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I wanted to get the earliest start possible to make an anchorage 25 miles away, I guess 9:30 is about all you can hope for with all the people and rubber stamps and paperwork mistakes and dog searches. Anyway, I really thought I was done with the dogs, but two dogs had to go through the boat again then the harbor master spent another 20 minutes opening bins, moving shit to places it doesn’t belong…and finally… I’m off! Yulohing out to where there should be wind, luckily there was. 

Puerto Padre looked real easy to get into, so I was going to go ahead and chance a night entry. The sailing was actually really nice, downwind with easy wave patterns. A joy really, there was a decent Cuban radio station, the day and the miles just flew by.  As it got closer to dark, thunderstorms lit up the sky like a giant disco strobe light. All light show, no boom. It was miles away. 

The entry was super easy, I just needed to tuck in around the corner and anchor off the beach. Nice! I’d be gone before anybody would even notice me in the morning. ​

Ghosting out of the bay at sunrise


Sure enough, up early and ghosting out on a light breeze that slowly built up all day. 

I had a video​​ for this spot, but after 3 days of trying to upload it I give up!

Puerto Padre

 

Again I was going to have to push the darkness barrier to make the miles to Bahía de Nuevitas. It was looking like I just might make it at sunset and have a bit of light to anchor. But it didn’t work out the way I had hoped. Thunderstorms again. 

One storm had been pushing me the last few miles, I saw it behind me but it didn’t look that bad. As I made the turn to get into the bay it caught me broadside. Gusts to maybe 20 and sideways rain, I just got below, spilled most of wind out of the sail and tried to get past the point and into the anchorage area. 

Within several long minutes it seemed to pass, but now the wind was coming on the nose 90 degrees from a minute ago, and I was trying to push against a 2 knot current. Would have been easy 30 minutes earlier on a reach. 

I’ve run into this situation so many times now, that I knew I could try a couple things, if they didn’t work I’d have to bail for the reef anchorage which I didn’t really like the look of. 

What do you know? I tried tacking a couple times, getting closer to shore, hoping for a counter current but in the end I had to bail, oh well, good try.  At least I didn’t hit the channel marker as the river spat me out. 

Reef anchorage, storm night

 

I had about 30 minutes of sailing to get to the reef anchorage in the now light breeze. About 20 minutes into this sail, it’s pitch dark, and the boat spins around as another squall hits me from behind, unseen and unexpected. 

I get below and start reefing the sail, bit by bit,  I look to the plotter and aim for some water that should be about 8-10 feet, then drop the always rigged anchor, hoping it will catch, I have no idea what the bottom is like here. Guide says sand and coral, marginal holding…one reason I didn’t want to anchor here in the first place. 

The anchor catches immediately and I raise the rudder as fast as possible. The boat spins into wind and I spend the next couple of minutes trying to drop the reefed sail on deck before it destroys itself, the boat, or me. Finally I get it down and lashed. Only swearing occasionally. 

I expected it to last only a few minutes but it blew with intensity for well over an hour, lightning included. The boat bucked and went side to side, but never budged the anchor. I already had another anchor ready if the main failed to hold. I set the anchor alarm, and tried to rest. I woke several times that night with the wind blowing from completely random directions. 

By sunrise, all was well, I did have to repair a bit of sail but it wasn’t difficult. The anchor it seems had found a friendly coral head to hook into, once I could see what was going on with my dive mask, I just had to yuloh the boat in the right direction to free it, when I got it back onboard I kissed it and stored it for later. 

Light winds for most of the day but short miles to match, I arrived about 4pm at another reef anchorage, only minor thunderstorms in the distance tonight. This early stop counts as a day of rest. 

Hoping for better winds tomorrow to match the long miles to my next stop, about 34.

This is cruising in Cuba. You can only go ashore at marinas, the marinas are few and far between.  The beautiful pocket bays with small towns taunt you, as you are not allowed to stop or go ashore. The long white beaches and shallow bays stretch for miles and you can just stare as you sail by, making the miles to the next marina…

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