Cuba to Key West – The Gulf Stream

For those of you interested in such things, here is a plot of our trip across from Cuba to Key West.  The most interesting things here are the red arrows along our track.  These arrows represent the current that we sailed in as we crossed.  The small arrows are probably about a quarter of a knot while the big ones are 4 knots!!  I found it really interesting that the velocity of the current continued to increase right up to the point where we were about 5 miles off Key West when it quickly went to almost zero!!

The Gulf Stream continues right up the coast of Florida.  We are leaving Key West today and plan to ride it for all its worth!!

Next stop Palm Beach (probably!),

-Jim and Deb

Cuba to Key West: 90 miles under a Super Perigee Moon!!

Last nights trip from Havana to Key West was fairly stressful given the fact that our mast was injured due to a broken shroud and was held up by a spider web of lines led to all corners of the boat to provide support.  Not only did we have to sail 90 miles, but we had to cross the Gulf Stream while doing it!  The Gulf Stream runs to the Northeast here against the prevailing winds and this creates some pretty large and confused seas.   Last night the stream was running from 2 – 4 knots, while our boat speed through the water was about 4.5 knots.  That makes for some pretty interesting math when it comes to selecting the course to steer!

The winds were strong and normally we would have waited a few days, but we had reached the end of our cash supply and if we stayed any longer we wouldn’t be able to pay our marina fees!!   When you are an American in Cuba it is very difficult to obtain cash.  Credit cards don’t work.  ATM cards don’t work.  Nobody is going to take your check, etc.

The one saving grace for us was the amazing full moon!! 

Not only was it a full moon, but it was the largest and brightest full moon in almost 20 years.  It’s called a super perigee moon..  The last full Moon so big and close to Earth occurred in March of 1993. When it’s at perigee, the moon is about 31,000 miles (50,000 km) closer to Earth than when it’s at the farthest point of its orbit. This celestial event is far rarer than the famed blue moon, which happens once about every two-and-a-half years.  You can view NASA’s diagram to understand how the Moon’s orbit works.

I’ve finally gone where my Dad hasn’t!!!!

As some of you may know, my Dad and step mom are AVID travelers. They have been all over the world, including the Antartica and USSR before it was open to the West. But, finally, I got him! CUBA! All it took was a busy 2 hours in the middle of the night and the breeze kicking in between us and Key West, and Havana was the place for us to stop so Jim could McGiver a fix so the entire rig won't fall down. (Sorry MR.E. I know that's a run on sentence.)

So here's my version/highlights of what's gone on for the last few days.

Mast: It was a beautiful night, 3/4 moon. We came off a big wave, TWANG…intermediate rod rigging broke. Scurry around, Jib in, Main down, motor on. I get to sleep for 4 hours because Jim's too worried about the mast coming down.

Next am, haul Jim up the mast to put up a quick fix. Motor slowly along coast of Cuba, which is beautiful BTW. Wind comes up, so we opt to go into Havana to put up a more substantial repair.

Go through Customs. As Latin American countries go, it was easy. Everyone we needed to clear with was right there. The dock was good. People knew what they were doing. Everyone asked for a tip on the sly, but as we had no cash, they went untipped. Then motored 5 min over to Hemingway Marina.

From what we've seen, you can tell that Marina Hemingway used to be beautiful. Facilities are great, hotels with pools, lots of lawn. But now its a little rough. The Men's head has been broken for 4 years, so everyone shares the ladies. 6 stall, 3 work, no seats. 6 sinks, 1 works. Haven't tried the showers yet. Hotels are a little blocky, and they have beautiful fountains with no water in them. We are tied side to a good concrete dock, but it allows for a TON of people to come by say hello, offer services like laundry, repairs, diesel, taxi, money laundering…

So that's it up to now. Ita is loving land, but after 3 weeks in boat jail in the Caymans, she is totally ok with the boat. The last passage was a piece of cake for her.

I'll have more details on the rest of Cuba after we have more experience. We are safe and happy.

Love to All, and NA NA NA BOO BOO to my Dad!

Deb

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Tied up in Marina Hemingway. Now what??

Well, we made it through the check in process.

First the doctor comes with rubber gloves (that scared me) and a facemask to make sure we were “ok”. Then agriculture to make sure we didn't bring the wrong food, then the harbor master, then immigration, then customs and finally we were free to tie up in our marina spot where we were greeted by no less than 7 people that wanted to pitch their services to us! Holy cow, I just need a nap!

But, a request first.

What should we go see in Havana?? We are six miles away from downtown. Have done no research on Cuba since we were not planning to visit and now here we are.

What are the don't miss things that we should not miss??

Please leave comments on the blog they are sent to us automatically.

thanks,

-Jim

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Greetings fromHavana!

The night went well and the wind dropped to make the trip much easier on the mast and jury rig repair. We are just a few miles outside Marina Hemingway now at 8:30am and should be safely tied up to the clearance dock within the next hour or so.

We expect the clearing in process to be interesting…

More later.

-Jim

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Mast still up. Heading for Havana – slowly

It's 830pm and the rig is still up. Its been an interesting day. The forecast was for SE breeze around 10 knots, and we had that long enough to think we were home free and to set up a jury rig repair via a combination of Gibb and Scott Easom's suggestions. (thanks to both of those guys for their help and suggestions!!!)

But….

The wind decided to throw us a curve ball and build to 20+ out of the NE!! So much for the “lee” of Cuba. Instead Cuba became a lee shore. Not so good. 20 knots against us while riding a 2 knot current in the direction of our travels made for a miserably bumpy ride. We throttled way back to only 2.5 knots through the water and tried to minimise the banking through waves, but if you go too slow then you start wallowing back and forth side to side and the mast doesn't like that either.

Not good, but conditions seem to be moderating a bit with sunset. We will hope so anyway and hopefully have a good report for you in the morning.

-Jim

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Alls Well – It’s a contest to see who can design the best jury rig repair

We really lucked out here.

1- The leeward shroud broke, not the windward one. We could have lost the mast.

2 – The conditions were calm with flat seas and a full moon, so we could figure out what broke and react quickly.

3 – The moon was bright so we could see.

4 – We have an oversized mast designed to be extra strong because we were crossing oceans with our kids onboard.

5 – It happened at midnight and we are used to bad things at midnight!!

So, we are motoring along with over 100 miles to go to Hemingway Marina near Havana. The conditions have only improved with flat seas and wind now down to 5 knots in the lee of the island.

We have nothing but time on our hands now until we arrive. So, it's a contest! To all of my sailing friends. Design and describe the best jury rig repair for us to install once we arrive at the marina. I have ton's of spectra/vectran line onboard. Lot's of extra blocks, etc. What should I do??

Leave a comment with your suggestion here on the blog and we'll announce the winner and send pictures of the repair tomorrow!!!

thanks,

-Jim

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