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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org