Pumpkins Win

©photo courtesy of Suzanne Nielsen, The Daily Herald

In case you've ever wondered what a Saba Marine Park retired staff member does after years at the Fort Bay (ok, maybe you need more to think about!), know that there is life after the Fort Bay on Saba.  Percy Tenholt is known to most as the famous blue-eyed Saban who provides the daily wake up call to Windwardside with his blowing of the conch shell at 6:00 a.m. sharp.  When asked at his retirement party what he intended to do with his spare time he proudly announced he will go back to farming.  Well, if the above photo is any evidence of his nature green thumb, look out!  Percy won a prize for his pumpkins though seemingly no other participants were present at the competition.

Saba Day Triathalon Preparing Begins

©photo courtesy of Suanne Nielsen & St. Maarten Daily Herald

Organizers of the 2nd Annual Saba Day Triathalon are busy preparing for the event.  They are hoping to double the number of participants over last year's 33 who came from St. Maarten to add to the mix of a few Saba athletes. 

Event organizer Heleen Cornet and Johnanna van t'Hof are encouraged by the number of Saba residents who are now seen running and biking, neither easy feats on Saba's mountainous terrain. 

The event takes place on Saba Day weekend, the first weekend in December.  Stay tuned for more details and race results.  To find out about attending Saba Day activities, visit the Saba Tourist Office's website or contact The Ecolodge:



Saba's Treasure:
Antique Inn & Tavern

SABA—Downtown Windwardside now boasts Saba’s first sidewalk café, “Saba’s Treasure.”  

Owned by Commissioner Will Johnson’s wife, Lynn, the establishment opened mid-February. Son Chris Johnson and Marvi, his bride of only eight months, run the establishment with the help of Xiomara Noboa-Campo. The well-coordinated team previously managed Rumors Bar and Restaurant.

Guests are greeted by a large outdoor wooden deck with six tables. There, in the shade of umbrellas, they can watch busy street traffic and shoppers on their errands. When entering the pub, the darker interior is soothing to the eyes and guests are immediately plunged into the seafaring lore of the island.

Johnson said that the owner of the two-story building, who was living abroad, was located through the internet, and he was willing to sell. Renovations started in late September. 

Local artist Robbie Lynn carried out the interior design, the first time he has undertaken such a task. Although most recently used as a student apartment, the room had maintained its rock-faced bar, a testimony to its first existence as a rum shop under “Brother,” a sibling of Lambert “Lambee” Hassell, who engineered The Road. 

Picking up on the rustic rock theme of the bar, Lynn fabricated large floor tiles, which look like real stone, until you look closer. The tiles at the pub entry are imprinted with the footprints, handprints, and names of various members of the Johnson family, pressed into the concrete when the tiles were still wet.

 Lynn tore down one dividing wall and added another to enclose the kitchen. The walls are covered with nautical maps, old timbers, hawsers, blocks and tackle, staying pins, and boat fixtures. There are many framed historical documents and photos from the Johnson collection, some dating from the 18th century. Guests walk around admiring, reading, and absorbing the history of the island.

The 25 inside tables were crafted from discarded wooden cable spools, stained, with edges finished with rope. The old bar is surfaced in copper plate, ending in a cushioned leather elbow rest.

The ceiling is covered with embossed wallpaper that Lynn painted and antiqued to give the affect of the carved mahogany of a ship’s stateroom. He fashioned a false fireplace, with artificial flame, as a cozy focal point. Above the mantel is an oil painting of Saban Sea Captain John Simmons, lost at sea in 1918. The only thing left to come is an outdoor shingle, which will be designed in keeping with the theme of the restaurant.

Lynn said that his vision was to create a space that “even if brand new, had to look like it had always been here, like an old local pub.” The crowds who gather in the space are proof of his success.

Johnson said that he is very pleased with the response to the restaurant. Pub fare is served, with a stone-fired Pizza a stable and available at any time. Take out is welcome. There are also deli sandwiches, salads, hamburgers, and a dessert selection that includes a mouth watering “Saba Spice Walnut Cake.” The evening menu is varied, but always includes the “catch of the day.” 

Saba’s Treasure is open from 10am to 10pm, Monday through Saturday. Reservations may be made to 416 2819.



Garden Gala at Museum

The H. L. Johnson Museum will sponsor a fundraising garden gala “Taste of Saba” at 5:30pm this Sunday evening on the museum grounds. Entrance to the gala is through the museum building, dress is casual elegant.

Gala tickets are $10 each and are available in Windwardside at the Tourist Office and Big Rock Market, in The Bottom at My Store, and at the event.  The money will go towards the purchase of contest trophies.

The social occasion will also launch the holiday season with refreshments, candle light, and live music provided by the island’s own Saba Spice Orchestra, managed by Cornelius Richardson. There will be a cash bar.

Local restaurants will provide appetizer snacks using at least one ingredient grown on Saba, to highlight the Annual Garden Contest sponsored by the Museum. So far, The Gate House, Brigadoon, Scout’s Place, YIIK, Willard’s of Saba, and Lollipops will be participating, with more restaurants expected to join in the fun

This is also the last opportunity to sign up for the garden competition. Competition registration closes after the Gala. Even with too little water, too much water, please sign up and be proud!!!!

The Executive Council has agreed to furnish cash prizes of NAf 500 each for the overall winners in the flower and vegetable categories. The Museum will award trophies to the best flower/ornamental garden and the best vegetable garden in each village. There are also trophies for the best public building (includes hotels and restaurants) and the best new garden. PLEASE JOIN UP!

More Restaurant Choices
for 2004 Season

New Managers @
Queen's Gardens Resort

Queen's Gardens Resort welcomes new managers Alieke and Sebastian Couturier.  Alieke and Sebastian's varied backgrounds will bring the unique combination of market, hospitality and accounting skills to the resort located in Troy Hill.  Both Alieke and Sebastian are from Holland.  Alieke's experiences range from large hotel chains to her own consulting business while  Sebastian is a certified accountant who promises to keep marketing plans, maintenance projects and employee training on track.  The coupled arrived on Saba in May, just after celebrating their wedding.  They are excited to bring their background and enthusiasm to Saba's luxury property.  In celebration of their arrival, present rates remain unchanged.


Getting Ready for the next High Season...

Taking advantage of the off season, The Cottage Club upgraded the property from the ground up. New roofs and paint on several cottages were the outside jobs while inside all rooms now have 26" flat screen HD tv's as well as radio alarm clocks with IPod docking stations. 

Meanwhile, look forward to a complete new menu at Restaurant Eden.  Owners Norbert and Nina are recharging their batteries with a trip home to Norway and Holland.  They will return in early October with a fresh start for the 2011 season. 

Out with the old...
Shearwater to Open Feb '10

Manager and Chef Paul Cizek readies the old sign for a facelift
©photo and story courtesy Suzanne Nielsen, St. Maarten Daily Herald

Shearwater Resort replaces Willard’s

SABA—A very promising future is in store for “Shearwater Resort,” the new name of the property previously known as “Willard’s of Saba.” The Shearwater is the bird on the Saba coat-of-arms.

The unique boutique hotel is under new ownership and new management. The “new” management is the team of Paul Cizek and Chris Fries, already well known on Saba for their work at the Tropics Café.

Paul said the chance to create a brand new concept to Saba’s restaurant/hotel array was close to once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, since the meeting with the new owners was accidental. The owners have to be delighted to find right on island the decorating flair and business experience that the pair represents. The entire renovation team is working hard to open in January to take advantage of the high season. Two weddings are already booked.

The renovations are extensive, and start with the access road. Clearance has been made for passing, the drive-through building entrance has been reclaimed, and plenty of turn-around space allocated. The welcome bar has moved down to the ground floor at the entrance, but also immediately available from the pool area. All rooms are getting a face-lift and new furnishings, including televisions and Wi-Fi.

The tone of the hotel will be more elegant and subdued: “The atmosphere of the hotel should not detract from the incredible setting of the property location,” Paul said. Accommodation prices have been lowered to be more competitive and, at the same time, hotel, linens, furnishings, and amenities have been upgraded. Paul explained, “It’s about adding value.”

The “Bistro del Mare” restaurant will be open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a northern Italian menu prepared in a totally newly equipped kitchen. The dedication to service and presentation will be recognized by patrons who have enjoyed the Paul/Chris approach to hospitality during the year they have been on Saba.

 A new fitness room is being created on the main floor with top-of-the line equipment. Shearwater will offer various swim-gym-tennis possibilities to island residents as well. All hot tubs will be operating at all times as well as the swimming pool heaters. Locals will also be attracted to the Sunday Brunch and the use of the pool for local youth swimming lessons.

Paul said that the discarded furnishings would be offered for purchase at a tag sale later this year, with the proceeds becoming a charitable donation to buy improved equipment for island playgrounds.

2009-2010 High Season
Hotel Updates, Management Changes and More!

The Dive Packages w/Hotels and Cottages page of our website will soon get a complete re-vamp...for now, here are a few snippets of what will be different in this year's coming high season:

The Cottage Club is under new management.  Sophie and Patrick, formerly of El Momo Cottages are heading a makeover in cooperation with the Johnson family.  Their attention to detail and renowned customer service bring new energy to the property with new signage, room upgrades and their culinary skills.  A restaurant will soon be an added amenity to this comfortable Windwardside property.  Stay tuned for photos and more details soon.

Willard's Hotel has changed hands and will now be managed by Paul Cizek and Chris Fries.  The name change to Shearwater Resort is just part of the plan.  Paul and Chris ran Tropics Cafe for the last year but will now supervise and assist in a complete makeover to this property including the rooms, bar, lobby and the famous pool area with Saba's most outrageous views.  Scheduled to re-open for December 1, more scoop and photos soon!

get even more Local News!
Check the monthly newsletters produced by Kat of Sea Saba for the med students of SUSOM
Saba University School of Medicine

The Saba Conservation Foundation also produces a quaterly newsletter

Click here to open the 2nd Quarter 2008 Newsletter

Recent Saba articles

Remote Destination of the Week News, Feb 1, 2009

High-altitude of Saba maintains a low profile
Travel Weekly--April 6, 2009

School play a sell-out success

©story courtesy
 Suzanne Nielsen, St. Maarten Daily Herald


SABA—Two weekend performances of the school play “Nemeo and Juliet” played to packed houses at the Sunny Valley Youth Center. 

The theatrical success, billed as a Caribbean Love Story, was a combination of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” and the recent movie “Nemo.” The backdrops, costumes, stage settings, etc., were all “underwater” and all the players were sea creatures, overlooked by Neptune (played to perfection by Gersh Geenty), as a kind of sidelines oracle/commentator. 

Micheline Hinse (Saba Comprehensive School Task Manager) was in charge of production, direction, and choreography. Hinse proposed the project to create a theatre group and submitted it as a USONA/Plan Veiligheid Nederlandse Antillen (PVNA) project. Its purpose was to improve education through song and dance, to work on student care, and to provide a recreational outlet. 

The project used youngsters from the elementary and high school as players and stage help and involved many adult community members in helping sew costumes, create stage props and backdrops, and engineer the marvelous and colourful paper-mâché head and body pieces that turned the young people into denizens of the deep. Hinse commented, “There is no art form like theatre for collaboration!” 

Hinse also provided a more formalized approach to putting on theatre: tickets were available for advance purchase and when the play was sold out, no more people were allowed in, which caused some consternation at the door as several individuals and groups who arrived without advance tickets had to be turned away. The NAf 5 also allowed the audience a refreshment and snack at intermission.  

The grant money covered production costs but also the purchase of stage equipment and lights, which can be used for other programs in the future. Unfortunately, stage microphones did not arrive on time, and it was difficult to hear many of the players. The dance routines were simple but effective, especially the Dance of the Sharks, which was executed with a great deal of enthusiasm by all shark species, including a hammerhead!. 

The end product was most credible, and the community hopes to see more such productions to give Saba youth a chance to gain confidence on stage. Several students show great promise already, and some natural hams proved their worth at ad-libbing when there were some slowdowns for costume changes.

Restauarnt Rumors
2008-9 Season Brings Restauarnt Revampings, New Ownership, New Managment Teams and More

It's so hot off the press, we don't have photos just yet...where to start?

Well, let's start right at Sea Saba...a few months ago Saba's Treasure was taken over by Greg Johnson, owner Chris Johnson's (one of our high level politicians) first cousin.  Greg was the original owner of The Brigadoon years ago before selling the business and moving to Florida to raise his two children.  Back on Saba, he promises a big screen to make the place a real sports bar and rumors of small scale bakery perhaps as well. 

Upstairs from Sea Saba, My Kitchen owner Willem has decided to head back to Europe and has sold the restaurant to three energetic Europeans who have been working on Saba for a few years for other businesses.  TJ & Norbert worked together in Holland and then St. Maarten and most recently at Scout's Place.  Nina, Norbert's girlfriend, will give up her dive instructor career to manage the restaurant and bring charm to the service side of things.  Known for her fabulous voice and great people skills, Rachel will utilize the bakery area of the look forward to new breakfast and afternoon options as well as some great bread!  AND, real coffee choices.  The newly revamped restaurant will be unveiled November 1st--when we'll also know the name of it!

December update:  Restaurant Eden is the name and they've included a fantastic cappuccino, espresso machine!

After 9 months of renovations, the famed "Pop's Place" fisherman's bar is now a nicer sea-side restaurant.  Vic of Dominica but known from his time at Queen's Gardens Resort and My Kitchen is running the kitchen.  The facility is now enclosed with air conditioning and a menu suitable for a sit down meal.  However, many locals swear they are missing the flies and ambience of the former establishment;

By December, Sea Saba divers Paul Cizek and Chris Fries will take over the running of Tropics Cafe at Juliana's Hotel.  As great cooks with a strong service background, we look forward to what they will bring new to the Saba scene.  Tropics closed for nearly 3 weeks in September to do some upgrades and maintenance as well as give it a fresh new look. Stay tuned for photos!

Queen's Gardens Resort has brought in another fresh young, Michelin-trained chef, Nick.  This beautiful property is a pleasure to dine at by day or night so mark it down on your eating agenda.

And finally, Kathleen from the Laughing Horse Lodge in Montana will winter in Saba and run Willard's of Saba.  She, too, is a trained chef so there are even more options awaiting us for the high season.  She is scheduled to arrive in November. 

Hensley, formerly of Tropics, is now running his own small facility called Copa Sabana (formerly Mangos.  This is a great place to hang out with locals and eat like a local--daily specials from salt fish and funji to oxtail sopu. 

At present, Scout's Place is celebrating Octoberfest throughout the month of October with authentic German beers and great German options on their menu.

Of course, Michael and Tricia of The Brigadoon and Baernt and Dana of Rainforest Restaurant (The Ecolodge) continue to offer their unique menus and consistent great meals. 

Look forward to a great variety of options and a good time on Saba.  We think you will be pleasantly surprised at what this small island offers.

Upgrades @ Saba Hotels

It may be right in the heart of high season but that did not deter the proud owners of either Queen's Gardens resort or Juliana's. 

Recognzing the desires of its clientele, Queen's Gardens Resort has updated its suites at all levels.  Starting with wi-fi throughout the property and flat-screen tvs, home theaters, and two ipod docking stations within each suite, manager Hidde ver Beke promises further improvements.  Next, look for completely renovated hot tubs and interior furnishings.  Recognizing the change of clientele, the area previously set up as a kitchen has been transformed to a creative/work station.  At the same time they said their goodbyes to Chef Jerome, they welcome back Vic whose menu is flavored with colorful dishes reflecting his roots from the island of Dominica.  Photos and more updates coming soon.

Meanwhile, Juliana's Hotel revamped Orchid Cottage last fall and is now continuing with all rooms.  New furniture, linens, and enchanting colors are in store for this property.  Photos in a few weeks. 

More Rental House Options
and Upgrades

The options on Saba just keep getting better...two new incredible homes now put Saba's villa count at five.  Other properties continue to make improvements.  Flamboyant Cottage (pictures below) recently put in a new kitchen as well as other sprucing up--fun or what?!

Carolina Cottage is more of a grand house than a cottage...with improvments still being made to the interior, the photo below is only to tease you...bookings can be made for April 2008 forward.  This villa with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, enormous pool and expanisve living space and decks is located in Troy Hill, above Queen's Gardens Resort in a quiet residential area.  Renting a car or setting up a regular driver is highly recommended unless you are looking soley for tranquility.  The view to the sea from the upstairs bedrooms or pool is splendid.  Watch this site for photos of Fairview House in Booby Hill--presently having final touches made to its expansive pool and outdoor areas...

Carolina Cottage

"Change is in the Air" 
El Momo goes 100% smoke-free

El Momo will become the first 100% smoke-free hotel on Saba. El Momo is dedicated to provide a clean, comfortable and relaxing environment for its guests. The hotel's new policy is a result from guests expressing a clear demand for a healthy, smoke-free hotel experience. Introducing a smoke-free policy is a natural evolution for the hotel which also follows an eco-friendly philosophy. Our goal is to provide a place where guests can relax and restore their mind, body and spirit in a healthy way. At El Momo we strive that our guests walk out feeling better than they did when they arrived.

Industry research, as well as our own experience, confirmed a clear consumer demand for a clean, smoke free hotel environment. El Momo’s staff will benefit enormously from this effort to improve the quality of life rather than being required to enter smoke-filled rooms, experiencing holey sheets, burned matresses, stinky ashtrays, smelly rooms, curtains and walls. No employees should be required to risk their good health for the sake of their jobs. Secondhand smoke toxins and residue can stay in fabrics anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of months after initial exposure, even after they have been washed.

Like the airlines, we hope it will one day be possible for all hotels to be smoke-free. We felt it was not enough to simply limit the number of smoking rooms, or designate smoking areas. We believe the best experience for our guests is a hotel that is completely smoke-free.

The new policy will be active from January 1st 2008.

Local Artist Completes Historical Mural

©Photo & story courtesy Suzanne Nielsen, St. Maarten Daily Herald

SABA—Stacey Simmons, who has just completed a Bachelor’s Degree of Fine Arts, continues to show her talents on Saba and is completing a large wall mural in Windwardside.  

When Stacey returned from finishing her degree at the University of South Florida, Wolfgang Tooten, owner/operator of Scout’s Place, commissioned her to create a mural on a new 5.5 × 40 foot concrete wall which had just replaced an old wooden fence at the back of the hotel swimming pool. The wall is on very public display in a major traffic area immediately adjacent to the Windwardside Post Office. 

“We did not want the wall to be commercial,” Tooten said. He proposed a cultural/historical approach to the subject matter, and Stacey was very enthusiastic about this idea. She first sketched her ideas and discussed them with patron Tooten. The paint is simple house latex paint, but the artistry comes in with expert mixing because Stacey only uses red, yellow, and blue…she even mixes her black color. 

She integrated several cultural items against a scenic background showing Saba’s historic cottages and volcanic peaks. Center to the piece is the Saba Coat of Arms. To the left, is an example of Saba’s famous lace work. She wanted to portray Gertrude Hassell, who brought the delicate handicraft to Saba from South America in the late 1800s. Stacey said that is was difficult to find a good likeness of Hassell, so she decided to use the image of the 1996 Netherlands Antilles postage stamp that honored this Saba heroine.

To the right, another image was taken from Hartog’s “History of Saba.” It is a 50-year old photograph of Saba fishermen pulling a rowboat from shore. Although all the men have their backs to the camera, one of them is John Gomez, who was brought up to the mural and confirmed that it was he in the white singlet near the boat’s bow.

Stacey has also shown Saba’s links to the present, with a Twin Otter heading towards the island. “This was an opportunity to send a message to the public not to forget where we came from and how we got here,” she explained.

Stacey still has a few small touches and a protective coat of shellac, but Tooten said that tourists have already commented on the mural in a very positive way.

Diamond Rock gets Maritime Signal


©Photo & story courtesy Suzanne Nielsen, 
St. Maarten Daily Herald

SABA--A flashing solar-powered light was recently installed by Public Works and the Saba Conservation Foundation(SCF) on top of Diamond Rock, a pinnacle off the north side coast of the island. 

Public Works employee Byron Hassell was dropped off by a dingy, since the Marine Park boat could not approach any closer. The boat was then tied off from a dive-site buoy and Diamond Rock itself. Hassell played man-on-the mountain as he scurried unaided to the top of the 80-foot pinnacle with a rope over his shoulder. “People made it harder than it was,” he commented. It was his first time up the landmark and it was the first time that a light has been mounted at the summit. 

SCF Manager Jan den Dulk and Public Works supervisor Ambrose Hassell feed Hassell the equipment from the boat. Hassell then used the rope to pull up a backpack with the light and then the drill, which was operated form a generator on the Marine Park boat. 

Hassell said that he had no problem getting to the summit, although pulling up about 50 pounds of equipment was a bit of a chore. At one point the Marine Park boat pulled loose, and the generator was part way over the side, pulled by the extension cord before everything was resecured. It took about three hours to complete the job. 

The light is a single sealed rectangular unit with a solar panel on each side, and rods to prevent birds from roosting. The first evening after installation the panels had not stored enough daylight to work the light, but when the Dawn II came in the next evening, the crew congratulated Public Works for a job well done. The flashing beacon is white and is intended to warn mariners to stay to the outside, since there is a shallow shoal between the Rock and the shoreline. 

Hassell said that St. Maarten Port Authorities had donated the light to Saba. Two similar beacons, red and green, have been mounted at the end of the Leo Chance Pier.

More Reasons To Book Your Saba Trip
2007 High Season Upon Us
Upgrades @

Iris House  -  Juliana's Hotel  -  Queen's Gardens  -  The Brigadoon

Always notching up, Iris House owner Jeff Sanford commissioned local carpenter Cedric Hassell to bring more light to the kitchen of this traditional Saban cottage.  New equipment, tile work, cabinets, a center island--the works.  This century old charming cottage now has a modern kitchen to make it that much more enjoyable. 

Iris:  The charm of an old cottage but modern and comfortable

Juliana's Updates: Stewart Chipka is a new resident of Saba.  Some may recognize the name as a many time Sea & Learn guest lecturer who now is now starting the Saba Orchid Research Center.  In the meantime, he's upgrading the gardens at Juliana's Orchid Cottage.  In addition, he's creating a mini botanical garden around the property with small signs identifying the incredible variety of flowering plants.  Orchid Cottage is not only conveniently located on Juliana's Hotel property but offers the privacy and space of a house, great views and now a gas grill to make the balcony dining complete.

The gardens surrounding Orchid Cottage and Juliana's Hotel have always been remarkable...they can be enjoyed even more so now since orchid expert Stewart Chipka has created a mini botanical garden...

Queen's Gardens Resort has been under the direction of Ron Mohlmann for nearly one year now.  This beautiful resort upgraded its service standard with its new management as well as the restaurant, "Kings's Court".  Chef Lotte offers an interesting menu making use of local fresh produce but with European flair.  The restaurant is reason alone to make sure you visit this exquisite property, well worth the taxi ride to get there.  Lunch at the restaurant is a great goal to have at the end of the Sandy Cruz Trail.  If you start the hike in Hell's Gate and end in Troy Hill, plan to jump in the pool before enjoying a cool drink and lunch.  Re-energize to hike back on the Bottom Mountain Hill trail or give in and have the hotel call you a taxi.

Photo courtesy of Steve Branom.

The Brigadoon:  Tricia's back!  Michael's menu just can't be beat except to add Tricia's warmth and humor.  Be sure to book in advance for Prime Rib Thursdays, Sushi Saturdays or all the great specials offered nightly.  The Brig is also where Sea Saba holds its weekly slide presentation "Making the Most of your Saba Vacation". 

More new rental options below...

Four New Properties to Choose From
Saba Home Rental Options


Flamboyant Cottage, Saba
Flamboyant Cottage

Flamboyant Cottage has been a favorite of Sea Saba's divers for almost 15 years.  The killer view, al fresco dining/lounging area and a private pool are just some of the amenities.  Flamboyant is one of few Saba rental properties offering two bedrooms and two bathrooms.  The bed configuration can be arranged to comfortably accommodate up to 4 persons with various bed arrangements.   Flamboyant was on long-term rental for almost two years so new ownership equates to wide open availability as well as a bit of a makeover with some upgrades in the works.  The availability won't last long--have a look at the website and  contact us to book your summer dive trip!  Sample dive package rates for 7 nights, 5 days diving, 10 dives including airport and daily transfers, government room tax, tanks and weights:  $993 p/p for 2; $829 p/p for 4.  Email Lynn for customized packages and more info.

Watch this site for an exceptional property just on the market.  For the first time on Saba, a luxury villa is available to rent in Windwardside.  Rivalling the Haiku House (located above Queen's Gardens Resort requiring taxi or rental car usage to venture out for dinners), Hummingbird House has all the amenities of a first class property but the convenience of being within 5 mintues walk of Saba's main village, Windwardside.  No rental car required, spectacular views, complete privacy and of course a private pool.  Hummingbird House is quite affordable for a group of friends or a family with two spacious bedrooms each with en suite bathrooms in the main house.  Add the guest house to sleep 2 more and you have the ingredients for incredible Saba memories for up to 8 people.  Sample photos below (click on thumbnail to enlarge) but please understand these are before new furnishings and final touches...but to get an idea of this exceptional property visit the website:  Grand opening pricing is available for all bookings prior to October 31, 2006!

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September 2006:  
Madison House and Paddington Place

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Madison House is a new rental on the market: 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2500 square fee, billiards room, hot tub and more!

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Paddington Place works for clients looking for a quiet home with everything you need within lovely gardens.  For larger groups @ Hummingbird House, Paddington Place is just steps away.

Dutch Dig Team is Back
2nd Pre-Ceramic work uncovered

©Photo and article courtesy Suzanne Nielsen
and St. Maarten Daily Herald

SABA—A team of archeologists from Leiden University, Holland, spent the New Year at the Plum Piece property on Troy Hill, the oldest site of habitation on Saba. The site is unusual for the Caribbean because it is located away from the seashore at approximately 400 meters altitude.

Local farmer Carl Zagers found an axe head that he recognized to be an artifact and made the discovery of the ancient location several years ago. The Leiden group did their first exploratory dig at Plum Piece in 2002 and has returned several times since. According to archeologists Dr. Menno Hoogland and Dr. Corinne Hofman, radiocarbon dating indicates that the site was occupied about 3,500 years ago.

The specific mission this time was to look for signs of dwellings. The evidence of these is discolored dirt, which indicates that a wooden support or pole was once planted there, supporting some kind of structure, such as a lean-to. When a different color soil is observed, very careful dimensions are taken and the actual color of the soil is compared to an authoritative chart, called a Munsell Soil color chart, which is internationally recognized. 

A group of professors from The Saba School of Medicine visited the site and Hofman and Hoogland explained how they and they two graduate students were carrying out the work. The site had grown over once again, and had to be cleared before quadrants were drawn and the careful removal of the topsoil could begin. All disturbed dirt is sifted for eventual artifacts. Over 30 stone and conch shell tools were found, as well as refuse remains. Flint samples were also found and these are particularly interesting since flint is not found on Saba. The flint is thought to come from Antigua.

The site was totally restored before the archeologists left. They samples that they removed will be further examined in proper scientific conditions in Holland. The group left Saba for St. Eustatius, where they will visit will resident archeologist Grant Gilmore.

Saba's newest vintage redo...
House on the Path

Long-time St. Maarteners Tyrone and Zuleyka brought their skill and energy to Saba where they transformed a neglected cottage (circa 1865) to a museum level home.  From the intricate gingerbread and original hearth to the fine linens and spectacular antiques, you'll feel you're living out a fantasy of life as it used to be in the perfect vintage gingerbread home.  Whether your goal is romance or tranquility or a little bit of both, the inspiration is in place...Step back in time as you relax in a plantation style deck chair or soak in the claw-foot bath tub.  One week dive packages are $955 per person.

Dick Ranks @
World Ironman Competition in Hawaii

Dick Litzel @ Finish Line 
of 2005 Ironman World Championship

He did it again!  He waited a few years to again compete in Hawaii's Ironman World Championship.  "This way, I'm the youngster again--in my age class.  After a fabulous summer of competition, Dick earned his ticket to the world championship.  The only way to attend is to finish #1 at a qualifying event.  Dick did just that at Lake Placid, one of the toughest courses in the country with challenging hills effecting both the bike and running portions.  Join Dick and Paula once again this winter on Sea Saba's boats.  Don't worry, only Dick swims back to the harbor regularly for practice.  

More Improvements at Juliana's Hotel
Mango Apartment Ripe with Renovations

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Click on thumbnail to enlarge living room and bedroom photos...

Local Artist Robbie Lynn has taken on yet another work of art in the form of a building structure.  Mango Apartment has always been a favorite among Juliana's return clients.  A full kitchen and living room open to a private balcony with a stupendous ocean view.  In the theme of a tropical garden which surrounds the exterior of this area of the hotel, Robbie brought this lush forest view to within the walls of the apartment.  Whether you're taking an afternoon siesta on the couch after diving or opening your eyes to start a fresh new day the ambience created by the murals and other special touches will stay with you well after your trip has ended.  Let the local sounds and colors of Saba delight your senses.

It Just Got Better
Hot Tubs Added At Juliana's

photo courtesy of Juliana's Hotel

What could be better than sitting pool side, sipping a cold beer or rum punch while looking out to the clear blue sea you just finished diving?  Having the drink served to you in a hot tub!  Juliana's Hotel just added a 6-person hot tub in front of their pool at Tropics Cafe and another on the deck of Flossie's Cottage.  

The jacuzzis are just the latest addition to Juliana's Hotel since Wim Schutten and Johanna van t'Hof became the new owners in 2002.  Refrigerators in all rooms, an honor bar and computer work station in the rec room give Juliana's many of the amenities of a large resort but the with the friendly, quiet atmosphere found only at a 10-room inn on Saba. Your wireless lap top will even allow you to check your email poolside!

Divers should exercise sound judgment while using a hot tub after diving as extreme temperatures can accelerate the onset of DCI--especially when accompanied by alcohol...

The Big Rock & Unique Store
Super Market Upgrades

The New Unique Store The Big Rock
under construction

Residents of Saba now have more options and more hours to access the island's supermarkets.  Adeline (Granger) and Donald Hassell have owned The Unique Store since 1994.  After 10 years in a smaller location in Windwardside they have now opened a bright new, air-conditioned building on the main street in Windwardside.  The building housing the new and improved Unique Store is owned by Eddie Peterson.  It was formerly the Windwardside library and study hall for the Saba University School of Medicine.  The new store is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., with no mid-day closing.

Now nearing completion, the islands's largest food store "The Big Rock Market", located on Saba's 'main corner', has been undergoing renovations of its own.  In anticipation of stepped-up competition, The Big Rock changed its entry way with a new addition which will house offices and a wine cellar, giving more space inside to rearrange the contents of this 'general store'. 

Join the Monthly
Medicinal Plant Hike
©Photo and Article courtesy of Suzanne Nielsel & St. Maarten Daily Herald

SABA—Medical School Professor of Pharmacology Dr. Peter Schnabel and Saba Trail Guide James Johnson conduct a medicinal plant walk every semester for students and interested persons. During a hike along one of Saba’s many trails, the experts entertain their guests with information and anecdotes about how plants were once used on the island as folk remedies for illnesses and injuries.

Schnabel is also gathering information for a book on Saba bush medicines, to be published later this year.

Church in The Bottom
Nears Completion with Restored Windows

©photo courtesy of Suanne Nielsen & St. Maarten Daily Herald


Story soon to follow!

Caroline's Latest Foray
Vitality Wellness Studio Opens For Business

Vitality is not just a studio--it's a concept, a lifestyle.  Caroline Willcock, former owner of Tropics Cafe has taken her energy in a new direction.  Join a group yoga or Pilates class, schedule a private Thai Massage or just pop in for her daily special health drink or snack.  Vitality offers something for anyone interested in health and wellness.  Located just below the RBTT Bank in Windwardside, open daily except Tuesdays.

Jo Bean Designs
Showcased in Local Paper

Join a class! Make magic!

SABA—The Jobean Glass on Booby Hill presents a unique experience for tourists: they can buy or make their own souvenir. The studio serves as the retail outlet, classroom, and creative studio for Jobean Chambers.

The American artist has been on Saba for 11 years. She originally had her sales outlet and a bench torch for demonstrations in various locations in Windwardside until 1999. Hurricane Lennie took the roof off her establishment across from the Big Rock Market, and she lost everything. She recalls with a sigh, “The floor had about three inches of broken glass.” Gone were all her resale inventory and her display cases. She managed to salvage some of the heavy hardware and the unused glass rods, which are her raw materials.

At that point, she decided to close the store and consolidate the business in the street side studio in front of her house on Bobby Hill. The building is in the traditional white/red/green colors of Saba, but its post-and-beam cedar timbered interior gives away its unique heritage. Both house and studio were shipped precut from a company in Maine.

The location change did make a difference. Jobean says that what she lost in volume, she gained in serious customers, since she is now a destination. Signs in Windwardside direct tourists up to the relocated business. She commented, “If the island has customers, I will have customers.” She remarked that business was more affected by the War in Iraq than by 9/11. She also has a faithful following among the wives of Medical Students who take her class as a hobby, and continue to rent torch time to practice their new skills.

Inside, the eye is attracted immediately by the sparkle of glass jewelry in eclectic displays at the front of the room. The jewelry reflects different tastes and runs from modernistic chucky blocks to delicate pieces spun with real gold and silver. In addition to wearable art, Jobean also makes sets of “wine charms” which go on wine glass stems as an identifier. There are collectables in the form of freestanding tropical fish, turtles, frogs, iguanas, and lounging mermaids. She also makes glass replicas of St. Eustatius’ famous blue slave beads and recycles the glass from Heineken bottles into beads.

The length of the back of the room is covered by the ordered chaos of five torch work areas, annealing ovens, glass rods, and work product in various stages of completion. The silent concentration is only broken by the occasional hiss of the oxygen generator.

Known formally as a flame working, Jobean puts on special eyeglasses before she takes up a glass rod in one hand and in the right hand, a metal rod that she wields like a magic wand. The two rods come together in the high temperature of the orange flame as she melts the glass around the metal rod, her incredible dexterity turning the glass blob into its various shapes and purposes.

The flame is propane and oxygen. The oxygen is necessary to bring the flame to a higher temperature. She orders 600 pounds of glass rods from Venice every two years.

To keep business vigorous, Jobean gives glass classes on Saba and has held workshops in the United States and Venice, Italy. Her work is displayed in galleries on St. Maarten, Anguilla, Nevis, St. Kitts, in the United States, and at the Corning Glass Museum in New York. She has also done commissioned works, such as a mermaid goblet for Queen Beatrix’ visit to the Windward Islands and a presentation piece for the St. Eustatius marine park.


Garden Contest prizes

SABA—Saba Day Garden contest winners were awarded their trophies and cash prizes during the official ceremonies Friday morning. The H. L. Johnson Museum in Windwardside organized the competition.

Winning for the villages which participated in the flower category were Elmira Sorton (The Bottom) and Carl Buncamper and Rudolf Hassell (Windwardside/YIIK owners).  Sorton also took the NAf 500 Executive Council prize for over all best flower garden. Only two villages entered the vegetable category, with Franklin “Mopsie” Every winning for The Bottom and Harry and Mervin Zagers gaining the trophy and the ExCo Grand Prize for vegetable garden of NAf 500 for Hell’s Gate.

The Public building category was taken by Juliana’s with its extraordinary Hibiscus garden, and Barbara Tooten took New Garden for her effort in clearing the land around her Saba Cottage and starting to landscape and plant from scratch.

Judges from St. Maarten also gave prizes: Orchid specialist Frank Boukhout sent over seven orchid plants as recognition to Janice and Eric Johnson, Elizabeth Hassell, Carmen Simmons, The Rain Forest Café, Glen Holm, Bobby Ray, and Wayne and Imelda Peterson.

Tom Meerman, General Manager for Green Fingers, donated four $100 gift certificates to Richard Johnson, Volley Simmons, Ina Mathew, and Wayne and Imelda Peterson. The Museum will have a final garden lecture in January to show pictures of the various competing gardens and give tips and suggestions. 

Queen's Gardens Resort
Now AAA Rated

SABA--Queen’s Gardens Resort will be the first Diamond-Rated hotel on Saba in the American Automobile Association travel guides, announced General Manager Alieke Couturier.

Couturier said that a certain Mr. C. Bennett was somewhat of a mystery guest, and only later introduced the real purpose of his visit to
Saba, which was to review the island’s tourist offering and its accommodations for Triple A. Although Saba is mentioned in AAA guides, there has never been any information regarding island accommodations.

Bennet stayed three days at the resort, and toured
Saba and its other hotels. The Queen’s Garden garnered a total of three diamonds out of a possible five. AAA has its own criteria, which may include things like the availability of in-room kitchenettes, 24-hour concierge service, bathtubs, on site recreational activities, restaurant availability, ambiance, etc.

The AAA was founded in 1902 and serves the needs of American car owners and travellers. The purpose of Bennett’s visit was to introduce the AAA customers to a choice of hotels on
Saba by listing them in the travel guides of the American Automobile Association and on-line at Rated hotels will also be included in a global distribution systems called SABRE™

Couturier was delighted with the unexpected listing and said, “We are extremely happy with a Diamond rating within the AAA network, which will give us and
Saba exposure to the 43 million members of the AAA.  The hotels listed will also have the opportunity to get booked through the 1,100 travel agents in the United States that are linked to AAA  For our hotel it also proves we are on the right track and we would like to thank our staff, vendors and owner for their continuing support.”

Couturier reported that an AAA representative will call on Saba again to update the hotel listing.


Details of Saba Harbor Project

The heart of the project is the construction of a breakwater protecting the existing pier. Construction may be interrupted at any time, however, since the pier cannot be shut down during construction: it is Saba’s lifeline.

To divert traffic and clear their work area, Capital Signal has spent several weeks – on their time and budget – putting the small “fisherman’s pier” in order so that smaller boats can use it rather than the big pier. The jetty was resurfaced, bollards installed, and the small harbor is being dredged. Saba’s harbormaster will clear it for use shortly.

Locals who are supposed to use the small pier – out of commission for four years - are glad to see anything done to it. Still, owners of some of the larger, 36-40 foot boats are concerned about traffic safety in the enclosed space, particularly in windy conditions.

Making the breakwater elements
The most intriguing – and most complex – part of the operation is the on-site manufacture of the Accropodes® - the huge, pointed concrete “jacks” which form the breakwater elements.

The Accropode® design was patented in 1981 by Sogreah, a French company with 50 years of experience making breakwater elements. The company exercises exacting control of the manufacturing process, leading to certification of the Accropodes® to the Saba Government at the end of the project. Using its design also assures Sogreah’s assistance in architecting the breakwater, establishing the “recipe” for the concrete mix, and ongoing technical assistance, including site visits during construction.

Sogreah charges a fee based on the size of the job, measured by the amount of concrete used. Although the molds belong to Capital Signal, they may not be used on another job without a new contract with Sogreah.

Michel Koster, project overseer for the Saba government, said that the expense of the Accropode® design is justified by its reputation of never having failed, even in a hurricane situation. Koster says that enormous expense and research went into the
patent. “The weight, shape, and exact positioning are what make them work,” explained Koster. Positioning is done using “RTK,” the most advanced Global Positioning System (GPS.)  

Care and feeding of ‘podes
Site Superintendent Larry Humpries explained that about 600 Accropodes® are needed. They come in four mold sizes (4-, 6.3-, 9-, and 16-cubic meters), but each has the same shape. The molds are in two halves, which are bolted together. To keep transportation to a minimum, the two largest forms are poured nearest the pier end, where they will be placed. The 16-cubic meter Accropode®, for example, weighs 39 tons. The two smaller molds are poured up the hill by the crusher.  Up to 11 molds can be made in a day. 

Saba’s Big Rock Engineering is the subcontractor responsible for supplying the stone, aggregate, and concrete. The Fort Bay quarry does have veins of the heavy, harder rock necessary to get the correct weight. Big Rock’s mixer fills a hopper, which a crane lifts to two men standing on top of the mold to guide the hopper into position and to operate the concrete vibrator. The vibrator plunges into the concrete after each fill to settle it into all corners of the mold.

Once started, pouring must be completed in one go.  Night-lights are on site if the pouring needs to be finished after dark.

A “slump” test is done on each concrete batch to confirm it has the correct consistency. At the same time, three cubes are poured and labeled, ready for weighing and strength testing. One is tested when its mold is removed in 24 hours, one is tested in seven days at Saba’s Public Works hydraulic cube compression machine, and one in 28 days on a more sophisticated device at ICE in St. Maarten. If the tests are not good, the Accropode® is not rejected out of hand, but further tests are undertaken before it is ruled out. 

Concrete heats up as it hardens and the side of the mold gets too hot to touch. A cooling curing liquid is immediately sprayed on the Accropode® when the mold is removed in 24 hours. The date of manufacture and a unique number are stenciled on each piece.

In the meantime, the mold interior is scrubbed down, a grinder used to make sure the joining edges are absolutely clean, and the inside is sprayed with a “form release agent” – engineering talk for oiling it down. After it is bolted together, a crewmember climbs
inside to seal seams with body filler to prevent leakage: the mold is now ready for the next pour.

Organized chaos
Koster, a civil engineer, has been with Royal Haskoning for 22 years, supervising projects all over the world. He monitors adherence to specifications and quality standards. The Saba project is deceptive. “It is very complex since so much needs to be done in a small space,” he explained. The job site, at the base of Fort Hill, extends as a narrow strip from the pier to the crusher.

The Accropodes® cannot be moved during their cure time, but manufacture must continue…where to put everything in Fort Bay’s limited workspace? Aggregate and rocks of various sizes for the breakwater bed must be stockpiled as well. As the work site gets crowded with the huge elements, storage space for the Accropodes® will be found off shore. They can go into the water when they have reached 90% of their strength at about 28 days.

The planning, logistics, and materials tests make this a very sophisticated engineering operation. “Organized chaos,” Koster calls it. The job also demands rigorous documentation. All slump and PSI failure test information, records of which cement load went into which mold, and the day’s use of men, materials, and machinery are all recorded and tabulated. Thus, when placed into position in the breakwater, engineers will know where each labeled element is located and which concrete batch gave it birth.

Preparing the seabed
While the Accropodes® are being poured, a causeway along the pier has been prepared for the crane and heavy equipment. The seabed next to the causeway will be dredged; L-shaped concrete forms put into place; and approximately 6,000 sq. meters of an anti-erosion geotextile fabric laid out on the sandy bottom. This will be followed by three layers, each of a different sized stone, before the Accropodes® are also layered up to the height of the pier.

The first row of Accropodes® is placed with space in between each element: they do not touch. The next row positions elements in these gaps, but again they do not touch laterally. Thus, the layers are built up, with each successive layer set into the gaps provided by the previous layer. The pier head will get special treatment, with a semicircle of steel girders filled with rock and
injected concrete. Also included in the contract is refurnishing the pier. 

For the time being, the Fort Bay job site is enormously exposed as the height of the hurricane season bears down. Naturally, all precautions are being taken, but the site will be at the mercy of the elements for some time to come.

Koster contends that the pier itself is now in better shape since it is protected by the causeway, but as for the equipment… “That’s why we have insurance,” he noted.

More than you ever dreamed of knowing
About Saba's Egg Farm

Hassell supplies most of the island grocery stores – Big Rock, the Unique Store, My Store, and the Mini Grocery, as well as some restaurants. He has about 700 laying hens, and 500 two-week old chicks.

The chicks actually fly in to Saba on their own – via Winair, that is. Hassell orders Bovan Brown laying hens from his Miami vendor. The chicks arrive in cardboard boxes divided into four sections, with 25 chicks to a section. Although most people are
surprised that chicks are sent in this way, it is a very old transportation system, and Hassell says they all arrive safely.

He then transfers the chicks into two pens, equipped with water, feeding troughs, and warming lights. He buys feed and egg cartons in Puerto Rico.  Hassell also supplies music to the animals: a radio operates 24/7 just outside the big chicken house.  Hassell said that farmers often provide this reassuring noise in barnyard situations, “It seems to keep animals calm,” he explained. The hens are currently learning French, via radio St. Barts. In addition, the chickens have an incredible view of Saba’s airport and St. Maarten beyond, from the site nestled in Kelbey’s Ridge, which Hassell has leased for the last five years.

Keeping the chickens calm is important: when they are frightened, they bunch up and easily smoother each other. A tremendous electrical storm last October cost Hassell about 100 chickens, which all fled to a corner of the coop, piled up, and died.

He started the Kelbey’s Ridge operation five years ago as a dairy farm with four cows. Hurricane’s George and Lenny cost him all his buildings, although the livestock survived. He later sold the cows on St. Maarten.

Growing the business
Hassell’s love of animal husbandry wouldn’t let go, however, and he decided to try chickens. He remembers helping his grandfather Lorenzo, who kept a family farm in Hell’s Gate – when everyone had a family farm.  Now, Hassell is one of the few on Saba who farms for a living, although he supplements his income with carpentry work.

Hassell is also inspired by the story of his vendor, who started with just a few chickens in the yard, and now has 100,000. Hassell pursued his own vision and worked with Small Business Enterprise Netherlands Antilles (SESNA) to procure a loan at a low interest rate in order to expand his operation. He commented that he was happy with the business arrangement, although he was surprised it took almost a year to process the paper work and to receive the money.

The new, post-hurricane buildings are stronger and house more hens than before. Future plans include expanding the chick house and adding a plastic cistern to take water from the roof of the second hen house.  He currently has a rock cistern, which fills from the roof of the large hen house and a plastic holding tank to which he adds grey water.

Hassell does garden on the land, but has a few fruit trees and one bull “Bones,” a four-year old Brown Swiss, born on Saba and raised on a bottle. The young farmer is proud of keeping the “Saba belt” – he slaughtered a bull that came in at 354 pounds a quarter, the winning weight so far he claims.

A way of life
Hassell makes three trips a day down to the ridge from his home in Upper Hell’s Gate. The early morning trip is to feed and water the animals. At mid-day, he gathers eggs. In the evening, it’s feed and water again, check the nests, and hand wash the day’s
collection of eggs. Store deliveries are sandwiched in during the day. He mostly runs the operation on his own, but family members are willing to help with deliveries and other chores – and when Hassell is out of action. A few years ago, he was down for a month after he ran a machete into his leg when cutting grass for the animals. He applied a tourniquet and managed to drive himself out to the hospital from the isolated location where he was working.

Hassell has very few environmental threats, mainly Saba’s feral cats. However, a more serious concern is the Newcastle virus, which recently wiped out a poultry farm on St. Maarten. Hassell is keeping a watchful eye on his animals’ health.

Despite the demands of the job and the vulnerability of the business, Hassell’s love of working with animals and enthusiasm about growing the business bode well for his continued success.

Kids on Saba

Each summer, kids from around the globe visit Saba...some on family trips but more often as part of a summer "camp" program.  Sail Caribbean, Broadreach and Odyssey are just a few of the popular teen camps that lucky kids participate in.  Learn to sail, climb volcanic peaks and scuba dive while being responsible for meals, participating in community clean up projects and developing inter-relations, are just small bits of the intense agenda.  Sea Saba  works with the adult team leaders to assure diving classes and excursions are performed to the highest levels of safety practices as well as acting as the island coordinators for transfers, tours and lunches.  It's only late July but already Summer 2003 has been by far the year where we have introduced diving and certified more kids than ever

Dive Trip Inspires Engagement

The third time is the charm they say!  That is...a third trip back to Saba.  Dive shop owner Darin Duffin (Midwest Aquatics of Overland Park, Kansas) made the trip all the more memorable by proposing to fellow diver Cari Carpenter.  And what a romantic guy...a candle-lit dinner at Mango Royale Restaurant, complete with a special flower arrangement was the setting for this special evening.   It was Cari's birthday but she was surprised to receive a diamond ring as her gift!  The engagement has been planned since Darin's previous dive trip to Australia when he bought the rare pink diamond engagement ring.  An adorable koala bear couple dressed as a bride and groom were an added touch.

The couple is part of a group of 14 divers that often combine trips to international locations.  Mary Ann Newman of Choo Choo Dive Center (Chatanooga, Tennessee) and her divers joined the Kansas group on this trip.  This is the second time the two dive shops have come to Saba.  Choo Choo owners Mary Ann and Steve Newman first visited Saba for the first time more than 10 years ago.

Other notable achievements this week:  Mother and daughter Sally and Anna Scholze joined the green tank brigade by completing their nitrox certifications while Kathy Back completed her open water training.

New Hell's Gate Rental:  Island View Villa

Can you imagine visiting an island for a few hours and falling in love with it so much that you buy a dream house?  That's  what Saba can do to people!   Richard and Stella Probanzano are the proud new owners of Island View Villa, a two-bedroom home with an unobstructed view of the islands of St. Maarten, St. Barth's, Statia, St. Kitts, Nevis and on a clear day, even Montserrat!  Link to Dive Saba Travel's website for more photos and full listing of amenities on this and all of Saba's Cottages, private homes and villas for rental.


Monday Nights "For the Birds"

Sea Saba invited Bronwyn Davey and Michael Barth to be guest speakers for our regular Monday night Marine Environment presentation.  Bronwyn and Michael just completed a tropical bird research project in St. Maarten on behalf of Environmental Protection in the Caribbean "E.P.I.C.".  Diving guests and local nature enthusiasts learned the many techniques used by  researchers as well as what neighboring island St. Maarten is doing to preserve the habitats for its bird population. In the middle of their 'round the world sabbatical', Michael took the opportunity to learn to dive with Sea Saba before heading to other oceans.

Saba's First Underwater Video/DVD

SABA—Jim Mendenhall has produced a video of Saba’s Marine Park, which is now available in VHF (Pal or NTSC) and on DVD at Saba’s Tourist Office, the dive shops, the Marine Park Office, and the Trail Shop.

Mendenhall first came to Saba six years ago as the escort of a group of divers from the United States.  Shortly thereafter, he received a call from one of the local dive operations that they needed professional diving instructors. Mendenhall relinquished his corporate job and following his first love, SCUBA diving, came to Saba.

While working for over three years with a local dive operation, Mendenhall often took underwater videos of his clients. Based on the success of this operation, he decided to create a video of Saba’s underwater world.

The 50-minute video, “The Reefs of Saba” starts with the Park’s famous pinnacle dives, “Third Encounter,” “The Needle,” and “Twilight Zone.” Part 2 takes a closer look at the inshore reefs, some with  thermal vents pointing to Saba volcanic heritage. The video shows plenty of Saba’s “usual suspects”: black-tipped reef sharks, nurse sharks, turtles, and lobsters, but also shows he more rare seahorses, scrawled filefish, and daytime octopus.

Mendenhall is already working on his second edition, excited about included footage of the recent Manta Ray, which played with a dive group for over an hour and ran Mendenhall out of film. He will also include top-side footage of Saba’s quaint villages and extensive trail system.



Saba Day Celebration Starts
At New Airport Building

SABA—A large group of Netherlands Antilles officials, including Prime Minister Etienne Ys and Governor General Frits Goedgedrag; overseas guests; and about 200 Sabans turned out for the 28th annual Saba Day celebration, with its specific mission to open the new airport with its dedication to the first pilot who landed on Saba, Rémy F. de Haenen in 1959.

The ceremony began at 10am with a welcome by master of ceremonies Roy Smith. The Saba flag was hoisted as the
St. Kitts/Nevis Defense Force Band played the Saba anthem and later presented a CD recording of the music to island government.

Lt. Governor Antoine Solagnier, Commissioner Lisa Hassell, Commissioner Will Johnson, and Senator Ray Hassell greeted the crowd and presented awards to former airport employees Thomas Johnson and G. Leo Hassell, Nurse Cassandra Wilson, The Saba University School of Medicine, and Mr. and Mrs. Walter Kopzca for their contributions to the island.

The undoubted stars of the event, however, were the pilots who opened up Saba to the world. Rémy de Haenen landed on Flat Point in 1959 after Council member Mathew Levenstone went to St. Barts to convince him to take on the adventure. It was to be his only landing on Saba.

Four years later, Jose Dormoy, Winair's first pilot, took over the controls, and made more than 20,000 landings on Saba before he retired. Jose was called “Pipe” because of his smoking habit. Many Sabans who were well acquainted with the pilots greeted both men as old friends at the airport. Winair presented a plaque of appreciation to the island government.

With the unveiling of the sign commemorating de Haenen’s historic flight, the terminal was opened to the public for refreshments. The dignitaries attended a special luncheon.

New Love for Daphne

Philippe Rowland from Cul-de-Sac St. Martin has fulfilled a dream by completing the renovation of an original Saban cottage in Windwardside after nine months of labor.  

"Soon after I arrived on St. Martin 17years ago for the opening of the Le Meridien (hotel), I came to Saba and fell in love with it" Rowland said.  Philippe has long been a diving client of Sea Saba's.  When he sold his freight business to retire, he returned to Saba and bought the 180-year old Daphne's Cottage.

Since then, Rowland has charmed the Saba population with his French accent and willingness to put in long hours to get the cottage in order and respect the authenticity of Saban architecture.  For example, rather than use plywood sheets for the walls, he used the traditional 12-inch planks.  He did much of the work himself, but also used local contractors such as Julie and Andrew Hassell and Cedric Hassell "Ven with great help, it took much longer than I thought."  Rowland recounted that it took three attempts to get the seed to take in the 500-square meter garden.  

He said that many of his acquaintances on St. Martin have already signed up to spend time in the cottage.  Rowland has decorated the cottage with original art, which may be purchased.  Antoine Cheapon's work will soon be joined by Saba artists as well.

for more photos and cottage specs, 
see our new
Daphne Cottage page as well as
Saba Cottages and Villas on Dive Saba Travel's website
--your most comprehensive listing for private rentals on Saba and Statia

Prince Willem Alexander and Princess  Maxima of Netherlands greeted by islanders  outside Sea Saba's shop @ Lambee's Place during their recent visit August 17, 2002

Archeologists Meet with new museum board

SABA—Steve Hassell, new President of the Harry L
Johnson museum board, and board members met this week with Leiden University archeologists to discuss the development of the museum.

Professors Corinne Hofman and Menno Hoogland are
currently on a field-study trip to the island with 10 archeology students. They had initiated an idea in 1989 during their explorations to enlarge the museum in order to exhibit and store the archeological materials they were finding. The museum is currently housed in an original Saban Cottage in Windwardside, which has no room for larger exhibits or storage.

Plans drawn up by Dr. Hans Meeter in 1998 provide for an elegant underground solution that would protect the collection from damage from sunlight and moisture in normal weather, but also from hurricane damage. The museum design is based on a "Story line" of Saba’s history drawn up by Hofman and Hoogland. The plans were approved and money allocated, but island-wide hurricane destruction changed priorities.

The current museum board voiced concern about the maintenance of such a building, which they estimate would exceed the income generated from visitors’ fees.

The archeologists said that their findings are now taking up space in the museum in Holland that is needed for other matters. They are anxious to return the artifacts to Saba where they rightfully belong; however, the artifacts need to be in a safe environment to preserve them for future generations.

President Hassell said that the board would discuss the matter further to see if the plans could be adapted to suit the current needs assessment.

First Marine Park Manager Returns for Visit 

Saba—“It’s like coming home,” said Susan Walker White, the island’s first marine park manager, who has returned for a 10-day visit with her family.

White was manager from 1989 to 1994.She was on the island working at a dive operation when Marine Park founder Tom van’t Hof asked her to consider taking on the job. White’s academic background was marine biology.

At the time, the park was still in its infancy, and White’s job was to raise community awareness about the benefits of the park. She pointed out that having no-fishing areas was a novel idea at the time, with little documentation to prove that this was a successful conservation approach. In the end, the dive operations and fishermen were the most avid supporters of the Marine Park and helped monitor compliance to its rules and regulations.

She said that in the meantime, Saba’s Marine Park is used as a model to set up new areas. One of its successes is that is self-sustaining through dive fees.

White now works in Washington, D.C., for the National Wildlife Refuge System. Her job in the nation’s capital for the last two years calls for businesses suits and lots of meetings, and White said that she misses working in shorts and a  t-shirt.

White remarked that it feels like she never left the island. “I automatically know when to shift into second,” she said about driving on Saba’s mountainous roads.

White was married on Saba in 1992 to David, who was working on the Caribbean Explorer at the time. Island Doctor Jack Buchanan served as best man with the ceremony in the Captain’s Quarters with fire works supplied by the groom’s friends on St. Maarten. The couple’s son Ben (7) now has the opportunity to know the community where his parents met.  


Gate House Recognized by Wine Spectator

SABA—Wine Spectator, a prestigious international wine connoisseur magazine, has recognized the Gate House restaurant for one of its annual awards to restaurants with outstanding wine representation.

The awards list will be published it the August 31st Dining Guide issue, which is read by more than one million. Every year, the magazine receives over 3,000 entries into its awards program, which has three levels. This is the first time that any restaurant on Saba has received such an exceptional award.

Gate House owner/operators Michel and Lyliane Job, in operation since last October, were overjoyed when the news arrived last week. They immediately celebrated with their evening guests over a bottle of Champagne.  The couple said that when they decided to submit their application they felt that it would be instructive, but had little faith that they had a real chance. "We had nothing to loose," said Lyliane.

Lyliane supplied Wine Spectator with "vintage depth," which consists of vintages and appellations for all selections, including wines served by the glass in the restaurant . The Jobs have 600 to 700 bottles of wine on hand, with more than 100 different choices. Also submitted was the Gate House menu, which is French with a Caribbean/Creole flavour. 

Tourism Commissioner Will Johnson, who just recently celebrated Secretaries’ Day by treating some of the administrative staff to lunch at the Gate House, commented that such recognition is bound to make Saba a destination for fine eating.

In fact, this has already happened. On several occasions, the Gate House welcomed customers who chartered a flight from St. Barts to lunch there. The guests indicated word-of-mouth recommendations had brought them. "It’s a small world we live in, so our reputation is precious to us," Michel said. "The endorsement of "Wine Spectator" is a wonderful achievement for us and for the island of Saba," he added.

Saba’s Pristine Waters a Mecca for International Marine Biologists

SABA—The quality of the island’s undersea environment recently brought back two scientists from England’s York University to continue their study of the health of Saba’s Marine Park.

This is the eighth study for marine biologist Dr. Callum Roberts (40), who did the first fish counting.  1991, four years after the Marine Park was established. Research associate Julie Hawkins (37) joined with diver impact studies in 1993.

“The Saba Marine Park is unique. Since it is an older park and it encloses the entire island, sea life has had a real chance to flourish in an extraordinarily natural environment,” said Roberts. He added that there are few areas in the world as protected as the Saba Marine Park. “We have lots of theory, but few
areas in the world have been set aside to provide us with accurate scientific field studies. Saba is one of the only “no take” areas, and thus is a pristine environment for this type of research,” he clarified.

The couple, who met at the University of York and married during a study year at the Red Sea, spent three weeks on the island and made about 26 dives to half a dozen locations. They know the dive sites very  well since they revisit the same sites each study year. They gather all their statistics during the dive, but the calculations and conclusions will take place over a period of months back in England. There, the data is entered into a database to establish comparative studies with previous work and checked for any changes, which will then be scientifically evaluated. The results are shared with the Saba Marine Park and ultimately published in scientific journals.

The simplicity of the daily routine of the pair makes this untutored observer think that they are just picking up their briefcases for a ho-hum day at the office. Normal scuba gear is loaded into the Marine Park’s skiff Sabina, along with this Daily Herald reporter.

The only scientific tools along for the ride are tape measures, a measuring square, and two underwater clipboards. The real scientific instrument is the scientist’s powers of observation developed over years of academic training and field study. The ability to immediately recognize fine distinctions in color, size, and over all appearance at the distortion of 15 meters of depth is a highly honed skill. The scientists will see worlds of differences in observances that the layperson swears is exactly the same thing.

Saba is known for its deep, pinnacle diving, but these sites are not under investigation. “The deep dives give too little bottom time for us to carry out any meaningful work,” explained Roberts. The couple has not yet turned to using mixed gases to extend bottom
time, since Nitrox was only recently introduced on Saba.

One give-away to their purpose, however, is the use of split fins. “Split fins take less energy to stabilize the diver, and lower fatigue. This is important when we need to remain still over long periods of time, sometimes in current, to make our observations,” Roberts noted.

After normal scuba set up, we all back roll off the Sabina for a dive that will last over an hour. We continue down the mooring line and Roberts attaches a tape measure to its block and takes it out to its full length. Hawkins stays put and flourishes her quadrant while Robert continues with another length of tape.  When this is played out, he establishes the territory where he will conduct his fish count survey.

Robert studies changes in the fish population in the Marine Park. He does this by counting fish for 15 minutes in a circle of 10 meters circumference at a depth of about 17 meters. He notes their names using an abbreviation of the scientific name and estimates length and weight. He manages two-three locations during a dive.

Hawkins meanwhile monitors benthic life, or the seabed environment, in one-meter square sections. She does approximately 15-17 squares for each of the five dive sites she visits twice. She uses an instrument that is made of four one-meter lengths of aluminum hinged in each corner so it collapses.

She is particularly interested in any diver impact on Saba’s underwater environment and watches for damaged branching coral (stag horn and elkhorn) since that is most often the victim of scuba fins. She keeps an eye out for broken coral, trampled algae, bashed sponges, and other man-made debris. On her underwater clipboard, she marks the number and species of corals and percentage of cover, and the number and species of broken coral. She also looks at the “medical” health of the coral. Has disease or bleaching caused damage, and how much.

Hawkins said that diver damage appears to be negligible, which indicates that local dive shops are doing a good job educating divers to respect the underwater environment. The coral is healthy and more diverse.

Roberts said that it is exciting to see the fish numbers and diversity increase over the years he has been coming. “The bigger the fish, the more eggs are laid and subsequently hatched,” he said. These fry will become the catch of the day when they migrate onto the Saba Bank, which provides an estimated $1 million in annual income to the island. Roberts said that local fishermen are very cooperative in observing fishing regulations in the Marine Park, which prohibit commercial fishing. “Compliance here is exceptional,” he commented.

Although fishermen appreciate that the Park serves as a nursery to stock the adjacent fishing grounds, the Saba Bank shows signs of over fishing.

He pointed to high-tech, land-based solutions to the problem. He explained, “Fishermen currently use global positioning systems (GPS) to locate fish populations.  If each boat is outfitted with such a system, satellites can monitor boat activity.  Authorities will know immediately when boats are fishing in unauthorized areas or when the boat is not appropriately licensed.” He added that Saba is an ideal place for this test bed technology.

“The sea covers ¾ of the earth and we have only begun to tap its resources and eventual healing powers for mankind. It is an imperative to keep it healthy,” Roberts said.

Fort Bay Harbor Project Approved

SABA—Lt. Governor Antoine Solagnier announced Wednesday afternoon that the Dutch Government has approved the NAf 9.6 project to rebuilt Saba’s harbor at Fort Bay.  Solagnier said Leo Harteveld, Dutch Government Representative to the Windward Islands, had called with the welcome news. The project will be financed by 5-6 million guilders from the Hurricane Lenny recovery funds, with the balance of the money to come from economic development funds.

"It is vital for Saba to have a safe and well-functioning harbor. We have managed to get through two hurricane seasons without further damage, but it would not take a major force to put the harbor out of commission in its present state," Solagnier commented.

Solagnier continued that the Dutch Government had also approved a contracting procedure that will bypass a lengthy bidding process. The three-partner construction team is already in place and the Lt.Governor is hopeful that government will meet with
Balast Needam and the civil engineering company, Witteveen & Bos, as early as next week.

Solagnier said that, although the hurricane season officially starts next month, he expects work to start soon. "This is one of the many things we will be discussing with the construction team," he explained. Solagnier added that the project green light comes at a time when local construction has slowed since the airport and university buildings are nearing completion.

The project has been in the works for over two years.  It experienced a setback last year when a considerable budgetary overrun was not properly documented in the paperwork forwarded to Holland. The completed dossier was finalized and presented to the Dutch Government in January of this year.

Pineapple harvest in Hell’s Gate

Tommy Wescott (6) stands proudly in front of his grandfather’s pineapple patch just down from the Roman Catholic Church in Upper Hell’s Gate.

UPPER HELL'S GATE—Jimmy Zagers' pineapple patch is overflowing with 125 plants, which he started from a lone pineapple from Anquilla 17 years ago.  The pineapple patch is located in an area between the road descending from the church and the entry into the Zagers property. The small, cultivated area makes excellent use of this location that was formerly just bush.

The plant, which is native to South America, grows exceedingly well in Saban soil. Zagers said that the plants essentially take care of themselves.  Occasionally he weeds or clears out after a hurricane, but he does not water or fertilize.  Zagers said that the plants could be started two ways:  from the cut-off top of the fruit, which takes about two years to take hold, or from the suckers, which extend from the base of the plant. This way takes only about one year.

The fruit starts forming in October and November and is ready for picking in May and June. Although the patch was badly damaged after Lennie, Zagers said that he harvested the following year right on schedule.  Zagers sells the pineapples by the piece to private parties and Saba’s restaurants. He joked that he is starting his grandson Tommy’s collage fund with the proceeds.

(Jimmy is also the owner of Saba Stainless, where Sea Saba purchases many bits and pieces needed to keep us runnin'!) 

Airport Nears Completion

FLAT POINT—Construction at the new Flat Point airport building has accelerated in order to meet the scheduled turnover date at the end of the month. The mid-May visit of the royal couple has also added impetus to the job.

Robbie Hassell, supervisor for contractor HESCON, said momentum picked up when recent engineering tests dispelled concerns about the condition of the subsoil under the building.

Prince Willem will unveil a new airport sign positioned at the arrival entry. Hassell designed the sign, which is made of polished green granite, with gold granite lettering spelling out Juancho Yrausquin Airport Saba. It will arrive Tuesday from Florida.

After the visit, an additional sign made of the same materials will be installed in the existing circular flowerbed at the front of the airport. This sign will identify the airport on one side and greet visitors with "Welcome to the Unspoiled Queen" as they exit the terminal building towards the car park.

The terminal entry area has a semi-circular serving bar faced with natural stone. Ceiling planks, which will remain unstained, have been installed and light boxes of the same wood are being made on the job.

The interior doors and counter tops, which are being fabricated in St. Maarten, will be installed next week. Permanently installed storm shutters also from St. Maarten will have the typical Saban look and colors. Hassell said that the external doors and the
tower windows, which cost $17,000, would not be shuttered since they are made of impact glass.

The flat sections of the roof will be painted grey.Hassell acknowledge criticism of the color scheme, but said that people should wait to see the over all affect when the terminal is finished.

The galvanized aluminum internal staircase leading to the tower is already on island and will be put into position soon.

Hassell related that a recent visit of the Executive Council led to a minor revision in the interior. Astorage unit was converted into a small boutique where departing tourists can purchase island souvenirs.

Hassell noted that the inside furnishings and computer hookups were the responsibility of the government and airlines, respectively. HESCON will formally hand over the airport building to the government at the end of May.



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