The Saba Islander

by Will Johnson

Archive for the month “March, 2013”

The Great Hurricane of 1772

By: Will Johnson

As a boy I used to hear the old timers saying that in the great hurricane of 1772 the doors of the Dutch Reformed Church on Statia had been found in The Level where I now live. Before writing this article I checked with my brother Guy and my cousin Bernard as to what they knew about it. Bernard said right away;”Yes my father told me that story several times.” And my brother Guy confirmed that he had heard the old folks back then often talking about it.

The Level, Saba after hurricane George in 1998. Here is where the church doors of the Dutch Reformed Church of St. Eustatius reportedly landed in the Great Hurricane of 1772.

The Level, Saba after hurricane George in 1998. Here is where the church doors of the Dutch Reformed Church of St. Eustatius reportedly landed in the Great Hurricane of 1772.

From all accounts it must have been a category five hurricane. Besides the damage done on Statia and Saba there are numerous reports of damage done on all the islands of the Lesser Antilles.

Hurricanes are a constant concern to our people on these islands, and in recent years they seem to be an ever present threat to those of us living here. I will share some newspaper articles from England after the great hurricane of 1772. Also, a story written by Richard Austin Johnson, about how his grandfather Cohone had to deal with a hurricane some one hundred years after the Great Hurricane of 1772. There was also another very strong hurricane in 1780 which also did a lot of damage to these islands, but it may have been of lesser intensity. In the eighteen nineties in one year three hurricanes struck Saba. Claudia Whitfield (80) used to tell me that her grandmother had told her so, and later on in the Journal of the Lt. Governor I was able to confirm that it was indeed so. The newspapers in England at the time also carried articles of other natural disasters, slave uprisings and so on. One such report is from the Oxford Journal of 11 August 1770. “By letters from Amsterdam, there are accounts of an Earthquake having lately been felt at the island of St. Eustatia, in the West Indies, which considerably damaged the Dutch plantations.”

As for the hurricane we would like to share several articles from newspapers in England at the time:

Derby Mercury 13 November 1772:

Extract of a letter from Dominica, September 19th.The ruins of the Dutch Reformed Church on St Eustatius

“We have the most melancholy accounts from our sister islands, Barbados only excepted. At Antigua, by the Hurricane, their towns and plantations are almost destroyed, and not more than two schooners escaped undamaged of the great number of ships in their harbor; at St. Christopher’s the damage was rather greater; and at St. Eustatia still more melancholy. Not the least detriment was done to this island.”

Leeds Intelligencer 17 November 1772

Sept. 5th. “The horrible picture of this islands general distress, represented in our last day’s print, is greatly inferior to the original, the general loss sustained cannot possibly be computed at less than 500,000 [pounds sterling]. A subscription is set on foot by the Gentlemen of this town and neighborhood, for the immediate relief of the poor. Nothing crowds in upon us from this perilous day, but the same tragic scene from our sister island, St. Eustatia; many houses and families have been taken from the summit, and have not been heard of, and what has not been effected by the violence above, was completely so by the other below, by a cruel violence of the waves, which particulars we have not learned.

Caledonian Mercury 18 November 1772

New York, September 28th. “Saturday last arrived here from St. Martin’s, Capt. Harris, who informs us, that on the 29th of August last, a most violent hurricane happened there, which drove several vessels from their anchors, three of whom were lost. While Capt. Harris lay at St. Martin’s, advice was received there from St. Eustatia, that they had the most violent hurricane ever remembered there; that the greatest part of the houses on a place called Statia-Hill, were blown down, whereby a great number of lives were lost; that four large Dutch ships in the harbor foundered as they lay at anchor, and all the people on board drowned; that a number of other vessels were driven on shore, and some put out to sea.”

Caledonian Mercury 18 November 1782

A letter from Eustatia, dated September 3rd, giving an account of the destruction of a great part of that island by a hurricane and whirlwind, says “What adds to our distress is, that there is not a barrel of flour on the island for sale; the country provisions are all out, as yams &c. and expected till Christmas; no vessels to fetch foreign provisions; five Joes are asked for a barrel of flour by a person who has a few for his own use. Rice sells at seven pieces of eight per hundred. Unless the hand of Providence interposes, a famine must ensue. At present it is terrible to hear the cries and lamentations of those who think themselves the objects of Almighty vengeance.”

Oxford Journal 28 November 1772

“From the advices just come to hand from America, is selected the following melancholy account of the effects of the Great Storm on August 31st, at the Caribbean islands.—St. Eustatia, 400 houses on the higher grounds destroyed, or rendered untenantable ; many houses carried ten or twelve yards, and others quite into the sea. Plantation-houses all down, except two, and the canes on the ground all twisted up. The Dutch church blown into the sea.—At Saba, 180 houses blown down, and the cattle carried away from their stakes.- At. St.Martin’s scarce a house standing, all their plantations destroyed. —St. Croix a every house almost at Christianstad, and all the plantations and negro houses leveled. Only three houses left standing at Frederickstadt, and numbers of people killed. At St. Kitts’s, almost all the estates are destroyed, there being scarce a mill or boiling house left standing.”

As you can read this hurricane was indeed a great one. With a relatively small population in the islands as compared to now there were more than twenty thousand (20.000) deaths of people reported and much loss of livestock and ruined plantations all over.

Here on Saba when a hurricane was coming, our forefathers had to go by signs of animals and how they behaved. Also, frequent small showers coming in, the sea getting rougher, and the skies darker. At the time Saba was very much dependent on its schooners owned by local people. I was fortunate to come across a story written by Richard Austin Johnson about a hurricane of 1871 and his grandfather Cohone having to leave his family behind to go and take a schooner anchored at the Fort Bay out to sea to weather the storm.

A schooner at sea

A schooner at sea similar to the one in this story.

“The last day of September 1871, a day long to be remembered by the inhabitants of Saba, broke with an overcast sky and a light drizzle. Mountainous easterly ground swells pounded the coast line, throwing spume in the air to be blown away by the increasing Northeast winds.

My grandfather, Cohone Johnson, was awake at daybreak and for a while listened to the roar of the waves 15 hundred feet below, then hastily dressing himself, he went outside and noted with a seaman’s eye, the signs which clearly heralded an approaching Hurricane.

Going back inside the house he wakened his wife Betsy and said, “I don’t want to alarm you, Betsy, but I believe a hurricane is coming, see to it that the children are dressed and fed, while I secure the loose things and batten down some of the windows.

At the time, Cohone was sailing on a two master 90 foot vessel, which was at anchor in the Ladder Bay.

Her owner and captain was at home, recuperating from a severe grippe and in no fit condition to take the vessel to sea. Cohone’s mind turned to the vessel as he worked and wondered what old Captain Richard Simmons would decide to do. At that moment my grandfather had no premonition, that before the day ended, he would be fighting for his life, on a sea gone mad with hurricane force winds.

As the morning wore on, Cohone’s neighbors, came to him for advice about the weather. To one and all he said “Prepare for a hurricane, which I expect to reach us before nightfall”.

About 10 o’clock, a boy, breathless from running, came to Cohone with a message from Capt. Simmons, saying “There is a hurricane approaching and I need you to help take the vessel to sea. Come at once.” After instructing his wife to have one of her cousins stay with her during the hurricane, Cohone took leave of his family and hastened to the Ladder Bay, where a boat was waiting to take him to the ship. After being nearly swamped because of the increasing wind and sea, Cohone managed to board the vessel, where he found to his dismay that only the captain, the mate, the cabin boy and himself were aboard.

Going to the cabin, Cohone confronted the captain, who sat at the cabin table, reading the Bible and demanded to know why he had been sent for and none of the other sailors.

With tears in his eyes, Captain Simmons said “The cowards refused to leave home. Just plain scared to risk their lives in a hurricane at sea. Pointing to the mate, who lay snoring in his bunk, with a half empty bottle of rum at his side”, he said. “Just look at that drunken slob there.  Don’t expect any help from him. If I come out of this alive it will be my pleasure to kick him off my vessel. Now I just don’t know what to do.”

Dorothy Palmer

The schooner “Dorothy Palmer” in rough seas. Our Saban ancestors who survived these storms had many tales to pass on to their descendants.

Cohone thought for a minute and said “Captain, we cannot abandon the ship, even if we wanted to because we cannot get back to the shore. If we stay here any longer and the wind moves farther north, this will be open harbor and then nothing can save us. I suggest that we slip the anchor hoist the staysail and run south.” Then he added as an afterthought;” but we need your help at the wheel, until we can get the vessel underway.” To this plan the Captain agreed. Going on deck he said to the cabin boy, a sturdy youth of sixteen years, “Boy, you and I are the only ones to get this vessel under way. I want you to begin hoisting the staysail when I give you the word. Can I depend on you?” The boy nodded wordlessly. Cohone went forward, unshackled the chain and said to the cabin boy, “Now stand to hoist away.” Looking aft he saw that the Captain was at the wheel. Waiting until the vessels bow swung to port, he yelled “Now” and released the anchor chain, which went out of the hosepipe with a roar and was gone. Leaping to the assistance of the cabin boy he hoisted the staysail. The vessel released from her anchor surged forward, driven by a wind that had increased to gale force.

The Captain was glad to have Cohone relieve him at the wheel because he was a sick man and had the chills, brought on by the wind driven rain.

All afternoon and far into the night, the vessel fled Southward, driven by the wind which had increased to hurricane force, while Cohone fought the wheel to keep her on course. Shortly before midnight the cabin boy, who acted as lookout, yelled” Breakers on the port bow.” Cohone  immediately, heaved on the wheel swinging the vessel’s bow away and to starboard. Shortly afterward, during a lightning flash, Cohone saw that they had narrowly missed piling up on Aves island also known as Bird Island, which is situated about 110 miles South and West of Montserrat.

About one hour later, the wind veered to the South. Cohone again changed course and fled before the wind. It was shortly after this that a mountainous wave loomed up amidships on the vessels starboard side. Yelling to the Cabin boy to jump for the riggings, Cohone let go of the wheel and did the same. With a thunderous roar the wave crashed down on the vessel, smothering her under tons of water and heaving her over on her beam ends. There she stayed until Cohone jumped to the deck in knee-deep water and seizing an axe, chopped away part of the bulwark, allowing the water to pour off. Slowly the vessel came back to even keel. Both the galley and the ships boat had vanished in the darkness.

During the early morning hours, the wind, which was now blowing from the South-Southwest, lessened and the sky began clearing. The island of Santa Cruz could now be seen ahead. Cohone again changed course, this time to Eastward. On the day after the hurricane, which was afterwards known as the Great Storm, Cohone dropped anchor at the Ladder Bay. The island that Cohone had left the day before was devastated, but luckily for my Grandfather, both he and his family were very much alive.”

And so you can read from a firsthand account what our people went through during a hurricane, and only then the worries as to how you would be able to feed yourself had only begun as all the crops on the island had been destroyed by the hurricane. We hope that our merchants will stock up on supplies when the hurricane season starts up as it can take weeks before a new shipment of foodstuff can come in from the United States and elsewhere.



Dear Sirs,

New transhipment facilities at

St. Maarten


On or about September 15th 1975, the new wharf area adjacent to the A.C. Wathey pier will become available to small vessels, interisland sloops and other boats, having a draft not exceeding 13 feet.

In order to try and reestablish the port of St. Maarten as a transhipment port for our surrounding islands like Anguilla, Saba, St. Barths, St. Eustatius and ,maybe St. Kitts, because St. Maarten is offering still the best service with Europe (every 14 days from England-Holland, every month from France) we like to inform you herewith that transhipment cargo ex-Dutch or French boat and Sto. Domingo will NOT PAY STORAGE CHARGES until after one week/seven days. Moreover as an additional service, we will transport the merchandise from our warehouses to the new wharf area free of charge by our forklifts.

Sincerely Yours,

St. Maarten Harbour Corporation.

The other day I went to the hospital to get my ears taken care of so that I could hear again. Had been swimming too much on Aruba and got water in my ears. Anyway while waiting for the treatment sitting there with some people discussing the issues, one man from The Bottom said:” Boy Will, Wathey dead. It is Bada Bing politics over there now!!”

United Nations Resolution


Consulting the Obeah Man

I got a call from a friend the other day. He said:”Johnson boy, the rumor is that you have taken the Inspector of Taxes to the Obeah Man.”

Not yet! Here is what happened. Sometime back when the new taxes on real estate were introduced when I was sitting on my verandah contemplating on life, taxes and death, two ladies gave me a shout out from the road. One of them was a granddaughter of my deceased cousin on St.Eustatius, Peter Ann Spanner. When she handed me the large envelope she joked that she had brought me a present. I thought it was a refund on the taxes I have paid the last ten years. (I will have a seperate story on that one and a challenge for a match-up for anyone complaining about taxes.)

Anyway just after the ladies left I received a call from a high official(and a good friend) in The Netherlands who jokingly asked me if two ladies had visited me and if I was going to protest. He said that there were those expecting that I would protest. I let the document lie for awhile and then had a couple of viruses which put me a bit out of circulation and out of the protest mode.

One day I decided to open the envelope and the assesment while high was not one I would normally protest. But since it seemed that expectations were created that having built up a culture of protest around my person that one from me would be forthcoming I decided not to disappoint. Also I noticed from the date of the assesment that I had opened the envelope just in time and so I decided to send in my protest. And in protesting I went back to the first settlement of Saba by my pirate ancestors up to the recent settler coming into our island and trying to take over the place. Everything I had on my chest I let go in one shot, one long letter that is.

In ending my letter I reminded the Inspector that even though I was not at the stage yet of  taking him to the Obeah Man, that I had taken one of his predessors  to the Obeah Man and that the Inspector was now walking the streets of another island and in the high day staring into the sky and counting the stars.

A few days later another call came in. The person was laughing out loud on the phone. This time the caller informed me that he had received a call from the top Inspector of Taxes in The Netherlands with two questions to him:

First Question: Who is this Will Johnson on Saba?

Second Question: What is an Obeah Man?

So now you know the rest of the news!!

Report from the Ministry of Economic Affairs

First the report then I will explain more.

Reason for the Report.

Mr. W.S.”Will” Johnson, residing at The Level Saba, at the end of July 2012 voiced his concern to the Lt. Governor of the public entity Saba about the possible connection between the radiation of a mobile sender at The  Level and several cases of persons having cancer in that same area. According to Mr. Johnson in the past when he was Act. Lt.Governor and Commissioner of the then Island Territory of Saba he had asked questions about this concern of his to the Bureau of Telecommunications and Post and had proposed to move the equipment to Mt. Scenery. He alleged that the Bureau had instead chose for the cheaper option.

Date of Inspection.

The inspection works took place in the period of November 25th up to and including November 28th, 2012.

The report consists of 34 pages  with photographs showing all the areas of the island where measurements were taken as well as the equipment used. It is too technical for me so I have to go on good faith.

The conclusions to the report are not too explicit for a normal person to understand but what I can gather from it that after extensive tests all over the island (and the photo’s are there to prove it) there are no undue health risks from the radiation caused by the cellular phone equipment at The Level as well as at other locations on Saba. I want to thank them for making this investigation though I did have a threatening letter from them at the beginning. In my letter to the Lt. Governor I had asked to have a neutral party do the investigation as some people might be bought out by the offending companies for a chickenleg and a Johnny Cake, and they took issue with that.

Anyway the report looks very professional and I ask anyone who knows how to interpert all this technical stuff to go over it for me and let me know what they think about it. I also want to thank the Ministry of Economic Affairs for financing this investigation and making sure that I got a copy of the report. I also want to thank the Lt.Governor for getting my letter adressed to him past the “chicken leg and Johnny cake” stage so that the real work could be done. I could have done like a lot of other daily protesters on everything and put my concerns on Facebook, but I sent a letter expecting a response and I got one. I would like to thank everyone involved in making this investigation possible.


News from The Hague

The Hague, March 21st, 2013

Today a letter was sent from the Permanent Committee for Kingdom Affairs of the First Chamber to the Minister of the Interior concerning the following.

Some time back a proposal was made without consulting the islands to change the Dutch Constitution and to make Saba a permanent entity of Holland and with third world status. A bicycle status in a Cadillac economy. Our Commissioners Chris Johnson and Bruce Zagers just returned on Sunday from a week of meetings with the Parliament and the Government of Holland. The islands had been protesting for some time already that they had been promised to have an evaluation in 2015 on our new status, before any changes could be made in the constitution.

Today’s letter from the  Upper House of Parliament to the responsible Minister states that:

” The committee, after discussions with the governments of the public entities, has decided to defer the proposal to change the constitution until the evaluation of the new constitutional structure within the Dutch Kingdom will have taken place in the year 2015.”

In other words there will be another opportunity for those complaining about the relationship with the Netherlands to perhaps via a referendum have their say. If I am still around I will be anxious to see how many of the complainers will vote for independence . And in the meantime congratulations are in order for our two young, educated Commissioners, Chris Johnson and Bruce Zagers, for this and a number of other achievements while on their mission to The Hague last week.

I know the hardships of having to serve ungrateful people, leaving your families behind and going up into a very cold winter week to represent your island. Some of the members of the 2nd Chamber of Parliament were also referring to statements made by Commissioner Chris Johnson to the Chamber last week. And they were doing this in a positive way towards his statements and person.  The time is not now for me to get rank with some people, that can wait, but what cannot wait is a bit of positive news to encourage our young people to continue to serve their island and its people. CIAO.

The Last Days of Piracy

Piracy was on its way out in our islands in the Eastern Caribbean when it got a new revival. When the revolution started in Venezuela under Simon Bolivar against Spain suddenly piracy was popular again. The businessman Louis Brion of Curacao made his fleet of schooners available for the support of the revolution to Simon Bolivar who had spent time on Curacao. Brion even became an admiral of Venezuela and is one of the National heroes of that country. The Venezuelan revolution triggered revolutions against Spain all over Latin America.

Monument to Simon Bolivar on Saba

Monument to Simon Bolivar on Saba

Simon Bolivar did not win all battles of course and at the end of his life he proclaimed that he had plowed the sea. He became known as the man of a thousand battles and at the end of his life he was disillusioned. The Gran Colombia which he had liberated from Spain was split up into three countries, namely Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador. It is claimed that Bolivar said that he had left behind Ecuador as a convent, Colombia as a university and Venezuela as an army barracks. Brion employed some men from Saba on his schooners, and Simon Bolivar even visited Saba and was welcomed here in 1816. With nothing else to do some Saban former pirates joined Bolivar and the revolution when he departed from our island.  A bust of the Liberator commemorates his visit and his stay on Saba and is situated on the museum grounds in Windwardside.

Before the Venezuelan revolution began the newspapers in England carried various articles on piracy in the West Indies and even after the independence of the South American republics after Saba came under Dutch rule in 1816 there were periodic reports in the English press on acts of piracy. Commander Edward Beaks was dismissed from office because of his alleged role in acts of piracy. Of course the Dutch Government did not pay the Saba Governor a salary so the poor man had to find a way to make a living. Besides that his nephew Hiram Beaks was a famous pirate and credited with using the term:” Dead men tell no tales.”

Recently young Ryan Espersen shared with me some of his research in the old newspapers from England at the time from which for this article I will quote some of the things taking place after 1800 here in the West Indies. Also after England declared it illegal to trade in slaves their warships forever had to deal with slave ships of nations like the United States which did not abolish slavery until 1863. Pirates were taking advantage of the slave trade and trying to find a way to get past the warships of England.

Back then Saba and St. Eustatius functioned like one island. Many of the Saban pirates were regular schooner captains who traded between the islands and also carried cargoes to North America. For them it was an easy switch from a respectable schooner captain at home to being a pirate at sea.

In the 1700’s there was much profit to be had from being a pirate. The Oxford Journal of 26 August 1758 gives an idea as to the extent of money involved in the capture of vessels of other nations. We quote from the Oxford Journal: “A according to an account lately published in Holland, the English privateers have taken 21 ships homeward bound to Amsterdam from St. Eustatia and Curacao valued at 3,547,000 Guilders; 35 outward bound, valued at 5,144,000 Guilders; and by the computation of the damage sustained by the pillaging and forcibly taking provisions, &c. from ships belonging to Amsterdam, the amount is calculated at about 439, 191 Guilders more; so that the Town alone has sustained from the English privateers no smaller loss than 9,140,691 Guilders.-By the same account, the inhabitants of Eustatia, by the taking and pillaging of the ships, and small craft belonging to them, have suffered a loss of about 1,059,579 guilders, and those of Curacao 309,684; which two sums added to the above, makes the total loss, from the depredations of the English, no less a sum than 10,509,954 guilders.”

We should explain here that “privateer” means a thief licensed by their governments to prey on ships of other nations with who they may or may not have been at war. Pirates are your regular thieves who were active in stealing any nation’s ships for themselves.

Here follow some items from the newspapers of England at the time:

Leeds Mercury 24 January 1807: “It is stated from St. Kitt’s that two or three small privateers from St. Eustatia did them much mischief and it was feared would harass the trade of that island during the loading of ships… and the “Trio” (Capt. Robertson) from St. Bartholomew’s, was cut out of Sandy Point Bay, on the 5th of December, by a French privateer, and carried to St. Eustatia.

Caledonian Mercury 23 July 1808: “A sloop, laden with 500 barrels of flour, 10,000 shingles, &c. from Halifax to St. Croix was taken 24th May by a French Privateer, and carried into St. Eustatius. The privateer had captured four other vessels.

Morning Post-Friday 4 September 1818

Accounts received from Panama, via Porto-Bellow, state that the insurgent privateers were swarming in the South Sea, and that many valuable captures had been made by them. In fact, such was the vigilance of these cruisers, that even canoes or boats, plying along shore, could not escape their depredations. The brig “St. Jago”, bound from Africa to St. Jago de Cuba, with slaves, arrived not long since off the harbor of St. Bartholomew’s, having been taken possession of by the crew, who had murdered the Captain, Supercargo, and the Officers, and carried her into Saba, where they represented her to be a prize to the Independent squadron of BRION, and protected her with her own guns. The slaves were disposed off at that island, and the mutineers wished to destroy the vessel, but were prevented by a Buenos Aryean Officer, who seized her in the name of his Government, when the crew absconded, some into the mountains, and the remainder proceeded to the Island of St. Thomas.

Curacao July 4.- “While the schooner “Admiral Kikkert” was lying at St. Thomas’s, accounts reached that island, by a launch from Carupano, of BRION having proceeded to Margarita with the transports he had under convoy, where he landed their cargoes of naval and military stores, and again proceeded to sea. A few days after the arrival of the launch from Carupano, a schooner arrived at St. Thomas from St. Bartholomew, the Captain of which stated that on his passage he fell in with the frigate commanded by BRION, and a corvette and a brig, having a large ship, much disabled, in tow, supposed to be a frigate, and also a brig towing a schooner; the whole apparently proceeding towards the Five Islands. GAVASO, who commanded the Spanish squadron lately blockading the Orinoco, has returned to Puerto Cabello.

One of the privateers, which have been off this island for some days past, overhauled on Wednesday last a small schooner, from Coro to this port, to which the privateer’s men behaved politely, and on quitting her, presented the schooner with a bag of bread and some beef.

By an arrival yesterday from St. Eustatia, we learned that a Council of War was held lately on board BRION’s ship, the “Victory”, and the result has been that three officers, belonging to his squadron, were found guilty of having committed acts of piracy and insubordination, and in consequence condemned to be hanged. It is also stated that BERNARD, who formerly commanded the “India Libre”, and who was outlawed by BRION for committing piracy, has been captured between St. Eustatia and Saba.”

The London Standard 19 November 1828: “The accounts from St. Bartholomew’s state that the British brig Aurora, of Liverpool, bound to Jamaica, with an assorted cargo, had been seized by the Governor of Saba, having been sent there by a piratical schooner. One of the crew gave information (if the report is true) of a most diabolical murder of the whole of the British crew and passengers, including two females. The man, who informed, as well as the prize, had disappeared from Saba, and the court of St. Eustatius had awarded one-third of the amount of the vessel and cargo, as salvage, to the Governor of Saba. The Governor of St. Barts would not admit privateers or prize cargoes direct: they are compelled to bring a clearance from another island.

The Governor of Saba at the time was Edward Beaks Sr. His nephew the pirate Hiram Beaks (the one with the established policy of  ‘dead men tell no tales’) around that time is listed as a property owner on St. Barths.

The London Standard – 19 November 1828

–        From Saba the “Victor” sailed on Thursday, and arrived at St. Eustatius on Saturday morning, where during an hour’s stay, Capt. Lloyd and Lieut. Colonel Harper had some communications with the Commandant. About nine o’clock, the “Victor” got under way for this island; and when rather more than halfway across the channel, a schooner was descried full of men, standing for St. Eustatius and exactly answering the description which had been received of the privateer that had captured the brig. On seeing the “Victor”, the schooner hoisted Colombian colors, and when the ship fired to bring her to, she threw out Dutch colors, being very near the land, and put out sweeps to facilitate her escape. Captain Lloyd (although she was completely within range of the Victor’s guns, and a fatal broadside might have been poured into her), in respect to the Dutch flag, permitted her to run into the port, on entering which she hoisted Buenos Ayrean colors, and exhibited a signal, a black S on a white ground, similar to one hoisted on board the “Carraboo” when she lay off St. Eustatius previously before going to Saba.

The Carraboo or Caribou was from Liverpool. It had been captured off Gibraltar by the pirate ship the ‘Damas Argentina’s”. It went first to Statia where two seamen boarded her and conducted her to Saba where she arrived August 13th, 1828 in the Ladder Bay. Part of the cargo was unloaded from her. Governor Edward Beaks tried in vain to get the Captain to come ashore to no avail. He could not even hinder the crew and 8 passengers from coming ashore. Old property records from Saba found on St. Maarten after hurricane Louis has pages of information on this episode of our history.

On the 15th of August 1828, the crew and passengers went in a sloop to St. Bartholomew. Thomas P. Richardson the Acting Commander of St. Eustatius took the pirate ship to St. Eustatius. Her cargo was estimated at twenty thousand pounds. The English authorities demanded the vessel. The “Damas Argentinas” with 21 members of crew was taken to St. Kitts from the harbor of St. Eustatius by an English warship and 15 of them were hanged. The ship had been commissioned in 1826 on St. Thomas and had captured 12 ships in a short time, 2 Spanish, one from the USA, six Portuguese, one English and two French.

Johannes Graaf van den BoschCommissioner General Johannes Graaf van den Bosch in 1828 had been given the order, besides Curacao, to visit the Windward Islands and to give recommendations as to what could be done to develop the islands. Governor Wilhelm J.L. van Raders, of St. Eustatius, Vice Commander Edward Beaks Sr. of Saba and Council President of St. Martin, Diederick van Romondt asked van den Bosch for instructions on how to deal with the pirates. Van den Bosch did not think anything wrong with St. Eustatius and Saba dealing with pirates who would bring their booty for sale here. He actually thought that the taxes raised from this trade would help the islands financially. In 1828 St. Eustatius, once the emporium of the Caribbean and known as the “Golden Rock” had very little trade. They formerly had successfully traded with St. Kitts, Nevis and Antigua which had a combined population of more than one hundred thousand people. In 1822 the harbors of the English islands were all closed again to trade with the Dutch islands. And in 1827 the United States made a deal with Sweden and St. Barths with its fine harbor Gustavia, became a large trade center. Also the Danish island of St. Thomas was a tough competitor for St. Eustatius. On Statia the Dutch introduced extra taxes on goods not imported from Holland, which goods from Holland only consisted of butter (rancid most probably), cheese and Jenever (gin) and that decision was the death knell of the Golden Rock.

In 1829 Holland recognized Columbia as a sovereign nation on condition that it would eliminate piracy. In 1830, on February 11th, Lt. Colonel E. B van den Bosch informed the Governor – General in Paramaribo that piracy here was a thing of the past.  And so it was indeed!

Stan Addink on a visit

When the hotel “The Willards of Saba” was being built the contractor was Mr. Stan Addink, of Washington state, and his brother Dave worked along with him. Their parents were from Holland and had settled in Minnesota. His mother was a Dijkstra. Stan rented an apartment by my house for his workers and one for himself and family. One night while working in my office I heard the workers in the apartment with raised voices. Unusual to hear that as they were always so polite. I decided to open the window of my office to hear what the argument was all about. Turns out it was the night designated for Bible lessons conducted by Stan, and the discussion was all about the meaning of certain Biblical passages. Stan and his wife Sharon had four sons here with them at times when the construction was going on. It was a pleasure to see these well behaved kids and the love of the family for each other and for their fellow human beings. People who worked on the construction project had never seen anything like this in their lives. In the morning before work started they had to say their prayers, and after the days work was over and evensong approached they had to clean up the site and Prayers again.

I remember once working in the yard with a pickax early in the morning and I struck a rock and it caused me to pull a muscle. I was stooped over in pain. Stan who was passing by saw me in pain and rushed over put his hand on my shoulder and started to pray. I said to myself, even if I am an unbeliever, I will have to pretend later to Stan, no matter how much pain I have that all is well. I did not have to lie. Shortly after Stan had said his prayers and gone on to his job, the pain disappeared.

This morning I was out in the garden working on a planter and preparing for the rain sure to come, I pulled on a piece of old wood and got a slight pain in my back. I did some swing abouts like I see the Chinese doing on television and the pain went. But I thought to myself, boy if only Stan Addink was here.

Later on I was on the computer working on a couple of articles for the Daily Herald. I heard someone in the living room talking to my wife Lynne. She called out to me:”Will, Stan Addink is here to see you.” Enough reason for one to want to believe even if they are a heathen.

Stan’s son Ben is the owner of the “Shearwater” hotel which was formerly The Willards, and Stan is here for five days to check on business. Turns out that Stan’s son traded some real estate back in Washingon State with the former owner of the Willards Hotel for the hotel and so he is the owner. Stan brought us up to date on all of the family. He is a contractor and three of his four sons are in business with him. He also told us that last year he and his eldest sister decided to take a trip to Holland to see the land of their ancestors and the many cousins there. Stan is tall like most Dutchmen, but he is an American from all other aspects. He said in Holland he had no problem communicating with his many relatives. Some of the older first cousins could not speak English but their children and grandchildren were all fluent English speakers.

I asked Stan when he left the house, that since his prayers are so strong, to please pray for rain. Even if no rain comes I have experienced the worth of his prayers, and it is nice once more to see him on Saba and to see that a place where he put in so much prayer with his workers is now owned by his son.

Governors of Old

Vice Commander Richard Johnson


De Profundis

From 1968 to 1993, Saba people had their own newspaper. Owned and edited by me and others, not subsidized by anyone outside of the owners, never made a profit, was controversial and political as well. I as Editor being a lifelong politician with my own political party the W.I.P.M ( Windward Islands People’s Movement) of course defended my party and its policies. When there were no elections going on the Saba Herald interviewed many older persons who had led interesting lives and today we can look back with pride on the contents of those old Saba Herald’s. They led to our book “Tales From My Grandmother’s Pipe” being published for the first time in 1979 which was recently published in its fifth edition.

De Profundis in English means “Out of the Deep”, a cry of despair. A cry for our people who have disappeared mostly since 1968 and have now largely been displaced by new immigrants. Many of these people have married Sabans and have produced young people we can be proud of. We want to encourage those young people. We see discouragement from all sides based on envy (the crab in a barrel syndrome), based on greed, based on ignorance. It is amazing that under those circumstances there are still educated young people willing to serve this community.

Added to our own local tendency to beat up and destroy our own, added to that we have some Dutch people coming in from Holland, starting their own newspaper probably subsidized by the Dutch secret service as well, and who are constantly ridiculing Sabans and trying to break down the local Saban government. We intend to expose these people and challenge them as time goes by. However we also want to accentuate the positive of our history as a small West Indian people, the achievements of our people now and in the past, and we invite our educated young people to come forward with POSITIVE ideas and suggestions as to how we can best help and protect each other. We invite the Saban business owners to stop breaking down our own Saban Government and to ask themselves as to how their businesses will do better when our own people are replaced even on our Island Council by new Dutch know-it-all settlers. This paper rising out of the deep as the Phoenix from its ashes will not be against anyone in particular nor any group of people. It is intended in a different way to replace the Saba Herald and to be a voice for those who cannot defend themselves and who are entitled to another opinion other than what is being dished out on Facebook and in the so called “Saba Newspaper”. Where it is necessary to be the shield for the Saba Islanders we will be that shield, and where it is necessary to be the sword we at the Saba Islander will use that sword. We are not alone, and as Pope John Paul II said “Be not afraid.” We say to you times have changed, circumstances have placed us in a more modern world. We must keep adapting to that changed world and use the new technology to our advantage. Therefore we are using this new technology to defend those of us left on Saba who are willing to dedicate themselves to serving the island. We promise not to be hard on those of good will, but we will take to task those whose agenda is envy or greed and those of good fortune who do not contribute either to religion or community but who parasite on others with ridiculously high prices, and are always tearing down those who want to serve and to better their community. As time permits we will try and build up this site to one which the native people of Saba can be proud of and support. Stay tuned as we come to you out of the depths of despair to try and defend your best interests, and that includes those who have settled here out of good will and with intentions to help us and who are not here only to make money and divide us. AMEN.

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