Our latest entry always comes up first...

Click this link if you want to start at the beginning of our trip from
South Carolina (where we bought the boat) to Lake Ontario Click this link:

If you want to see the story of our 2 1/2 year project getting
Blowin' Bubbles ready for our life on board click here:

If you want to start at the beginning of our trip:
START OF TRIP - July 2014
2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

We Have Arrived In Cozumel!

Welcome to our Blog. Our latest entry always comes up first... 
Click this link if you want to start at the beginning:
If you want to start at the beginning of our trip:
If you want to see the story of our trip from South Carolina
(where we bought the boat)
 to Lake Ontario Click this link:
After 2 weeks without any internet, Shelley and I finally arrived in Cozumel Mexico! 

Just before we left Marathon for Cuba, we met up with some friends from The RHYC who were at their boats in Florida...  Paul and Brenda D. and Jim T. met us for lunch.  What a great afternoon....

We set out for Varadero after topping up our fuel tanks about 10:30. On our way we caught a nice Mahi Mahi (Dolphin  Fish). It was a little small, but was badly injured by the hook, so he became dinner...  Yummy.

Getting our Quarantine Flag up for Cuba...

After an overnight sail we arrived at the Darsinia Marina in Varadero, Cuba.  At around 03:00 we were hailed by the US coast guard who wanted to know what we were up to...  You see, the USA frowns upon even Canadian flagged vessels travelling to Cuba...  We answered all their questions, and politely told them we were going on to Cuba...  They went away...  I guess they just try to intimidate people into not going... Oh well...  politics ins't my strong suit.

When we arrived at Varadero, we were instructed to stop at the last red marker and put out an anchor...  We complied and two hours later a doctor was brought to our boat in a full gown gloves and mask to make sure we didn't have Ebola!  After we convinced him we were relatively healthy, he accompanied us to a dock that was completely empty.  Not thinking too much about it at the time we later realized part of our wait at anchor was to give the marina staff time to move ALL the boats from the dock we were going to...  

You see, even after the doctor was okay with us, they decided the we were to be quarantined anyway...  In the end, the "quarantine" lasted only a few hours after the rest of the Cuban officials did their thing, we were permitted to leave the dock, but the boat wasn't...  I took a few more days until they decided on a protocol for arriving vessels.  As it turns out, we were the first vessel to arrive at this marina after the outbreak (one case) of Ebola in the USA.

Our time in Cuba was spent delivering school supplies and meeting new friends.  Our first new friend was Peter.  He single hands a Hunter sloop out of Nova Scotia. He is a hard drinking, hard working blue noser who would give you the shirt off his back, then go buy you another....  Peter accompanied us in his sailboat, Wanderer when we traveled from Varadero to Havana.

Our second new friend was Debbie, who originally hailed from Alberta is a lovely lady who has lived at the Marina for some 14 years...  A wealth of knowledge and an all round great gal, Debbie also acted as our translator when we took school supplies to schools in the Varadero area...

We can't believe our joy meeting so many awesome people!

One of the sites in Cuba that left us shaking our heads, was the shear number of ABANDONED boats!  for some reason people decide after arriving in Cuba that the no longer want their boat and simply abandon it with an unpaid dock bill...  Eventually the government takes possession and salvages what they can from it... the problem is that by the time they get it, it has usually been striped of anything useful or whatever it is, has been subject to salt air/ water and becomes useless...  Strange to say the least..  Sad in so many ways....

Another day we did some repairs to the boat.  The weld on the bracket for the boom vang snapped on the crossing from Marathon.  We found a man who could weld stainless steel and charged us $10 for all his work! (he actually wanted less, but I wouldn't pay less than $10).  We also found a machinist who worked adapted an imperial zinc bracket to metric so I could fit $6 zincs on the propeller instead of the $40 ones that fit the metric bolt.... Oh, he would only take $5 for his efforts...

A few nights we we enjoyed dinner out and went to a family's home who made a little restaurant in the front.  For a full fish or chicken dinner with drinks for 3 people the total was $17...  with $3 tip, they were good nights out...

We visited 4 schools in Cuba and one was for children 5-11 where we learned that they did not posses a single ruler in the whole school... The 50 we brought, left the principal in tears... (of joy). In addition to all the pens, pencils and paper, we also gave them a wall pencil sharpener. This is the ONLY one in the school and before we left she had me screw it to her desk! (we apologize for the poor video.  we asked our driver to be our camera man and I didn't give him proper instruction, so everything is fuzzy) The reason the principal is laughing so hard is I said quietly in English, after being asked to install the pencil sharpener, "I guess if you can't be handsome, you need to be handy" (Red Green quote) - unfortunately, Debbie translated it....

There were similar stories in every school we visited...  I'm not sure who is getting more joy out of this experience... us or the folks at the schools!  Amazing!
"Dirone" - our driver

Unpacking supplies

The principal in a school near Havana

We were not suppose to take pictures of the children...

We should NEVER complain... - this was the bus for 60 children!
And they were lucky, because they HAVE a bus!

On Sunday before we left for Havana, we went to the local market.  What another experience! 100's maybe more people all taking and laughing at the same time...  Buying groceries in Cuba is VERY different that what most of us are used to.  We go to the market and every fruit and vegetable is there lit up and lovely....  In Cuba, you buy whatever grew in the last week...  When we were there we got onions, plantains, tomatoes cabbage (no lettuce) a pineapple and a few cucumbers.  We filled our bags and spent the equivalent of $5...

They butcher meat while you wait, and there is a long lineup for bread that cost 27 cents a loaf... We are loving the new found fun shopping for food....  The last purchase was a hair cut which cost $1! even after doubling it with the tip, at that price, I fired Shelley! 

Debbie explains what she thinks I want :)
After about a week enjoying Varadero, it was time to head for Cozumel, Mexico.  Our plan was to make a few stops along the north coast of Cuba.  In the end, because of bad weather, we made only one stop in Havana.

We sailed (motored) overnight with our new friend, Peter from s/v Wanderer...  We needed 14 hours and could not arrive during the night so our plan was to leave around 4 or 5 pm.  Unfortunately, if we stayed at the marina past noon, we would be charged for anther day....  So we pulled out at noon and anchored just of the shore in Varadero where we swam, dove and had some lunch... in the mid afternoon, we headed out and sailed and/or motored VERY slowly to Havana.

By daybreak we arrived and began the process of checking in...  We learned that moving around in Cuba is more difficult than we were used to.... thus, we decided to only stay a few days in the Hemingway Marina.  What a difference between this place and the marina in Varadero! The first difference appeared when we were checking in with customs and the officials wanted much more than to check us in.. We were expected to present them with a "gift".  

It is not important how much we were asked for, it just bothered us that they were so in your face... We also found the dockmaster not too helpful. One example that comes to mind is when we asked about the least expensive way to get into the old section of Havana... He told us that we needed to get his help and we would get a ride each way for a mere $14 per person (14 x 2= $28). As we walked back to our boat we were lamenting about the cost when a couple a few boats down from us showed us where ot pick up the FREE bus to and from Havana!  This was not the first or the last time this behavior happened... Oh well, we ended up making some more new friends... 

Havana is a place stuck in time... We have been there before and always leave with feelings of awe and sadness at the same time.  It is an amazing City with so many things wrong with it....

We met a wonderful man (Robby) from Germany who spoke at least 3 languages fluently single handing his s/v "Dana"  We acquired his help as our translator as we visited schools in the Havana area....  His plan was to join us when we headed to Cozumel... It turned out that he was waiting for some important papers from Germany, so we had to leave in the very short weather window on Saturday...

We really enjoyed meeting new friends and will always appreciate the really great times we are having...

After being weathered in most of last week, we began our next trip by checking out of Cuba. This involved waiting almost 2 hours for 4 officials to show up and extort more stuff...  

At 10:30 we started what turned out to be a 50 hour journey to Cozumel.  We were in 8-12 foot seas most of the way and on Sunday night we were faced with 30 knot winds... Early Monday we began our approach to Cozumel where we were re-united with our very long time friends, Mike & Margaret...

The process checking into Mexico was long but with our other friend Francisco, we are now officially staying in Cozumel Mexico for the next while. we are moored in front of Mike and Margaret's dive shop where we are planing a wonderful Christmas and New Years.

Our day ended today (Tuesday) by moving our boat into a safe place as we are now waiting for a "Norte" to pass through.  This is a yucky weather system that packs rain and 35 knot winds, closing down the harbor and keeping the island home for a few days...

More soon,


  1. Well written and a pleasure to read. Thank you for some "first hand" info on the federallies.

  2. Well done --- Thank you for sharing.

  3. How interesting to read about your experience in Cuba. Your experience with 'hands out' in Havana is exactly the experience I had in Venice, Italy but with better architecture. :) Keep having fun. I am following your trip gleefully.

    Arlyse (survey taker from downtown Fernandina Florida)