We planned on leaving from Marathon in the Florida Keys
around January 16th. Per our
Coast Guard permit we were supposed to leave Cuba on January 30th and
be back in Key West on January 31st.
In discussions with other boaters, we found that the Coast Guard didn’t
want you confined to these dates if the weather would not allow safe
passage. We even heard of one boat that
stayed for 5 weeks without any problems when they returned.
High east winds made getting to Marathon for our
departure a real struggle. We eventually
arrived just off Boot Key Harbor on January 17th – only a few days
late. Our friends at Burdines Marina
allowed us to tie up on the wall of the marina for a few hours on the 18th
so we could run for groceries, hardware and marina stores, do laundry and fill
fuel / water tanks before leaving.
D and Don’s friend Bruce had driven down from Maryland and
met us at the dock. He was going to join
Southern Cross for the trip to Cuba. It
was great to have his car available for our last-minute shopping. We would not be able to use any U.S. credit
cards in Cuba so one ride was to the bank for additional cash. Next was Public, Home Depot and West Marine
to check off all items on our list. Oh,
I think we also went to the liquor store….
Both boats pulled out of Burdines in Marathon around
1:30pm and anchored just outside the harbor for final preparation. Plans were to leave around 4pm for the 88
mile run to Gaviota Marina in Varadero.
Figuring the boat would average at least 5 knots, we should arrive
around 10am to noon the next day. At
3:30pm we hauled anchor and set a course of 178 degrees to Varadero, Cuba.
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