Makana Ferry suffers breakdown while questions surface about ship’s history

A view of the Makana after its salvaging in St. Thomas, after an alledged error caused partial sinking of the vessel back in 2012. Photo: BVI Beacon.

ORANJESTAD/THE BOTTOM- The Makana Ferry on Saturday evening suffered a breakdown and had to return to port due to a technical malfunction.

Information circulating on Social Media suggested that a shaft coupling of the Makana would have broken and that, due to the weekend, it was not possible to have this replaced. The normal schedule of the Makana was therefore interrupted.

Around 12 noon on Sunday, the Company on their Facebook Page shared that they were encountering ‘some technical difficulties’, followed at around 2PM by the following statement: “Earlier we shared that the Makana has experienced some technical difficulties today, December 19, 2021. As a result, routes were cancelled this morning. Please note that the afternoon routes have now been cancelled as well, and the Monday route will have to be adjusted. Please stay tune for further notice”.

On the Ferry’s website, a note was placed indicating the following: “The Makana has experienced some technical difficulties today, December 19, 2021, resulting in complete cancellation.  The team is currently working on having the back vessel in place for the Monday December 20, 2021”.

So far, no formal communication has been received on the matter from the Governments of St. Eustatius and Saba, which have invested so heavily in the setup of the new maritime service.


On Sunday the BES-Reporter also received credible information from reliable sources, indicating that the Makana is a vessel with a certain history. In a previous life, while it was being operated in the British Virgen Islands (BVI) in the year 2012 by the company called Road Town Fast Ferry, the Makana nearly sank and could only be rescued at the last moment. The boat, at the time, suffered considerable damage.

The BVI Beacon newspaper ran the complete story in their July 11, 2012 edition under the headline “Ferry Salvaged after partial sinking”. According to the paper, the partial sinking was due to an error made when the vessel was on the drydock in St. Thomas for routine maintenance.

While the ferry company in a press release stressed that at no time any passengers or crew had been harmed in the incident, at the time Management of Road Town Fast Ferry also stated that there were ‘no immediate plans to take the ferry back into service’.


In the meantime on Sunday, question marks were raised by some observers on both St. Eustatius and Saba, wondering if the obligation to have a backup vessel in case of a mechanical issue formed no part of the contract negotiated with the Makana’s current owner/operator Blues & Blues from Anguilla.

Others once again pointed to the fact that they felt the process of ‘vetting’ the provider or the vessel to be used before awarding a subsidiy to the tune of 2 million Euros has not been very thorough, and that certain details -so far- have not been not shared the general public.

While in Statia’s Island Council it was stated that Blues & Blues had various (other) vessels that could be deployed on the route, if necesary, this did not seem to be Sunday.

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