The Saba Islander

by Will Johnson

Archive for the month “March, 2018”

Memories of the Sea-4

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The ‘Margareth Truph’. The Captain was Arthur Wallace Simmons from Saba and most of his crew was from Saba and they would put in with probably Peter Every’s fat, fat uncles who he admired so much. This is a photo of a painting which I have.

… I went to school when I was seven and I left when I was twelve.

So when I was thirteen I was thinking about going to sea. You see, I had two uncles used to sail onto those big American schooners; and every couple of months they would pass in here, see; Every couple of months they would pass in here and remain here sometimes for two days.

And I would see these big heavy, portly-looking fellas, you know, and I always used to tell my mother that I’d like to go on a vessel to get big and fat like my uncles and they.

Yeah that always attract my nerves, you know, to see these sailors comin’ up in these big vessels, and big and fat and heavy lookin’ men.’

Capt. Lockland Heyliger's schooner

Captain Lockland Heyliger was captain of this schooner the ‘East Star Jones’ and would transport asphalt from Trinidad to New York. His crew was from Saba and he would put in here going and coming so that he and his crew could visit their families.

Peter Every

Memories of the Sea -3.

Peter Every

Peter Every had so many stories of a life at sea which when I have time I will be posting. He was one of a kind. He spent his last years as a house painter, a profession which many retired seamen which pick up.

” Well you know when I was a boy growing up, I used to be with those people there Under the Hill. Mr. Carl Hassell and their family lived Under The Hill. We used to be around there with them, making messages and doing from one thing to the other for them.

And Mr. Carl’s brother was Captain of a schooner, he was Captain of a schooner. In fact he had must’ve been two or three of his own sailing vessels, you know. And every couple of weeks he’d be in here, and any of the young boys who want to go to sea would go down, and ask him to take them away.

So I says to him one day, he was in, I said, ‘Captain Ben, I’d like to go aboard the vessel. He said, ‘Go aboard the vessel for what? I said,” Well I don’t know. Everybody got to go to learn.’ He said, ‘Well if you wants to go to learn, ‘he says, ‘I’ll carry you’. And he says, ‘Well, we’s going away Thursday, so go up and tell your mother to get your clothes ready and go aboard.’



The schooner Esther Anita one of the many fine schooners owned by Captain Ben Hassell here in New York harbour in 1915. Back then Saba schooners would be going regularly to New York.

So I went home, and I told my old lady. I said “Well I’m asked Captain Ben to carry me with him on the vessel, and he’s told me to get ready. He’s going back a Thursday. ‘ She said, ‘My boy, you’s too small.’ ‘Oh I said, ‘ Why that ain’t nothing you got to grow.

Well, anyhow, I decided to go. And I went aboard, and there was two other young boys there besides myself, and they said ‘Peter, you think you’s goin’ to make it?” ‘Well, I,m going to try. I’m agoin to try.’

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The ‘Three Sisters’ in Curacao harbour. Named after three daughters of Captain Abram Hassell brother of Captain Ben. Abram lived in Rhode Island and would buy schooners and bring them out to the West Indies and sell them. This one was owned by Capt. Ben and his brothers Carl, Capt. Tommy and Abram.

‘He Captain Ben [Hassell] turned to the mate one day and he says,’Well, Tom, you know what’s happened? We’s going to Demarara tomorrow for a load of shingles and when we comes back to Barbados the vessel is going to Cuba to carry emigrants.’

My first trip on the sailin’ vessels from here, I was fourteen years old. I was fourteen years old. And I been sailin’ from then up to 1950, I quit.’

Peter Every


Memories of the Sea.2

Untitled-51” My father was the Captain of a li’l boat, and he got catched in a hurricane in St. Kitts. And he went to jump outside, and he jumped between the wharf and the small boat. He get squeezed. He didn’t live long after.

‘I went away when I only had twelve, was a young boy when I went away. I was a young li’l boy tryin’ to make a living. Anyway I grew up to twelve years and then I went away in a sailing boat.

Well you see the Captain of that boat, he asked me if I want to go with him for to sail as a cabin boy. My mother was agree with it. She say, “Well I can’t help you, so you got to help yourself,’ yeah.

John Jeyliger on his way to work his fields in Troy February 1965

John Heyliger on his way to work his fields in Troy February 1965

The Captain give you a couple of dollars in the month, two dollars or a dollar and a half, that was all; but well you’d get your feed and your clothes always on the ship.

Oh I had to clean out the Captain’s  room and give him his coffee and his meals and all like that so.

We used to go sometimes to Santo Domingo, Canada, yeah St. Thomas, and St. Croix, sometimes we go Martinique , sometimes we go Guadeloupe, all these places so. B.G. (British Guiana) is a nice island you know, big place, there’s very nice. Sometimes we’d make it two days, sometimes three. Barbados too. I spent two days, sometimes three. That’s all. That’s a nice li’l country to live; the people is very friendly and nice.


Saba schooner Marion Belle Wolfe in Nova Scotia, here securing a house after it was swept into the sea by a tidal wave.


Nova Scotia is very nice but cold. Oh yeah, a long distance to Canada, fourteen days going and fourteen days coming back. We’d spend four days there unloading a cargo of sugar, and it was winter and cold.

John Heyliger

Memories of the Sea .


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Dr. Julia Crane did a tremendous job for those native people of Saba who should want to remember the hardships their ancestors went through in order to survive with their families on this little Caribbean Rock .

From time to I will post memories of some of those who were interviewed in the nineteen sixties for her book; “Saba Silhouettes”.

I would like to highlight Carl Hassell today.

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Mr. Carl Hassell pictured here with two of his nephews from Barbados. They were visiting here with their father’s (Capt. Ben Hassell) three masted schooner the “Juliana”.

….” I was just past eleven when I started out, cabin boy on a schooner. There was no money, you know, so that all we lived from was the products of the land; and soon as a boy came up twelve, fourteen years or something like that, why he tries to get away to be able to do something. All the young boys used to go at early ages.


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Two of Carl Hassell’s brothers. Behind the wheel Captain Tommy and in the dark jacket Capt. William Benjamin’Ben’ (grandfather of Richard Goddard of Barbados)

The schooner I went on was from Saba. My brother’s owned it. The schooner came out from America in 1898 and she cruised around from St. Martin, St. Barth’s, all the Windward Islands, and as far as Turks island for straw they made those hats from you know. We used to bring that from Turks island and up to St. Martin, and at the latter part of the year we made a trip from here to Trinidad and Barbados.

Carl Hassell

P.S. I will post a number of these extracts from time to time.

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