Former Netherlands Antilles Minister Leo Chance on Tuesday, November 8 was honored with a Visionary Award on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Capt. Leo A.I. Chance Pier at Saba’s Fort Bay Harbor and Chance’s 90th birthday.
On Tuesday, November 8, it was exactly 50 years ago that then Minister Chance performed the official opening of the pier. At the time, he personally moored the Antilia cargo and passenger vessel alongside the pier. The 65-meter Antilia, owned by the Netherlands Antilles government, made monthly trips between the Leeward and Windward Islands.
As a Minister, Chance was instrumental in the decision-taking and the securing of the necessary funding to construct the pier. Chance performed the official opening on November 8, 1972 on his 40th birthday. On Tuesday, November 8, 2022, he celebrated his 90th birthday in Medellín, Colombia in the presence of his family and friends.
To commemorate this special occasion, the Public Entity Saba presented a Visionary Award to Chance. Present to receive the award on behalf of Chance was former Saba Commissioner and local historian Will Johnson. MC, Harbor Master Travis Johnson welcomed the guests, which included Island Governor Jonathan Johnson and Island Council members Carl Buncamper and Vito Charles, to the short ceremony.
“Every day we experience how this pier is Saba’s lifeline. It creates opportunities for economic development for our island. When the harbor has to close because of a hurricane, we notice how much we really depend on the pier. I am proud to be a part of this Saba part and of this team,” said Travis Johnson.
Former Harbor Master and now Commissioner Bruce Zagers explained that the initial plan was to present the award to Chance during the community anniversary celebration last Sunday, November 6, but due to the bad weather it was decided ahead to postpone the event until this Sunday, November 13. “Seeing that this was such a momentous occasion, we decided to still do something for Mr. Chance today on the anniversary date and on his 90th birthday,” said Zagers.
“Mr. Chance was the visionary behind the pier and he lobbied to get the funding. This pier is the lifeline for Saba; it provides jobs, it is where most of our food and goods come in. We are going to build a new harbor, but Mr. Chance will be pleased to hear that the pier that he spearheaded will remain as a cargo facility,” said Zagers.
Will Johnson received the Visionary Award with pride. “I was so proud when the family asked me to accept the award on their behalf. Mr. Chance is in Medellín where his son Julian lives and it is good to know that he is doing well. I am glad that he shared a message at the end of the documentary,” he said.
A short documentary with Will Johnson about Saba’s harbor, the construction of the pier and Saba’s transportation history was launched on Tuesday. “The harbor has always played and to this day plays such an important role, and it has meant a lot for Saba’s development. Much money was invested in it and it has paid off,” said Will Johnson.
The community event to celebrate the 50th anniversary will take place at the Fort Bay Harbor this Sunday, November 13 from 10:00am-3:00pm. The public is invited to attend. After the official part, which starts at 10:00am, there will be food, drinks and entertainment.