One month from today on my way and memories of Cuba.

It’s hard to believe that I only have one month to the day until I’ll be back aboard Pandora in Beaufort NC.

This week the work on Pandora’s engine was completed.  It wasn’t anything particularly big, just a leak on the heat exchanger.  Fixed now.  I also had a new charger/inverter installed.  I could have done that myself so it’s going to hurt to write a check.  Oh well, only two boat dollars for both.  Ugh…

I am getting a bit anxious about the two big ports in the cabin and the big window in the dodger that need to be replaced as the guy who’s supposed to be working on it hasn’t been responding to my emails and calls.  I did speak to the office at the marina and I believe that they will hunt him down and be sure that the work is done on time.

The problem is that the guy who’s supposed to be doing the work is a sub-contractor to the marina.  However, the folks at the marina did recommend him and have a vested interest in having the work done right so I’ll keep my fingers crossed that everything comes together with a minimum of fuss.  Yes, “double crossed” but in a good way, I hope.

The fact that I am leaving in one month was brought into sharp focus yesterday as I did my first shopping for “provisions” for the trip south.  I am not focused on perishable stuff right now but did buy a lot of items that I’ll need to have on board.  I am trying to get most of the purchases out of the way of anything that won’t spoil.  Besides, you can never have too many packages of “Chips Ahoy” cookies.  Right?

As I’ll be trying to get Pandora completely ready to get underway in only  two or three days once I get to Beaufort, I want to bring as much as I can from home and have been making a list for the last few months of what I’ll need, you know, toilet paper, paper towels, snacks and the like.  I am also bringing along soy sauce and wasabi as I am hopeful that we will catch some nice tuna along the way.  That would be awesome.

Speaking of fishing, at the Salty Dawg Rally events in Hampton in late October, I sat in on a fishing session that suggested gear we should have on board for the run.   Of course, rods and the usual fishing stuff was part of the discussion but they also recommended that we have a hand spool of really heavy line that is run out the back of the boat and pulled in by hand with gloves when there is a fish on the line.

This is a good example of the rig and it’s a lot simpler than all that complicated rod and gear approach.  We have one of these aboard Pandora and it works well.  Interestingly, the spool that you wind the line on is called a “Cuban hand reel”.  Who knew?hand-line-rigWant one yourself?  This link will take you to a site with details on how to set one up.  I just went to a tackle shop and they made one up for me.  No, I am not ALWAYS a do-it-my-selfer, believe it or not.

I also heard that it was NOT A GOOD IDEA to use REALLY BIG lures as you might catch a REALLY BIG FISH.  Big lures usually mean REALLY BIG FISH. Not good as there is just no way to deal with a huge fish on board.   Even a small tuna, say under ten pounds, is hard to deal with as you’ll get sick of tuna before you area able to eat all of it.   Too much sushi you say?  Trust me on this.

So, I included a bottle of soy sauce and a can of wasabi powder.  All ready for our tuna.  Time to fish, soon.

The cockpit table extension is done and I am putting on MANY coats of varnish. I’ll post some photos of the completed table soon.  I am very pleased with how it turned out and can’t wait to share the result.  Now we can be true to the “four for dinner” aboard Pandora.  If you don’t understand what I mean by that you aren’t reading my blog.  Curious? Ok, check out this post and you’ll understand.

I also received the calcite water treatment filter which should solve the problem of acidic water that tastes a little funny from the watermaker, RO unit.  I was wondering how I’d be able to tell when the filter needed to be replaced and was pleased to see that the filter housing is translucent so that I will be able to see when the “sand” is depleted.  Unfortunately, the filter housing I have isn’t clear so I may have to rethink that and get a one that is see-through.  That way I’ll know when the filter is out of media.  Don’t know what I am talking about on this either?  Check out this post that goes into more detail on the problem.

I think I mentioned that the Salty Dawg Sailing Association is planning a rally from the BVI to Havana this spring and I have been asked to prepare a summary of some of Brenda’s and my posts from our visit to Cuba last winter as a “primer” on what we experienced.   As they are only going to be in Havana I will be focusing on that aspect of the trip.  Just for fun, here’s what I’ll be sending them with links to some of my favorite posts.

Here you go, Salty Dawgs (and you too)

The Salty Dawg Sailing Association will be hosting a rally to Havana in the spring of 2017.  Well, that’s assuming that the President Elect doesn’t decide to crank down and further restrict travel to Cuba.  I guess we will just have to wait and see.

Hank, who is the organizer for the trip, has asked me to prepare something to share to give you a feel for what we experienced, particularly in Havana.

Perhaps the best place to start is with Brenda’s post where she wrote about what the people are like and let me tell you, they are wonderful.   When you visit Havana you’ll find that it’s not quite as “gentle” as the very rural areas, but still very friendly.  I took a stab at describing how I felt about the Cuban people as well in this post.   In the event that you decide to venture further west of Havana Cayo Levisa, that I mentioned in that post is a wonderful spot to visit.

We spent about ten days in Havana which is probably enough time to get a feel for things but there is so much to see you could easily spend weeks or months exploring the city.  This post, which I wrote up while we were “in the thick” of our visit to Havana gives a good feel for all that there is to see in this vibrant city.  While it is a poor country, there is no shortage of art an music and it seemed like there was always some sort of holiday celebration underway.

This post by Brenda entitled, “Magical Havana” captures the wonder that she felt as we made our way.   Brenda and I visited Cuba under a “journalism general license” with her goal of exploring the fiber arts of Cuba and she really hit “pay-dirt” in Havana.

The arts in Cuba are just amazing and Brenda did a great job of conveying that spirit as she wrote about our very last day in Havana prior to heading to Ft Lauderdale.  Her post “Basket Man”, a street artist that we encountered, is a great example of how vibrant this city is.   We watched him make an amazingly intricate “basket”.   4-27-16a-032And finally, eating out in Havana is best enjoyed by visiting the many Paladars, small private family owned restaurants that are everywhere in Cuba.   As a general rule, the “tourist hotels” while they are magnificent buildings, have very mediocre, bordering on horrible, food and are expensive.  We did frequent these but did so for an afternoon coffee or drink.  If you want really great food, you need to go to a private restaurant, or Paladar.  We visited a number of these but one, Paladar los Mercaderes, was a real standout.   A great source of information on where to eat and what to see is the Lonely Planet Guide to Cuba.  This post was about that day and our best meal in Cuba.  I thought that the “greeter” was just too cool. 4-25-16a-047All and all, while not nearly as “polished” as many of the islands in the Caribbean, Cuba is a “diamond in the rough” and to go now, before there are “Golden Arches” on every corner, is an experience not to be missed.

Want to learn more?  Check out the 30 or so posts, from March and April of which I have highlighted just a few.  They can be found on this site as well as Brenda’s at  And just like visiting Cuba, they are best enjoyed when accompanied by a glass of good rum (prefereably Cuban) served neat.  You won’t be disappointed.

Yes, go to Cuba!  Brenda and me?  We’re going to somewhere new, the Eastern Caribbean.  Only a month until I head out.  So excited!



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