Sunday, July 17, 2011

July 2~3 Toward Mexico

We departed the Dry Tortugas about 10am, making our way out the marked channel and then turned south.  The weather was pleasant, light wind, easy seas.
Departing Fort Jefferson / Dry Tortugas

About 11:30 we saw storms building to the east and made a little more westerly course to avoid them.  We spotted 3 waterspouts from the storm, about 5 miles away from the boat.  One was a full spout from the water to the clouds.

We threaded our way between storms which gave us some rain, howling winds and rough seas but both boats and crews handled the conditions in stride.

After passing the storms, we settled in for a comfortable cruise.  We started our shift sleeping as this would be a long overnight passage.

The accepted course is to head south toward Cuba and after crossing the Gulf Stream, turn west staying close to Cuba taking advantage of the cross current to the Gulf Stream.  We sailed and motor sailed through the night. We crossed paths with numerous cargo vessels and it was good to know they could see us.  The AIS worked great.  About 25 miles north of Cuba, we were having radio issues between our two boats.  We could only communicate when the two boats were within a few hundred yards of each other. At night and approaching land, this was an issue.  Captains decision was to make port in Cuba for emergency repairs, restore communications under the international safe harbor rules.  In the dark of night, we set a course for the Port of Havana, not quite knowing what to expect.

We attempted radio contact with Port Havana numerous times but got no reply.  At 3 miles out, they contacted us.  We explained out situation and were told to proceed to Marina Hemmingway, 6 miles west.
This happened just as dawn was breaking on the sea behind us.

We made our way to Marina Hemmingway and were immediately stopped at the port entry office where Customs, Immigration, Agriculture and Sanitation visited us on the boat and began all the entry paperwork. During this time, we were not allowed off the boat.  About 2 hours later, and $150 usd in fees and "tips" we were told to go to the marina where the dock master would meet us for the remainder of the paperwork.  The good news was that they accepted the dogs paperwork and they could go ashore.

Once at the dock, we were met by numerous marina employees who guided us to our slip, helped us secure the boat, connect power and water.  Once we were settled the dock master showed up with his paperwork and the required health insurance papers.  Visitors are required to purchase their health insurance should anything happen.  The cost was quite reasonable at $2.50 US per day.  To my surprise, USD was happily accepted.  Bank Cards would not work whilst in Cuba.  We were instructed where to exchange US money for Cuban Money which was at a rate of 1 USD = .87 CUC.  After the dock master left, We all got together to discuss a plan and after visiting the ships store, we all settled in for a nap.

That evening we walked around the marina, spoke with other visitors mostly from Canada, walked toward town in the hopes of exchanging some money but as it was Sunday, most things were closed.  So we returned to the boat, relaxed and called it an early night.

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