Captain and I weighed anchor in Venice, Florida in the mid afternoon of Thursday, May 12. Our next stop was set to be Cabo San Antonio in Cuba.
The crossing of the Gulf Stream from Venice, passed the Dry Tortugas (painfully close to Romi in Key West) was actually pretty uneventful. The only thing to note was how extremely calm the conditions were. I didn’t see much other than boats, glass like water, the occasional bird, a few fish, and the sunrise and sunset each day.
By late afternoon on May 14th Cuba was visible. We made our way, finally able to sail, west along the Cuban coast with the sun setting off our starboard bow and Pinar del Rio region of Cuba to our port side. The region seemed very mountainous and not too populated, although I could see a few spots of smoke from a fire or something coming from a small village. A layer of big thick clouds rested over the land. I wondered what the locals were doing at that moment, if they could see us, a white speck on the horizon near the setting sun. We were too far to make out much more than that, and we still had an overnight sail to get to Cabo San Antonio.
The sun went down and soon you could no longer see land, but the occasional light of a light house. Even though there was definitely civilization, there wasn’t the nighttime electrical glow you would see from the cities in the states. The half moon was big and bright, and to our starboard side larger ships moved along passed us in their “lane”.
By 7:00 on May 15th the sun had begun rising from behind Cuba, although I could not see land yet (it was much lower elevation here at the western tip).
By 9:00 we were tied up to the concrete dock of the Marina Los Morros in Cabo San Antonio thanks to the help of a local fisherman named Messum, la Guarda Frontera named Israel and the marina receptionist (I never got her name). The process of clearing in was pretty laid back and simple. We first had a doctor question us, then he took our temperature using some weird laser probe held up to our forehead. Next la Guarda began checking our legal documents while the vet checked the Captains dog and our meat supplies in the fridge. They were all super friendly and really relaxed about the process. An hour later we had our documents back, giving me 90 days, and the Captain 30 days (since I’m Canadian and he’s American).
As soon as I was allowed off the boat I grabbed my camera and went for a walk! Didn’t really see a whole lot since this marina is literally at the end of the Cuban world. But I began meeting the few locals who were working at the marina. Dennis manned the gate and told me if I wanted to walk to the other side to see the view it’d be about 40 mins. At first I was all game for this but quickly I realized I was not ready for a walk of that size since I hadn’t eaten, didnt take water, and it was like 95 degrees out. When a tour bus passed me going to visit the marina I decided to turn around.
Once back I noticed Messum had returned to Cabo San Antonio from fishing so I went to say hi and thank him for helping tie us up. He was in his 50s, from Pinar, and retired, but still working as a fisherman. He invited me onboard for “un cafe”. I sat down and had a chat with him about his family while sipping some very tasty coffee. After I was done he gave me a coffee to bring for the Captain.
An hour later I was playing guitar on the dock and he invited me back, this time for some lunch. He had prepared a massive amount of rice and beans with fried wahoo. I soon realized why he had made so much, as his two crew returned (Lisbon and Isbon aka Thing 1 and Thing 2), as well as Israel (la Guarda) and the nice receptionist lady to eat too. Together we talked, ate, and I played some guitar for them. Once again they made sure the Captain also got some food too when he returned to the boat.
To top it off the receptionist made some small pastries called “Dulce de Leche” for dessert!
By 14:30 the Captain and I were full of food and hospitality from the local Cubans. I went and had a quick shower, then we set off for an over night sail around the cape, into the Caribbean Sea and towards Isla de la Juventud. What a welcome to Cuba thanks to our new friends in Cabo San Antonio.