On Friday afternoon, I did some last minute shopping by taxi into town for some fresh fruit and veg in which I was moderately successful. I should have delayed departure another day so that I could have gone to the Saturday market which is supposedly pretty good. On my return, I managed to complete check out with Immigration and Customs. It seems they were doing me a favour by checking out the day before departure because they were insistent that I didn’t delay and must be gone by 0730 the following morning.
The forecast was for a mixture of winds over the next couple of days – moderate NE’s to variables.
In the event I got going just before 0730. The winds were fairly light and so whilst I had the mainsail up I motored out of the bay and the approach channel which I saw for the first time in daylight.
By around 0930 I was well down the approach channel and the wind freshened allowing us to sail for a few hours. The first part of the passage required a diversion around the exclusion zone west of Cienfuegos. By the time, I had got to the south western extremity the wind had died and the rest of the leg to Cayo Guano Del Estate was under power. The Cay is a very small island and the anchorage is noted for being rather rolly but I was not going to make the better one at Cayo Sal another 8 miles to the west before dark. Additionally, should the predicted NE wind arrive I would have better shelter at Cayo Guano. The wind arrived just as I anchored and would have been a perfect one for the leg! The anchorage was rather rolly and so I did not get much sleep.
I was therefore rather dozy in the morning forgetting that to make the most of the winds an early start would be required. In the event I did not get going until around 0930. After 3 hours of ever decreasing winds we were down to less than 2 knots and would clearly not make Cayo Largo before dark. After much debate with myself about the best course of action which included the possibility of anchoring off a tiny Cay for the night and the fact that fuel should be available at Cayo Largo, I decided to motor once again. The engine was required for the rest of the leg although we did get a bit of help from the wind for the last couple of hours. We tied up at the Marina at 1815. I went ashore to report to the authorities and having completed the immediate formalities I cleaned myself up a bit and went back ashore to look for food and drink. A drink first, a Mojito at the Marina bar watching the sun go down and then over the nearby hotel for a simple, OK meal, but the most expensive yet at around £20 including two glasses of wine.
This morning – 27/3, I visited the Marina office, payed my mooring fee (about £25 per night but they only charged me for one) and found out how to get fuel. I have to notify the office how much I need today, pay them for it and then go to the fuel dock at 0730 tomorrow morning to get the fuel. So, I’ll do that and then move out to the anchorage for which there is no charge. I found the showers too and apparently, they have warm water. I should also be able to fill up with water – but not drinking water quality. I don’t use the main tank for drinking water anyway so I may as well top up the tank – I’m not sure when I’ll next get the chance to get more fuel and water.
I’ve been considering the passage plan for the next leg(s) partly because I need to tell the local authorities what my next port will be. The next proper one is Nueva Gerona on the north east coast of the Isla Dela Juventuo some 70 miles west of here but it doesn’t sound very inviting and would require a significant detour northwards. I’m therefore considering going south of the island and stopping off at a good anchorage at Cayo Matias. There are a number of Anchorages en route which I can use to break the journey. The first and likely next stop will be at Cayo Del Rosario about 20 miles west of here. Probably the most challenging leg comes after that – getting around the western most Cape – Cabo San Antonio through the Yankut Channel. It looks like the choice is between getting round the Cape and then coming inshore into the sheltered waters of the Golfo De Guanahacabibes, or to stay off-shore in the favourable current and keep going until Havana. That will require longer at sea but will be quicker. In the Gulf I would be able to stop off for at least some nights. The prevailing weather will probably be a main factor.
Anyway, that’s it for now. I’ll post another update before leaving here. It might turn out that Havana is the next place I can get an internet connection.