The Saba Islander

by Will Johnson

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

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