Again we struggle with the thin water and when we
try to approach the lee beach to anchor, it is too thin. We spend
the night chucking about in 7' or water and 2 1/2' waves. That
settles the plan. We will move towards the barrier reefs and deeper
water. Next stop Cayo Matias. We head out at first light and cross
into deep water outside the reefs. As we approach Matias in mid
afternoon I am a bit anxious. I have a hand copied GPS coordinate
for the reef entrance but, you can't trust those things. The sun
is high and over our shoulder, the water colours are textbook,
greens, blues, yellows and browns over the reef.
|The gap is about 100 yards. We sail right on
through and into the lagoon. There is a wrecked sailboat on
shore. We sail towards it till the water is 4' then motor
in close for this photo.
We spend a lazy afternoon and rest up for the jump tomorrow.
Fat Mary is 125 miles but it looks like there is a little bay
on the bottom of the isle of pines about 40 miles from here. We
might nip in there.
We head out at first light and clear the end of the barrier
reef. The wind is on our stern or quarter. Mid afternoon I approach
close in to the bay at isle of pines. It is not a friendly coast.
There are endless uncharted rocks extending a quarter mile from
shore. The swell is our friend and points them out for us. The
little bay which looks sweet on my charts has a barrier reef right
across it. We won't be getting a good nights sleep in there. We
press on. But we are moving well and Red is letting me doze from
time to time between backwinds and gybes.
Dawn comes soon enough as we race past Cabo Corrientas. We dash
up to the 'marina' at Fat Mary and are told to tie along side
a dive boat at the pier by the Port Captain. We covered the 125
miles to Cabo Corrientas in 24 hours. A new 24 hour run record
for us at an average speed of 5.2kts.
The PC comes aboard for a look around and goes below but does
just a cursory inspection. We go back to his office/home and while
the TV behind his makeshift desk runs a soap opera. We do the
paperwork. His Sniffy lies outside the door enjoying the shade.
There is a dive shop, a hotel, two restaurants, which are only
open part of the day, a gift shop, and a bar. Nothing of note
in the gift shop, so I retire to the bar. Beer here is $1.50.
They have food. You can have a grilled cheese sandwich or a grilled
ham sandwich or a grilled ham and cheese sandwich. The grapevine
had told me you could get decent bread out the back door of the
restaurant if you asked. That proves to be the case and the other
yacht in the bay makes that arrangement. Quite odd to go into
the restaurant and talk hush hush to the waiter to arrange your
bread pickup time.
April 30 2009
We check out with the PC in Maria la Gorda and sail off. On
the recommendation of 'Carlos' at la gorda, I plan to stop in
Marina Morro. Lovely broad reach to run. Modest well behaved seas
and only 35 miles to our next location Marina Morro. We are there
in 5 1/2 hours. Zoom zoom zoom. We pass two wrecked keel boats
near the lighthouse 5 miles from the marina. The lighthouse hails
us 'catamaran catamaran, canadian catamaran'. Are we headed to
the marina? Perhaps, but if the wind is good for Hemingway we
will carry on. We sail in the lee of the shore in 8 to 10 feet
of green water. There is something up ahead, lawn chairs on the
beach, a few huts, a couple of big antenna towers. It is the little
hotel about 2 miles from the marina. I tack close to the beach
perhaps 50 feet from shore, still about 6 feet deep. I am tempted
to hit the beach. Carlos from Maria la Gorda says the marina is
nice. I get a call from the hotel, 'Catamaran Catamaran' 'Are
you looking for the marina?" No just having a sail I say.
I get around the point and the wind is snotty. A little motor
sailing. I enter between red and green and get a hail on VHF from
the only boat at the quay. A big sloop 'Saudade'. He suggest to
tie up behind him. I douse the sails and mosey on in. There are
big black rubber tubes hanging from chain along the quay. I get
my fenders and lines on and motor in. The wind is blowing off
the quay and I realize, after I cut the motor, I need a little
more. I start it and go to turn the motor to swing us in. for
some reason it does not turn.
|As I briefly ponder that I hit a rubber bumper
at a good clip and bang my head on something. I shake it off
and stop the motor and throw the lines to shore. Don't know
what I was thinking. Boat is fine, I am more embarrassed than
'Saudade' has been stuck there for 6 days with a broken lower
shroud (rod rigging ). The marina is oh so odd. They have gas
and diesel but no 2 cycle oil. There are showers and banos, but
no laundry. The little store just has cigars. There is a bar slash
restaurant where you can get mahi-mahi (Not) or chicken with rice
tomatoes and cucumbers. That's it. There are 4 staff who watch
TV unless you need something. They lock up the bathrooms at night
and open them if you knock on the lounge doors. They have a generator
that runs all the time burring 60 gallons of diesel a day. Even
if they fit in the 4 boats that could tie to the pier and everybody
ate ashore and bought cigars every day, they would not cover the
cost of the diesel. The pier has surge and salt spray blows over
it with just 20kts of NE. A place without any purpose it would
seem. I think I will shift to the little anchorage 3 miles east
If Carlos was here I would ask him what was so good about it.
There is a pier with these big rubber things which of course make
my fenders black and in the evening when the tide drops a foot
'Miss Cindy's' toe rail gets a similar treatment. They charge
me $10 per night, which is about standard fare for a real marina.
The staff are pretty friendly for sure, but why are they here.
Why is this place here. The PC and Immigration arrive on a bus
45 minutes later.
I have a shower and bring some brewskies back to 'Saudade'.
The water goes off a few hours later and does not come back on
before I leave next day. 'Saudade' broke a lower shroud coming
over from the Isle of Youth (pines). She is a 70's Admirals Cup
winner. Some Cubans from a oceanographic vessel tried to frog
up something, but no joy. I tell them I will help them get jury
rigged and they will be fixed up before I go. Jolanda and Jan
know a bit about 'Miss Cindy'. They saw her in Mazatlan in December.
Jolanda tells me she wrote an article about her that was published
in the Netherlands and I am famous there.
A night of food and wine and conversation and music and rum.
I bring out some crackers from Mexico and Doug's smoked salmon
from Alaska that he gave me in Hualtuco. It is very nice. Thanks
A couple hours earlier Jan had helped fix 'Miss Cindy's' tiller
head by drilling it out for a new 5/16" bolt which he provided.
We also worked on a plan for his stay problem which involves going
up the mast which will be done tomorrow when everyone is sober.
I have been working hard on 'Miss Cindy's diet. Been giving
away stuff and watching the waterline rise up.
At Marina Morro I have been hard a work too. One of the fellows
asked if I had any spare rope. He got a 2 kilo anchor, 20 feet
of chain and a length of poly pro. I also got to give some stuff
to the crew of 'Saudade' who particularly like the few eggs I
could spare. Jan plays guitar and I heard from him and Jolanda
that one of the crew at the marina played quite well, but did
not own a guitar. I have one aboard that I have been trying to
learn with but that has not turned out to well, so now I think
it has a home. Next day I ask him about his guitar playing as
we go to the pump for gas.
|They have gas but no 2 cycle oil but Jan has
given me enough for one of our Mexican gas cans. When we talk
about guitar his eyes which are already pretty bright and
animated light up even more. I tell him I have one aboard
and would like to give it to him. He seems pretty happy with
Jan and I go to work on the mast. I sew together the two 6' pieces
of webbing I pulled from the bow net and he goes up the mast and
with several turns makes a strop around the spreader base to a
big block he had spare. We use a spare dynema halyard and get
four parts on that then to one of the 18 winches on the old race
boat. Seems to do the trick. (Jan later improves it with a reaching
I had seen the PC earlier in the day and he was aware I wanted
to leave at 1400, but after several phone calls from the other
staff showed up around 1500. While I was waiting for him, the
local AGI inspector and doctor showed up to ask 20 questions.
Swine flue in Mexico gives them a chance to do what they have
trained to do. I get to answer the same questions I got asked
in Cayo Largo. When the PC shows up he processes me quickly and
I ask him some questions. Does he expect much to change in Cuba
in the next few years? He looks at me with puzzlement. What do
I mean? Well Castro will die? Raoul. The US embargo will go away
and lots of American tourists will come? We already have tourists.
So you don't expect any changes? Why would I want changes?
I say goodbye to the good ship 'Saudade' and say I will see
them in Havana. Push off for a nice late afternoon sail to the
little islands. I nick in behind one so I am out of sight of the
marina and anchor in 4' by some mangroves.
|The next couple of days are sailed inside the
reefs, fairly pleasant but all on the nose as we are headed
East. I anchor off a nice island for the night. It rains hard
The next day I carry on towards an anchorage near Santa Lucia.
Along the way I come across these three men in a boat. They hold
up some big lobsters they want to sell me. I decline but give
them some PangaPaks and they trot out the list of things they
would like. First up some 1/8" cord for their spear gun lines.
Don't have any but I give them some line shorts I have. Next rum.
Sorry guys. A hat? I give them 3 flag bandanas I have from the
PangaPak stuff. Rum? Sorry guys. Water? This makes no sense to
me as free potable water is widely available in Cuba.
| I give them 4 litres of Mexican bottled water
to lighten us by 10 lbs. Rum? Sorry guys. They want to give
me a couple of lobsters, thanks but no. Say our goodbyes and
The water changes from a pretty blue to a green. It is still
clear and the same depth, all I can figure is the sand has gone
from white to yellow. As I sail past the big lighthouse, I notice
some floats on the water. They are connected to snorkel fishermen.
We are 2 miles from shore. I suck the air out of a PangaPak and
toss one of them it. He as a look through his goggles and gives
me a thumbs up. Santa Lucia is noted for it's sulphuric acid plants
and the scorched red plumes on the hills to the West testify to
that. I anchor a little further East by a little island.
Just before sunset a 12' wood boat with a couple of fishermen
and a little dog comes along side. They ask where we are from,
who Cindy is etc. They have just come in from their afternoon
fishing. They go out a couple hours in the morning and some more
in the late afternoon. It is a 12' rowboat made of 1/2" planks.
It has what looks like a big slab of concrete covering the whole
floor. I ask. It is foam in a heavy plastic liner. Later another
identical boat comes along side. Some committee thought it would
be a good idea to put flotation in all these boats they made.
Should have put it under the foredeck and side decks as it would
not want to turn upside down when swamped.
I ask my 20 questions about change. Same puzzled look. Fidel?
Raoul. Raoul is 76 he will be gone soon too? (In Cuba they don't
say Fidel, they just motion a beard with their hand under their
chin.) The fisherman says, Another person - beard gesture. American
tourists? Tourists don't come here.
I offer them some rum and suggest he pour out the couple of
inches of water in a old pop bottle and I will pour some in there.
There is a bit of confusion. Ahhhhh. It is not water but home
brew rum, Ron Cubano! He offers me some and I partake. Yeasty,
strong, but clearly rum. We have a swig of Havana Club Especial
to compare and chat some more. There is only one fish in the boat,
pretty small too. There is also a sack that moves a bit from time
to time. He shows me. It is a giant rodent. 'Tastes very good'.
The dog caught it on an island.
We talk about change and how things are in Cuba. He is very
happy, plenty of food, likes fishing, no pressure to catch a quota.
I realize as I am talking to him that they are 60 year old guys
waiting to retire so that they don't have to worry about the cost
of housing, food, health care etc, and so they can go out fishing
every day and share the catch with their friends. This guy retired
Another identical boat comes along side and we pass the rum
around and chat some more. It has a young guy and an old guy.
The young guy chats and the old guy keeps working a hand line
between swigs of rum. In half an hour he has boated three small
fish. They invite me to come to their village a couple of miles
away in the morning. I tell them it will depend on the wind. If
it is unfavourable for Easting I will come on over. They row off
into the dark and I can hear them over the water for quite a while.
To be conintued...