Mangroves and Muddy Shallows
Our first week in Cuba was spent day sailing along the north western coast, in hindsight maybe we would have been better doing a two night passage from Mexico straight to Havana. The first part of the coast offered protected anchorages but all were mangroves, so there was no swimming as there are crocodiles (didn’t spot any), curiously not even any birdlife to watch at sundowners. We were inside the outer reef but there were no opportunities for snorkelling or swimming in the parts we visited, the best was out of our reach in very shallow water so we played it safe, stayed afloat and kept heading eastwards for Havana in company with Bandit. We threw in an overnighter for the last 116 miles, the wind co-operated for a while and we were able to sail, albeit tacking back and forward, then it strengthened to 20 knots right on the nose, the current kicked in against us, the seas short and steep and when we had only made a net gain of 4 miles to the good after 2 hours tacking we surrendered to the elements and burnt some more diesel.
Checking In ~ Quick and Easy
We tied up to the Arrivals Dock at Hemingway Marina at noon and so the check in process began. We had been warned it was slow, drawn out process with a stream of officials boarding the boat – asking questions, filling in forms, possibly wanting “gifts”. And yes all that was true but it was all orderly, everyone was extremely friendly, professional and polite, and as skipper says “once you have checked into the Andaman Islands of India everywhere else is a breeze”! We were all stamped in and tied up to our marina berth by 2pm, pretty good going we thought – wow, we were actually in Cuba.
All Checked In ~ Time to Check Cuba Out
We met up with Steph and Stu off Matador in the marina, first seen in Turkey, last seen in Barbados. It was great to catch up again and they showed us the ropes getting into Havana like the locals do by “collectivo taxi” for about $2.50 instead of tourist taxi for $30, great to have some local knowledge to get us started. We had an excellent day in Havana, an amazing city bursting with life, colourful and vibrant, music blasting out of nearly every doorway – it was buzzing. But Havana will deserve much more time and a whole blog posting so we will save that for later.