Marina Gaviota, Varadero
Decide to go into Cardenas bay outside Gaviota marina which is at the eastern end of the peninsular of Varadero, and anchor and then continue to Darsena marina tomorrow. Gaviota is a long channel in to Bahia de Cardenas. With 25 knots of wind and an adverse current it took us 3 hours to get to the marina. Had a change of plan on the way in as we were called by the marina (they have an airport-type control tower where they can see the whole bay and the entrance channel). They were less than keen for us to anchor, which was just as well as we would have had to launch the dinghy and collect the harbour master!
After 3 attempts we managed to tie up alongside – the wind kept blowing us off, but eventually we got in and tied up. The marina is huge. Lots of empty pontoons, surrounded by a large all-inclusive hotel, plus apartments, designer shops, bars and restaurants. And the marina had wifi –still have to buy 2CUC$ internet cards, but we could sit on the boat and collect e-mails etc.
We stayed for 2 nights, met up with another OCC boat – Kit and Belinda on “Quilcene”, and had drinks on board (we think that is in the OCC rules!) In Cuba, boats have to check in and out at each port. The port authorities didn’t think we could go to Darsena, as that marina says a yacht has to be in the country for 30 days prior to visiting Darsena. After many phone calls, and us insisting that we only needed to be in the country for 15 days it was all sorted and we could get our exit stamp in our cruising log!
The next day (Thursday 12th May) we motored west along the 14 km of sandy beaches that is Varadero to Darsena marina. Another narrow canal entrance but well marked. Tied up and met up with Ian and Gerry on “Spray”.
Marina Darsena is quite a way out of Varadero town. We walked in the next day to the hop-on-hop-off bus stop and used the bus for the rest of the way. Ian and Gerry went off to book themselves into an organised excursion to Cienfuegos, Trinidad, and Santa Clara; we went to the bus station and bought our tickets for the bus to Havana for 12 noon the next day.