Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The shakedown, part 1

From December 27th to January 8th, Captain Phil and I took his boat, Diva, to Cuba.  The goal was to sail, testing our skills and tools in preparation for more sailing later this year.  The trip was a grand success and we learned lots and lots about what it takes to go "cruising"!

I have too many pictures and stories, so I thought I would break the trip up into two posts, Cienfuegos (this one) and the islands (coming soon). On December 27th, we left Montego Bay Harbour at 3:30 in the afternoon and set sail for Cienfuegos.  We sailed straight through 3 days and 2 nights, taking turns for night watches.  On the morning of the first day at sea, I finished my lunch, said to Phil, "I guess I'm not going to get seasick on this trip," and promptly threw up.  Other then a couple other nauseous moments (directly related to the size of the swells around us,) I was fine. On a cheerier note, the evening before we arrived in Cienfuegos, we had a pod of dolphins swim at the bow of the boat, playing in the wake, for a fantastic twenty minutes.

You can see the Cayman Trench in the sea between Jamaica and Cuba.  It has depths of over 7000 meters.

We arrived in Cienfuegos early in the morning of December 30th.  Cienfuegos is in a large inland lake that has a narrow, winding channel to enter, so we waited in the bay outside until the sun rose and there was enough light to safety see our way. The first day in Cienfuegos was spent doing the requisite paperwork with friendly Cuban officials - after the sniffer dog had done his official tour around the boat, he snuck into the master cabin and curled up on the bed for a nap - a quick tour of the town to find an ATM and have a beer, and a desperately-needed nap, when we could no longer form coherent sentences.

The channel to Cienfuegos.  Notice the old fortified castle in the back left of the picture.

Stubble from 3 days at sea.
The Cienfuegos marina

View of boats on anchor from our spot on the dock.
The town of Cienfuegos is nice, laid out in a European style.  It had some interesting architecture, and was more modern than Santiago de Cuba, where we sailed last year.  We wondered around on New Year's Eve to find somewhere 'happening,' but we ended up drinking Mojitos from a little bar on the edge of the road, and just people and car watching. There were a few fireworks at the end of the night, but it was windy and so over in a flash.  We were proud of ourselves for staying up that late, given our recent sleeping habits.

My mojito at the marina bar.

Beer dispensers - they had a core for ice cubes in the middle and then a spout at the bottom so you always had cold beer!

One of the "classic rides" in Cuba.

We found a little park full of sculptures.  Cuba may not have a lot of shopping, but there is an enormous amount of art - paintings, sculptures and music are everywhere.

Captain Phil, "in hand" with a typical Cuban house behind him.

Living room seating, anyone?
On New Year's Day, we set sail for the Jardines de la Reina, or Gardins of the Queen, an archipelago on the south coast of Cuba where we would island hop from cay to cay.  But first we had to sail overnight down the Cuban coast to get to a safe place to anchor.

Leaving Cienfuegos

Me piloting the boat through the marks out of the channel.

Cuban mountains in the distance.  We would follow this range along the coast.

Sunset at sea.
Next post on mangrove cays and sandy beaches!

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