Isla Mujeres, Mexico to Cayos de la Lena, Cuba ~ 21.55N 84.49W: 16 - 31 March 2013
After our week long excursion through the Yucatan Peninsula we had plans of a leisurely few days at Isla Mujeres while waiting for our good friend Tony to arrive, and then we would all leave on the next suitable weather window - destination Cuba. But as we know things don’t always work out quite as you would like them and while onboard one windy afternoon we were horrified to see a yacht backing into the marina at full speed, heading straight for us. The skipper who was helming, was not even looking behind him as the strong wind pushed him down onto Balvenie, his crew member and both of us unable to safely prevent the collision due to the speed of the yacht. The sound of our very sturdy stainless steel dinghy davits being wrapped around the other boats rigging was not one we wish ever to hear again, thankfully we were able to push them off far enough to not do further damage as they motored back out of the marina, the skipper yelling “don’t worry, I’ll pay for everything”.
And so the Saga of the Dinghy Davit Repairs Began
It is a saga that contains no funny moments and absolutely nothing entertaining so really there is little place for it on the blog except that it basically kept Mark busy for nearly two weeks (and I helped lots too)- removing the davits, preparing the area to receive the fixed (and I use the term “fixed” very loosely!!) davits, daily dialogue with the repair shop in person after the initial 3 day promised repair time kept stretching ~ and eventually when they reappeared having them sent back for more adjustments then reattaching and sealing them. Getting them back together called for skills that only a magician might possess. How to make this stainless bracket one inch longer, that one two inches shorter, how to get this screw through that hole over an inch away. The repair is what one might call “an absolute botch job”, the stainless blackened and bent, the support brackets out of place, not a pretty sight but we are in Mexico, standards and the quality of available tools and products is a lot lower ~ at least we got the davits back before the Easter break.
Tony arrived from New Zealand midstream in the repair process so he was able to have a few days enjoying Isla Mujeres and even managed a long day trip on the mainland and saw his fill of Mayan ruins. We moved out of the marina once we were all back in one piece and awaited our weather window for crossing the Yucatan Channel and making landfall in Cuba.
It is almost due east across the channel from Mexico to Cuba and there is the Gulf Stream pushing all the water from the Caribbean to the Gulf of Mexico which takes you north ~ sometimes the Gulf Stream runs at over 3 knots. We knew it was not likely to be an easy overnight passage and left with the best forecast we were likely to get with light south east winds. We got about 40 miles out from Mexico pointing as far south as we could, before the Gulf Stream gathered us up and pushed us north, from then on it was a battle to lay the western tip of Cuba and it was a war we were never going to win as the wind backed round to the east ~ on the nose again! Still, sea conditions were ok and the fishing was great, Mark and Tony hauled in three big Spanish Mackerel which netted us 2.5kg of fillets, excellent effort.
As we closed on Cuba the next morning we could see another yacht in the distance rounding the southern Cape and heading towards the same pass as us. An hour or so later we entered through the reef pass about 100 metres behind our kiwi mates on Bandit, they had cruised part of the southern Cuban Coast while we had explored inland Mexico, 27 days after farewelling them at Isla Mujeres we made our unplanned rendezvous on the South western tip of Cuba, couldn’t have planned it better.
Welcome to Cuba