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In this issue:

Saba Bounces Back Quickly From Hurricane Georges!

1999 Season Kicks Off Early With Special Visitors

Sea Saba's Facelift Nears Completion

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WINDWARDSIDE, SABA --- Despite being remembered as the worst hurricane in recent memory, Saba has quickly recovered from Hurricane Georges with recent visitors commenting that unless they were aware of it they wouldn't know a major hurricane hit the island. Passing just a few miles south of Saba on September 21 and packing recorded wind speeds of 180 miles per hour at higher elevations, Georges did his best to wreak havoc on Saba. But, little did he know just how resilient this tiny green rock is. In spite of reports circulating that Saba has been devastated, you can clearly see from the November 27 photo above that the mountain sides have been rejuvenated and have returned to a lush green state with an abundance of recent rainfall. So, any reports of "devastation" are grossly exaggerated.

Tom van't Hof, Chairman of the Saba Conservation Foundation, recently reported that below 400 meters the mountain sides have fully recovered, the hiking trails have been cleared and are acessible to visitors. "It seems like a complete rejuvenation and the lower slopes look greener than ever", he said after inspecting the Mt. Scenery trail systems on November 14. While he indicated that the Elfin Forest at the summit of Mt. Scenery  with its more delicate ecosystem will take longer to recover, on positive note the hike up the mountain now greets visitors with fabulous views of the Caribbean and surrounding islands as Saba's dense tropical foliage at higher elevations more slowly makes its way back.

Saba's three dive operations went untouched except for some minor inconveniences and all were capable of getting back in the water in within days of the hurricane's passing. Nevertheless, we all felt obliged to stay out of the way as supplies and relief poured into Fort Bay. Similarly, the waters of the Saba Marine Park went relatively unscathed with the lesser intensity of the storm at sea level. Underwater visibility quickly returned to normal, and during the initial assessment, it was apparent that only minor damage had been incurred at some of the shallower dive sites. Even so, it's felt that this has served a useful cleansing purpose for the shallower reefs. Saba's prized deep water seamounts and pinnacles went untouched. As David Kooistra, Manager of the Saba Marine Park reported, some damage occured to a few mooring systems but is quickly being repaired as new materials arrive.

With the exception of Captains Quarters and Scout's Place, all hotels on Saba are back in full operation and are prepared for the 1999 peak season. The season got off to an early start during Thanksgiving week with a large dive group from Arkansas who enjoyed their week long stay at Juliana's. Juliana's went virtually untouched by Georges and in fact was open the very next day ready to house the many relief workers and volunteers who arrived to assist in a tireless cleanup. The Cottage Club only suffered minor water damage which has long since been repaired. Scout's Place, although suffering some major roof damage, has remained open and now with the insurance settled that's quickly being repaired and should be complete shortly after you read this. Jim and Manuela from The Gate House returned from their month long hiatus in September only to find some water damage and quickly addressed the problem. Similarly, Els and Geid Momers returned from their month long trip to Europe, only to find El Momo Cottages in need of a simple cleanup. Willards and Queens Gardens Resort, Saba's upscale entries, suffered little or no damage. Even our own guests who've stayed at the Captain Quarters in the wake of Hurricane Georges are enjoying the extra special attention they're receiving from Gillian Every who's working hard to accommodate them in whatever way she can.

At Sea Saba, we'd like to thank all of the relief workers, volunteers, medical students, the Royal Dutch Marines and especially  Saba's own GEBE utility workers who worked long hours under grueling conditions to restore the pride of the Netherlands Antilles. Though battered by Georges, Saba still remains "The Unspoiled Queen of the Caribbean" and in the weeks immediately after Georges we saw her at her best. To be sure, some work remains to be completed, but not so you'd notice if new to Saba. During the slow period following the storm we've even taken the time to spruce up and give ourselves a facelift as we all eagerly anticipate 1999.

Georges, you're history... let's dive!     

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