A New Chapter- FMD Leaves Colombia

In the last few weeks, since Colin went home to Australia, we have learned that his health will not improve enough for him to join FMD’s adventure back to Australia, and that this ship must get back there without him. That leaves us in a strange situation, as we joined Colin on FMD to be additional crew. Now we are here to take care of her, while getting her into the Pacific Ocean to continue her journey Westward.

After being in Colombia for over a month and a half, we decided to make our departure to Panama.
It would be a different adventure for us now, not having Colin onboard his boat, and with mixed emotions, we set out to take care of FMD as best we can. Darren and I are both pretty experienced on the water, but it’s a different feeling when you are not on YOUR OWN boat, but looking after someone else’s investment. As much as we feel she is a part of us, it’s big responsibility. Being on a different time zone than Colin, with him being in Australia, makes communication difficult at times as we also like to keep him informed and still get his feelings

A few weeks back, Jim and Blieu, from Missouri, asked if they could join Darren and I back onboard FMD so they could try out cruising for a longer term, to see if it works for them. So joining us in Cartagena, they immediately got work with us fixing the generator. The raw water intake manifold and exhaust manifold had seen their time in the salt water, and were in desperate need of repair.

So after getting the name of a machine shop from another cruiser, we headed out to get the parts made. Victor said he could do it and to return in a hour! We completely expected a next day turn around, but were amazed that in one hour, the new parts in fresh shiny stainless steel were built!

Besides a few other minor jobs, provisioning, and general maintenance for a passage, and accepting our Zarpe ( exit papers) from our Agent, David, we were set to go. Headed out on flat sea with calm winds we headed back to Cholon to clean the bottom and relax for a few days before setting out for Panama.
It was a bit different in Cholon this time, the beach bars were not full, the boats were not zipping in and around the bay, and the music was not loud and obnoxious all day long. It was peaceful and quiet, and a welcome treat after the exhaustion of Cartagena.

After Three days, we left looking for a weather window with some wind, yet not too much. It was a Friday when we left. I’ve NEVER left anywhere on a Friday before as there is an old superstition about leaving on a passage on a Friday, but the weather was right, on the forecast anyways. Actually, there was not enough wind to sail. We have 8 knots of wind for most of the 36 hour passage and it was from directly where we wanted to go. We managed to sail for 2 of the 36 hours with the parasail up.

ParaSail UP!

The morning treated us with a SailFish Catch… it would be fresh fish for dinner tonight!!

Sailfish!!!
Sailfish!!!

Arriving before dark, we made our way thru the reefs and took our first anchorage at the deserted Isla Mono in Eastern San Blas. It was a welcome feeling arriving in Panama, with its palm lined beaches, beautiful water and beautiful seascapes.

FMD at anchor in San Blas
FMD at anchor in San Blas

The every palm tree and its coconuts in San Blas are owned by the Gunas, or often spelled Kuna by North Americans and picking of them, even if they are laying on the beach is not allowed. Gunas make their money by the trading of coconuts, lobster and Molas.

Blieu checking out the coconut.
Blieu checking out the coconut.

San Blas or Guna Yala, as they Indiginous people prefer it to be called, is a different world in its own right. Guna people govern these low lying islands.
The Gunas shunned being filmed or photographed, although they would make worthwhile subjects, with their colorful molas, glass beads around arms and legs, black face paint and gold nose rings, earrings and breast plates, the women must be asked and often paid to have their picture taken.
Children and men are always happy to have their pictures taken, however.

Ignacio in Kuna Yala

The Gunas live in villages that are very well cared for, with many stick houses topped with palm leave roofs line the dirt “roads”. Every village has at least three Sailas, or chiefs, of which one is the superior. It is a Matriarchal society where the woman is held in high esteem, and many dress in very traditional dress, sitting in the doorways making Molas.
See Wikipedia on Mola Art

Guna home in San Ignacio
Guna home in San Ignacio

Men spend their day in their dugout canoe, paddling over to the mainland where they tend their trees, Coconut palms, banana, or pineapples, or they fish with traps. At about 2 in the afternoon they make their way back to the village and the remainder of the day is spent with the family.
Banana trees, which Jim stalked for weeks.

They were very happy to sell us lobsters one day. We had a bucketful of lobster and large shrimp ( langostas and lagostinos) which cost us $10 plus three beer. And made a fantastic dinner!

Lobster bucket

DinnerTime On FMD in San Blas
DinnerTime On FMD in San Blas

We needed to make our way to Portobelo to do our arrival and check into the country and so we headed westward, to return to these beautiful islands and lovely people in a week.

Getting out of Cartagena, Cholon, and some GOOD news!

After being in Cartegena for over 3 weeks, Darren and I decided to head south to an anchorage called Cholon Bay. It was a 18 mile journey in light winds and soft seas. We were still waiting on news of Colins prognosis, and we thought that being out of the city may be a bit less depressing for us.
Colombia Google earth

Cholon Anchorage

Making our way thru the reefs, which are lightly marked, we were welcomed to the bay by the beach bar and the masses of boats there. It was a Wednesday just before dark, and many boats were just on their way out, but a few boats remained with their music playing loudly.
Palapas at entrance to Beach Bar

We found an anchorage with two other boats and immediately jumped off and had a swim in the cleaner water. It was a welcome treat after the cess-pool of Cartegena.
Along the mangrove lines shores of Cholon Bay are many beautiful homes and a few hotels. We found wifi in one Hotel Sport Baru http://www.sportbaru.com

Before we went into Cartegena, the bottom of the boat was relatively clean, but after only 3 short weeks, it was COVERED in a mass of slime and barnacles. After two days of cleaning, we could again recognize the bottom, and figured we deserved a beer at the beach bar.

We stayed in Cholon Bay for 9 peaceful, tranquil nights, with flat water most of the time. We did have to endure the jet skis and SeaDoo’s, who always seem to think that circling around sailboats is a fun thing to do. They should ask the Sailors what they think about that though.

It was a peaceful easy place to do some boat work, seemingly one issue after another, first the rerouting of the bilge pump, then the generator impeller, then the air compressor, Between trying to get the boat clean,.. we were constantly making a mess trying to fix something that needed attention; Definition of cruising?: Fixing things in remote anchorages.

Generator fix

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We did get time to dingy around, visit with friends, and visit the beach and the beach bar. We did find a beautiful little boutique hotel on Playa Azul, that was just lovely! A small hotel for 20 people, a beautiful white sand beach, and NO ONE there! It was a lovely spot for a sit on the pool chaise and relax for a few minutes.
Poolside Beers

Blue Azul Beach Hotel

White Sand Beach

On the way back from the beach, we saw an inlet into the mangroves.. and decided to go for a dingy adventure up the half mile long passageway searching for wildlife, We did see birds and crabs, but no snakes or wild things.

Mud Crabs

Indiana Darren and his mangrove adventure

Mangrove Adventure

In the meantime, while being at anchor, we got some good news about Colin. While he has been in the hospital for the last week or more, due to his increased pain with the radiation treatments, he has had many tests and procedures. He is under the careful attention and care of Dr Liz Kenny, in Brisbane Hospital, who has confirmed some secondary cancers in Colin’s hip and spine. Under good care and treatment, they expect Colin to be around for a few more years to come! Rum Punches all around!
Colin's on the mend

After 9 days in the jungle, we had to head back to the city for provisioning, to get some parts and wait for our next set of crew to arrive.
If you would like to learn to sail or just be part of our Adventure, send us an email or use the contact us in this webpage.
Sunset and Sea

Next post we will be headed to San Blas!

Waiting in Cartagena, Forts and Car Accidents

We wait on news on our loved Captain after a flight from HE** from Cartagena thru Bogata, Santiago, Aukland then Sidney and Brisbane ( after nearly 60 hours) he finally arrived. After leaving the Airport when we dropped Col off, in tears all around, Darren and I took some time to analyze our thoughts, walk around aimlessly, cry, laugh, and ponder our direction… all while looking at this beautiful city, Cartagena.

Castillo San Filipe

typical Street in Old Town

Darren and I did some work on the boat, including REDOING the anchor windlass- AGAIN. It has been an issue for us for the last few months, and after having it worked on by a machinist in both Provo, Turks, and then again in MoBay, Jamaica, between Colin and Daren, they figured out what to do, and we got it complete. In Sailboats, you must improvise, so we did, and it worked.

Since we dint get to the Fort when Col was with us, due to his illness, we ventured into the Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, located just a 20 minue walk from the OLD Town, or city center. It is regarded as the greatest fortress ever built by the Spaniards in their colonies. The tunnels were all constructed in such a way as to make it possible to hear footsteps of an approaching enemy. To be honest, Darren and I were not really impressed with the Castillo,.. but maybe because we have seen such beautiful Forts in our cruise of the Caribbean.
Castillo San Filipe 2

Sentry Box at San Filipe
It was hot, and has no shade, it did not seem to have any gathering places, as in other fortresses, and it seemed to lack character. But you should make up your own mind when you visit here.

Vehicle Driving is crazy in Cartagena. We would NEVER rent a car here. Taking a taxi is bad enough, and for the many trips we had been in around the city, we were surprised that there were not more ben fenders and accidents,.. until now…

A motorcycle bumped in the the rear of the taxi and the Taxi man was M A D!!!! they stopped and argued with each other until the Motorcycle driver FINALLY paid up 25,000 Pesos, an equivalent of $12 Canadian.

Here are a few fun facts we have learned in our time here:
• Cartagena is one of the few cities in the world with a submarine emissary inaugurated in 2013
• Tourism is a mainstay of the economy and Cartagena is the commercial and touristic hub of the country, the city has many transportation facilities, one of which is SUPER CHEAP taxis.
• One would NOT want to drive here. 9 not ever our brother DALE) I like driving. A LOT. But I would be insane to do it here… no sireeeee
• Humidity averages around 90%, with rainy seasons typically in May–June and October–November. We can vouch for th humidity- we carry a sweat cloth (uuugggh)
• The beaches of Bocagrande, lying along the northern shore, are made of volcanic sand, which is slightly greyish in colour. This makes the water appear muddy, though it is not.
• Because im an “Eagles” Fan; Cartagena figured prominently in the “Smuggler’s Blues” (1985) episode of Miami Vice, featuring guest star Glenn Frey and his song “Smuggler’s Blues,
• For the Poets of you; The poem “Románc” (1983) by Sándor Kányádi talks about the beauty of Cartagena,
• And for the Gamers; The city is the scene of two levels in the video game, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception.

Change of Plans in Cartagena

Cartagena has given us a few surprises; some wonderful, others not so much.

We have been here since June 1, now, just over 2 weeks. We absolutely LOVE the city. And will go into WHY in just a bit.

But in the interim, Colin’s health deteriorated rapidly one we arrived. After many trips for tests at the wonderful Bocas Grande Hospital, he made the very difficult decision to fly back to Australia on the earliest possible flight.   Cancer is a crap disease to get, and its taken its toll on our fearless, strong, energetic Captain.   We had a few suspicions, but some tests here in Colombia confirmed our fears.

So, in tears we write this post, after so many EPIC snorkels, sea battles, shroud popping, dolphin spotting, sunsets, beaches, laughter, frustrations, parasail sets, reefing-raining-windy sails in some glorious anchorages and islands.

Darren and I will continue to look after FMD in South and Central America until we get our Captain back in better condition than when he left.

Col, your adventure is not complete yet.

Wahoo!!!!
Wahoo!!!!
Always ready for a snorkel
Chilling in Grenada
Chilling in Grenada
Ready to Launch!!!

Cartagena, Columbia- As Interesting AS Can Be

At first glance, Cartagena is an architecturally beautiful city. The people seems friendly and the amenities are endless.

Entrance to El Centro

The city began with 200 people in 1533. During the remainder of the 16th century there was rapid growth. A major factor was the gold in the tombs of the Sinú Culture.  After those tombs were completely plundered, the inhabitants began to scatter to the countryside and to establish themselves as farmers, and the population of the city decreased.

A little later, the city had fewer than 2000 inhabitants and one church; the dramatically increasing fame and wealth of the prosperous city turned it into an attractive plunder site for pirates and corsairs–French and English privateers licensed by their king. Thirty years after its founding, the city was pillaged by the French nobleman Jean-François Roberval. The city set about strengthening its defences and surrounding itself with walled compounds and castles.

Jim, Blieu, Darren and I ventured into El Centro, the old town and checked out the food, the buildings and the shopping.

Calle in the Old Town

it was a 7000 peso cab ride from the marina to El Centro, ( an equivalent of about $3 CDN) for the 4 of us to jump into a Toyota Prius- type cab and adventure Northward.

Apparently, shoes is a favorite of Colombians as well. There are a TON of shoe stores.. everywhere. I wish I could still wear any shoe I desired… I would have been in heaven 4 years ago!

IMG_4937 Shoes Shoes, SHOES!!!!Lunch was just as amazing. At a whole $4 CDN we had a full lunch with a delicious soup, salad, piece of meat ( or fish) rice, and lemonade. We were stuffed.

PLATOS DEL DIA

And after, we couldn’t help but to stop and get a local indulgency.

A few days in the city and we had to head out as our water supply was low, and we couldn’t make water in the dirty harbor. We headed southwest to the Rosario islands. A quaint group of islands covered in private homes, these islands were a quiet retreat from the bustling city harbor for a few nights.DSC_0118

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We swam, made water, dinghied around, and checked it out. There are homes built on tiny atolls surrounding these islands, your own little piece of paradise. If you want a quiet holiday, this would definitely give you a piece of tranquility.

PRIVATE ISLAND PARADISES

PlazaBack to the city we returned, to get ready to fix some things, provision to head to San Blas and check out the city life for a few more days.

 

 

Jim and Blieu were to depart from Cartagena, it was a pleasure having them on board, and we will welcome them back anytime!The crew

 

 

 

 

Just a few more shots of this beautiful city before we leave you!

Church typical Street in Old Town

Sailing from Jamaica- Departure From Our Favourite Island Paradise.

Did we mention that we LOVE Jamaica? Well we do. Of the many places we have been, Jamaica is one of our favorites. It’s the food, the people, the climate, the beaches, the diving, the water, and the ambience that make Jamaica a ONE LOVE country.

We will be sad to depart, but after a few restful days in a resort, air conditioning, food, rest, a ton of diving and meeting new friends, we must bid adieu to our favorite of the Caribbean Islands.
West End,  Jamaica

Montego Bay is where Pam left to go back to Australia. We will miss her cheery smile on board, but as sailors, you must do what works for you. Not everyone is a passagemaker and we have some rough passages ahead.
Pam's Departure

Some new crew flew down from Missouri to join us for the 500+ nm passage to Colombia. Jim and Blieu are in the research mode of cruising and trying to decide what kind of boat is going to work for them. So crewing on many different boats is giving them the opportunity to check out their options. Given their sense of humour and attitude towards life, we feel they will be a great addition for the next few weeks.
Jim and Blieu Foster

Negril gave us the chance to get back on board, enjoy the clear water and walk the 7 mile beach. We grabbed a bit of fresh fruit and veggies with the Jamaican dollars we had left, and headed out to sea for our 500+ nm passage. We were expecting 3-4 meter seas with 15-20 knots of wind from the East.
Ricks Cafe

Note to self: Don’t head to sea after spending a week on land. It was a bumpy first few days, due to a tropical wave that had stirred the seas up a bit and a lot of thunderstorm activity.
Passage Weather

We all were a bit queasy for the first few days, but on day 4 the seas flattened and winds dropped as we expected.
Sunset in the Caribbean Sea

We motored into Cartagena, Columbia just after sunset with 68 hours at sea and just over 500 miles behind us, and we immediately impressed with the skyline of skyscrapers lit up in the night sky. I don’t know what we were expecting, but after 4 months in the Caribbean, the CITY was a welcome sight!

Cartagena, our night arrival

We will settle here in Columbia for the next month or so, and do what cruisers do best- enjoy the country, get some work done, and meet new people.

Boca Grande in Cartagena

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Jamaica- Our favourite Island of All

Jamaica

After an overnight power boat ride into the waves and wind, we finally put the sails up at 0600 and began sailing with a feeling of relief. Of course, as a sailboat you don’t always go directly to where you want to go… but we got there eventually when the wind shifted. We pulled into Port Antonio, JA at 1700 hrs, after a 110 mile passage with the towering 7000 foot Blue Mountains as a backdrop.
Arriving here feels like home.

We were immediately greeted by friendly Quarantine, Immigration and Customs officers who informed us that it was only 1600 hours as there is daylight savings time here. Bonus hour! After a lengthy yet pleasant paperwork session, we were given the key to the marina with its wonderful showers, pool and bar for a fee on the mooring ball of on $32/day.

Port Antonio was exactly how it was described to us; a bit rough around the edges, but a pleasant village full of friendly people. Our first questions to the locals were; where is the best Jamaican patties place and who makes the best jerk Chicken. Friday and Saturday are market days in Port Antonio, and the market was in full hustle when we went in for some provisioning. You can buy anything from shoes to ganga at the market. While they do take “no thank you” for an answer, they will try and sell you whatever they think you might need.

jamaica

Port Antonio in the Parish of Portland, JA is the richest of all the parishes. Its high mountains drop heavy rain on the area daily, making it lush and tropical. The farms supply produce to the entire island. Market day in Port Antonio is visited by people from towns near and far for their terrific produce. Among other veggies, we picked up a bottle of Jamaican Jerk sauce from Norma.

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Just off the marina is Navy Island. Once owned by Actor Eroll Flynn, there is an old hotel there that was closed in 2002. It has started being taken back by the forest as you can see, but was apparently quite the private resort in its day.

Navy Island Hotel
Navy Island Hotel

The old Eroll Flynn Hotel

After a weekend stop in Port, we headed west 30 miles to Oracabessa. Now this is a lovely little stop. We anchored in the basin made for a marina type development, behind a lovely breakwater owned by Golden Eye private resort that used to be owned by Ian Fleming. Its on the edge of town with a lovely park and well kept grounds. A walk thru the exquisite resort, with permission granted by security, we enjoyed the feel of the tranquility of this place. For a gentle fee of $800-$1000 per night, you too can stay in one of their private villas, or the grand 5 bedroom Ian Fleming house at only $9000/night. We stayed on the boat, but had a coffee at the bar.

golden Eye Private Beach

Golden Eye Resort Cabins

Ocho Rios was our next stop. Known as Ochi by the locals, it is a huge tourist town. In the two days we spent there, only two cruise ships were in, and I guess we were lucky. We anchored off the beach in 12 feet of water with a terrific view of the dolphin pen. We had our own show daily! We did the tourist thing and visited margaritaville, as well as the famous Dunns River Falls.

Everyone goes to Margaritaville at some point.. right???

In the many trips Darren and I have had to Jamaica, we have not stopped at Dunns. We were pleasantly surprised at the major tourist attraction that draws thousands of people daily. Our arrival there at 9 am beat the cruise ship people who only docked at 10, so by the time that we finished our climb and were enjoying a Blue Mountain Coffee, they were only arriving. Perfect timing.

We stayed in Ochi for an extra day and enjoyed some R&R in the lovely calm bay after our strenuous climb.
Beer Chair In Ocho

Jamaicas north shore is lined with resorts all the way from Ochi to MoBay. Our trip along the coast at the 20 meter line allowed us to guess at some of the names of the huge facilities. Sandals, Secrets, Beaches, Breezes, Riu’s and Hiltons bring thousands of people here daily on the jumbo jets landing at Montego Bay.

We have anchored down in the anchorage at the MoBay Yacht club just on the West side of town, and for a fee of $10 / per day we have internet access, pool and shower facilities, and a dinghy dock in a peaceful anchorage.

MoBay yacht club from the water

We will all take a few days off the boat here and enjoy the facilities at some of the big resorts, bathe on the white sand beaches, enjoy the endless air conditioning, eat at the all inclusive buffets, and act like a tourist for a few days.

See you in Negril!

Cuba

Our first day in Santiago was a day of exploring. Find out the lay of the land and meeting people who could help us with any information. We met Dirk and Mariolaine on “Roxy” from Belgium, who Colin had met on his Atlantic crossing last year. They were very much fun, nice to visit with, and we made friends quickly.

Streets of Santiago
Streets of Santiago

We headed into Santiago with Dirk and Mari, in a lovely old Studabaker to find the wifi at Hotel Casa Grande, ($3 per hour) . After a stop at the bank to get some money, we took a wander for some lunch. Cuba uses two currencies. The CUC ( Convertible Unionized Currency) and the Cuban peso. One CUC is equal to about a US$ and if you divide one CUC by 24 you will get one peso. It’s a little confusing at first, but its easily figured out. We found delightful local place for lunch where we had a lobster, rice and salad for $6 CUC.

$6 Lobster lunch
$6 Lobster lunch

Santiago de Cuba is a delightful old Colonial style city. Not as touristy as Havana was the many years ago when Darren and I were there. The architecture is beautiful and the streets are typically Cuban.

Santiago Church
Santiago Church

Later in the day after returning to the marina, we met two local lads, Pashito and Leo. They were very helpful and were there to help you with anything you wanted to know. Of course, if they could make some money out of it, then it was a bonus for them. They arranged for us to head to a Cabaret San Pedro the next night, which would be the eve of Kelly’s birthday. It was a fantastic evening, and of course Pashito and Leo came with us, for the cost of their beer. Eric was our taxi driver that night in his large 1951 Chevy with a Mitsubishi engine.

51 Chevy

The music was fantastic, the dancing amazing, and the company was excellent. Cubans know how to dance!

Dancing with Leo and Pashto

The next day, being Kelly’s birthday, Pashito invited us, and other cruisers for dinner at the house next door. It was excellent food of a Pork roast, salad, rice. We brought the beer and wine and enjoyed a lovely time with 8 other cruisers and the local family.

Dinner at pasties friends home
Dinner at pasties friends home

Monday we again jumped in Erics 1951 Chevy and visited to delightfully famous Senuatario El Cobre. Its has been a seminary since 1605, and a lovely place to visit. The Church has been visited by the Pope and many famous religious figures. As is the custom, we bought some candles and lit them in prayer and thoughts of our departed loved ones.

Senautario El Cobre
Senautario El Cobre

We made a deal with Pashito and Leo for them to supply us with some Rum. I think we did fairly well after a bit of haggling over price and quality… and ended up with 15 Litres of something between 8 and 12 year rum LOL? for $80CUC

Cuban Rum
Cuban Rum

Our adventure the next day was to visit the “Castillo de Moro” on the point of the entrance to Santiago. We took the marinas boat over to Isla Granma for a lunch, where Leo joined us. His uncle plays in the little band that entertains at one of the three restaurants on the island of 1050 people. Lunch was shrimps today at an outrageous price of $12CUC, which to us, seemed expensive, since having $6 lobster in Town, but the band was good.

We then took a local 50 year old boat with a single cylinder inboard engine for 5CUC for 6 of us over to the dock closest to the Castle for a walk. This boat was in the boys family for 50 years, inherited from his grandfather. Fuel tank was a pop bottle, and stopping the one cylinder engine required lifting the wire off the spark plug, right beside the gas bottle. OMG!

Castle de Moro was built by Spain in 1616-1623 and was used up to the end of the Spanish civil War in the late 1890’s. its beautifully constructed on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea.

Castillo de Moro
Castillo de Moro

This has been Darrens favourite Fort as of yet in the Caribbean

Being our last day in Cuba, we headed back to Santiago, to get some veggies and last bit of internet. Our driver of the day, in a heavily modified Old ford with a Russian diesel Tractor engine in it, took up to Santiago an back for his delightful sum of $20CUC. He stopped at the vegetable market for us on the way in, and the beer store on the way back. We provisioned with a bag full of potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions for a hefty $3CUC. With the equivalent amount of produce of what could have cost $40 at home, we were delighted. Beer was $1 a can, and we spent the remainder of our Cuban CUC’s on 5 flats of Bucanero and Cristal beer, priorities are priorities.

Customs and immigration came to the boat and looked thru the cupboards in a routine check, I guess looking for stowaway passengers or…??? They didn’t look under the floorboards… Only just as a customary inspection. After their “good look around” they left us to depart Cuba for our overnight passage to Jamaica.

Passage weather
Passage weather

Next Post Jamaica!

The Inagua’s and Passage to Cuba

It was 65 miles to Little Inagua Island for the night then another 55 yo Great Inagua, on our journey to Cuba. It was nice to break the trip up into a few days instead of doing it all at once. But not wanting to check into the Inaguas, we only anchored of the shores for the evening before continuing on the next morning.

Dorado
Dorado

Little and Great Inagua are owned by the Bahamas, and are guarded by the US Coast Guard. While being at anchor at Little Inagua, we were visited by a Coast Guard Blackhawk, circling us very closely. They wanted us to know they were there and were aware of our presence at the island.

Coast Guard Bahamas
Coast Guard Bahamas

0400 we departed Great Inagua for the SE side of Cuba. It was a painful motor for 110 miles to the first available anchorage of Bataqueri on the East side of Guantanemo. We arrived there at 1700 and were immediately visited by the Guarda Fronterra, who took our passports to his office. He gave them back about an hour later, and told us we cannot leave until 0600 in the morning, when its light enough to see. They want to make sure you are not taking any Cubans with you.

Entrance to Bataqueri
Entrance to Bataqueri

We sailed and motored to the best of our ability the next day for our arrival at Santiago de Cuba, our check in place for Cuba. It was a painless experience arriving there and were radioed on the VHF by the marina upon approach.

Santiago de Cuba Marina
Santiago de Cuba Marina

After an inspection by Customs and Quarantine, the quarantine officer asked for some money to maybe help her out. $10 in her hand smoothed any possible issues and she was overwhelmed enough to give us hugs and kisses and many thanks. Immigration was not a problem, and we were good to go in Cuba.

Cuba has different cruising rules than any other county we have been to. We would be allowed to cruise from marina to marina, but not anchor in any of the bays, and we were not allowed to use our dinghy for exploring. It is very controlled. We decided our stay in Cuba would be shorter than anticipated.

The Remainder of Turks and Caicos

After a bit of wifi at the cruise ship terminal, we made our way over to the Caicos Bank. Our stop was south Caicos with its large anchorage, and sheltered area. South Caicos was a complete different experience from its neighbor to the East ( Grand Turk). South Caicos was rural but friendly, and a bit twighlight zone-ish. It was like going back in time to the 50’s. As we walked down the street to find a market for some fresh veggies, everyone said hello to us. Children walked alone at 4 years old, or rode their bikes with their friends in their bare feet. They stopped to say hello or just to take a good look at us foreigners. They wanted to know where we were from.

Near the anchorage is an older hotel that has been turned into an Ocean sciences school. An interesting concept, we walked in to say hello and find out more. While chatting with the 18-20 year old girls there, we found out that they are on a semester study there as part of the biological degree. They dive everyday, and so marine studies. They live together, with the professors in the old hotel that has been converted to a dorm type school. It was really neat.

Leaving South Caicos, we travelled over the Caicos Bank to French Cay. It was a 20 mile journey across a bank of 3-4 metes deep crystal clear water, in the middle of the ocean. You could see the bottom, the reefs, the coral heads and at times, the fish throughout the day.

French Cay is lovely little island where we took our anchorage for the night. As part of a marine bird sanctuary, we were not suppose to go to shore, but we anchored off in 10 feet of water and watched the birds from the boat. Colin and Darren had a snorkel off the boat. Caicos in general, but French Cay area especially, is known to be a breeding ground for sharks, and it proved to be true when you could hear Darren signal thru his snorkel…!! He had obviously spotted a shark, but luckily it was more afraid of them than they were of the shark and it swam off.

Next stop was Providenciales, or as called by the locals, Provo. This would be the northernmost point of our adventure on FMD. We anchored just outside the marina after making our way thru the reefs by sight, and went in to have a look around. The marina was full of friendly cruisers and staff, but not much else. No store, no chandlery, nothing. BUT, there was to be a potluck that evening with a band and all. We met some nice people that evening, not just cruisers, but many locals and American residents came as well.

Moving onto the dock the next day for both fuel and to fix the anchor windlass, we spent a few days at the marina. It was hot and dusty. We provisioned at the mighty cost of about $400 USD. Grocery was not cheap in Turks. After fixing our windlass, being fuelled up, and provisioned, we started our journey southward after giving the customs and immigration $80 to be able to leave the island. T&C was not a cheap place to visit.


The bar for Pot Luck dinner
The bar for Pot Luck dinner

We moved from Provo to West Caicos so that we would have a good departure for Little Inagua Island, 65 miles southwest.
Anchoring at the deserted and isolated Southwest reef for the night, we were called on the radio at 8 pm by Provo Radio, the Turks version of Homeland Security. Provo radio could see us on the AIS and radar and they let us know that they could see a boat approaching us in the dark. They said it may just be a local fishing boat heading home… but wanted us to be aware. It was a nice call, and we were relieved to know that we were being watched.

Nest Post- the Inaguas and Passage to Cuba