Yes, heading home soon. 

It’s Monday morning and I just spoke with Chris Parker on the SSB about the weather for making our way to FL later this week.  Chris told me that we should be fine for a departure most any day this week,  The “flexible schedule” he described didn’t surprise me as the weather in Cuba has been pretty consistent while we have been here.  If I recall, and I’ll admit that it does blend together, we have only had one meaningful cold front to contend with in the nearly two months that we have been cruising here.

That is a tremendous contrast to the weather we have experienced in FL and the Bahamas over the last few years, where cold fronts and contrary winds come through as often as twice a week.   When we were planning our trip to Cuba, Frank Virgintino, who has written quite a few Caribbean cruising guides, had told us that we wouldn’t have to worry much about the weather here as compared to the Bahamas, and he was right.

So, getting back to what Chris told me.  In addition to the question of when to leave (most any time this week) he recommended  two possible strategies.  One option, the fastest, is to head out of Havana and stay in the middle of the Gulf Stream to take full advantage of the favorable current of 2-3kts for nearly the entire run.  And given the fact that we will be underway for nearly 250 miles the current in the stream will give us a significant boost that would put us in Ft Lauderdale perhaps as much as ten hours sooner than if we do not take advantage of the current in the GS.

There is also a meaningful diurnal wind pattern, meaning, in this case, that there is more wind in the late afternoon  when a sea breeze combined with the actual gradient winds kicks in.  And as those winds are from an easterly direction, it could make for some pretty snotty conditions in the stream.

The other option is to head directly for Key West when we leave Hemingway and let the current in the Gulf Stream carry us east.  That option would have us head on a more northerly course and we would exit the Gulf Stream east of Key West and then skirt along between the GS and the reefs off of the Keys.  That approach would make for a more comfortable trip but it would take considerably longer as we would not have the benefit of the Gulf Stream current.  It would also likely involve a lot more motoring and motor-sailing into the wind once we reached the Keys.

Brenda and I have talked about the two options and we are inclined to go for the Gulf Stream assisted option, even if it’s a more uncomfortable, given the faster passage time.  Of course, we can always adjust our run to leave the GS, once we are underway, if we decide it’s just too uncomfortable.

Anyway, it looks like we will be heading north on Wednesday for an arrival in Ft Lauderdale on Thursday or Friday.   Oh yeah, and I did I mention that we are excited about being back in the U.S. of A., the land of UNLIMITED INTERNET?   Here in Cuba, you purchase a “card” with codes, for $2CUC that allow for one hour of internet.  And that connection can either be very SLOW or SORT OF SLOW, depending on where you are.  And, that connectivity is always in the lobby of a government hotel.

Yes, we are pretty excited to be back in the “land of easy” but visiting Cuba and now Havana has been pretty amazing.

I am also looking forward to sailing north to CT with my friends Chris and Dave who will be flying to FL to join me.  Chris and I have sailed together for many years and he’s actually the guy that introduced me and Brenda to sailing way back in Highschool.    That was a LONG time ago.  And, I expect that Brenda will curse his name at some point when we are in the Gulf Stream for “giving me the bug” so many years ago when he took us for a day-sail in his Dad’s 19’ Alberg Typhoon.     When I say “thanks for that, Chris” it means something different than when Brenda utters those same words.   Hmm…

I believe I mentioned yesterday that I had accidentally deleted a number of photos of our visit to the wonderful restaurant that we ate at a few nights ago in Old Havana.  Well, we decided to walk there again yesterday and “retake” the shots.

Here’s a shot of the entrance to Paladar Los Mercaderes complete with one of the guys to “guide you in” and announce your presence to the staff upstairs with the ringing of a bell.  That’s a very nice touch and makes you feel that you have indeed “arrived”. 4-25-16a 047The foyer leads to a lovely rose petal strewn staircase with candles as you make your way upstairs. 4-25-16a 048The dining room is very intimate and appointed with some lovely antiques. 4-25-16a 050This is an amusing sign at the top of the stairs.  The ballerina sort of reinforces the point, I guess. 4-25-16a 049Brenda recounted the experience, and menu, in a recent post.  And, as she is much more of a “foodie” than I am, I’ll leave the description of the “experience” to her.

I have mentioned the wonderful work that has been done to restore many buildings in Cuba and this photo perhaps shows it best with a “before and after”.  Amazing work.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWithout this sort of attention to detail, lovely work like this would be lost.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd, wonderful views wherever you turn.4-25-16a 058Months ago, when we were planning our trip to Cuba, Brenda happened upon a blog post from an artist that had visited Havana a few years ago about a women who teaches bobbin lace here.  Brenda’s hope/goal was to find this one woman in all of Havana when we got here and amazingly, she did.   I enjoyed the interaction between the “ladies”.  4-25-16a 020Even though there was a significant language barrier, they clearly shared the language of “fiber”.   Brenda has written about this and it’s worth reading.  BTW, it´s the same post that talked about dinner.

There is a lot of art in Cuba and yesterday we happened upon a lovely little workshop selling woodcut prints. 4-25-16a 043The printing press, in the back of the shop was donated by Unicef, we learned.  4-25-16a 039We loved this little piece and will hang it aboard Pandora as a reminder of our visit. The crescent shapes represent Cuba and the “people” figures, well they represent the people of Cuba.  Having it aboard Pandora will be a tangible reminder of our wonderful time here in Cuba and the friendly people we have met along the way.4-25-16c 002So, today we will book a flight for Brenda to get home from Ft Lauderdale next week and then head into Havana to visit the forts that line the harbor.  I look forward to reporting on what will surely be a wonderful day.

I should note that if there are any glaring mistakes, this post was excruciating to get up due to the terrible internet here.    Did I mention that I can´t wait for better connectivity.   I can not even put a question mark at the end of that sentence.  How frustrating….

That´s all for now or I´ll throw the computer.   Argggg….

3 responses to “Yes, heading home soon. 

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