9 April, 2015. Puerto de Vita, Cuba. 21.04.29N 75.57.46W

David Batten
Thu 9 Apr 2015 13:27
Blog very behind because we had 2 very busy days in Ocean World, DR.  Then set sail for Cuba and arrived early so had to wait until daylight. Now in Puerto da Vita, internet is difficult and expensive (and we have been very busy!) and, disaster, the lap top charger is not working, so we are relying on the iPad, which will not process the photographs into a file we can send via the internet.  So very boring blog, photos to follow when we can resolve this latest problem.

March 28,29 in Ocean World, we stocked up in a supermarket in Puerto Plata who send a van to the marina, FOC, to pick up customers and take them back.  Excellent shopping with meat, fruit and vegetables, including wonderful avocados, but no fizzy water or chocolate, but you can't have everything.  Then boat jobs including straightening the stanchion post with the help of the young man on the fishing boat next door and a walk in the scrub wood next door to the marina, accessed by a hole in the wire fence and ending up in a very posh residential area.  Next day, after laundry, spent the day as tourists in Ocean World, feeding exotic birds in the aviary and swimming with dolphins.  Neither the birds nor the dolphins appeared the least distressed and the keepers and trainers really seemed to love their charges.  Not at all natural, but we thoroughly enjoyed the experience and felt very ambivalent about keeping animals and birds under such circumstances and you need to go there to judge what they are doing.

March 30, after checking out, we set sail for Cuba, or rather motor sailed with the wind from the stern, in the pouring rain for most of the day until the wind got up in the afternoon, when we started sailing.  After that, we still had some heavy downpours, but the weather improved in the evening and we had a dry night with good sailing.  The rest of the trip was fast sailing with the wind varying between just forward and just aft of the beam and we arrived off the approach to Puerto de Vita in the dark and had to gill around by going north while waiting for the dawn.  The individual on the radio we communicated with to say we were in Cuban waters was very anxious that we did not try and come in and kept on saying "morning is good".  We could not explain that we had no intention of coming in in the dark, as the entrance is not lit and quite difficult!

April 1st.  Dawn came at last and we motored into the lovely deep bay, almost like a Fjord but with mangoes and scrub on either side and into the perfect shelter that is Puerto de Vita.  Once at the marina, we were made to understand that we could not come in, but had to anchor.  This was so the doctor could check us out before we touched Cuban soil.  He was bought out by a mini motor boat, was perfectly charming and passed us as fit, so we were allowed into the marina, a single pontoon with stern too mooring and about 20 boats.  Very peaceful and beautiful surroundings.  After we were secured with the help of the marina staff and the usual acceleration of heart rate and elevation of blood pressure, we were searched by man with dog, then man in customs uniform, who wanted to see all the dry stores, while immigration officer (very good looking and charming) did the paper work, then woman from Min of Agriculture and man from some sort of veterinary agency came to examine the contents of the deep freeze and veg locker. All very charming and almost apologetic about the number of forms to be completed and signed.
Then we were free to set foot on Cuban soil.

This is a lovely place and we have met some charming people.  The doctor is paid peanuts and very little more than anyone else and the average Cuban has nothing but a mobile and a food ration from the government.  They are all desperate to get some CUCs (tourist currency) off the tourists and the main form of transport is horse and cart, bicycle, bus, some of which are basically trucks with benches, or by foot.  The horses are pony size, pretty thin, but fit and we have seen a few lame ones and one or two very pathetic cases, but most are in reasonable shape although working very hard.  They never seem to be offered any water while working, which is a worry to us. Whilst there are a very few agricultural machines most of the work in the fields is done by bullocks pulling either a cart or a single furrow plough.

The highlights of our stay are, to have had supper with a local family in their home, to have hired a car and driven to Baracoa on the east cost a fabulous drive and fascinating and staying in a Casa Particular in Baracoa with an excellent fish supper. 

Every yachtsman in the marina has been friendly and helpful and we, in turn, try to help the newcomers.  It is no doubt how cruising in the Caribbean used to be but is no longer and we are so pleased we came here before the Americans lift their embargo and the country changes for ever.

Tomorrow, weather permitting and we have yet to check it out, we are planning to leave for the Bahamas, but we are in no hurry at the moment!


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