Cuba to Cayman Brac
I had asked for 8, Peri got the officials to the boat by 9. All went well except for customs. Where we checked in they do not have customs. They had a sniffer dog, but evidently that was for explosives; there is a different one for drugs. Seems a bit late now, but it would be 20CUC and a delay. Peri went and told them it was not my fault and they did not come and I did not have to pay. 9.30 I reversed my vibrating engine out of the dock, waved goodbye and set off. Once the RPM is 1500 there is no vibration, so I motored through the marker buoys. The channel I came in on was in the wrong direction, but I knew where to go and it was worth the extra time. Until I changed my mind and headed for the reef entrance that I did not know. It caused me an hour of great unease, but I was prepared to turn round and go all the way back if it seemed dodgy. That would have cost me half a day, but would have been worth it rather than end up on the reef. As it happened it was easy enough, but scary. After I got through two other boats followed; where were they when I wanted some re-assurance? 1100 I was able to sail. The wind is SE, which is where I want to go, but I have to go E and I have to go S, so I am sailing as close to the wind as I can and taking it from there. The wind and waves were more than forecast but it lessened and by 6pm it was 6 knots and dropping and by 7.30pm I was making less than 1 knot. I had gone 15 miles too far west, so I motored until midnight, which got me back to my route.
I tried to send the email, but the computer had a problem with the sat phone. I have been doing well today, but the wind is slowing down, under 10 knots now. I am also being pushed West, which is not what I want.
0830 on a mooring ball outside Cayman Brac. I had spoken to someone, eventually, but the port is closed and I could not raise them again. I was going to go straight off, but didn’t know what was best to stay out of trouble. I was hoping I could stay on the mooring ball with the yellow flag up for the day to rest and not have to check in, but I was wrong. Communication was not good and it was late morning when customs said they and immigration were waiting for me. I had not put the dinghy together because the last thing the other guy said when I told him about the dinghy was they would sort something out. They said I could have moved to a closer mooring ball, but with the engine problems I did not want to move more than necessary and I thought I was good catching this mooring ball first time and I did not want to be closer to the reef. I put the dinghy together, but not the outboard, that would have taken longer and who said it would start. I rowed to shore, I was headed for a sandy beach, but they told me to come to the jetty which was stone and very shallow straight onto coral. The dinghy got knocked about and I have a hole on the bottom ridge that I will have to fill. Was there port authority representation? There were customs and immigration and the mosquito man and a police car turned up. Eventually they brought, on a trailer, a Marine Parks sport fisher boat with 225 engine on the back. We all got in and they towed my dinghy, nice and slowly so it did not get swamped. It was after 12 on Saturday by the time the mosquito man got to spray, so it cost $50 instead of $25 - and it was just a little aerosol spray, any self-respecting mosquito could have hidden from, not exactly Ghostbusters! I know they have a job to do and it wasn’t their fault it had been such a nightmare, so I tried to calm down. It doesn’t get you anywhere good to get annoyed with officials. I checked in and out, I do not have shore leave, immigration should have watched me leave, but I can stay and leave first thing in the morning. Then I found a phone in the cockpit that had been left behind. I got on the radio to report this and later answered the phone to the person whose it was. I offered to row it to the beach where I was, but he said no need there was a boat in the water. I started to bring the dinghy aboard and lost a fender. I jumped in to get the fender, if I couldn’t make it back to my boat the one that was coming for the phone could rescue me. I did get back to the boat, not easily, but their boat did not appear. I had another phone call trying to establish whose phone it was that I had. (?). I took the dinghy apart and tied it back down on deck, had a shower and waited for someone to come and get the phone. The reason for stopping was maybe to look at the island, but primarily for a rest. There’s nothing like a good rest and this is NOTHING like a good rest. It seems a very nice friendly island, I just don’t think they have a clue about small sailboats. I had asked for a weather forecast, but have not received one. I phoned Steve on the sat phone and hope he managed to put my position on the blog and to Homers’ Odyssey.
I listened to the local radio in case there was weather, but couldn’t find any. The customs man came and collected his phone just before 10 and I asked him about a forecast. All I got was it was going North, don’t know how strong or for how long. He said I would be better on the other side of the island for protection, so I motored round and picked up another mooring ball. He said they would come and check me back in! I gave my new position to the shipping advisor and he said he would pass it on and let me have a weather forecast when he had one. So I rolled gunnel to gunnel all afternoon in a S wind and swell, no officials and no weather forecast were forthcoming. Lovely sunny day, very clear water, this would be described as paradise, but I just want to get out of here and get the boat somewhere safe and list all the repairs that will need to be done. Have to wait and see what the weather and the officials do tomorrow.
I was up twice in the night sorting the mooring ball, which had got caught on the opposite side of the boat to the ropes. It was very uncomfortable and I was going to leave in the dark, but I was worried that the ground tackle had got caught round the bulb on my keel, which I would need to check in daylight. I did manage to lose my boathook and only in 35’ of clear water I could have got it in the morning, but only if I had to put the scuba gear on to sort the mooring. Whilst I was up I adjusted the ropes tying down the dinghy, and I did remember to check the genoa ropes were not under these; been there, done that before.