The UHURU Christmas Special...... Delivered in March.

Steve Powell
Thu 11 Mar 2010 17:05

A bit like the Post Office our ‘Christmas Special’ is delivered in March!

A bit late I hear you so, what’s the point. Well if I don’t maintain the blog I will get all kind of grief from daughters etc,. As I have already.

“ Why have you ignored our Cuba trip, Pops?” Well I haven’t I am just running a little late, like the Post Office I didn’t anticipate the ‘Christmas Rush’

Sorry this could be a long one so please hang in there if your really keen, or alternatively this would be a good point to put this in the “I’ll read it later” folder.

Well Lucie, Sophie and Carrie, Lucie’s friend, arrive safely on time and on schedule in Havana. They then set about teaching Havana a lesson on partying, strangely for all it’s reputation we had found Havana very quiet up until then. Lucie and Carrie had spent a month together travelling in Cuba during their gap year so there was a lot of “Remember this, remember that!!”  and “I am sure that great club and/or restaurant was just around this corner”. Needless to say their memory failed them more often than not. I put it down to the large quantities of Mojitos they apparently drank while back packing in Cuba.

We only spent a few days with the girls in Havana , as we’d been there for over a week already and were keen to move on and explore. We set of early on the 23rd December determined to find somewhere exotic to spend Christmas day.  From Marina Hemmingway just outside Havana we headed west around Cabo de San Antonio, the western point of Cuba and then back towards Bahia de Corrientes, the first shelter and safe anchorage available to us. This leg took about 36 hours, the first 24 hours of which Carrie bravely struggled against sea sickness, then she finally gave into it. The last 12 hours hours for her were hell, and there wasn’t much we could do. Running down the north coast with the wind behind us wasn’t too bad but then we had no choice but to head east around Cabo de San Antonio and into the wind. It was rough, Carrie was sick, very sick, and I was not a popular skipper or Dad for that matter as Lucie and Sophie promptly blamed me. But the one person not to blame me and who actually maintained a cheery positive demeanour despite everything was Carrie, bless her, a real trouper. There is nothing worse than sea sickness on a long passage with no apparent end it sight.

Happy Christmas Eve, everyone!

We made land fall as soon as we could safely do at a small, very small, diving resort called Maria La Gorda. They very generously offered us one of only two mooring buoys, as they explained, there were many reefs around and it would be difficult to anchor safely. A generous offer we were to regret the next day.

We all settled down and started to prepare for Christmas day. Carrie started to feel better after we stopped rock & rolling everywhere. Christmas Eve was all about plans, exciting plans about what we were going to do on Christmas day. The girls had every minute of the day scheduled, what we were going to eat, what we were going to drink, and more importantly HOW MUCH we were going to drink and in what form!! When we were going to open pressies etc,. We seemed to spend most of Christmas Eve planning Christmas Day.

Well when the big day came we were prepared for everything, except what happened! We were deep into the early part of pressies, when we heard a great deal of shouting in rapid Spanish from up on deck. ‘Cheeky’, a young Cuban guide/pilot/deckhand/transalator that I had hired to help us sail through these waters and the Cuban bureaucracy, was up on deck having a major shouting match with the dive boat from Maria de Gorda. He quickly explained that there was a big storm heading in and they wanted their mooring buoy back! Thanks a bunch I said, or words to that effect as I looked around to see a wall of water and wind heading straight for us.


One minute we are having the perfect Christmas morning with lots of pressies and fun, the next minute we are back at sea in a major storm on a lee shore trying to find a safe anchorage in amongst the uncharted reefs. Happy Christmas one and all, I thought as I struggled to see even a few feet in front of us, the wind and rain was driving that hard. It took us about twenty minutes of slowly edging in and out looking in to the driving wind and rain. I could barely see Oli & Cheeky on the fore deck and we had to station girls along the deck to relay messages and instructions up and down the length of the boat. It’s no use just dropping your anchor because if you do hook a coral head, it’s not just environmentally unfriendly it’s bloody dangerous. If later that night your anchor decides to snap the coral head in two then you are effectively adrift in the middle of a reef and a serious grounding is almost inevitable. We had to find sand...

Well once again we survived and fortunately it finished almost as quickly as it started and we were able to settle down to the real business of Christmas Day, food & drink.

Beans managed a perfect Christmas Feast, substituting stuff chicken breast for turkey, but we had everything else, roast potato's, peas, carrots, swede, gravy and even bread sauce. A lovely dinner for a somewhat unusual Christmas Day. Christmas Dinner on UHURU. L-R: Sophie, Carrie, Lucie, Oli, Cheeky, and Beans.

We made expensive satellite calls to family all over the world, making the usual “Wish you were here” comments. I had the feeling that most of my crew “Wished they were there”,  if the truth be known it doesn't matter where you are and what fun and adventures your having you can’t beat a Christmas at home. And I think we all missed it.

The next day after shaking off our hangovers we decided that we would split up at this point. Beans, Carrie and the girls going overland and Cheeky, Oli and I taking the boat onto Cienfuegos. This was another 300nm upwind and probably going to be too much for Carrie. The girls were charged with looking after Beans and making sure she not only got there safely, but behaved until we arrived a couple of days later. They got to Cienfuegos safely and found a ‘Casa’ (Cuban B&B) to stay in, I am yet to find out if they ‘behaved’.

After an enjoyable but uneventful sail we were all reunited in Cienfuegos and that’s where our true Cuban adventure began. But that’s for the next blog.

I don’t know about you but this is exhausting!

However, I am sitting comfortably in Marigot Bay, St Lucia, the sun is shining and the Rum Punch is on hand.  Buzz flew home yesterday and Beans is arriving tomorrow. And I have promised to try and catch up. So you may get another one of these very soon!

Luv to all


11th March 2010