15 January 2019 | Sister Creek, Marathon, FL
12 December 2018 | Titusville, FL
08 April 2018 | Hawksbill Cay
18 March 2018 | Elizabeth Harbor
08 March 2018 | Black Point Settlement
03 February 2018 | Highbourne Cay
28 January 2018 | Great Harbor Cay Marina
23 January 2018 | Great Harbour Cay
18 January 2018 | Wayne's Dock, North Palm Beach
01 January 2018 | Titusville, FL
04 December 2017 | Titusville, FL
18 April 2017 | Titusville
07 April 2017 | Old Bahama Bay Marina
Marina Hemingway 2
10 March 2019
More than a month has passed by so very quickly. This Winter Season, appears we are not really doing a lot of cruising, it is more of a “floating cottage” life. Which is very pleasant as well.
From Varadero we had another pleasant, light winds & no waves overnight sail west to Marina Hemingway.
As expected quite a lot of cruise ship & freighter traffic around Havana, picked them all up on our “AIS“. Paul handed the wheel over for my 2nd shift, telling me what was around etc, as well couple of small vessels with only bright green light had passed us.
Well, after awhile there were 20 or so of these little green light vessels, then more and more when I figured out they were “lobster pots”, a green light is placed on a rod sticking up out of the water.
By 8am we were at the Customs dock, this time it only took 1/2 hour, but they still rewrote all the same info and our “famous Erica” painting was examined again. Then after another hour wait to get our preferred spot in canal 2 we were finally docked and secured.
First couple of days were spent going to our familiar little spots in the village Jiamantas stock up on the local fruit & vegetables. However, our “lobster lady” no longer there.
Became friendly with our boat neighbors Beth & Paul from Peterborough, ON, they are on a catamaran and it is their first season cruising. They crossed from Key West to Hemingway and been here since.
Feb. 10th Christian, Maria with our youngest little granddaughter Ella (9 months) arrived to spend 2 weeks with us. We had such a good time with them, a privilege to get to know and watch Ella. Weather was very hot, so we spent couple of days at hotel pool as well as the local pool, which actually was a lot more fun. Ella loved being in the water, the dinghy rides also a lot of fun.
With the disappointment of no lobsters available, Paul was adamant he would find some. Well he did, a “lady” came out, we had a fellow boater speaking Spanish helping. She had 65 lobster tails, we had to take them all. Negotiation was done sitting under the palm trees. Cubans are not allowed to step on foreign vessels.
So we had lobsters, which we shared with a couple of fellow boaters. Needless to say, during Christian & Maria’s visit we had several lobster dinners. Even lobster roll sandwiches for lunch.
During their visit here, a big sports event went on in the marina a “Triathalon” with participants from various countries. Last day of the event was the swimming, with hundreds of swimmers going past our boat in the canal, quite fascinating to watch.
Had also trip to Havana as well walks to our local village & “Gaudi” mosaic art streets.
Feb 24th arrived much too soon and off they went in a red/white 1953 Chevrolet to the airport.
Next couple of days we got the boat re-organized & cleaned. Then we saw good winds to take a trip down the coast to Cayo Levisa. Beth & Paul and their visiting guests joined us. First a stop in Bahia Honda 22.58.133 083.09.663, then Levisa 22.52.830 83 31 440 . To our surprise the Guarda frontier wanted us to bring him out to the boat, he then filled out exact same papers & examined the painting too.
Levisa is a beautiful tropical island, with a Cubacan resort, small cabins a restaurant and tiki huts. It is mostly Europeans visiting either for the day, being ferried over from Vinales or staying for a week.
We walked the 4km long white silky sand beach, enjoyed the shade under the palm trees or under their tiki hut umbrellas. enjoying the view of the aqua water as well as the visiting kids & families. Very relaxing. One day Paul spent quite some time watching the work of a couple of sand crabs.
Unfortunately a bad weather front was approaching, so we decided to leave after a 4 day stay. The little bay is only protected marginally good from the North. In addition, forgot to mention when we arrived to set anchor here, our windless did not work. So anchor was set manually. In the event we would drag in the storm, the idea of taking the anchor up in 30 plus knots not appealing.
We were on our way by 6:30 am - back at Hemingway customs by 15:00 - yes we were again boarded & same paperwork filled out & painting inspected.
Pleased to be back in time for the storm that started midnight into Wednesday, and high winds has now been going since then. Very nice to sit in canal 2 where we are pushed off the cement wall instead of onto the wall.
Back to the chores, with cleaning the boat, polish stainless, trying to fix windless etc. as well as other little odds and ends looked after.
Looking at the weather for the next week, looks like we will be staying here. Will spend a couple of more days in Havana, visiting some more galleries.
Our next stop is back to Varadero, have to be there by March 23rd when our OYS friends Marta & Mike will join us for a week.
Paul & Helle
R’Liberty - the cruising cottage
09 March 2019
Well, we sailed an overnight from Varadero to Marina Hemingway. Nothing eventful happened, which is a good thing. Lots of traffic though.
When we arrived at Marina Hemingway, we had the opportunity to go aboard a "tall masted" boat from Germany. It has been updated with all of the technologies but not with the "facilities."
The boat is equipped with a proper kitchen and proper heads but the berths are still based on the original boat. This is a great way for students to learn not only about sailing, but also a neat way to learn their school lessons. One day they will do their school lessons and the next day they will learn their sailing lessons.
I was fortunate to get invited on board to see the boat and while they have a lot of the new technology, they still sail the old fashioned way (although they now have a motor on board).
Landfall at Varadero
31 January 2019
Paul and Helle
We have arrived safe and sound in Varadero and after clearing in (details below) we are now sitting in the cockpit enjoying our morning coffee. It is sunny and pleasant as we watch the marina workers and various officials arrive and get to work.
Originally we had planned to leave Sunday Feb 3, however Monday morning when checking the various weather forecasts again, that window had closed and we saw a short one for leaving Tuesday. Which we decided to do, so got busy with getting the last errands done, West Marine, topping up the propane, gas and water tanks. As well a last trip to Publix, yes schlepping 10 lbs of potatoes 🥔 and other stuff. Guess that’s my weightlifting exercises.
Tuesday morning busy with banking and finally getting our boat insurance settled & signed, so we are now covered for Cuba as well. Huge relief. Our friend Addison Chan just finished a new app about Cuba that Paul got onto our iPad and iPhone. Paul will help check it out for him before it’s being launched. Finally, back to the boat & we were ready. Off the mooring ball by 3pm and we passed the Sombrero Marker by 4:15. The sea and winds were very calm, so it was a motor sail, for me excellent conditions for a crossing. For Paul, it was “milk toast.”
During the night we had a lot of cruise ship and freighter traffic, so it was nice that we now have the AIS system. We can see & identify all of them, how far away, their direction, speed etc. At night visually they always look like they are much closer than they actually are.
Wednesday at around 9am we arrived at the first set of markers for the entrance to Gaviota Marina and were tied up at the customs dock at 10:00AM. Then we were greeted by the crew of various inspectors. First to come aboard was the medical officer, which went fast. Then the Guarda & Customs (3 young girls) boarded. Well, that became an ordeal. They went through every single cupboard. When they got to our “safety cabinet” everything was pulled out and pictures taken. The flares, flaregun, foghorns, depth sounder, GPS, walkie talkies, etc were all packed up & sealed in a plastic bag. Then one of the Customs officers saw Erica’s little painting and I was asked to take it down. It got inspected, and a picture of the picture was taken. I was asked if it was a famous artist. Sorry Erica, I said no. They wanted it to get packed up and sealed and taken off the boat which we refused! Even the “Capitano” got involved. Finally after 1 1/2 hours they were finished. We then had to go to the Customs office (individually) were we finally got our visas.
Last visit was the agricultural inspector, she spoke good English, apologized about the “3 young new officers” and she was finished in 5minutes. Finally both us and our boat was cleared. The quarantine flag down and the Cuban flag 🇨🇺 up. We got over to our dock, got hooked up with electrical which took sometime as first of all the plug didn’t work. Finally they got it to work but there was a “reverse polarity” which finally got rectified.
Gaviota Marina was finished & opened in 2016. There is space for approx 1200 boats. They are equipped for “mega yachts” of up to several hundred feet. Whether they ever get mega yachts is a different question. The marina is broken up into different areas or docks. One group of docks is occupied with tourist charter catamarans and day fishing boats. Every day hundreds of tourists depart for the day aboard various charter boats. On dock “L” where we are, there are only 13 private boats. Only 3 of the 13 boats have people on board.
We had our boat neighbor over for a glass of wine last night. He is a very interesting American/Colombian. Now a writer but originally a bush pilot, he was twice captured in Columbia by gorillas and has written a couple of books about the ordeal. In addition, he has made a movie. He presented a copy of his book and video which we will have a chance to read and view during our time in Cuba. Very nice of him to give us those.
We will stay here until the weekend or so before we take another overnighter down to Havana. Have decided our time here in Gaviota , we will be tourists on vacation without doing any chores!
On the Ball at Boot Key, waiting for the window.
26 January 2019
Paul and Helle
Well, we are finally left Sister Creek and all the noseeums! We are on a ball now in Boot Key Harbour. We went from #17 on the wait list to #1 and then off to ball #A18. Just in time as well. This weekend we are expecting winds of 25 Knots and gusts to 45 Knots!
This weekend will mark almost 2 weeks waiting for a window to cross and it appears we will not get that window until next weekend Sunday Feb 3rd. Well, the good news is that I will probably get a chance to watch the Super Bowl.
Well, its off to the showers and then more shopping at Publix for provisions!
We include a photo of some of the boats around us. Note that a couple of them are leaned over almost right into the water! They dropped their anchor at high tide but when low tide came, over they went.
NOTE, the turquoise boat on the left and the sailboat on the right in the background. The turquoise boat doesn’t have much free board.
Sister Creek, Marathon, FL
15 January 2019 | Sister Creek, Marathon, FL
Well we have left Miami. The weather gods indicated we can expect high winds and waves on the outside route. We decide to take the inside route to Marathon Florida. Prior to staying in Miami, we stayed in North Palm Beach on Wayne and Jan's dock at there house for about a week. I must admit it was really quite nice as we were still on the boat but able to take advantage of their shower, laundry, and vehicle to get groceries, last minute West Marine stuff, etc. We also had the chance to play "Crokinole". A fun game!
Linda and Maurice also came to meet us and we all went to lunch at the "Waterways" restaurant which is one of the waterside restaurants we passed when we were heading south.
At Marathon, we have anchored in Sister Creek while being added to the "wait list" for a mooring ball. When we first signed up we were #17 on the list but after a couple of days we are now #13.
Three years ago when we sat in Sister Creek and went on the waiting list, we were #34 and never even got close to the top of the list before we crossed over to Cuba and that was after sitting for 17 days waiting for a weather window! While it is a safe anchorage, the bugs are terrible! Think we will look like small pox victims when we finally leave.
We have met up with friends from Toronto, Pat and Addison Chan. They are already on a mooring ball having got down to Marathon much earlier before "the crowds." Addison is the author of the newest Waterways cruising guide to Cuba.
Yesterday was our first of many trips to Publix (grocery chain). It is about a mile away so we decide to walk as this is the only exercise we get while on the boat. Although we prefer to walk the beach, we do need to get our provisions before the crossing.
Today we moved our anchorage within Sister Creek so that we are further away from mid-channel. In Sisters Creek, you drop your anchor and then hop in the dinghy to secure a couple of stern lines to the Mangroves. We were lucky to have another boater assist us. Once we dropped the anchor, he ran the windward line back to the Mangroves. After we were tied off, I simply had to winch in the line so that we're out of the channel. Then I jumped in our dinghy to get the leeward line into the Mangroves and winch that line in as well.
Now after having done all that we sat down to lunch after which we tried to get on the internet. No luck! Although we only moved about 150 feet further up the creek, we are now 150 feet closer to the 4 transmission towers which interfere with our connectivity.
Now we 2 options, move the boat again or get into the dinghy and go to the Marina clubhouse. Guess we're going to the clubhouse!
The 2018-2019 Season begins in Titusville
12 December 2018 | Titusville, FL
Our winter season has started and the really good news is that as of Wednesday Dec. 12 we are now in the water, exactly a month after our departure from home.
It took us a little longer to get R’Liberty ready, as Paul caught an uninvited nasty viral infection, which kept him in bed for 10 days. This gave me ample time to finish all of my chores as well really got into cleaning & polishing everything, even all the brass lamps, which I now realize we have 20 of them.
Must say being back in the water is such a nice feeling, even with last couple of rainy days, sitting here in the cockpit looking out at the ICW and the boats in the mooring field is very relaxing. Our entertainment is watching the Egrets, Herons & Ospreys around us. We have seen Dolphins in the Titusville basin for the first time. The manatees seen to be missing this year so guess we will not see before we get back in the Spring.
Our original plan to depart from here Dec. 23-24 changed. We are still at the dock. Christmas Eve we had our traditional duck, however, this time breast marinated in balsamic then on the pan, served with caramelized potatoes & asparagus. However, I did not make the usual “ris a’lamande”, disappointment for Paul. Yes boat life can be harsh.
This week we are spending relaxing, taking long walks, doing little odds and ends. Our new entertainment is a dolphin 🐬 playing around us here in the boat basin. The Ospreys are also fascinating to watch when they dive for fish 🐠 grabs them in their claws then finds a place to eat, with number of crows flying around in the hope of catching some leftovers. Unfortunately the mess this leave on the boat is a real nuisance and becomes a constant cleanup job.
Plan now is to leave Saturday, after a storm front passes, then down to Palm Beach for couple of days before continuing further down to Miami, then on to Marathon where we will sit and wait for a window to cross to Cuba.
Wishing everyone New Year.
Paul & Helle