Marina Hemingway, Cuba
Tuesday 27th December 2011
Distance run: 99 nmiles
On Boxing Day we had a lie in and a leisurely breakfast before getting the boat ready once more for sea. We lifted the anchor around lunchtime and set off out of the Key West channel and laid a course for Marina Hemingway, which is about 10 miles west of Havana in Cuba. Having given a fair bit of thought to our tactics regarding the Gulf Stream, we decided in the end to sail the rhumb line and see how that went. We were able to sail on the rhumb line very well for about the first 15 nmiles, and then our course over the ground suddenly slewed around by about 20 degrees as we hit the stream! We were lucky that the wind had enough east in it for us to alter course to maintain our heading and still sail well and at a good speed, although the seas became quite lumpy when there were more than 2 knots of current against both us and the wind.
We made excellent time and sailed the entire way from sea buoy to sea buoy, reducing sail to slow down as we reached the coast of Cuba as we had no intention of attempting the narrow entrance to Marina Hemingway in the dark. The seas were very calm as we made our entrance into the marina and after a very sharp turn to the left we tied alongside the customs dock.
There then ensued several hours of checking in, as one person after another came aboard the boat to ask all the same questions, including would we like to give them a 'donation' or a 'present' - even the doctor. The dog-handler continually picked up electronic items (USB pen drive, mobile phone etc) and looked at one or other of us, obviously waiting to be told he could have it, but we were not about to give any of these things away - he got a couple of $US instead. This was all very wearing, though not unexpected as we had been warned about it and had stocked up on mini chocolate bars and $1 bills which they were very happy with. Eventually, after the Customs officials had been on board and searched the boat (not asking for any handouts) and had logged and taken away all our flares and taped up our handheld radios, we were allowed to take the boat into one of the canals and park her, just ahead of Moonshadow Star.
After a bit of moving her back and forth to find an area of dock where the keel would not touch the ledge sticking out, we were finally tied alongside. We had arrived safely in Cuba.