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Voyages: Loco Viento

Glen Herman (glenherman@hotmail.com) describes Loco Viento's trip in the Caribbean (including Cuba)


Loco Viento has just returned from another voyage. This time she sailed from Fort Lauderdale to Key west, out to the Dry Tortugas, then south to Cuba and back. 

I left in May in a hailstorm and motored down the Florida coast to Miami. Spent one night anchored out and then had a delightful sail down the Keys. I had 15 to 18 knots of wind from astern and singlehanded with just the main. I anchored after dark wherever I happened to be in the Hawk Channel. Next day I sailed with the spinnaker for a few hours until I got a wrap around the forestay. I was able to get it down and continued in to Key West under main alone. I spent a few days in Key West before sailing out to the Marquesas Keys. Went in to the lagoon in the dinghy and was surprised to see sharks and large rays in the shallow water. Next day I continued on to the Dry Tortugas. It is really remote and an interesting experience to see the walls of the big Fort Jefferson rise out of the sea. The fort is wonderful to explore and the diving is incredible!

After a few days out there it was back to Kew West For water and fuel. I was surprised to learn how many American boats were leaving for Havana. I left in the late afternoon and had winds of 10 knots and a 2 foot sea. There is a lot of ship traffic on the U.S. side of the gulf stream, but once you cross these shipping lanes there is no one else to worry about. The winds and seas increased to 20 to 25 knots with 4 to 6 foot breaking waves. I had to reef the main twice as the wind increased. I was surfing down the waves with the boat heeled over and all lines straining. I was amazed to see the gps readout showing I was making only 3 knots toward my destination! The gulf stream has to be seen to be believed. I did not arrive until sunset at the Marina Hemingway. 

The reef entrance is well marked and lighted and easily entered. The wait at the coast guard dock took nearly 4 hours to check in. The marina was great with water, electricity, friendly people, and no crime. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay there visiting Havana with all its' museums, old city, and night life. Many of the other American crews went on tours of the caves, mountains and waterfalls. I also heard stories of the fantastic cruising grounds to the west of Havana with its bays and reefs.

I left when my money ran out as there is no way to get cash advances or use American checks in Cuba. Checking out took 3 hours. The sail back was also rough. The wind was light with a forecast for 10 knots and 2 foot seas. In the Gulf Stream it was again rough and I sailed back under jib alone. This time it was more of a beat into the wind and seas, and I was a little seasick. Crossing both ways I was able to catnap in 30 minute stints for about a total of two hours sleep. The autohelm 3000 easily steered the boat the entire time.

I arrived in the lower Keys after a night of gazing up at the stars as I tried to rest in the cockpit, and watching the phosphorescence under the water while on watch. The motor sailing up the Keys all the way back was anticlimactic but there was good snorkeling on Looee Reef.

I recommend Cuba as a cruising ground. The people are fantastic, there is so much to see and do there. If anyone would like to talk to me about it I can be reached at glenherman@hotmail.com

Last modified by Phil Imhof, Monday, August 09, 2004 . Copyright 2001 by Catalina 34 International Association.  All rights reserved.