Canal de Barcos, Cayos de la Lena, Cuba

Mark & Sue Owen
Sun 31 Mar 2013 18:18
21:55.33N 84:49.16W

We spent 10 enjoyable days at Marina Hemingway and used it as our base to explore the delights of Havana. This must be the first time we've travelled in taxis older than us, as we shared rides with the locals in the old, 1950s American cars which they seem to keep going with the most amazing ingenuity.

Havana is a bustling, vibrant place with some amazing architecture, albeit many buildings are in need of some serious TLC - photos to follow when we next have access to the internet.

We enjoyed going to the Farmers' Market at the nearby pueblo of Jaimanitas which operated in the local Peso Nacional currency. Confusingly, Cuba has two currencies- the second one being the Peso Convertible or CUC which is primarily for tourists and associated services. As 24 Pesos are equivalent to 1 CUC, it's important to know which currency you're dealing with.

We made friends with cruisers of many nationalities at Hemingway, all willing to exchange information, making our stay there that much more enjoyable. We could easily have stayed longer, but it was time to move on, as we are keen to explore Cuba's southern coast.

We set off late morning, having first stocked up at the Farmer's Market, said good-bye to friends and completed the departure formalities with the Harbourmaster and Customs who issued us with a Cruising Permit and associated Despacho listing the places we are permitted to visit.

Keen to make the most of the favourable easterly winds, we decided to sail overnight as far west as we could. We had a very fast downwind passage and, with a favourable 2 knot current, were at times clocking a speed over the ground of over 10 knots.

We're now anchored in amongst the mangroves at the Canal de Barcos, a delightfully sheltered spot and quick respite before heading round the two capes to the south coast.