Feb 17, 2012
Well we have been in George Town for several weeks, initially waiting on a radio, then so Jeanne could have a nice week on the boat. I am now getting ready to sail to Cuba. On Sunday Graham will arrive and if the weather window holds we will sail to Long Island. I will spend the next couple days preparing for the trip south. On Monday I will be officially in the tropics.
George Town is great, you can get almost everything here, and my days are walks on the beach or snorkeling for fish and lobsters, beach volleyball, and visiting town or friends. It has been a great 3 or 4 weeks but it is now time to go and find new fresh places to see. I would recommend coming here with your boat and staying a while, but also to visit the other islands. Just sailing from place to place is pleasure in paradise. Cuba should prove to be an adventure, it is a 30 hour trip nonstop to Puerto de Vita from George Town but I will break it down to Long Island, then Flamingo or Water Cay and then Raccoon Cay. From there it is a pre-dawn start and once off the banks it is 40 miles to Puerto de Vita.
There is a frontal system to keep an eye on for after noon on Monday, but if the timing holds we should be arriving in Thompson Bay just in time. The tide is a factor as it will be falling and likely low tide when we want to transit hog cut so it will be off to the top of Long Island and in that way. Planning is always the key to a safe and pleasant passage.
February 21, 2012
We finally left George Town on our voyage south to Cuba, Graham is here and we have headed out to long Island, The weather looks good for the next few days. Graham’s luggage arrived the day after he did which delayed our start but at 07:00 we were pulling up the anchor. We motor sailed out and had a good but tight sail all the way to long island. We tried to anchor off Salt Pond the town but it was too shallow for our comfort. We went over to Thompson bay and dropped the hook. When we reversed the transmission started making a noise. I plan to disconnect the tranny from the prop shaft to determine if it is actually the transmission or the prop shaft and hub assembly in the morning when the sun comes up.
Well after several hours work I found that the hub on the back of the engine is stripped in its internal splines and will have to be replaced. The transmission input shaft is worn but should hold if I get a new hub. After several calls I located one in Nassau and have made arrangements to have it flown out here. It is used but in new condition and will cost me $600.00 plus air fare and I will have it in a couple days. Half the price of a new part from Volvo. In the mean time we’ll relax and Graham is renting a car to tour the island. We discovered that Greg and Janice on Glenice are here and they are stopping in to visit as they tour the island. I haven’t seen them since leaving Coconut Grove over a year ago on my first trip south. We toured the island and visited each end and the blue hole where they do the deep free diving competitions. It is the deepest blue hole in the world.
The boat is now repaired, yet again. Everyone in Salt Pond was very helpful especially Les Harding a local business man with a construction and repair business who loaned me his torque wrench to complete the repair. It is now too late for Graham to sail to Cuba with us. We’ll just relax here until his plane leaves and then head south to stage for Cuba.
Feb. 29 2012
Graham has left and we are now sailing south to Flamingo Cay, we’ll stay there for the night and then head to Raccoon Cay. Arrived at Raccoon and are now well into the tropics. Very few boats come this far and being self-sufficient is crucial. Water food and fuel is hard to come by, and the wildlife pretty much owns the water here. Catching fish and lobster is much easier but the big sharks also abound. It is March 4 2012 and we are departing at 17:30 this evening for Puerto de Vita, Cuba. We have waypoints in the GPS and are making a night crossing and will arrive in Cuba about dawn. At 12:40 we are at 21*40.45N and 75*53.56W and 35miles from Cuba. It was a 14hour crossing with lightning on either side but we had a perfect 60 mile wide lane with great reaching conditions and the sunrise showed us the mountains landscape of Cuba ahead. Except for dodging a Russian freighter about 02:00 it was a pretty uneventful l crossing. The water is over 7000 feet deep in the old Bahamas channel and we were entering the channel to Puerto de Vita at 07:30. Upon entering it is imperative to stay in the channel as outside of it it is very shallow. And when at the marina you must anchor out until cleared in by the doctor under quarantine. Cuban officials are very strict to follow the rules but otherwise it is so much more pleasant than checking in to the US. They will take off their shoes if asked and are quite friendly in doing the entry procedures. We did have an issue with not having a document that listed the boat name but my translator help explain that the boats’ number was the official designation in our case. Monday March 5th we were in Cuba and ready to relax and see this new country. All in the fees were only $65.00 and we were in for three months.