Friday, 4 April 2014


A three and a half day passage, from Cienfriegos, Cuba to Key west Florida.  Originally our destination was Isla Mujeres, Mx, a shorter passage, to avoid an expected Norther and to enter the USA from a country other then Cuba.  The Norther held off and we decided to go directly to the US.

The castle at the mouth of the Harbor.  We did not get to tour it this time.

As we leave a cruise ship enters.

While underway I send e-mails, via our SSB Radio, called SV Passat II Postcards.  I have decided to include them in my postings.  The ones for this passage are:

SV Passat II - Postcard From the Yucatan Channel

We were on our way to Isla Mujeres, but conditions are so good we have decided to go directly to Key West, Florida, via the Dry Tortugas.  The passage to the Dry Torgugas will be a total of 492 miles, taking an estimated 4 days to complete. If we go all the way to Key West it will add another day.

Our trip to Cuba was a blast (see details on the passage in he previous Postcard).   We arrived in Cayo Largo.  The marina there has good floating docks, but we did not take on water (funny smell), nor did we hook up to power (bad reputation for voltage irregularities).  Lots of officials, but all were very friendly and welcoming.  We were able to keep our remaining fresh food, with the promise to eat it all before leaving the Cayos and that all the scraps would be sealed in plastic and placed in the "International" garbage cans. Excellent beer at the marina bar for about $1.00 a bottle.

Cayo Largo is a resort Island, where the tourists outnumber the locals by a wide margin.  In addition to the Marina there are several resorts, catering primarily to Europeans, mostly French, German and Italian.  They are all "all inclusive", but some offer a day pass for boaters, including all meals and drinks for about $20 per person.  The beaches are world class, including at least one "clothing optional" area, which I missed as I was too tired to walk the extra distance.  Something for next time.

We spent several days in the surrounding Cayos.  It was windy so we were confined to the boat.  The highlight was two HUGE Lobsters we bought from local fisherman for $20.00 CDN.  Pictures to follow in the next blog posting.

Our next port was Cienfuegos (100 fires).  No room at the marina so we anchored out, with a large number of other boats.  Again lots of officials, but no real hassles, but got the feeling that the Port Captain may have been looking for a hand out.  The area around the marina was developed in the 1950s and has some nice examples of Art Deco housing.  The city center has some decent architecture, particularly the theater.  Again pictures will be added to the blog.

We took a land trip to see Trinidad, a world heritage city.  We thought we were renting a car, but ended up with a taxi.  The total cost for an over one hour ride for 4 persons was $40.00 Cdn.  The taxi was a 1953 Chev, re-powered with a Hyundi diesel, driven by a young person practicing for the Indy 500.  We survived.

We stayed the night at a B&B that was very clean, with an excellent breakfast.  Cost $40.00.  The town is exceptionally beautiful, with pictures to follow in the blog.

We parted company with friends Mike and Fern in Trinidad.  They took a taxi to Santa Clara to their flight home to Canada.  We took the bus back to Cienfuegos.

Cienfuegos marina has good water and fuel and we filled our tanks.  Check out was delayed by waiting for various officials.  The Port Captain kept asking about our head lamps.  I got the impression he wanted one.  Not likely that I would part with my costly Pelican waterproof lamp. Luckily we had some cheap Costco spares and he was happy with them.  Sigh.

We have had some good sailing when the wind is strong enough, all astern.  However, we currently have very light winds, with the remaining 2 to 3 days likely motoring.  Good thing we have a big fuel tank and engine that burns a thrifty 3/4 US gallon per hour.

Wishing you all fair winds and calm seas.

SV Passat II - Postcard from the Straights of Florida

Starry, starry night.  The wafer thin new moon has set and we motor sail on an ink black sea, under a canopy of brilliant stars.  The dark horizon is punctured by pulsating white lights, marking the Cuban reefs to Starboard.  To Port a parade of navigation nights mark the ships (currently a tug and tow and freighter over 50 meters) in this, one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.

Just short of 5 years ago we made this passage without AIS and with our GPS navigation down, due to a computer crash.  A sleepless passage.  This time we enjoy the benefits of AIS (Automated Information System) and two backup chart plotters.  We are enjoying regular watches and stress free sleep.

All is well.  Life is good.

Wishing you all fair winds and calm seas.

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