It’s Wednesday here in Cienfuegos and we aren’t really planning to do anything in particular today. It’s been quite hot lately and touring the city has made for some very hot and sticky afternoons spent looking for shade and a cool place to sit and relax. However, I still needed to head to the marina to get some diesel fuel as we are running a bit low after so many miles of motoring in light winds. Fuel is expensive here at $1 CUC per liter so with the exchange it’s probably about three times as expensive as in the US. Bummer about that as I had heard that it was very cheap here. Not so…
With regards to the heat, I guess it shouldn’t come as any surprise as we are at the 20th parallel, the Tropic of Cancer, the official line marking the boundary between the sub-tropics and tropics. If the temperature is any indication, we are solidl in the tropics.
The last few nights have been particularly hot and we have resorted to running the little Honda generator to power our forward air conditioning as it was just so hot and stuffy with not a breath of wind. It works pretty well to run the AC, cool down the forward cabin and then turn it off when we go to bed. By the time the cabin warms up the air outside has cooled and we were able to open some hatches. It works well. I have to say that I am not a fan of trying to sleep when it’s oppressively hot.
We had planned to tie up to the dock so we could run the AC but after seeing how few cruisers were opting for the dock here we decided not to take any chances with poor quality electrical service that probably wouldn’t run our AC anyway. We hesitate to run the generator much in the late evening as it’s pretty noisy but with loud music coming from shore I doubt that anyone heard the Honda over the music anyway. Last night there was very loud music coming from shore that didn’t quit till nearly 2:00AM. What’s with that on a Tuesday night? I doubt that it was a tour group as they are generally pretty “mature” and that’s way past their bedtime.
The marina docks are probably not a good idea as we need to run our watermaker each day for a few hours and we wouldn’t be able to do so on the dock as the water there isn’t clean enough. We’d prefer not to fill up our tanks with the “fresh” water at the dock is a bit suspect, at best. As it is, the water in the harbor is only marginally clean enough, a few hundred yards off of the dock where we are anchored, to use the watermaker and I have needed to clean the filters every few days. Silt in the water clogs up the filters every few days and the output from the unit is less than it should be. Actually, the watermaker that came with the boat is a good one but the output is just too low at a bit under 6gph for our water usage. As our daily consumption is in the 15 gallon range and it takes three plus hours of run time to make enough water just to break even each day. The unit that I took off of our other boat makes twice that amount so I am going to retrofit it to this boat over the coming summer. It is a two speed unit so I can opt to run it on the slower mode if needed, to conserve electricity or on a faster mode if we are under power or need more water faster. With an output giving me to option of either 7 or 14 gallons per hour, it’s a nice combination and with that we never really felt that we were going to run short of water, even if we needed to rinse off the boat to remove accumulated salt.
Swapping out the units isn’t as simple as unplugging one and putting in the other but I think that the local tech guy for Spectra, the company that makes the unit, will help me make it right.
Having a watermaker is very important to us and having a unit with the appropriate capacity makes a big difference. There are plenty of cruisers that don’t have a watermaker but we feel strongly about this and regard the flexibility that we get from having the ability to have adequate fresh water to be critical to our comfort aboard..
And speaking of hot, it’s also been plenty sunny and one thing for sure is that the solar panels love it here and are putting out plenty of power that generally covers our needs including running the watermaker.
The other day I filled the dink with a half foot of water at the dock and used it to sponge down the hull that had gotten pretty streaked and salt stained over the last month. A dark green hull shows just about every spot and lives true to the adage, “there are only two colors for a boat, white and stupid”. Let me tell you that dark green is very, very stupid but it does look great when it’s clean and streak-free. And, to add insult to injury, it’s plenty hot baking in the tropical sun as well. However, with a dark hull, I am inclined to say “you look marvelous darling” when Pandora is clean.
While I was cooling off and reading a book after washing Pandora down, two girls rowed up in a two man (women) shell and asked for a cup of water. They had been getting a pretty good workout and clearly were thirsty. They posed nicely for a photo. The shells here get a good daily workout and look like they have been rowed hard for many years. I expect that they (the shells, not the girls) predate the embargo.Interestingly, the other day, the Harvey Gamage, a schooner from Portland Maine that does educational programs, arrived here in the harbor. We have seen her many times over the years as we cruised in Maine. I stopped by to say HI and learned that they are visiting Cuba to check out possible options to hold educational programs in the future. They too had taken a long time to get the appropriate approvals to come here.
Holly, one of deck hands invited me and Brenda to joint them for lunch yesterday and it was a lot of fun to spend time in the mess talking about their lives and travels. Interestingly, Holly is a grandmother of 12 and has spent a lot of time aboard classic ships over the years. She’s plenty salty and like any grandmother, eager to show pictures of her family to me and Brenda after lunch. Seeing photos on her iPhone while aboard a historic schooner was an interesting juxtaposition of the traditional and modern.They do their cooking on a diesel fired stove, I think they call it “the beast”. It takes over an hour to heat up so they have to be sure that they are really ready to be hot and NEED to have something cooked before they commit to all that heat down below. I’ll bet that it can make the galley nearly uninhabitable on a hot day. Did I say that it’s hot here?
There is plenty of room for eating in the mess and there has to be as the Harvey Gamage has a full time crew of ten and carries up to about 20 passengers.The Harvey Gamage was built in 1973 in South Portland Maine, the last ship to come from the yard of the same name. She splits her time between New England and the Caribbean on her educational mission. She’s nearly 100’ long and draws 10’. That’s a lot of boat and just cooking for a hungry group of hard working sailors would keep things hopping and hot up in the galley.On deck she’s all business and well maintained. It would be great to have her visit the CT River Museum in Essex to put on one of her educational programs. I am sure that the community would really embrace any activity that they brought to town. However, with a mast height of 97’ and a CT River Rt 95 Highway bridge clearance of 81’ it might take some surgery with the top mast to make it under, even at low tide. It’s still worth exploring though so I think I’ll pay another visit to her before we leave here in a few days.
One way or the other, it was great to see her here in the harbor, a bit of “home” away from home for us here in Cuba. Perhaps we will see her in Maine this summer as it’s looking like we may spend some time there too after quite a few years away from our old stomping grounds. Brenda and I do miss the beautiful scenery or is it the cooler temperatures?
Besides, thinking of Maine is helping keep me cool. Did I mention that it’s hot here these days? It is…