Our sail from Marathon to the north tip of Varadero was
fairly uneventful. The gulf-stream
slowed us down a little but a little wind with our big sails up helped enough
to keep on schedule. It was our first
overnight crossing away from land in many years and we stared at the multitude
of stars for hours. Near the coast with
city lights you can see the constellations and many other brighter stars. When you get out on the ocean, away from land
on a small boat, the whole sky is blanketed with stars and the brighter band
around the Milky Way is clear and wonderful.
Morning came and we approached the Cuban coast. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Gunboats zooming out to meet and search
us? Instead, we were greeted by this beautiful island with a large lighthouse - Cayo Piedras del Norte. Our first sight of Cuba!
Our cruising guides said to call the marina harbormaster
on our marine VHF radio starting around 12 miles out to let them know you are
coming and approximate arrival time. We
did this at 12 miles, 6 miles and 2 miles without any answer. Finally, a Canadian boat that went in a
couple hours ahead of us called us on the radio and said we should keep
coming. As we approached Gaviota Marina
the harbormaster called us on the radio with directions to the dock where we
would clear in. We tied up at 10:30am –
almost exactly 18 hours after leaving Marathon.
We were in Cuba!
The dockmaster had helped us tie up and asked us to wait
on the boat for officials. Our friends
on Southern Cross arrived 10 minutes
behind us and 3 Penny Opera had
arrived an hour ahead of us. I mentioned
Addison Chan and his new cruising guide in the planning section. 3 Penny
Opera is his boat that he sails along with his wife Pat.
Our next several hours were taken up with Cuban
officials. First the harbormaster (in a
military uniform) came aboard to collect our passports and ask us questions
like how long we were staying in Cuba.
He left and a short while later the Doctor came aboard to ask more
questions about us and the boat. After a
short wait the health / agriculture team showed up to inspect the boat. We had plenty of the things they didn’t want
to see like fresh veggies, fruit and eggs.
We just kept saying that everything was going to be eaten on the boat
and they eventually left without taking any of it.
We then sat for about an hour before everyone came back
with paperwork. The harbormaster with our Cuban visas and the Doctor with our
health paperwork. Another hour and we were moved to the transient docks for
overnight at the resort. So far, no
money had changed hands. Everyone said
we would pay and finish our check-in tomorrow.
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