sail-world.com
 
 
News Home Cruising Photo Gallery Video Gallery
Sail-World.com : Sailing Tale: A first week in Cuba
Sailing Tale: A first week in Cuba


'Cuba -mysterious because rarely visited. photo by Freakygaming.com'    .

Cuba, lying strategically in the middle of the Caribbean, has not been visited by cruising sailors in droves, mostly for political reasons. So what is it like? Here cruising sailors Andrew and Clare Payne, sailing their yacht Eye Candy in the Caribbean, describe their land and sea adventures with fellow cruisers Angela and Tony on Tana Vika in Cuba:


We have experienced a very busy first week in Cuba. On Monday we took a cab into the city of Santiago de Cuba with our English friends Angela and Tony from 'Tana Vika'. We spent the day following a walking tour of the city taking in the Old City, the first Governor's residence (built 1522) and Museum of Local History, the Cathedral (built 1922) the Town Plazas, the one-time Military Barrack were the first shots of Cuba's Castro-led revolution were fired in 1953 and finally the Hotel Casa Grande where Fidel Castro appeared on the balcony in 1959 trumpeting the Revolution's triumph.

Eye Candy at anchor -  .. .  

Our First Impressions:
The people are well dressed; there is no litter or beggars on the streets. The housing is very basic and the city's pollutions is choking. The narrow streets originally designed for pedestrians are now swarming with motor cycles and a lot of old (mostly Russian) cars belching black smoke. However we have also seen a number of very nice modern cars such as Peugeot, Toyota and Mercedes. The local busses are trucks and look very much like a cattle truck with bench seats along the sides and a canvas canopy; they are always crammed packed with people hanging out the back. Cuba is a country undergoing rapid change and so therefore everything we have read or been told by other cruisers is out of date. The people are very aware that the tourists present opportunity. Some are eager to provide a service to earn some money while others just ask for pens, soap, shampoo, t-shirts, caps, rum and cigarettes.

Eye Candy is in Cuba - little visited by cruising sailors -  .. .  
Living amongst it:
There are two currencies used in Cuba, the convertible pesos CUC$ which is worth around $US 1.10 and the Cuban Peso which is selling at 25 to one CUC$. To be able to get around we need both and the trouble is that they look very similar. If we have your glasses on we can read 'convertible peso' written on the CUC$ but it would be very easy to hand over CUC$ for pesos. We decided that I would keep the pesos and Andrew would handle the CUC$. So far we haven't made a mistake. We found a fresh fruit and veg market in one of the narrow streets and I paid the 5 pesos (20 cents) for three small lettuces and 10 pesos (40 cents) for a lb of beans. Our friends Angela and Tony paid 5 pesos for a small pizza for lunch. I had made sandwiches and the four of us sat in the Plaza to eat lunch and have a much needed rest. We hoped to do some people watching but we were harassed by a guitarist serenading us. He was standing so close that his guitar was right in my face. If I crossed my knees I would have kneed him in the groin - man was I tempted. In the end I got up and walked away.

Our marina experience:
Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city in Cuba and English is spoken in the tourist areas. The four marina managers speak perfect English so to do the girls in the marina's gift shop and bar. The marina suffered damage with hurricane Sandy in October. Some wharves were destroyed along with buildings and water supply pipes. The bathrooms are clean but there are no toilets seats, no hot water, no shower roses (just a pipe sticking out of the wall) and taps without handles. Andrew said the missing handles match the office door that is also without a handle. But we soon discovered that in fact the office door did have a handle but it was in the desk drawer and had to be handed out the window if you wanted to come in. Due to hurricane Sandy and broken water pipes the water supply to the marina is via a tank on top of the hill which is filled by a water truck. So I was happily washing my hair in cold water standing under a dribble from the shower pipe and the water ran out. I was totally soaped up so all I could do was wrap myself in the towel and return to the boat covered in bubbles.

Cuba sailing sights -  .. .  

Lovely people:
There is a cement works not far from the marina that discharged muck from the chimneys leaving brown spots all over the deck. One of the marina staff recommended a toilet cleaner which apparently everybody uses on the spots and can be purchased from the marina office (after they had passed the door handle out through the window etc). The marina man then proceeded to scrub the deck for us. Andrew reimbursed him for his effort but he was reluctant to take the money as he just wanted to help us.

On Tuesday we went across to Granma Island which is located half a mile across from the marina. We could have taken the dinghy across but the cruisers are not allowed to drive around in their dinghies. We took the ferry which is free to guests of the marina. The community consists of some 800 people and has a couple of restaurants a church and no shops. We walked to the top of the hill to see the church.

A few people asked us for biros and were delighted when I had some. Another young girl asked for soap which I also had in my handbag. She disappeared and returned later to give me two small shells. It truly was a humbling experience, these people have very little but she found a reciprocal gift for the soap. I still have the shells; I somehow just can't throw them away.

At the top of the hill we meet up with Elan a local guy we had spoken to a few times at the marina. He came running out of his house and introduced us to his wife and produced a photo of his two sons aged 12 and 9. He proudly told us that they had been in the house for two months but before that Elan and family had lived with this father and mother. We think the timber used for the house came from houses destroyed by hurricane Sandy. Elan walked us down the hill and we stopped off to meet his father and buy a beer at his small restaurant.

A night to remember:
We went back into the city Tuesday night to see the night life, experience some Cuban music at Casa de la Trova and drink some Mojitos and Pina Coladas on the balcony of Hotel Casa Grande overlooking the Plaza.

We had ordered a taxi but our usual taxi and driver could not come due to a medical emergency in the family. He sent a substitute taxi, a forty year old Russian Lada which looks a bit like a Fiat and can only be described as a Russian rust bucket. A taxis driver earn CUC$ and it costs around 10 CUC ($11) to travel from the marina into the city. It seems that any guy who has a car and can speak English is in the Taxi business as this is an opportunity to earn good money. We have been told that the average wage is 30 CUC a month.

Andrew was squashed in the front seat with the driver and the interrupter and I was in the back seat with Angela and Tony. There were no door or window handles and no internal door panels. The driver switched the engine off and coasted down all the hills after pumping the brakes. When traveling through the city on a one way street and with right of way he crossed a number of intersections at top speed. Bad luck if a distracted tourist stepped off the pavement. I couldn't watch it, I just closed my eyes.

Coming home was another matter. When driving up a steep hill the car started to kangaroo hop. Angela and I (after a few Mojitos) were silently shaking with laughter. The car couldn't make it up the hill and so we rolled to the bottom and then the driver jumped out and lifted the bonnet. Andrew was in the front seat and watching with interest, he thinks the driver put water in the clutch. He said also that the driver drove with his right foot on the brake and his left foot on the accelerator to rev the engine up. Angela and I had just about got the giggles under control when we stopped off at a fuel station to put 2 litres of fuel in the car; we were off again. Fortunately, we did get home and Angela said she hadn't laughed so much in years, but it could have been a miserable story had the car failed and we were stuck out in the middle of nowhere.

Country living:
We left Santiago de Cuba around midday Wednesday and sailed 100 miles to Cabo Cruz arriving Thursday morning. We caught a huge Mahi Mahi, we got it up on the back step but the line snapped and we lost the fish and the lure. We had no sooner dropped the anchor when a local fisherman swam out to our boat with a bag of lobsters. We bought 4 large lobsters for 10 CUC and a second hand T-shirt. We went into town which didn't look much from the boat but turned out to be quite a nice little community.

There wasn't much English spoken but between the four of us we knew enough Spanish to get by. I bought 9 bananas for 25 cents and when walking around the back streets a fellow tried to sell me eggs and lemons but I didn't need them. Later when considering his limited opportunities to earn some extra money, I regretted not buying them. The houses in this country town were humble but in good condition; some were even painted. Most homes had flowers, shrubs and some land out the back for chickens, goats and a pig.

Cayo Largo -  .. .  

..and more:
The next morning we sailed 45 miles to the Canal de Cuatro Reales and caught five barracuda along the way. We threw them all back but once again as soon as we dropped anchor the local fishermen came around with more lobster. They wanted to trade lobsters for Rum and so we got seven lobsters for a small bottle of Rum and a packet of cigarettes. They couldn't speak any English but gesticulated that they were going to drink the Rum and then go to sleep. We did some snorkeling but the visibility was poor and the coral very disappointing. However it was nice to be in the water.

Cayo Media Luna -  .. .  

Yesterday morning we sailed seven miles to Cayo Media Luna (Half Moon Cay). As the name suggests the bay is a crescent shape giving good protection from the current north easterly blow. By now we are sick of lobster and we are hoping not to see any more fishermen for a while. We have had a quiet time here reading and catching up on a few chores. Angela and Tony are anchored close by and we are enjoying their company.


by Andrew and Clare Payne/Sail-World Cruising

  

Click on the FB Like link to post this story to your FB wall

http://www.sail-world.com/index.cfm?nid=106820

12:44 AM Fri 22 Feb 2013GMT


Click here for printer friendly version
Click here to send us feedback or comments about this story.

Click for further information on
Adventure Cruising

Related News Stories:

12 Feb 2013  Italian sea-change sailor plans another adventure
08 Feb 2013  Sailing Tales: A yachting life in the Arctic
06 Feb 2013  Chance Encounters - sailors and whales
13 Jan 2013  Deaf solo circumnavigator, rolled in Southern Ocean, stops in Hobart
11 Dec 2012  Of dreamers who went sailing and the puffin which inspired them
11 Dec 2012  Of dreamers who went sailing and the puffin which inspired them
06 Nov 2012  Receding ice made Northwest Passage record possible
29 Oct 2012  Indonesia opens its heart to long range cruisers
22 Oct 2012  Floating snowbirds in the rush to drift south
07 Oct 2012  An Open 40, the Southern Ocean and Babies on Board
MORE STORIES ...






News - USA and the World

Volvo Ocean Race: Mapfre takes lead in Leg 2 as break point looms *Feature by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.com/nz
The latest position report from Volvo Ocean Race Control has given the lead in leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race to Mapfre (Iker Martinez). She takes over the lead from Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), who has led from soon after the start of Leg 2, a week ago. ... [more]  

VOR 2014-15: Some of them also wake up in the middle of the night to check the latest position reports of Team Brunel. The crew is aware of that, including our skipper Bouwe Bekking. 'We are not the only ones looking out for the position reports. We know that the home front is eyeballing every move of us. Our wives, children, girlfriends, friends and supporters live this race as extreme as we.' ... [more]  

ISAF Sailing World Cup Final 2014: Among the ten Olympic series represented, Franck Cammas will be participating in the event for the first time aboard a Nacra 17, this time teaming up with the young, light Alizée Desbordes. Having remained in France to satisfy her professional obligations, Sophie de Turckheim will be following the performance of her favourite helm closely. ... [more]  

ISAF Sailing World Cup Final: Bjorn Allansson (SWE), Briana Provancha (USA), Sofia Bekatorou (GRE), Lara Vadlau (AUT) and Anton Paz (ESP) have fully embraced the Abu Dhabi and Emirati life, grasping the opportunities available with both hands. 'There are so many welcoming and friendly people here,' explained Provancha at the opening press conference. ... [more]  

Leading sailing marine electronics manufacturer B&G has been appointed an Official Race Supplier for the Volvo Ocean Race 2014/15. B&G will also be providing full electronic navigation systems, tactical software and race support to the organisers of the 2014 Volvo Ocean Race, which began on the October 4th in Alicante, Spain. ... [more]  

If you missed this week's edition of Adventures of a Sailor Girl, then hear the replay below. Adventures of a Sailor Girl #31 - Pathways and passion! ... [more]  

The new application from PredictWind for Mac and PC is revolutionary for accessing weather data when offshore. Accessing GRIB files, Weather Routing, GMDSS forecasts and Satellite Imagery is now a simple task with the unique and user friendly interface. ... [more]  

America's Cup: Sweden to host World Series regatta in 2015 by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.com/nz
Artemis Racing and the City of Gothenburg are set to host an America’s Cup World Series event during the last weekend of August (28th - 30th) 2015. Racing will take place either on the Gota River close to the city centre, or at Långedrag, and the race village will be located in Frihamnen. ... [more]  

2014 RORC Transatlantic Race - The inaugural RORC Transatlantic Race, in association with the International Maxi Association (IMA), starts on Saturday 29th November from Lanzarote bound for Grenada, 2,995 nautical miles across the Atlantic Ocean. All of the competing yachts are now safely moored in Puerto Calero Marina and last night an informal welcome drinks reception was well received with crew ... [more]  

2014 Chicago Match Cup - At the end of Chicago Match Race Center's sixth season, the numbers show how well CMRC reached both into and beyond the Great Lakes sailing community. CMRC hosted a total of 12 graded events from May to October. Of these, the five Grade Three regattas were the best attended featuring 23 skippers from nine countries. ... [more]  

2014 Extreme Sailing Series - Act 8 - Tom Slingsby, Australian Olympic Laser Gold medalist, and member of Oracle Team USA, has signed up as skipper of Oman Air, one of two Oman Sail Extreme Sailing teams, for the final act of the Extreme Sailing Series in Sydney, Australia (11-14 December). ... [more]  

Volvo Ocean Race: Big spread in fleet as Abu Dhabi leads *Feature by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com/nz
Abu Dhabi (Ian Walker) continues to lead the Volvo Ocean Race. She is the most westerly of the fleet as they approach the coast of Madagascar. In a video, Abu Dhabi skipper Ian Walker explains the weather hazards of the second leg of the Volvo Ocean Race. ... [more]  

ISAF Sailing World Cup Final 2014: With a packed crowd of local dignitaries, VIPS and competitors, the ISAF President welcomed the world’s finest Olympic sailors and kiteboarders who will be battling it out on Abu Dhabi's waters. 'It’s a great honour for me to be here today because we have a very important regatta which will be the future of our sport,' explained Croce. ... [more]  

Sir Keith Mills GBE announced that America’s Cup Racing is to return to British waters when the America’s Cup World Series (ACWS) takes place in Portsmouth 23-26 July 2015 and 21–24 July 2016. The second European location is expected to be Cagliari in Italy, where Luna Rossa Challenge have their base. ... [more]  

Chairman and founder of the Clipper Race, Sir Robin Knox Johnston said: 'The Clipper Race is very pleased to welcome Hyde Sails back on board as Official Sails Supplier for our fourth consecutive race partnership. Hyde Sails evolved with us when we introduced the new Clipper 70 fleet in the last race and we were very pleased with how well the new sail wardrobes stood up to almost a year' ... [more]  

Volvo Ocean Race: Welcome to Brian's Gime *Feature by Brian Carlin, Team Vestas Wind, At sea
The irrepressible Brian Carlin, the On Board Reporter for Team Vestas Wind is on fitness program on board, under the watchful eye of race veteran Tony Rae. Today as my personal trainer, friend and fellow shipmate we accomplished a goal, 70 press-ups. I’m sure to some it maybe easy but I ask anyone of you right now sitting at your desk, hit the floor and give me 70 on the spot. ... [more]  

Two of the crew from Overall race leader, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing look at leg 2 and the race overall. Here are the latest blogs (unedited) from On Board Reporter Matt Knighton, along with an onboard video with Simon Fisher (navigator) musing on what is required to win the race, and skipper Ian Walker on how Leg 2 has panned out for them so far. ... [more]  

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2014 - A new deal for corinthians by Bruce Montgomery – Rolex Sydney Hobart media
Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2014: Since 1945 starters in the Sydney-Hobart have raced the equivalent of two circumnavigations of the world, almost 45,000 nautical miles. They have been drawn from the seven seas; they come from all corners of the world; they board boats that range from 100-feet supermaxis to boats littler larger than the Owl and the Pussycat’s. ... [more]  

2016 Hansa Class Combined World and International Championships - The International Hansa Class Association has announced that the 2016 Hansa Class Combined World and International Championships will be held in the Netherlands. ... [more]  

Most of the nearly 300 sailors on 216 boats in 21 classes in Alamitos Bay Yacht Club's 67th Turkey Day Regatta came to enjoy sunny sailing in mild conditions, which the weekend delivered beautifully. By tradition, the winners received turkeys, not trophies, but for a few others it was another important stopover en route to Rio de Janeiro and the 2016 Olympics. They hope. ... [more]  

Everyone was expecting a battle between Besson and Cammas. In the end, Morgan Lagravière took the Champion’s title of the seventh edition of the St-Barth Cata Cup with a near-perfect journey. The Marché U day ended with a friendly race to Public. ... [more]  

Robert Scheidt talks to us just a few days before the Nassau start of the Star Sailors League Final. How do you feel inside? I feel very calm. Myself and Bruno have tons of experience with the Star. We’ve been competing together for 10 years now. ... [more]  

The US Optimist Dinghy Association (USODA) has selected Pensacola Yacht Club (PYC) to host their 2015 National Championships. This championship will be a week-long sailing spectacular on Pensacola Bay sailed by International Optimist Dinghy sailors from eight to 15 years old. ... [more]  

More than forty five years since his historical circumnavigation, legendary Clipper Race founder Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, 75, continues to prove inspirational to adventurers around the globe. Sir Robin, the oldest entrant in the 3,542 mile Route du Rhum, finished third in his Rhum class into La Pointe À Pitre, Guadeloupe. ... [more]  

With Olympic heroes and World Champions in their numbers at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Final in Abu Dhabi, UAE, local children are being inspired to take up the sport. By utilising the star names on show at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Final, the Abu Dhabi Sailing and Yacht Club, hosts of the regatta, are using the event to promote the sport in the Emirati capital. ... [more]  

The last day of the Airwaves Noumea PWA Dream Cup saw a grandstand finale to the 2014 PWA World Tour as the morning showers finally cleared to allow the wind to fill in and the respective titles to be decided. With the racing beginning later than scheduled the title race came down to one final race, which would ultimately decide the title. ... [more]  

Sometime during last night’s moonless gloom in the Volvo Ocean Race, the masthead lights of Dongfeng and Mapfre appeared to the west, maybe right where they would have been if we had jibed with the fleet the previous day. To say that was a relief is an understatement-that we are back in touch, back in the fray near the front, it keeps everyone motivated and pushing a little bit harder. ... [more]  

Olympic medal-winning skipper Ian Walker, from Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (ADOR) – the emirate’s Volvo Ocean Race contesting squad – recently took time out of his hectic schedule while he was in Cape Town, as the team prepared for Leg 2 of the race to catch-up with students at The British School Al Khubairat via a video call. ... [more]  

Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 – Corinna Halloran reports on day five of leg 2 for Team SCA. Team SCA has a super fan. She’s seven and, at home, she has posters of Team SCA on her wall. As a member of the team, and as a woman in 2014, this is extremely cool. ... [more]  

The Sailing Instructions for the 2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup Final that will be held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates from 26-30 November have been published. All ten Olympic events and an Open Kiteboarding event will be contested in the Emirati capital off of the stunning Corniche. ... [more]  

Italy's Giulia Conti and Francesca Clapcich have been one of the leading teams in the Women's Skiff, the 49erFX, and head to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates ready for the ISAF Sailing World Cup Final. ... [more]  

St Barth Cata Cup day 3 by Dominique Ladouceur
Day three’s race was a lot more difficult than yesterday’s at the St-Barth Cata Cup due to b winds. After pushing back the morning race to 2p.m. due to 30 knots winds at the tip of Colombier, the race committee decided to stick to only one race in the afternoon. ... [more]  

Team Alivimedica skipper Charlie Enright and navigator Will Oxley sat with Andy Rice to assess Leg 2 before the start in Cape Town. Here is the second part of the Leg Two analysis. ... [more]  

Volvo Ocean Race - Position report at: 24 Nov 0700 UTC
2014 RC44 Championship Tour trophy – Video highlights
Volvo Ocean Race - Position report at: 23 Nov 1930 UTC
Volvo Ocean Race - Position report at: 23 Nov 0748 UTC
Gladwell's Line: The America's Cup is now Bermuda's Cup? *Feature
VX ONE Winter Series - Norris and Family earn first weekend victory
RC44 Oman Cup - Nika wins and Team Aqua clinch their fourth RC44 title
18ft Skiffs: Club Championship, Cordukes Clubhouse Trophy - Race three
Volvo Ocean Race: On board with Abu Dhabi - torn sail and where to go? *Feature
2014 Argo Group Gold Cup - Bermuda shines
2014 Turkey Day Regatta – Day 1
Airwaves Noumea PWA Dream Cup - Delphine Cousin officially world champ
Volvo Ocean Race: A man's got to do what a man's got to do
RC44 Championship Tour - A great sailing day on the Gulf of Oman
Sail-World Team holds first Continental Conference at METS
ISAF Sailing World Cup Final - Open Formula Kiteboarding event preview
Volvo Ocean Race: Fleet heads into the Southern Ocean + Videos *Feature
ISAF Sailing World Cup Final - Set to be an 'experience of a lifetime'
America's Cup: Source named in Bermuda venue leak *Feature
2014 RC44 Oman Cup - Challenging day + Videos
Volvo Ocean Race: A bumpy, hard driving ride in the Southern Ocean   
EPA punts on renewable fuel standard   
Yates Cup: US supermaxi Rio100 wins first offshore race + Video *Feature   
Airwaves Noumea PWA Dream Cup - Men’s title race takes a twist   
RC44 Oman Cup - Consistency hard to come by   
Volvo Ocean Race - Discomfort takes over for Team Alvimedica   
Volvo Ocean Race - Rapid change for Team SCA   
Viper 640 event at Lake Garda - 22-26th June 2015   
British Cycling grows by over 500%, can sailing do the same?   
GC32 Racing Tour 2015 - Dates and venues   
Class 40-footers to be featured in 2015 Annapolis-to-Newport Race   
Spectacular performance by Bakewell-White maxi early in first race *Feature   
Airwaves Noumea PWA Dream Cup - Big strides for Cousin and Moussilmani   
America's Cup: Team New Zealand responds to Venue rumours *Feature   
ORC reveals rule improvements for 2015   
Volvo Ocean Race - Hammer down for Team Alvimedica   
Volvo Ocean Race - Team SCA heads for unknown territory   
ISAF Sailing World Cup Final set to be 'an experience of a lifetime'   
RC44 Oman Cup - Team Nika gets a taste for the podium + Video   
St Barth Cata Cup 2014 - Game on!   


For this week's complete news stories select    Last 7 Days
   Search All News
For last month's complete news stories select    Last 30 Days
   Archive News







Sail-World.com  


















Switch Default Region to:

Social Media

Asia

Australia

Canada

Europe

New Zealand

United Kingdom


http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/Twitter_logo_small.png http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/FaceBook-icon.png  http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/RSS-Icon.png

United States

Cruising Northern

Cruising Southern

MarineBusiness World

PowerBoat World

FishingBoating World

 

Contact

Commercial

News

Search

Contact Us

Advertisers Information

Submit news/events

Search Stories/Text

Feedback

Advertisers Directory

Newsletter Archive

Photo Gallery

 

Banner Advertising Details

Newsletter Subscribe

Video Gallery

Policies

 

 

 

Privacy Policy

 

 


Cookie Policy

 

 



This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.  Photographs are copyright by law.  If you wish to use or buy a photograph contact the photographer directly.
XLXL NEW US
LocalAds   DE  ES  FR  IT