What a night! I hardly slept. My mind was full of thoughts of my voyage to Cuba with 5 other crewmates. Even though I woke very early around 7am, I felt fully awake, anxious and roaring to go. As I hustled about trying to make sure I had everything I thought I would need, I started feeling a bit nervous.
Tom took me to the St. Petersburg Yacht Club and helped get my things on the boat. Deb was the first one aboard. Tom helped Deb and I get the first of the provisions organized. It didn’t appear that there would be enough food for the amount of time that we would be away so Tom took Deb and I to get more groceries. Once we got back from Publix, Tom lucked out and found rock star parking! We unloaded our food and proceeded to re-provisioned the boat. Afterwards the three of us made our way over to St. Pete Yacht Club and had a nice dinner at the Tiki Bar which overlooked the street and marina. As we sat there eating and enjoying the view, I noticed that the meter reader was next to Tom’s truck. I didn’t think much of it because it was after hours and no money was due. The next thing I notice is she is chalking his back tire! Before I realized my reaction, I yelled down “Hey! We are up here!”. She shouted back “Hey yourself!” I proceeded to say, and I guess she heard, “she shouldn’t ticket us, it is after hours!” I guess she heard, she responded with “You balcony people!”. Well we lost it after that. So we are now known as balcony people!
We came back to the boat and Tom and I walked around the marina and looked at the other boats noticing how things were made and taking notes for our boat. Tom said good bye around 10 and I stayed and waited for him to leave. After almost 3 minutes I returned to the boat. About 10 minutes later he was still there an asked if I wanted another kiss. I quickly went out to meet him. Afterwards back on the boat Dave, Steve, Deb and I chatted for a bit and then it was lights out. I can help feeling very sentimental towards my family. I know we will do great but there is always that chance of that something could go wrong.
Feb 28, 2017
After watching our completion ahead of us, we chose to pass through the most westerly opening of the bridge. We had a good run through the bridge. Steve was at the helm as we watch a very large piling draw closer. Unfortunately we would have to tack in order to miss that piling. Steve tacked smoothly and just after two other boats came blasting through, clearing just behind us and moving quickly towards that same piling. As we pulled away, we looked back just as the two collided! First casualty of the race! We would later find that they were still able to finish the race with minor damage.
I woke by almost being tossed out of my bunk and on the floor! I quickly suited up in my warm pants, jacket and life vest. As I headed up the companionway steps, I quickly noticed that we were healed over, toe rail almost in the water! After managing to climb up to the cockpit, I clipped on and began my watch. We remained healed over for most of my watch. Gazing up into the night sky, I just happened to see a shooting star. The stars were so bright and abundant! I love sailing at night! After my watch I went back down for another nap.
Now the seas are absolutely flat and only a few sailboats were in sight. We hailed one of our competitors, the Endeavor, to see how they were doing and if they had any wind where they were. We discovered that they decided to drop out and were starting their engines. Captain John retrieved a weather fax to try to determine the winds and our next strategy. Over the radio we heard that even more boats were deciding to drop out of the race due to extremely light winds and a possibility of weather moving into the Florida Straits. As we enjoyed our dinner of lasagna and garlic bread, we all discussed the weather. We needed to decide to either keep trying to sail and hopefully beat the weather that was headed our way, or to start our engines and drop out of the race as well. Just before Captain John turned in, he left the five of us to discuss among ourselves what our next move should be. None of us wanted to forfeit but we also had to consider the weather and amount of time it would take us to get to Havana. Around 19:30 I went to sleep so I could be ready for my 2am shift. Somewhere during that time, I heard the crew on watch furl in the jib and crank up the engine. I was disappointed as I am certain were the rest of the crew. I went back to sleep and slept well. I was ready for my watch. I got dressed in all my warm gear and as I went up with on deck. This time I noticed that is was not as cold as last night. We were definitely approaching the warmer waters of the Florida Straits. We also had some pretty heavy fog.March 2, 2017
We are just now passing between the Dry Tortugas and Rebecca Shoals. Next waypoint, Havana!
Customs was an Interesting process. They boarded us and we filled out paperwork then took our passports, stamped them and returned them to us along with our visas . From there we headed to our berth just on the other side of the sea wall. I can see and hear the waves crashing up and over at times. The winds are somewhat light to medium. The temp perfect! After the boat was properly docked, I found the showers and called it a night.
Our first day in Havana! Our Captain was already up on deck looking rather solemn. I joined him and the rest of the crew and heard him say that he thought that maybe we made the wrong decision to drop out of the race. It wasn't until later when he heard that everyone in our class dropped out. That made him feel so much better!
After our breakfast and coffee, Deb and I walked around the marina and wandered into a Cigar shop. I think I found some that will make great souvenirs. We tried to exchange some money at the local hotel but after standing in line for almost 10 minutes, we were told that they ran out of CUC's (the Cuban money that tourist must use) and were advised to try back tomorrow. We went back to the boat and decided to wash the salt off and found we had no water so we went to see the dock master. The dock master informed us that a pipe had burst due to the amount of persons using the water. He told us that we should have water by the afternoon. While there, we inquired about exchanging our money. That is when a young gentleman, the assistance dock master, said that he knew someone that can exchange it for a better rate. He noted our boat name and asked us to wait for him there. He returned to our boat within 30 minutes and asked us to follow him. We went with him to the small bar/restaurant where he asked us to wait. He disappeared and Deb thought that he ditched us. A few minutes later he reappeared and invited us into the snack bar. Seated at a table was a man. We were told to have a seat. He took our money and gave us our CUC's in a matter of minutes. Deb and I left the snack bar laughing! As we walked back to our boat, Deb and I said that it felt as if we were making some knid of drug deal.
Now that we had that squared around, it was off to see some Cuban culture!! We found a cab and negotiated a fair price, 25 CUC’s for the four of us. The cabbie was very nice, Steve sat in front and by the time we got to Habana centro, the cabbie showed Steve several photos of his family and shared stories of them as well. The look on Steve's face was priceless! Deb, Dave and I were in the back laughing all the while!
The cars are