Monday, April 24, 2017

Westbound

Our friends Dan and Francine arrived in the BVI, after traveling 24 hours from Wisconsin.  We picked them up at Beef Island airport in the dinghy and then sailed over to Leverick Bay to wait for a weather window to Cuba.  Unfortunately, a LO near the Bahamas interfered with the trade winds and caused the wind on our route to be on the nose or non-existent so we waited…and had lots of fun until the day finally arrived to head out. 

When we left the BVI, the wind was still from the northwest, but it would eventually be clocking around to the east within 24 hours.  So we were close hauled for about 10 hours and then it was a downwind sleigh ride for the next 1,000 miles.   By the third day, as we were settling into our passage groove, it was time to fly our asymmetric spinnaker.  Since we knew this would probably be a downwind sail, we had the spinnaker ready to go, so half the battle of bringing it on deck was already completed.

The nights went by, with the southern cross bright in the southeastern sky on a dark moonless night.  The days continued with either the spinnaker flying or if the wind came from directly behind (dead downwind), and picked up over 15 kts, we would go wing-on-wing with the jib poled out (the spinnaker pole attached to the clew of the jib holding it away from the boat so it could “catch” more air).  One of our biggest challenges was that we were so downwind that we would go in the lee and occasionally have to gybe either the wing-on-wing (I like to abbreviate it WOW) with the jib poled out or gybe the spinnaker.  The first time was pretty intense as we were avoiding the shoals of the out islands of the Bahamas on the north and the delicate 12-mile border of Cuban waters to the south (boats are not allowed to enter Cuban waters without contacting “Guarda Frontera”).  As the gybes continued, it became routine and actually fun.

One of the exciting moments came as we sailed along the northeast coast of Cuba – about 30 nm north of Guantanamo on a clear, bright sunny day.  In the distance, I heard a thud-thud-thud and looked up and a helicopter was coming straight for Terrapin.  With no other vessels around us, it was peculiar.  As it came closer, we realized it was a US Coast Guard airship, with the door open.  It circled our mast, and then went away as fast as it had appeared.  If there weren’t other people in the cockpit, I would have thought I imagined the whole thing.  Our best guess is the USCG picked up our AIS signal identifying the boat and they came along side for a visual and to make sure all was good.

As we neared Havana on the northwest tip of Cuba, we had adverse current from the Gulfstream that helped us time our entrance to Marina Hemingway for first light on Thursday morning.  We contacted Marina Hemingway and they sent out a power boat to escort Terrapin to the Customs dock.  For the next two hours we were boarded and interviewed by nurses, customs and immigration, the dock master, and agriculture.  Once we finished all of the immigration requirements, we were officially taken to our slip along the canal wall and welcomed to Havana!

We had a great time sailing here and the fun had just begun!!
When you're on watch by yourself, you can spend time taking lots o'selfies.  The jib is poled out (notice the pole from the mast to the end (clew) of the jib.
The Deep Blue Sea

Glad to be on Terrapin instead of the enormous cruise ship in the background (2 miles away)
W-O-W! (Wing on wing sail plan)
Flying the spinny
Cuba - here we come!
Arriving Canal #1 in Marina Hemingway - raising the country flag

4 comments:

  1. sounds like a great sail. What did you do to your arm? Do I see a bandage?

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    Replies
    1. Not sure...I think I might have hyperextended during a tack in the BVI so I was resorting to step #3 of RICE (compression).

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  2. Can you speak to costs? Customs, immigration, docking fees, ect....Did you have to "tip" all the officials that came aboard? Did you offer them food and drink?

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