A week ago the 48m motoryacht Elsa ran ashore at Ladder Bay in Saba, the second vessel to do so within two weeks. All passengers and crew were safely transported to the harbour and there were no injuries.

While the conditions under which the vessel ran ashore are not yet known, local news outlet, Saba News, explained that such unfortunate incidents are rare, as many efforts have been made over the past years to improve the resilience of the mooring systems in the Saba Marine Park.

Since the incident occurred, the owners of the vessel, in cooperation with the Public Entity Saba and the Saba Conservation Foundation have been working on a plan to salvage the yacht with minimal damage to the surrounding environment and vessel. Personnel and equipment arrived on the scene yesterday to begin the salvage, with the first priority being to safely remove the fuel from the vessel, followed by the extraction of the yacht from the shore.

The Saba Conservation Foundation and Public Entity Saba responded to the two strandings by stating that, although the causes of the unrelated accidents are still under investigation, measures will be taken immediately to minimise risk to mariners in Saba’s designated anchorages.

“All moorings will be re-inspected to affirm their stability and to quickly spot and exchange damaged lines, as vessels may unintentionally run over them in choppy waters, which may not be noticed by skippers,” it announced. “Furthermore, additional patrols by the Marine Park Rangers will be scheduled, to assist arriving yachters and to ensure that their boats are safely secured to the moorings. Also, new communication materials will be produced to inform yachters about proper mooring procedures and precautionary provisions in advance.”

An independent review of the current mooring systems will also be conducted to confirm their suitability for open-water conditions and make recommendations for possible improvements, if necessary.

Furthermore, a new Harbour Master Plan is being formulated in cooperation with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment. This master plan includes research into methods of improving the harbour facilities and anchorages. The aim of the plan is to further professionalise Fort Bay Harbour and to increase Saba’s attractiveness to the yachting sector. Continued efforts will be made to have a VHF repeater installed, which will allegedly improve communication within the mooring zones for additional safety and quick response.

Image credit: GIS Saba